Viva la Farmers Market
I don’t expect to feel I’ve been transported to a Paris cafe when I take my basket and head for the Grand Lake Farmers Market on a Saturday morning. But standing there, talking about sausages with Thierry Tournache, it was hard to remember I was in Oakland. It’s the compelling French accent and his way of engaging you, eyeball to eyeball, over the saucisse de canard aux figues (pork and duck sausage with figs and brandy) and the saucisson a l’ail (a salami-style garlic sausage that, sliced and served on a baguette with Dijon mustard as a dinner party hors d’œuvre, proved popular with my friends). Tournache has many other sausages at the stall he mans across the street from the Grand Lake Theater. There’s wild boar, venison and rabbit (to the alarm of my Francophile friend who keeps them as pets). And by the way, I was not getting special treatment from Tournache. He gives up-close-and-personal attention and the French vocal treat to anyone who stops to check out his offerings. Farmers markets are as much about this type of grassroots personal contact as the produce or product one is buying. It’s all so organic.
The sausages Tournache sells are made in Hayward by Fabrique Délices (www.fabriquedelices.com), a “traditional French charcuterie company” that has been in the Bay Area since 1985. It is artisanal in that, while the company has grinding equipment, most things are done by hand. Naturally, the company uses free-range and sustainably farmed animals. (The sausages are also available at Andronico’s and Oakville Grocery and other “respected” outlets.) Ingredients are local (many from the Bay Area, some from the greater United States). The recipes are French. And, it turns out, what Tournache offers on a Saturday morning is just the tip of a range of more than 150 products, including pâtés, mousses and confits. I found all this out after seeing his sausages and wanting to know more about them. The experience also gave me another reason to head for the local farmers markets. You just never know what you’ll find.
—By Wanda Hennig