My travel challenge the past few weeks has been squeezing blog adventures into extraordinarily quick trips. When work brought me to San Francisco, for example, I had only three hours to explore. For days before I left, I perseverated over how to spend that precious free time. But as soon as the plane landed, I got out into the warm sunshine, and realized it was Thursday, I knew where I was headed!
Thursday is a Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market day at the San Francisco Ferry Building.
Known as one of the top farmer’s markets in the country, the market is stocked with everything from flowers,
cheese, and fruits and vegetables, to meat and eggs from small regional farmers.
On Thursdays, the market features artisan street food
and is packed with people who work nearby in the financial district.
Opened in 1898, the Ferry Building Marketplace is located along the Embarcadero. Spanish for “the place to embark,” the Embarcadero is the point where the City meets the Bay. It is the largest waterfront district listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a place traversed by boats, pedestrians, bicyclists, and joggers.
The building is most often recognized by its 245-foot-tall clock tower, which was modeled after the 12th century bell tower in the Seville Cathedral in Spain.
Its history is fascinating, for the opening of two San Francisco landmarks – the Bay Bridge in 1936 and the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937 – significantly impacted the use of the Ferry Building. Increased automobile traffic and the opening of the bridges greatly reduced the number of people commuting to the city by ferry. By the 1950s, the building was hardly used and was virtually out of sight by 1957 when the double-deck Embarcadero Freeway was built across the face of the building. It wasn’t until a 1989 earthquake damaged the freeway that it was torn down and the Ferry Building became a prominent site on the waterfront again. After extensive renovations, the building is now used by tens of thousands of visitors every week for ferry departures and shopping.
Located within the historic Ferry Building
is a collection of shops and vendors, restaurants and cafes, that includes everything from meat and fish,
to exotic mushrooms!
The marketplace showcases small regional producers and local chefs, including confectioner Michael Recchiuti.
This San Francisco-based chocolate maker and award-winning chocolatier makes his products locally and had his beginnings in the City by the Bay. All chocolates and confections are handmade and the Ferry Building shop even has exclusive flavors from Michael’s test kitchen.
Visitors to Recchiuti can select their own assortment of chocolates from a menu that ranges from Cardamom Nougat and Honeycomb Malt to Tarragon Grapefruit and Spring Jasmine Tea.
When I asked the salesperson which flavors were most popular, she said each had its own following and all were a very intense chocolate.
She was right and each bite — both milk and dark — had a deep chocolate flavor complemented by its infusion. When I think of intense chocolate, I think of this recipe for Ultimate Chocolate Cake! Perhaps unlike Recchiuti’s confections, it’s quite simple to make, though its presentation is similarly beautiful.
For the Cake:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
For the Frosting:
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch round cake pan; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, and espresso powder.
- In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt butter, water, and cocoa. (Microwave approximately 3 minutes, stirring halfway through.)
- Whisk dry ingredients into melted butter, water, and cocoa.
- Add egg, buttermilk, vanilla; stir well.
- Pour batter into pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack to cool completely.
For the Frosting:
- In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate. Whisk until blended.
- Add milk and vanilla. Stir well.
- Slowly add powdered sugar, whisking until smooth.
Putting It Together:
- Using an offset spatula, generously frost top and edges of cake to completely cover cake.
- Allow cake to rest for 10 minutes.
- Using a spoon, drizzle frosting across top of cake until desired thickness or decoration is achieved. (Note: If frosting gets too thick, briefly heat frosting in microwave.)
DISTANCE BETWEEN PHILADELPHIA AND SAN FRANCISCO: 2,521 Miles
This recipe was adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine.