Market Scene: Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, San Francisco

[Photographs: Jennifer Maiser]

It's a bit of a surreal experience to be a regular market shopper at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market in San Francisco. The market is a tourist and foodie destination in addition to a weekly routine for many San Francisco shoppers. Saturday, when I was trying to shop for my weekly haul, Food Network personality Aida Mollenkamp was walking through the market with a camera crew, tourists were snapping photos, and celebrity chefs shopped right next to me. I imagine it's something like going to church regularly at the Vatican, among all the sightseers.

But through the surreal is a very real community—a community of friends I have been shopping with and vendors I have been buying from for ten years.

This time of year, I have to be careful to not overbuy at the market. There are so many wonderful things in season, and more goodies are coming into the market each week. It's easy to load my bag up with many more items than I can reasonably eat in a week.

The past couple weeks, I've purchased Black Mission figs from Knoll Farms, a local vendor from Brentwood. Figs have two seasons. The first is about to end, and is called the breba crop. Then they take a break for a few weeks and will return in late August through early October. The first crop is extremely brief, and whets our appetite for the season to come.

"It's just long enough to piss people off," I heard farmer Kristie Knoll remark of the breba crop. I look for the overripe fruit that's practically mush for absolute best flavor then carry them home, nestled in a bag carried in my arms so they aren't destroyed.

I purchased a good amount of garlic for drying this weekend. I put it in my cool, dark pantry and it lasts a few months. Hunter Orchards is a farm that only comes to the market for about a month each year, and they sell a Rocambole market that's perfect for drying. Thomas Farm, a newcomer to the Saturday market, also sells a couple of garlic varietals including an elephant garlic, and one called Korean hot garlic.

I'll be figuring out how to use three pounds of zucchini this week. I bought it for a party dish that was never made this weekend. Maybe it should be pickled? Bring on the suggestions.

Seasonal Produce Guide

In Season Right this Minute

Peaches and nectarines Strawberries Lettuces Summer squash Hard neck garlic Basil

Coming Soon

Tomatoes Peppers in abundance Eggplant Melons

It's Time To Put Up

Peach jam Pickled green beans Dry garlic Pesto