Al Courchesne, affectionately known as "Farmer Al," planted his first peach orchard in 1976. In the years that followed, he learned the best ways to grow all sorts of other foods too, including apples, plums, and most anything else that can sprout in Californian soil. Eventually, Al started Frog Hollow Farm, producing steady harvests for more than 20 years as a certified organic farmer with a focus on sustainable practices.
Frog Hollow's success likely lies in Al's fine-tuned growing process. As harvest nears, Al and his staff purposely underwater the trees. They also leave every piece of fruit on the branch until it's completely ripened. The process results in a heavily concentrated flavor, which has garnered much attention from national publications, including the New York Times, Better Homes and Gardens, O Magazine, and Cooking Light Magazine.
Farmer Al keeps all 133 acres of his farm in constant operation. Therefore, the farm is generally closed off to the public except for occasional special events. Locals, however, have plenty of opportunities to taste the seasonal harvests without secretly stowing away inside incoming shipments of fertilizer. They can buy the fruit at Frog Hollow Farm Market inside of the Ferry Building or get it shipped directly to their home via the farm’s delivery program. Otherwise, they can head to the farm kitchen, where chef Becky Courchesne uses it in turnovers, cookies, and other goods. The farm also sends blemished, but useable produce to their Community Supported Agriculture Program.
At first glance, Danville International Market looks like a typical American corner store. There’s a small produce section in the corner with fresh fruit, loaves of bread on the shelves, and a station for tea and coffee. However, a closer look reveals the International side of its inventory. In addition to racks that hoist rice and spices from around the globe, the deli counter serves up Mediterranean favorites such as split pea stew, baba ghannouj, and kabobs. They also offer international pastries, including baklava and Persian cookies.
In 1946, John Kinder opened his first meat market in the Bay Area town of San Pablo. More than 65 years later, Kinder continues to oversee daily operations at more than 15 neighborhood locations. He owes his continued success, in part, to the second- and third-generation family members who have leant their own tireless dedication to the company.
This dedication has certainly paid off. The Kinder family’s barbecue sauces, marinades, and rubs consistently take first-place ribbons from judges across the country and have earned the market a loyal following of cowboys and outlaws alike. In a 2008 article on what to order at Major League ballparks, the New York Times hailed the ball-tip steak sandwich and its "mess of Kinder's smoky-sweet sauce" as a much-welcome relief from the fried menu items at McAfee Coliseum. :m]]
Sakura houses a cornucopia of Japanese delicacies produced both locally and across the Pacific, with friendly grocers on hand to help locate hard-to-find ingredients. Sashimi-grade fish fans across ice, ready to add semitranslucent color to a salad or to blanket rice patties before their bedtime story. Although availability and prices vary, fillets may include ruby-red tuna ($19.99/lb.), glistening salmon ($14.99/lb.), and bashful yellowtail ($24.99/lb.). Among offerings fashioned in Sacramento, fresh tofu ($2.19) joins rice flour pastries from Osaka-ya, including gummy mochi and red bean manju. From farther afield, more than 10 kinds of Pocky sticks and Botan rice candy with edible wrappers satisfy taste buds frustrated by endless passport application rejections.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's orchard orderlies kettle-dip tart granny smiths into handmade caramel to craft an array of candy-coated creations. Caramel apples range from classically simple to loaded with toppings, accommodating different degrees of decadence more tastefully than a pair of convertible mink pants. Available flavors will vary by day, but may include everything from the english toffee—with almonds, toffee pieces, and a drizzle of rich milk chocolate—to the apple pie, coated in a white confection, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
Since 1933, The Food Mill has sustained and satisfied area eaters with a healthy and organic approach to its inventory, a plethora of produce, house-made baked goods, nutritional supplements, and bulk items. Old-fashioned breads and decadent cookies emerge fresh from local ovens; tempt hungry paparazzi on scooters with up-close views of The Food Mill's famous cookie bars ($2.89 for a dozen). Seasoned staff members stand by with answers and advice about the store's wide array of nutritional supplements, such as Food Mill-brand Vitamin D-3 soft gels ($4.69). Meanwhile, organic fruits and vegetables fetched from farmers nourish bodies the traditional way.