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Little Italy Mercato Blog


May 3, 2013 - 9:44am
Christopher S.

What’s the best way to enjoy artisan cheese from Nicolau Goat Farm at the Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market? Maybe it’s classic chevre layered with beets from Sage Mountain Farms in a beautiful terrine. Could it be the goat feta combined with citrus-y sorrel from J.R. Organics and extra-virgin oil from the California Olive in sorrel pesto?

We love to spread red pepper chevre on country French bread from Bread & Cie and top it with caramelized fennel from Maciel Farm. Slice up aged Stanislaus Supreme and serve on a cheese plate with Fuji apple wedges from Lone Oak Ranch, roasted almonds from Hopkins AG and a drizzle of Heratige Farm honey, or try the Stagionato Misto, a semi-firm cheese of sheep and goat milk, garnished with peach-blackberry preserve from Terra Verde Foods.

Try these variations of Goat Cheese Salads, using Kawano Farms' strawberries and Smit Orchard cherries. You can't go wrong with a Strawberry, Basil and Goat Cheese Panini; grab whole wheat levain from Belen Bakery and basil from Suzie's Farm.

What’s your goat-to recipe?


April 19, 2013 - 9:45am
Chris S.

Look for the first of the summer squashes in the form of tender, young zucchini at the Little Italy Mercato farmers' market this week from J.R. Organics and Vangs Farm. Enjoy them raw in an early summer salad with baby artichokes from Suncoast Farm, Maciel Farm’s fresh peas, spring onion from Tom King Farm and a drizzle of arbequina olive oil from Thyme of Essence.

Get some squash on the grill next to sliced ciabatta from Bread and Cie and sandwich it together with chevre from Nicolau Goat Farm and Basiltops’ Pesto Perfecto for an amazing zucchini panini. Toss it with sweet corn from Kawano Farms’ and a splash of aged balsamic from The California Olive for a roasted corn and zucchini salad.

Grilling zucchini is easy! Check out these great instructions. Make a cold zucchini soup, using Ancient Secrets' yogurt and SpringHill Cheese Co. butter. Whip up this almond butter based hummus and chop zucchini into sticks for dipping and you have yourself a healthy, crunchy snack!

Oh my squash, that’s a tasty vegetable!


April 5, 2013 - 1:03pm
Chris S.

Savor the sweet taste of spring in fresh, green English peas from JR Organics and Maciel Farm at the Little Italy Mercato. Sautee them with a little green garlic from Schaner Farms and southern California olive oil from the Farmer’s Daughter, or blend them into a cool, chilled pea soup with fresh spring herbs like mint, basil, parsley or even cilantro from Rivera’s Treasure Garden.

Mix them into a seafood paella with locally caught fish and shellfish from the Salmon Slinger or Poppa’s Fresh Fish. Look for pea tendrils at Vang’s Farm and stir-fry them with oyster mushrooms from Suzie’s Farm, or pick up sugar snap peas at Second Chance Farms and dunk them in raw, vegan Majestic Garlic spread, cilantro-chili Bitchin’ Sauce, or H&B Guac Shack’s avocado dip.

Peas out!


March 29, 2013 - 10:43am
C. Smyczek

Celebrate Passover with fresh, local food from the Little Italy Mercato. Make pomegranate braised brisket of grass fed beef from Da-Le Ranch and juice from Lone Oak Ranch, or visit Descanso Valley Ranch for a label rouge chicken with 40 cloves of garlic from Sage Mountain Farm.

Try orange glazed salmon with wild Alaskan coho from the Salmon Slinger and don’t forget carrots from Maciel Farm and Mikolich Honey for tzimmes. Check out these fresh Passover dessert recipes that are homemade with local ingredients like lemons from Rancho Mexico Lindo, raspberries from Pudwill Berry Farms and pistachios from Hopkins AG.

Chag Sameach!


March 15, 2013 - 10:40am
Chris S.

Stock up for St. Patrick’s Day at the Little Italy Mercato this week; buy a beef brisket at DaLe Ranch and cure your own corned beef, pick up potatoes at Polito Farm’s stand, and grab bright green savoy cabbage from Suzie’s Farm; find more cabbages at Maciel’s Farm and Vang’s Farm.

Pick up kale from Second Chance Farm or J.R. Organics for traditional Irish colcannon and garnish it with green garlic from Sage Mountain Farm or Schaner Farm. Don’t miss Irish soda bread from Belen Bakery, and try the Shamrock Cabbage soup from Fresh Start Foods.
Seafood lovers will want to visit Poppa’s Fresh Fish for an authentic Irish breakfast of a dozen fresh, briny oysters.

Grab a bag of dried fruit and locally grown walnuts and almonds from Terra Bella Ranch, all tied up in green ribbon! The hens at Spur Valley Ranch are getting in the spirit by laying eggs with green shells - pick some up for the cluck ‘o the Irish! 


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.