This post comes courtesy of Jacyn Siebert, blogger behind Sugar Lips Lifestyle Tips.
Last month I visited the San Francisco Artisan Market in Williams-Sonoma’s Post Street store and had the opportunity to meet seven different artisans, taste-test their products and discover their passion for local food.
It’s no secret that Artisan Markets are sweeping the nation in popularity. The “farm to table” concept and slow food movement have been in play for generations, but until recent years the buy local/eat local trend is relatively new to the masses. Once deemed a tree-hugging, hippie-loving gathering, local markets began sparking the curiosities of onlookers, inviting people to engage with farmers and producers. Tempting their taste buds with samples of the goods, the artisans explained where their ingredients come from and how their products are made. The Williams-Sonoma Artisan Market in San Francisco is no exception.
For weeks I had been reading Facebook posts, status updates and tweets about how much fun the Williams-Sonoma Artisan Markets were and the great products people were tasting. I wanted to know what all the buzz was about but admittedly had a few doubts. Artisan markets aren’t something new; after all, San Francisco hosts one of the finest farmers’ markets in the country at the Ferry Building. Still, I was curious.
My culinary tour began. Much to my surprise, the store was buzzing but not crowded, providing plenty of space to move about. The crowd was split between tourists and locals; some came just for the event, while others happened upon it. I could spot the people who love the thrill of the hunt yearning to discover new products and be the first to reveal them to their peers. For me, it is the connection with the producers themselves. Meeting the artisans first-hand, hearing their stories of humbled beginnings and production processes brings on a whole new level of commitment to buying locally.
|Kensington Marmalade Company
My first stop was Kensington Marmalade Company, where I met owner Alexandra Eisler. She gave me a tip on juicing citrus with an extractor — remove the skin and the seeds. The seeds tend to make the juice bitter. They use local fruit, often from their neighbor’s trees, always California-grown. They pick the fruit the moment it’s ripe and begin making marmalade within minutes, guaranteeing the most intense flavor. She also makes her own gelatin, which was quite impressive to me.
I crossed over to a beautiful presentation of meats from Just Cook, where owner Cathy Storfer greeted me with a warm smile and bubbly personality. She described all of the meat rubs that her company makes, and one in particular peaked my interest. The company’s Executive Chef, Daniel (pictured above on right) handed me a divine bite of pork their Herbed Coffee Rub. Made from all natural ingredients, the hint of chipotle sealed the deal. Yum!
|The Girl and the Fig
Located in Sonoma, The Girl and the Fig is a longtime favorite of mine, so getting the chance to meet their team was really fun! Sondra and John (pictured above on left) were sampling an assortment of their “fig foods” — cheeses, sandwiches and breads. I sampled their Dried Fig Compote and Fig Balsamic Vinegar and made sure to loop back around a second time for more!
|Cici’s Homemade Butterhorns
Cici’s Homemade Butterhorns are hand-rolled Italian cookies made from a light buttery dough and filled with cinnamon, sugar and walnuts. Christine Falatico Frey and her daughter were there handing out samples and answering questions on how the center stays so soft. Her technique? The roll. It keeps the cookie center soft and caramelized during baking while the outer shell turns to a flaky golden brown. She told me that it was impossible to eat just one, and she was right!
|Snake and Butterfly Chocolates
Snake and Butterfly Chocolates use organic, fair trade cocoa beans that are hand-roasted and hand-poured. They were sampling a variety of their chocolate bars. My two favorites? Their Bacon Toffee Bar and the Cherry & Chili bar. Yes, please!
Sonomic Vinegar is completely addicting. Yes, you heard that correctly. Similar to a balsamic vinegar, it has a rich, bright cabernet flavor with only a hint of the acid of vinegar making it less punchy. It’s made in small batches in a unique stainless steel vacuum still which creates a perfect balance of sweet and tart while maintaining the rich character.
Good Habit owner Nina Burr says you can have your cake and eat it too. That doesn’t seem too profound — unless you’re gluten intolerant. Now those of you who have tried gluten-free snacks and treats know that it is always a gamble. Good habit is actually REALLY, really good. Even my gluten-free chef thought so!
Needless to say, it was the perfect way to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon. The San Francisco Artisan Market is held every third Saturday of the month from 12 to 4 p.m. For a list of this week’s vendors, click here.
About the author: Jacyn Siebert is a lifestyle blogger. Her love for food and wine began while working with Chef Carl Schroeder of Market in Del Mar, California in 2005. He taught her the importance of freshly prepared meals, quality ingredients and sustainability. After moving to the Big Island of Hawaii, she began studying the impact that food has on our health and decided to become further involved. She continues to share recipes and fashion advice on her blog, Sugar Lips Lifestyle Tips.