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Little Italy Mercato Blog


February 22, 2013 - 3:17pm
Christopher S.

When Little Italy restaurants are saying goodnight to their last dinner guests on Friday evening, Pudwill Berry Farms’ truck is leaving their Central Coast fields loaded with just picked raspberries, blueberries and blackberries for the Little Italy Mercato!

They’ve found the perfect location to grow sweet, ripe berries all year long and it’s made them a very popular stop at the market. Try fresh blackberries with Ancient Secret’s Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of Safari Crunch Granola, mix blueberries into Sustainable Pantry’s pancake batter, or spoon raspberry coulis over grilled sea bass from Poppa’s Fresh Fish or Salmon Slinger for a savory-sweet sensation. 

Strawberries from Suzie's Farm, Kawano Farms and J.R. Organics have been coming to the market in abundance. Chop these juicy, sweet fruits and use Greek yogurt from Divine Fresh to make these strawberry shortcake muffins. For lunch, toss arugula from Sage Mountain Farms, roasted almonds from Hopkins AG and feta from Nicolau Farms with bright red strawberries for a wonderful seasonal salad. Drizzle aged strawberry balsamic vinegar from Bistro Blends on to bring out the flavor of the berries. 

No matter how you eat them, berries from the Mercato will be berry good! 



February 14, 2013 - 8:57am
Chris S. & Brijet M.

Have you ever wondered about the different honeys at the Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market? Heritage Farm, Mikolich Honey and Papa Jim's honey offered by The Farmers' Daughter are all available at the Mercato. 

At each farm, the varietys of honey don’t generally come from different bees, but from the same bees on different diets; alfalfa honey is from bees feeding on fields of green, wildflower honey is harvested when rain brings blooming flowers, and orange blossom honey is from hives housed in orchards when the trees are flowering. They’re all completely raw and natural, unfiltered and unpasteurized.

Try drizzling honey over roasted winter squash from Schaner Farm, mixing it into Greek yogurt from Ancient Secrets for this pretty snack, or blending it with pistachios from Smit Orchards or Hopkins AG to make pistachio butter. Bee sure to also check out the adorable beeswax beehive candles at Mikolich Honey, raw honey comb from Papa Jim's and take home a jar of natural bee pollen from Heratige Farm.

Have a sweet day!



January 25, 2013 - 11:53am
C. Smyczek

Spruce up supper with a wide variety of winter herbs from the Little Italy Mercato; look for parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme at Suzie’ Farm, JR Organics or Gilbert Quintos Farm; Schaner Farms has bundles of herbs de Provence and Rivera’s Treasure Garden has a huge selection of potted herbs to take home and plant in your window box.

Visit your favorite rancher and make an herb-roasted chicken, pick up baby potatoes from Polito Farm’s booth to toss with a handful of fresh chervil or tarragon, or pick up locally caught grouper at Poppa’s Fresh Fish or Salmon Slinger for citrus baked grouper with thyme.

Go to Maciel Farm or Kawano Farms to make this herb and beet salad and use Springhill Cheese Company butter and fresh chives to make this turnip roots & greens ragout.

Herb is the word!


January 25, 2013 - 11:29am
Christopher S.

Wet your whistle at the Little Italy Mercato with a wide variety of refreshing beverages. Start with freshly squeezed citrus juice at Polito Farms, Schaner Farms, or Paradise Valley Ranch, try potent pomegranate juice from Lone Oak Ranch, or enjoy apple cider from Smit Orchards.

Pick up a pound of locally roasted organic beans from Cafe Virtuoso, grab a frothy cappuccino at Joe’s on the Nose, or take home loose leaves from the Tea Gallerie. Try iced tea and fruit juice concoctions from Thirsteas, creative combinations at Power Up Smoothie, or a classic Green Fix Organic Smoothie.

The over-21-set can even pick up locally grown, estate bottled Viognier, Merlot or Syrah from Triple B Ranches to bring home for dinner. What will you be sipping from the Little Italy Mercato on Saturday?

High Blood Pleasure

January 4, 2013 - 6:19pm
Chris S

The crimson hue of blood oranges adds a welcome splash of color to the Little Italy Mercato this time of year. Look for them at Lone Oak Ranch, Polito Family Farm and Gilbert Quintos; mix them in a salad of fresh greens from Maciel Farm or Second Chance with fresh chevre from Nicolau Goat Farm, red walnuts from Terra Bella Ranch and thin sliced red onion from Schaner Family Farm, with a drizzle of Fig Balsamic from Bistro Blends.

Use segments of blood orange to garnish wild caught filets from the Salmon Slinger or add them to rabbit from Spur Valley Ranch in this classic Italian-style roasted rabbit with blood orange. Visit Suzie’s Farm for carrots to cook in this blood orange glaze - we love it on their beets as well.

This citrus’ bright red flesh comes from anthocyanins, the same molecule that give red raspberries their color, and a powerful antioxidant.The Arrancia oranges at Tom King Farm are a Sicilian variety that are particularly sweet and low in acid.


December 21, 2012 - 1:36pm
Christopher S.

There’s no better way to warm up than with winter squash like butternut, delicata and kabocha at the Little Italy Mercato. Find your favorites at Schaner Farm, Gilbert Quintos Farm, JR Organics and more; simply roast them in the oven and drizzle with Mikolich Honey or top with Springhill Cheese Company’s cultured butter.

Stock up at Smit Orchards for this vegan butternut squash and apple bisque, or grab lacinato kale from Vang’s Farm and almonds from Hopkins AG for this hearty, crunchy squash salad.

Try Morocco Gold’s medjool dates and fennel from Suzie’s Farm in this stuffed acorn squash, or use sweet red walnuts from Terra Bella Ranch in this squash, caramelized onion, walnut flatbread. The sweetness of winter squashes means they’re also perfect in desserts like this creme brulee.

What will you do with squash this week?


December 14, 2012 - 12:28pm
C. Smyczek

Deep golden colored, earthy, aromatic chanterelles from Mello Mushrooms are back at the Little Italy Mercato this week. These delicate forest dwellers show their flavors best in simple preparations; roast them with estate bottled extra virgin oil from the California Olive and chopped garlic from Sage Mountain Farms and serve over fresh handmade pasta from Assenti’s, or sautee them with fresh greens like spinach from Suzie’s Farm, Swiss chard from Maciel Farm or purslane from Gilbert Quintos Farm.

Baby potatoes from Polito Farms become magical when cooked with chanterelles and a few sprigs of fresh tarragon from Rivera’s Treasure Garden; serve with a glass of Triple B Ranch Viognier for a perfect pairing. Pick up scallops from Poppa’s Fresh Fish and fresh thyme from Schaner Farms for scallops with chanterelles, or use JR Organics’ delicata squash and cannellini beans from Suncoast Farms in this chanterelle, sage and squash recipe.

The season for these wild harvested mushrooms is short and unpredictable, so get them this Saturday!



December 7, 2012 - 10:34am
C. Smyczek

Celebrate Hanukkah with festive foods from the Little Italy Mercato!

For potato latkes, visit Polito Farms, Sage Mountain Farm or Proios Farm, or branch out and use sweet potatoes from Vang’s Farm or try these beet and carrot latkes with veggies from Maciel Farm or Kawano Farms. Find oil for frying at Gourmet Delights of the Farmers’ Daughter, and if you’re making apple sauce see Lone Oak Ranch or Smit Orchards. Nicolau Goat Farm, Springhill Cheese Company, and our newest cheesemonger, the Cheese Store of San Diego, have your cheese needs covered. Fill your sufganiyot with your favorite flavor of Jackie’s Jam.

For the main course pick up a chicken from Spur Valley Ranch, a brisket from Son Rise Ranch or DaLe Ranch, or a wild Alaskan filet from the Salmon Slinger. Happy Hanukkah!


November 16, 2012 - 1:04pm
Chris S.

Find all the fixings for a Thanksgiving feast at the Little Italy Mercato!

Get your green beans from Kawano Farms or JR Organics, pick up potatoes at Polito Farm’s stand, and grab yams from Vang’s Farm or Proios Family Farm. Buy cauliflower from Maciel Farms and make this easy and delicious recipe to make a stunning side dish.

Start shopping for stuffing at Bread & Cie or Belen Bakery, then add oyster mushrooms from Suzie’s Farm, herbs from Shaner Farm, or fresh chestnuts from Smit Orchards. Try this roasted squash recipe with butternut squash from Sage Mountain Farm, honey from Mikolich, apples from Heritage Farms and walnuts from Terra Bella Ranch.

We’re giving thanks for our great local farms!


November 2, 2012 - 12:22pm
Brijet M.

November usually brings apples and pears, pomegranates and pumpkins to the Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market (and you will find those things this week!), but the heat wave a few weeks back means we’ll also see another wave of warm weather crops that are usually gone by this time of year.

JR Organics is still picking heirloom tomatoes; stretch summer out with this cool tomato and basil salad, using olives from Lisko Imports, basil from Schaner Farms and crumbling some chevre from Taste Cheese on top. Or welcome winter with a warm bowl of tomato soup! Belen Bakery country French bread and cheddar from Spring Hill Cheese Company will make a tasty grilled cheese to go with that salad!

Kawano Farms and Proios Family Farm have more eggplants and summer squashes, and we spotted sweet and hot peppers Suzie’s Farms.

Lone Oak Ranch and Smit Orchards are still harvesting peaches and pluots, and cantaloupe and watermelon are especially sweet right now. Enjoy the fall that feels like summer!