No, I haven't finishing making another post about my recent California adventure! Even though I'm still missing little (BIG) things like Panda Express or Target, I'm back in Paris taking off on all my creative projects. Still, the Grand Lake Farmer's Market in Oakland, California has been on my mind. It is seriously the friendliest market I have ever been to. The vendors to the crowd to (even!) the policemen were the most cheerful, passionate, and caring people I've ever met (and yet, technically all strangers). It was a big culture shock despite being American. After dealing with Parisians for three years, it was so nice to be embraced at this market. I think a vendor even hugged me. Or it was in my dreams... yeah, the market was that nice.
While we did get out to San Francisco, the highlight of our trip was this market.
Okay, and City Lights was amazing. I LOVE City Lights and you've gotta get your book on there.
Back to the market. Not only are the vendors are très sympa (very nice) at Grand Lake, they were so knowledgable about and connected to their products. Petit Copain was a little skeptical when vendors got into heated, fervent speeches about antioxidants, vitamins, and other organic elements that were good for certain parts of the body (if not only for healing all kinds of illnesses). He really raised his eyebrows at one vendor who claimed a certain vegetable could cure cancer. While I'm a bit skeptical too, I can agree with these vendors that eating a healthy diet will most likely prevent an early death, especially one caused by obesity. And hey, I'm from California too. I love healthy foods, gemstones, yoga, meditation, and homeopathic remedies like the rest of us. But I do trust in medicine and science as well. Even if that's contradictory, I think I find a good balance in alternative medicines/lifestyles and the realm of established science and medicine.
Our first matter of order when attending this market was to pick up a juice at the Native Co. Booth. I don't exactly remember the juice I had, but it was a combination of lavender, apple, some greens, and other delightful ingredients. Petit Copain got a smoothie with nuts and it quieted him down for a little while about science and alternative medicine. And of course, he likes to enjoy food and drink the French way: taking time to taste the flavors, leisurely stopping to enjoy life. After this juice, he was in a better mood to hear all the spiels about organic food.
Happy Boy Farms is a very popular vegetable vendor, with lots of squashes, tomatoes, kale, chard, and the like. I'm not too sure if this vendor was the one who sold the beautiful salads that included edible flowers, but you'll find that salad quite quickly. Grand Lake is a smallish market, easy to navigate, yet one that is bursting with food.
Another favorite (no pictures sadly) was Good Faith Farms who sold raw, organic olives and EXTRAORDINARY, out of this world tapenade. We enjoyed a long talk with one of their booth vendors, who gave us a detailed history about the farm and their olive processing. But Petit Copain and I were most hypnotized by the tasting. The olives were damn good and thinking about that tapenade makes my mouth water even now.
Other vendors to note: Inzana Ranch & Produce for great, organic nuts and trail mixes; Marshall's Farm for natural honey (try the Wild West Wildflower, a mild but floral tasting honey), and Twin Girls Farms for succulent peaches, plums, and more.
To finish off our market experience, we enjoyed an Ethopian-styled coffee and then a great Himalayan-fusion meal at Cafe Zamala, who offers free range chicken and kale in their Himalayan Meal plate (you can have it vegetarian or vegan too). Petit Copain also tried some tamales (his first!) by Donna’s Enchamales, a great Mexican-Californian treat.
We took our produce on our trip to the Sequioas, and it was quite lovely to BBQ our organic squash, aubergine (eggplant), and other tasty treats from the Grand Lake market. While the prices are a bit higher than we're used to in France, it was worth every penny to splurge on the great produce there. And we got to support small farmers and local businesses.
So if you're in San Francisco, head over to the Oakland area for this market. Grand Lake Market is every Saturday, from 9am-2pm.