Saturday mornings in the southern part of the city (my neck of the woods) — amidst a maze of freeways, live chickens in a stupor, and competitive, full-contact roller derby among elderly Chinese-American women (just without the roller skates) — is Alemany Farmers’ Market time.

Don't ask, don't tell about the sedated live chickens nearby A mellower, late morning crowd at the Alemany Farmers' Market booths

This ain’t no yuppie Ferry Building farmers’ market; this is where the locals get down and dirty to compete for fresh fruits and vegetables at a discount. It mellows out as the morning progresses, but come early and you had better bring your game face, your knee pads, and prepare to throw some elbows back in self-defense: few area events can match the Hobbesian fight club required to purchase the morning’s bok choy before it is picked over. I haven’t experienced mosh pits like this in the Bay Area since I saw Fugazi play Berkeley’s 924 Gilman Street for their 1990 Repeater tour.

What the...? Deja tube from 924 Gilman St.As a curious enough side note, this past week I randomly came across a half-hour of video footage of that very show on YouTube — video I had no idea was being taken at the time. And sure enough, I’m all over the video: at the front of the stage, looking like Cousin Itt‘s mutant tall brother. Let’s just say that the experience of seeing yourself on YouTube 19 years after the fact, in video you didn’t know existed, was bizarre enough that I had to submit the phenomenon as “deja tube” on

With that kind of slam dancing, it’s either a Fugazi concert or the Alemany Farmers’ Market:

Sabores del Sud and Ritual Coffee Roasters

But back to the Farmers’ Market… Further away from the mainstage mêlée are the prepared food vendors, including Sabores del Sud — a Walnut Creek-based caterer that runs a cart service specializing in South American food. They offer Argentine alfajores and are the only option at the market for espresso (although even that is arguable). Using a single-group Astra machine and Equator Estate beans, they pull shots with absolutely no crema. However, the shot is full-bodied and carries a bit of flavor: mostly a mellow spice and some earthiness. Not a bad cup, but the espresso they make doesn’t differ much from filter coffee. At which point you’re better off getting something from the nearby Ritual Coffee Roasters tent.

The Sabores del Sud coffee and espresso tent The Sabores del Sud espresso - or at least that that's what they called it

At the Ritual tent, they don’t offer espresso. But I appreciate good coffee purveyors who know their limits of what’s good in the field, and espresso doesn’t always travel well outside of the café. This Ritual booth makes French press batches and uses them to fill air pots. For $2, we had an excellent cup of their Finca El Recuerdo Colombian micro-lot coffee.

If you were impatient for a morning cup, the woman attending the Ritual booth was a little over-earnest to customers in line: taking a bit of time to explain Colombian microclimates and the process of making fully washed coffee. But this is a farmers’ market for locals. As long as you’re not among the early morning “professionals” — those thrown to the mat by a cadre of 78-lb/78-year-old Chinese grandmothers in hot pursuit of cheap long green beans — chances are that people are going to strike up conversations about the lightning bugs and recent weather back home in North Carolina.

Read the review of Sabores del Sur. As for the Ritual Roasters booth, we still don’t rate it if it isn’t espresso.

Ritual Coffee Roasters' booth at the Alemany Farmers' Market: French press only Serving a cup of Ritual's Finca El Recuerdo Colombian