Seeking a variety of dates
July 2, 2013 2:11 AM   Subscribe

Dates are pretty tasty, but I only see US-grown Medjool dates at the store. Wikipedia claims there are many more varieties. Where can I find other kinds of dates in or near San Francisco?

I am looking for the names of specific stores you have been to, or varieties you have eaten. Please also tell me random date-related anecdotes from around the world.
posted by ryanrs to Food & Drink (11 answers total)
You can try and buy dozens of varieties at Alameda farmer's market.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 2:39 AM on July 2, 2013

Seconding farmers markets. I have had several varieties from Santa Monica's on a regular Wednesday.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:12 AM on July 2, 2013

I don't know what's in your area, but the Ashland (OR) Food Co-op regularly stocks a selection of dates. If you have a thriving food co-op nearby they probably do the same. Otherwise, come on up, see a play, eat some food, buy some dates.
posted by uncaken at 5:01 AM on July 2, 2013

There's a stand at the Civic Center farmer's market in San Francisco that's been selling a large varieties of dates for many years. The selection changes a little throughout the year but they've always got several kinds. In season, they also have bunches of ripening dates still on the branch, which is kind of interesting.

I think that dates are kind of not in season right now, because they had lots of grapefruits on display last time I saw them a couple weeks ago. But they still had plenty of dates.
posted by Quietgal at 6:28 AM on July 2, 2013

Random date-related anecdote:

When I was on a motorcycle trip across Africa, my travel companion and I landed in a small Sudanese village once. When we asked people for directions, a tall man very kindly invited us for tea. He turned out to be a date merchant.
When we got to his house, which we found by the colours that the door was painted in (no street names, no house numbers) we saw a big walled yard with heaps of sun-dried dates, a meter high. The dates were simply stacked on a tarp on the (earth) floor. There were at least five different kinds, all unsugared, dried and pleasantly firm and chewy.

Of course, we were invited to stay over, which we gladly accepted; there was a festivity of some kind that night, all the villagers came over, there was music and dancing and a simple tasty meal. We entertained the people by showing pictures of our country and answering lots of questions they asked us about it.
We tasted all the different dates, they were all wonderful and a good time was had by all.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:19 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

There is also a stand at the Ferry Building farmers market on Saturday that sells all kinds of dates (varieties depend on the season). It may be the same as the one at the Civic Center, but I thought I'd mention it just in case Saturday works better for you.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 8:23 AM on July 2, 2013

Civic Center and Alemany farmers markets. Alemany used to have a family that drove up from Palm Springs with dates. May well be the same stand as at Ferry Building.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:36 AM on July 2, 2013

I was going to suggest the date guy at the Saturday Berkeley farmer's market, but it sounds like it may be the same guy everyone else is talking about. So basically pick the day of the week and location that works for you and hit the market. :) He's generous with the samples, which is how I learned that there are some dates I can actually eat without having to wrap them in bacon and stuff them with cheese.

Berkeley Bowl also sometimes has multiple varieties of dates, but not always.
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:53 AM on July 2, 2013

I've seen a couple of different date varieties at Canyon Market in Glen Park; they buy from local organic farmers, according to their website. Probably still better to buy directly at the farmer's market, though!
posted by littlemisslaika at 6:31 PM on July 2, 2013

There are at least two SF date vendors at the various farmers markets, possibly three. Generally Alemany has the most variety. Ferry Building is very seasonal, but generally has a good supply of rarer varieties in those short seasons. If you find Barhee dates, grab them. So good. Also, try fresh dates if you see them. Totally different experience.
posted by judith at 8:53 PM on July 2, 2013

If you can get to the Old Oakland farmers' market on Friday, there's a stand I know only as "the date guy" who has a pretty good selection and quite good quality.

Non-locally, The Date People have been highly recommended to me. Unfortunately, the recommendation was along the lines of "Their dates are so amazing, it's worth dealing with their flakiness, like not having updated the website in a year."
posted by Lexica at 9:08 PM on July 2, 2013

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