Tour operators target a whole new market
A TASTING tour of San Francisco’s tri-weekly Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is one of the highlights of Trafalgar’s eight-day San Francisco and Wine Country Delights itinerary, and not only because the providores offer temptations such as ‘‘tasty salted pig parts’’ in ‘‘portable meat cones’’.
‘‘A visit to a farmers market is really about meeting the locals,’’ says Trafalgar managing director Matthew Cameron-Smith. ‘‘It’s quite an immersive experience — the smells, the tastes, the colours.
‘‘We use such markets as an interactive part of our itineraries. In Tuscany, for example, you visit a market with a chef, select the produce with them, then go to their restaurant, where they cook the food.’’
Travel industry veteran David Goldman, of Sydneybased Goldman Travel, agrees that the atmosphere created by markets makes them a tourism drawcard.
‘‘I don’t know anyone who does not enjoy a farmers market,’’ Goldman says. ‘‘Many tour operators are putting them on their itineraries and some of them even incorporate lunch and cooking schools.’’
The Noosa Farmers Market attracts thousands of visitors each week with its fresh, local produce from operators such as Eumundi Strawberries, The Naked Carrot and Noosa Lime Co, according to Tourism Noosa’s Susan Ewington. ‘‘A lot of people come to Noosa [specifically for] the market,’’ adds Denise Platt, manager of Nautilus Noosa Resort. ‘‘It’s a great place to have a coffee, a sausage on a roll or buy beautiful tasty tomatoes or fresh passionfruit . . . people like to buy local.’’
On a much grander scale, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, with its 135 vendors, has contributed to San Francisco’s resurgence as one of America’s food capitals.
‘‘Eighteen years ago, the cheese scene in America was pathetic,’’ says Lisa Rogovin, founder and chief executive of Edible Excursions, which conducts walking tours in the area. The Cowgirl Creamery is changing that and a visit to its stall — with more than 200 cheeses — is a highlight. But Boccalone Salumeria, with its ‘‘tasty salted pig parts’’, is by far the most unusual of the stalls. (There is also a full-time store inside the adjacent Ferry Building.) This ‘‘artisanal salumi venture’’ has more than 20 varieties of Italian cured meats, or salumi, made with sustainably raised, heritage-breed pork from mostly local farms and the highest-quality salts and spices.
Customers can buy panini, salumi sliced to order or salumi platters. And, of course, there are those portable meat cones to enjoy while strolling through the market, which attracts up to 25,000 shoppers each week.
Lisa Allen was a guest of Trafalgar.