Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Heart of the City Farmers' Market

Are you ready?  I am not sure if you are.  This is the last post about San Francisco.  I may have saved the best for last.  I am not totally sure this was the best part since I loved every bit of my trip, but I will say that this part of my trip BLEW MY MIND!  I am serious.  I went to the Heart of the City Farmers' Market and it was magical.  

California farmers' markets are a whole different scene than Minnesota farmers' markets, which is an awesome thing in and of itself.  Beyond that, it seemed like this particular market, on this particular day, was just exactly perfect for me.  It started off with a booth that was selling something I had never seen nor heard of before, so I asked the seller what a JuJube was and what does he do?  He gives me a sample of every type that he has and tells me a bunch of information about them.  This is the very same seller who has a sign that says, "No Sample."  It was that sort of day!

If you are also unfamiliar with a ju jube, I can tell you now that it is the fruit that becomes a date when it is ripened and dried.  There are many varieties.  Of the two I tasted, one of them was a bit snappy like an apple, while the other one was a bit softer and sort of foamy in texture.

sugar cane

I don't remember what these bumpy veggies are!

I have also never had a persimmon before.  By the time they get shipped to MN, the quality is greatly reduced and the price is super high.  I ate a bunch of these during my trip.  Delicious!

There really wasn't much at the market that you weren't allowed, and sometimes encouraged, to taste!  It was heavenly, I tell you!  When you are invited to taste the food, I think it also encourages you to talk to the vendors.  I found the sellers/vendors/farmers to be really friendly and happy to listen to me gush about their bounty.

Seeing as I was there in October, these berries were a gorgeous sight.

This booth made me wish I had the resources to do a lot of cooking on my trip.  The variety and prices at this mushroom stand were mighty tempting!

All of this gorgeous produce of amazing quality that I was allowed to sample and perhaps buy at a low price on a beautiful morning at the start of my trip...yep, that was unbelievably awesome.  And, guess what?!  That wasn't even the whole story about how awesome this market was.  My time at the market coincided with a group of school kids on a field trip to the market.  They were chatting up and interviewing the market vendors about their goods.  Swoon.

People were walking gorgeous bikes through the market.

There was even a fountain that was making rainbows for me!  Are you tired of all of this gushing?  Ok, let me give you a dose of gritty city:

I saw a sanitary worker hosing down the public restroom next to the market and the plaza where the market is held possesses a sordid past. Ok, now back to the lovely market.

It is too bad I am not a big fan of raisins, because many vendors that were selling grapes were also selling raisins.

The citrus at this particular stand was amazing.  Again, I found myself coming across produce I didn't know existed.  For example: pink lemons!  They exist! I thought pink lemons were just something somebody made up to sell overly sweetened lemonade, kind of like razzleberry or something equally fictitious.  Nope!  They are real!  They are gorgeous, too.

pink lemons

dates on the stem

I had a seriously hard time not buying bags and bags of produce. I was able to control myself by reminding myself that there were going to be plenty of other delicious food options all throughout the city.

I did buy some food and take it back to my hostel for lunch. I ate a salad with a mixture of greens (some of which were new to me), slices of avocado (a variety that has an edible peel), slices of tomato (that were dry-farmed to enhance their flavor) with pink lemon juice squeezed over it.  I had a side of thompson grapes and a fresh beets and greens juice from a market vendor.  The bagel was leftover from my free continental breakfast.

And, for a snack later, I ate a white pomegranate.  Those aren't fictional either!

If you, too, want to have a magical experience at this market, be sure you hit up the market on a Wednesday. I went back on Friday and it wasn't magical at all.

So, there you have it!  The non-chronological recap of my time in San Francisco.  I most definitely enjoyed my time in the city on the bay and already have the desire to go back with Paul to explore the region around the city.  Hooray for seeing and doing and eating new things.  It fills my soul.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Trolley Dances - Part 2

Welcome back!  If you missed it, Part 1 of the Trolley Dances is here.

When we left off, Becky and I and our fellow Trolley Dance audience members were on a train to the next dance site.  When we got off the train, we crossed the street and came upon an accordion player on stilts.

And then the trees came alive with dancers on stilts!

The musician and the dancers led us down the sidewalk pied piper style. It was at once solemn and playful, fantastical and ominous.

Following, following, following...

The dancers led us for about 3 blocks, melding into the building facades and slinking along all while the accordion music played.

We stopped when we got to the site where 2 of the dancers performed a duet; her on stilts and he at his given height.  The juxtaposition of heights made for engaging and unusual choreography.

The original stilt dancers again led us on our way until we bid farewell at a park.

After a short walk into the park, we were greeted by the sound of hand drums.  The drums could be heard before the dancers were visible.  Once we had all gathered around, the dancers and drummers performed for us. This performance made me miss the African dance classes I used to take when I lived in Massachusetts.  Such great energy!

And then, on to one more site!  This group made use of all of the space!

This performance told the history of the community we were in, which was appropriate since the space they used was the community college grounds.

I really enjoyed this performance all the way through, but I was especially tickled by the drumming on signs.

I am so glad we found out about this event!  It felt like it connected us with the community in a way that tourists don't usually get to experience.  2012 was the 9th year of this event and I got the sense that there were people in our group who had been to this event over many of the past years.

Want to see more of the 2012 San Francisco Trolley Dances?  Well, here you go!

And this, too!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Trolley Dances - Part 1

One of the most memorable and enjoyable things I did in San Francisco happened by chance. Right after Becky arrived, we headed over to the San Francisco Information Center to get her one of those all-you-can-ride transit passes.  While she was paying for her pass, I was lured outside by the sounds of an energetic street performance.  I was totally loving the group from afar and then they shifted to the area I was standing in.  I got an up close view of the last part of their performance.

I noticed that the audience seemed to be made up of mostly school-aged kids.  Then, I caught sight of signs that said "Trolley Dances".  At this point, Becky had rejoined me and I told her how curious I was about the performance and those signs.  Gratefully, she conjured up the common sense I seemed to be lacking at the moment and suggested I go ask them.  So, I did!

The kind volunteers holding the signs informed us they were part of the San Francisco Trolley Dances and gave us a postcard with more information.  They were doing a run of the shows for kids that day, but the main event was to be happening over the next 2 days. Becky and I decided we needed to make it a priority.

We got there for the first round of the Sunday shows and were given the explanation of how things would work.  The event was free (except for the cost of the train fare) and our group would be going to multiple sites throughout the city to watch various dance performances.  A guide would lead us from place to place, so all we had to do was stick with our group.  The first performance happened in the gallery where the tour started.

We then moved en masse out of the gallery and to the next site.

We watched a performance that was staged on the steps of the old mint building.

And then, we were back at the information center where we got to watch the whole performance this time around.  This group has such great energy! I loved it just as much the second time around.

Then, we all moved into the public transit system where we filled up a few train cars with our group. The long ride out to the next site was broken up by a large scale puppet performance staged outside the train window.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second half of Trolley Dances!

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