VERY excited  finally to see San Francisco’s Ferry Building, a marketplace committed to the artisanial food community.  I’ll be at Book Passage at 2 pm. If you’re having trouble finding a copy of Elements of Cooking  in the bay area, there are sure to be some there. My publisher emailed last week to say they’d already gone back for a second printing so you’ll want to make sure you get a signed first edition of this instant classic! (I know, I’m not one to make  that claim–I’ve just always wanted to use that silly phrase that seems to be uniquely American).  Bloggers especially welcome!


47 Wonderful responses to “SF: The Ferry Building Market Place”

  • Christine

    Please come to Vroman’s in Pasadena Calif. and I promise to pay full price for your book, not the discounted price on Amazon.

  • Lester Hunt

    Ah, the Ferry Building! I was just there for the first time since the major renovations that whole corner of the city has gone through in the last two or three decades, and the changes have been a brilliant success. You’ll love it.

  • Justin Watt

    Michael, I missed you at Anton’s dinner in Durham, North Carolina, but I won’t miss you in San Francisco. Looking forward to getting one of those first printing signed later today.

  • Happy Consumptive

    Curious to hear what you think of the Ferry Building. It is an impressive collection of stuff in one place, but feels somehow sterile. I know people rave about it, that it represents significant good intentions, and that it’s home to the good folks at Prather Ranch. Wider availability of Frog Hollow fruit could only be a good thing. But do you have to put it in a mall for people to buy it?

  • Natalie Sztern

    have u forgotten ur neighbors to the north whose dollar is now worth more than urs? what about a signing at chapters downtown montreal, not that i would come cause i don’t “do” lineups

  • redman

    happy consumptive: I agree it’s a little sterile. We recently moved from sf to seattle and can’t stop comparing the two cities- including the ferry building vs. pike place market. ferry building higher end, with lots of good but expensive food; pike place feels much quirkier and less contrived, lots bigger, more restaurants, kind of homey, slightly dilapidated feel. funny thing about ferry building, though architecture is stunning, kind of reminds me of slow food organization. For something so dedicated to something as sensual as food, why so uptight?

  • Skawt

    Too bad our neighbors to the north haven’t noticed that the prices in Canada haven’t come down because import duties still raise the prices on products. So even though our dollar is less valuable, it still buys more. In fact, with the disparity in the conversation rates, shopping is even cheaper now in the US compared to Canada than it was before.

    I still have friends up in Canada that shop for computer equipment online from US retailers because it’s cheaper.

  • Skawt


    It’s too bad that TNIC didn’t air last night. I could have had it on a DVD for you this morning. Oh well – perhaps you can watch it on the plane tonight. If not, I can always grab a copy of it and send it off to you.

  • mark

    sorry i have to miss this. Heading to Seattle. I’m looking forward to my trip home(Cleveland) in Dec. Hope to eat at the Next Iron Chef’s restaurant – Lola

  • parkbench

    We are *so* disappointed that we simply can’t make the trip from the Central Valley hinterlands to SF this weekend to see you. We were just there two weeks ago and spent a glorious day at the Ferry Bldg, where an outdoor “harvest festival” and farmers market was in full swing. It was a blast to meet some of the growers from our neck of the woods who were there, and pick up some Cowgirl Creamery goodies. Unfortunately, between the rainy weather and a large bit of oily unpleasantness going on in the bay, it looks like this may not be the best weekend to be there.

    However, I see Bourdain is also in the area this week. Is there any chance of a disharmonic convergence in Baghdad by the Bay? I would hitchhike up there in the rain for that. 🙂

    You’ll have to give us Californians another chance on a second book tour leg, Michael.


  • The Professor

    The Ferry Building looks beautiful on Google Street View, I am sure it will be a nice event. Wonderful Historic location and story behind it.

  • Amanda

    Alas, I’m in Denver, and Michael is not slated here any time soon… anyone know if he accepts books for signing? (that is, after I read it the first time). I’m eagerly awaiting a small slice of child-free time tomorrow morning (read: my husband-facilitated hour between 8-9 am) to get a coffee and Elements of Cooking. Re: NICA… Go Michael Symon! (Big fan since Soul of a Chef)

  • Kay

    The Ferry Building embodies everything I hate about yuppified faux farmer’s markets. Aside from the genuinely ridiculous prices on items you can frequently procure in the Mission, Chinatown or on Clement street for much, much less (assuming you’re not afraid of talking to people who aren’t white of course), shopping there feels more like being dragged to a trendy nightclub full of horny thirtynothings than, well, shopping.

  • The Professor

    Lux and Skawt…thanks for the links,pictures and blow by blow of the signing.

  • rmw I the only one who saw the 9 eastern show??? where are ya”ll. 3 iron chefss, ( not batali????) whats up…wake up bloggers…ruhlman, your take on not being there for the final judge???

  • Skawt


    Lux and I live in San Mateo, and we have Draeger’s. It’s higher-priced, but has a huge assortment of imported goods you can’t find elsewhere, as well as great fresh produce. The best places we had for fresh produce back when we lived in San Francisco were the grocers on Irving street and 22nd/23rd Avenue in the outer Richmond district. Incredibly cheap, some great imported goods, and very fresh.

  • Garbanzo

    I was in SF last week from NYC. Ate at the Slanted Door Sunday night and went back Monday AM to see the market. Was expecting something a bit more raucous, on the lines of the great European food markets (like the Boqueria in Barcelona) or even something less trade-oriented but still a bit raw, like Borough Market in London. Seemed like more like a Williams-Sonoma vision of a food market. Interesting, but not really compelling.

  • Russ

    Dear rmw: I agree…is everybody asleep???? After the weeks of screams and knashing of teeth… not a word after Symon walks away with NIC??? Hello…reaction please !!!!!

  • The Professor

    @Russ: you are on the wrong subject, go to the discussion of the show.Look at the top of this page.

  • Russ

    Thank-you Professor.. I feel appropriately stupid…happens everytime I let myself think I know what is going on.

  • Jeff

    My dad and I went to the Ferry Building to see Mr. Ruhlman speak today. The highlight had to be when Chef Cosentino walked in and yelled from across the room, “where’s RUHLMAN?” while holding up a piece of cauliflower. Priceless.

    Mr. Ruhlman was very entertaining, and his passion for food, cooking and writing came through even more so in person.

  • lux

    @Professor – our pleasure.

    @Jeff – we loved that part too!

    As pretty as the Ferry Building is, I honestly can’t say I’d shop there regularly; it’s way too expensive and not very convenient. But for specialty items, sure!

  • chris neill

    Echoing some comments above, I hope you have/had a chance to check out some of the more off-the-beaten path SF foodie meccas — Drewe’s Brother’s Meat, Rainbow Co-op, the various ass-crack-of-pre-dawn fish markets around Bayshore and points south.

    To me, the Ferry Building is a necessary, but to be generally avoided evil in the vein of “Whole Foods” (aka, “Whole Paycheck”, and for good reason). I shop a few specialty items there that I can’t find easily elsewhere (if you need specialty lettuces, Star Route Farms are the go-to guys and gals — Rainbow and Whole Foods have trouble stocking and selling lettuces that are as fragile as the mezuma or cresses Star Route specializes in).

    Acme Bread Co. represents only one of the many excellent bakers in the Bay Area (I’m a Semi-freddo man myself), and the Cow Girl Creamery stocks its store with a lot of middling cheese and only a few exceptional cheeses. I prefer to buy my cheese from this man: (AKA Gordon @ Rainbow Co-op). Cow Girl is a place to bring visiting relatives, after riding the cramped F-line on a sunny Saturday, before having to “do time” at the Wharf.

    Not to poo-poo the new Ferry Terminal in toto: its lovely, and I’m glad it was renovated. I just don’t find cause to get down there very often, as a long time resident of my adopted city. Too many other Midwesterners there, in there shorts and sandals on a cold June day (ha! tourists!) and I begin to feel like a carpet bagger. The pressure is intense to pay one’s dues at the local commie co-op, or shop the bodegas in the mission or buy tamales from The Tamale Lady:

    Bourdain — next time you’re in town, Rainbow. I can’t wait to hear you snark about their “no meat products” policy (although I would bet half the “workers” on average are rabid carnivores — worse, you will probably get about 50 phones numbers, many from guys, as I know for a fact there are more than a few secret “un-PC” Bourdain fans at Rainbow).

  • Claudia

    Nice job, Skawt and Lux! Admirable pictures, and glad you posted. The bit with Cosentino and the cauliflower is priceless! I hope I can do Ruhlman justice when he comes to NYC.

  • JoP in Omaha

    Very nice account, Skawt and Lux. And how cool for Cosentino to show up with a cauliflower–what a giggle. Cool guy.

  • Clare K.

    I’m not sure if you will still be there on Saturday when the Ferry Building has their extended, outdoor farmer’s market, but if you are, you absolutely need to try the chilaquiles at the Primavera stand (only there on Saturdays). It is by far the best chilaquiles I’ve ever had, and many would agree. There is always a long line, so be prepared to wait – but it’s worth it!

  • Jennie/Tikka

    Had to miss your appearance in No. Cal. Saturday. I did buy your book, however! 🙂

    Hoping to make it up there the 17th for Bourdain’s appearance.


  • Valjean


    If it’s not too late, three words: Miette Marshmallow Cupcakes.

    You won’t be disappointed. Only don’t eat one outside or the pidgeons will attack you like fresh meat.

  • the other Jeff


    Thank you for the passionate afternoon, the kids and I had a great time. You seem to be a very generous soul, who clearly is doing what he loves at the right place and time.

    Chef Cosentino’s appearance at the end, brandishing the cauliflower was indeed priceless. He too was very generous with his time in recounting his experience on NIC.

    I could be drawing a wrong conclusion but, as I think about the essay on stock and specifically veal, I wonder if veal has started to become politicized. Like Foie, is veal going to be the next target of the food police? Bourdain touches on this briefly (“It’s not nice what they do to calves…”) in his Les Halles book…

    Lux: Thank you for the pic of Michael and Chris.

  • Skawt

    I have one update to this, which actually occurred at the Ferry Building, but wasn’t obvious until much later.

    I got a nice case of Salmonella eating at Lulu Petite. Specifically, the “crispy” chicken sandwich. Apparently these guys just have sandwiches sitting at room temperature all day long, and then just heat them in a microwave for customers. I will be notifying the SF Health Department shortly. In the meantime, amuse yourself with my Bugmenot login review on Citysearch:

  • Patti

    Hoped you assessed the Ferry Building for what it is and not for what others think it should be. I love it as the absolute yuppy, bourgeois place it is. Oh gosh, where else to find babies in strollers at the caviar bar. But I’ve followed the Slanted Door from the Mission to South of Market to the Ferry Building and I still enjoy it. And Miette is marvelous.

    If you try to make it something it’s not, you’ll be disappointed. I live in Los Angeles now and to my surprise, I miss the Ferry Building exceedingly. Whenever I visit San Francisco now, I go to Peets for coffee and Acme Bakery for croissant and then I sit and watch the traffic on the Bay (when it’s not covered in oil). I remember the freeway along the Embarcadero and the desolate area that it used to be, so the revitalized Ferry Building and SoMa is never less than a marvel to me.