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Blue Bottle, Ferry Building

I made a salad worth sharing.  I don't have a picture.  But imagine.

Gouda cheese.  Aged five years, just enough salt, and toothsome crystals.

Satsuma oranges.  Small, skin warm from sitting in the sun, sweet with only a hint of tart.

Spicy wild arugula.  Good when eaten straight out of the bag.

Each ingredient good enough to be eaten alone, but when combined with a basic vinaigrette: a star salad to add to your repertoire.

Since I don't care too much for fruit or sweet flavors, I was surprised by how much I liked this salad.  I too often envision salad as spring lettuce mix weighed down with large cuts of vegetables and a heavy pour of dressing.  But this salad is all about balance.  Sweet, salty, spicy.  Lightly dressed.  It's simple, and, as I would expect from a farmers market cookbook, the emphasis is flavor.  But it's not rustic.  It has layers, it's elegant.  No one component dominates.  I could eat this over and over again.

I might as well segue into a brief interlude: San Francisco.  I miss it.  Right now, I miss the Ferry Building Farmers Market (as we called it).  Even though the experience is as pricey and as curated as a walk through Disneyland, I still miss it.  Waiting in line for Blue Bottle, eating a smoked salmon tartine while sitting on a bench, sampling cheese from Cowgirl Creamery (inside) and Andante (outside), pastries from Della Fattoria, greens from Star Route, bread from Acme, the pork belly sandwich from Roli Roti.  Sometimes we took a ferry to Sausalito, where the sun clinged to our faces.  Sometimes the Ferry Building was just a brief stop to stock up on picnic fare before continuing to Tomales Bay for oysters.  At one point, I worked for a company that planned beautiful, flawless events in, among other iconic locations, the Ferry Building.  Over four years, the Ferry Building became one of my favorite places in San Francisco.  I even miss the man with the inedible vegan drinks.  [Apparently his table is so memorable that the owner of a small guest house we stayed at in Chiang Mai, Thailand, asked if he was still there (she remembering him from her brief stint in the Bay Area).]

The market wasn't practical.  But it was pure pleasure.

I'm going for a visit soon.  And when I do, I'm setting aside a Saturday morning for the market.  I hope the sun will be out.

Back to the salad.  I have a few notes:

Other hard, crystallized cheeses would work well here - a freshly grated parmesan, a Manchego, or even a mimolette (which by coincidence, I first came to love at the Ferry Building Farmers Market).

I added roasted brussels sprouts, and it was a nice complement to the other flavors.

Toasted hazelnuts would probably be amazing, similar to the nutty flavor of roasted brussels sprouts.

The vinaigrette tasted a little too much of oil to me, so I tweaked the amount of red wine and balsamic vinegars.  I also added a squeeze of lemon and a small amount of agave nectar.

Arugula Salad with Shaved Aged Gouda and Satsumas
From the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market Cookbook
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 minced shallot
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
A few drops of balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups of arugula (if the larger kind, tear with your hands)
3 satsuma or other mandarin oranges, sectioned and pith removed
1/4 lb. wedge aged gouda

How To:

Combine the shallot, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl.  Whisk and let sit for a few minutes, as you continue preparing the salad.  Then whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In a separate bowl, combine the arugula and orange segments. 

Drizzle the amount of vinaigrette you want over the salad, and toss. 

Add freshly grated cheese, and serve. [The book recommends using the vegetable peeler to shave the cheese.  It worked well.]

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