Tag Archives: farmer’s markets

Little Italy Mercato: Fresh Pappardelle with Sausage and a Salad

Farmer's Market Little Italy, San Diego
Mother’s Day weekend found us enjoying a relaxing two days filled with food this year.  Big surprise, right?  To be fair, it all began with a visit to Little Italy’s Mercato — more for a Saturday morning downtown than the possibility of what we might purchase.  And purchase we did.  The sole market bag we brought didn’t quite hold what we ended up with — most of it chosen for either dinner that night, or breakfast the next day.

We don’t often venture downtown, but when we do, we’re left questioning why we don’t go more frequently.  It’s fairly quiet on the weekends, and with more and more residents occupying the high-rise condominiums, the sidewalks are dotted with dog-walkers, those who have stopped to have a latte with the morning paper, and lots of farmer’s market shoppers holding bunches of flowers and bags overflowing with weekend cooking possibilities.

In much the same way we do when traveling, we pause in front of a real estate office and scan the photos of “For Sale” properties in the area, imagining ourselves living there instead of where we currently live.  It’s a pleasant pastime we’ve entertained ourselves with seemingly forever — especially in the years when we could barely afford to dream.  What is it about being able to walk just about everywhere one needs to go in a day’s time?  Could we actually get along with only one car?  Might we adjust to living without much of what we own, trading it in for a spectacular view and convenience?

Maybe — but it’s all a game of wondering that takes second fiddle to the marvelous array of fresh offerings we sampled and purchased that day.  The jacarandas were in bloom, the weather was perfect, so why not relax and enjoy the possibilities.

Pasta and a salad?  Or maybe stuffed French toast.

What about all three?

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San Diego’s Specialty Produce: Vegetables Galore!

SpecProdVeg
One of the difficulties that arises when I cook is not being able to find particular ingredients.  Most often, the item is one of a few featured in a recent issue of a food magazine I enjoy, and because the content is seasonal, one would believe that finding those ingredients might be easier.

Unfortunately, it isn’t true, and when it comes time for me to cook something new, I have to drive to several stores to find what I’m looking for — if I can find it at all.  When I am able to locate that one special ingredient, I’m left wondering where it was grown, and by whom, annoyed that most often, it isn’t from anywhere near San Diego.  Thankfully, I have a new venue to track down those one of a kind ingredients when it comes to fresh fruit or vegetables:  Specialty Produce.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Specialty Produce and tour their facility in Middletown, an industrial sort of neighborhood relatively close to the airport and downtown.  It’s a bustling place where employees are either wheeling unique merchandise through the warehouse, or monitoring phones and computers taking orders from local chefs and other merchants.

Here was finally a place I could get chervil, or purslane, or chanterelles when no one else has them.  And there’s a great section with produce from area growers with items I’ve never seen before — like Red Frill Mustard and Watermelon Radishes.  It was like being in a candy shop when you’re a veggie lover like me — the only drawback is that one can only purchase so much fresh food and still be able to enjoy it within the next day or so.

The best way to utilize this great San Diego resource if you’re an avid home cook like me is to check out what’s in stock using their website.  It will tell you not only what’s in stock, but what’s in peak season and at the height of quality.  Nutritional information is also available which is something I always keep my eye on.

Along with the mustard and radishes I mentioned above, I brought home Black Kale, Yellow Foot Chanterelles, Green Garlic, Oro Blanco Grapefruit, and some cute little Hauer Pippin from Windrose Farm in Paso Robles.

Oh the fun I’ve had cooking with this food…

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