Read on for five favorites from my neck of the woods and give a shout out to yours! Here in the Bay Area there's a lot to choose from when it comes to handcrafted, local foodstuffs. I guess we're just really into creating and supporting and consuming the tasty goods our friends and neighbors are offering. A very popular way to find these products is to attend an 'underground' or 'pop-up' market where home cooks sell their wares on card tables covered with thrift store tablecloths, lemonade stand-style. But you can also find all of my picks below at local grocery stores like Bi-Rite Market and local farmers' markets. Additionally, many of these producers will ship, so you can easily satisfy your need for a taste of the Bay Area for a lot less than the price of a plane ticket.
To put this very short list together, I worked with two basic criteria: it had to pretty much be only available/created in the Bay Area and it had to be delicious. (An exception is St. Benoit yogurt which is available in Southern California through Whole Foods stores.) This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a peek into my fridge and cupboard for what's exciting me right now.
Seascape Strawberry Jam from INNA pickle INNA jam. This Berkeley based company produces delicious jams and pickles sourced from local fruit and vegetables. Owner and producer Dafna Kory then delivers her wares to customers via her super-cool, bike-powered cargo cart. For those of you who know the Bay Area hills, this is no small feat!
Hotdogs from 4505 Meats. Here's a local hotdog you can feel good about eating: uncured and all-natural, hormone and antibiotic-free, plump and juicy, BACON filled goodness. If you really want to go (ahem) hog wild, you can top your dog with 4505's famous chicharrones.
Yogurt Cheese fromSaint Benoît Yogurt Cheese. While Saint Benoît is not my favorite local yogurt (I prefer Straus Family Farms' Whole Milk), their yogurt cheese is out of this world. Thick, creamy, so luscious. The best strained yogurt I've even had. Use it as a substitute for cream cheese in dips and spreads or any time you would use creme fraiche. Or, just keep dipping your finger in to the little crock until it's all gone. Oops!
Handmade cheeses from Andante Dairy. I've raved about their hard to find butter, but Andante Dairy's cheeses are not to be missed. Try the goat's milk, triple cream Minuet or the bloomy rind cow's milk Pianoforte. Made at a (moderately) slow pace in Sonoma.
Yuba from Hodo Soy Beanery. Anyone who has visited Japan knows that tofu is so much more than the white blob in the plastic tub we often get in the US. Nothing against the serviceable white blob, but Hodo Soy tofu takes it to an entirely different level. In particular, try the yuba, or the skin that forms on the tofu as it's being heated. It is considered one of the most prized forms of tofu and is very delicate and labor-intensive to produce. All Hodo Soy products are organic and GMO-free.
Lemon Verbena lacto-fermented soda from Eatwell Farms. This is not your sugary pop. This isn't even one of your fancy 'dry' sodas. This is a sophisticated, sparkling, thirst-quencher from Drinkwell, a beverage making division of Eatwell Farms. The 'soda' (creator Lorraine Ottens prefers the term 'softer') is naturally fermented and contains tummy-loving pro-biotic (friendly) bacteria and lactic acid. You can buy fresh fruit flavored drinks from Lorraine at various farmers' markets or herb-based concoctions like rose geranium, lavender and lemon verbena (my favorite) at Rainbow Grocery.
Please share with us a special food that's available only in your area.