vegansaurus!

10/15/2008

Review: Crocker Galleria farmers market!  »

Farmers Market Thursdays can make a work-week. The Crocker is attached to the Hunter Dulin building, a.k.a 111 Sutter (one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, incidentally), which makes it ridiculously convenient for the suits on the West Coast Wall Street, and because it’s so small, the nice vendors don’t have to make much of an effort to get to know you. The people I used to buy my bread from whose name I cannot remember—they do French-style breads and pastries (god how I lust for those little croissants) (damn you real butter)—they would remember what I want, and we had silly running jokes, and it made me happier to buy from them.


I think that the produce selection is very good. Yes, it is smaller than other markets, which to me is a selling point. You can see everything and make good choices without feeling overwhelmed or rushed. Everyone I’ve spoken with has answered my questions, and helped explain plant items with which I was not at all familiar. For example: yam greens. I neither knew that yams had greens, nor that they were edible. According to the vendor, they are a little bit sweet, and indeed they were.

The blueberry sellers have excellent blueberries. The summer fruits look delectable, and I never had a bad one. Prices are cheaper than supermarkets, although how they compare to the bigger, more popular markets I cannot say, being a lazy person who preferred the convenience of taking an elevator and walking 50 steps to the market each week. This was before the days of my CSA, of course. Now I shop farmers markets to supplement what the farm doesn’t bring me.

The size of the produce isn’t frightening, either, which I think is a big selling point. When melons made their first appearance, the cantaloupes were exactly what I expected cantaloupes to look, feel, and smell like. The Crocker farmers market is smaller than Heart of the City, and it’s only once a week, but I think the quality of the the produce is higher, and nearly everything is organically grown as well. If you are anywhere near the Crocker Galleria on Thursdays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., you must check it out. At least get an apple or a peach (depending on the season, of course).

Ultimately this place is great. I would like it better without the salmon guy always hassling you to eat his fish carcass, and some of those office ladies can be extremely pushy around a table of vegetables; those are personal irritations though, and don’t reflect at all on the high quality of produce and friendliness you get at this market. Buy a bunch of greens you’ve never tried before, and spend a little too much money on the homemade applesauce, because it is delicious and you won’t find it anywhere else.

[photo by Joel]

10/07/2008

Review: Medicine Eatstation  »

At first I thought that I could not find the words to describe how much I loathe stupidĀ Medicine stupid “Eatstation” (it’s not even a word and no I will NOT teach my browser to learn it, as I did my name and the various permutations of “vegan”), but then I discovered that yes, yes I could.

I used to work right next to the Crocker, and I didn’t have to technically leave the building to get to Medicine from my office. Now, if I hadn’t been stuck with shitty insurance* that charged me a zillion dollars for my various medications and therapy, and refused to cover my nutritionist costs even though I have a medical diagnosis that should allow me free nutritionist visits for the rest of my crazy life, I would buy lunch more often. Still, after a year of employment at my that job, I felt as though I’d plumbed the depths of the third-floor food court (OF HELL), including Medicine. In fact, I tried it three times. Why? Because I am incapable of learning my lesson the first time, is why.

Each time I’ve gone, the service has been slow, and the staff at the counter has always been rude. They ignore the customers, they keep one register closed despite an out-the-door line (people, NO, just, go get soup), and two out of three times I’ve seen them stop taking orders to chat with each other. Just flat-out stop working! Christ, it was just terrible.

The food is also BAD. I’ve had their signature Medicine roll, the miso-braised eggplant—which is no longer on the menu—and a cold soba salad, and they were equally yet singularly yucky, not to mention overpriced. The worst offense was the limp, squishy, tasteless soba. My mother, a white lady from south Jersey who now lives in a Bay Area suburb and teaches spinning classes to other suburban white ladies, can make better cold soba salads, and she hasn’t been to Japan since 1984. Truth. [NB: do not be fooled by the picture, that food is the opposite of delicious.]

Also, the prices are astronomical. Wonderful Japanese restaurants like all-vegan Cha-Ya and very-vegan-friendly Minako don’t charge so much for such simple dishes, and when their prices do match Medicine’s, the food is incomparably better.

FURTHERMORE, after a much-ballyhooed temporary closing, Medicine reopened and was no longer vegan, instead serving local, wild-caught, long-lived, guaranteed-happy, volunteered-to-be-murdered-so-honored-were-they-to-be-part-of-Medicine’s-cuisine fish as well. Maybe this isn’t so bad—now it’s not a shitty overpriced pretentious vegan place, it’s just a shitty overpriced pretentious place, so it isn’t contributing to our bad reputation. But no, think of the fish!

The last time I went in, the day of the terrible soba, I waited for 45 minutes for it. I know, right? After all that I still wasted three-quarters of my unpaid-yet-mandated lunch hour waiting to get food I couldn’t even manage to finish once I got it. About 30 minutes in, another front counter girl ended the personal phone call that she’d been engaged in when I arrived, and handed me a “Sorry About the Wait, Let Us Make It Up to You” card, good for a whole 15 percent off my next purchase at Medicine, expiring that Friday. Because of course I was going to come back, I am a stupid, stupid person.

Truth: I did not.

*Never complain about your insurance, because one day you may find yourself with two weeks’ of pills left and zero medical coverage, and then you will miss the days of paying a lot of money for those medications, because whatever “a lot” was, it wasn’t as much as the retail price.

[photo via yelp]

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