Kristine Valenzuela is a corporate woman by day but spends her free time immersed in many passions. Besides developing a new food and lifestyle blog Is Everybody Listening?, she enjoys organic food, wine, her husband and two daughters (with a third on the way), guest blogging/writing and figuring out how to how to get the most out of life. Follow her thoughts and rants on Twitter @specialksd.
Farmers Market Update: San Diego (Little Italy)
by Kristine Valenzuela
Hello from sunny San Diego! There are so many great things to say about this area but I think what people most associate with San Diego is the near-perfect weather. Yes, we really do have it made living here! The constant moderate climate produces incredible fruits and veggies year-round so I’ve always been a fan of our local farmers markets. Obviously, summer is the highlight of the year and brings tons of varieties of produce with amazing colors. In particular, I’m a fan of the season’s strawberries, peaches and tomatoes, although there are plenty of good eats at any time.
Last weekend, I visited one of the area’s cornerstone markets, the Little Italy Mercado. The market is barely three years old but has grown from just a few hundred visitors each Saturday to well over 3,000. Seeing its growth over the years has been exciting to say the least. It’s located in San Diego’s urban enclave of Little Italy which is convenient to the area’s growing food scene.
The market features some of the county’s most established farms in addition to many up-and-coming vendors. Joes on the Nose is our local ‘big orange truck’ and has become everyone’s favorite wake up call. They can be found at other markets, driving through different business parks or catering events. If you ever see them, you MUST try their Aloha Latte with homemade coconut whipped cream. You won’t regret it.
Joes on the Nose
This spectacular bitter melon from Sage Mountain Farm was one of the first non-traditional vegetables I came across and couldn’t resist snapping a picture. They also had the most vibrant long eggplant. Simply beautiful.
Berries from Pudwill Berry Farms are a huge hit in my house and with such a variety to choose from, it’s not surprising. Sometimes I even share them with my kids Southern California is also known for its avocados and many residents are lucky enough to have different varieties growing on trees in their yards. These Reed avocados were the size of softballs.
Fresh salsa is a staple at our local Mexican food establishments and in many households. Making it is easy thanks to having awesome peppers. These golden treasure peppers hail from Suzie’s Farm, a highly-regarded farm known for their meticulously ‘groomed’ produce.
Golden Treasure Peppers
Suzie’s Farm always has the biggest variety of micro greens. This is a photo of a third of what they offer through the markets. These would go fantastic in a summer salad with some lemon cucumbers.
Back to the subject of Mexican food, we are truly fortunate to have many great fisheries too. You haven’t lived until you’ve had ceviche from Poppa’s Fresh Fish! Even though I’m pregnant and supposed to stay away from it, I sneak some ceviche every now and then. My mouth literally waters just looking at a picture of it.
No summertime trip to Little Italy Mercado is complete without grabbing a ‘paleta’ from Viva Pops. They’ve become so popular at the market that they opened a shop in nearby Normal Heights, which I hear is also very busy. All of their gourmet pops are made with ingredients sourced from local farmers, many of whom are also vendors at the Mercado.
To bring it back to the neighborhood, the market is in the middle of many small Italian food restaurants and vendors. This is why it’s great that places like Lisko Imports bring fresh pastas out to the street for even easier access.
My purchases for the day:
- White eggplant
- Tri color potatoes
- Lemon cucumbers
- Reed avocados
- Two gourmet pops from Viva Pops – strawberry and salted caramel
- A container of truffle salt
Stay classy San Diego!