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Fondues and Fon-Don'ts

February 16, 2012 - 6:03pm
Chris S

Fondue is the classic Swiss dish of melted cheese with wine, served in a communal pot with all kinds of delicious treats for dipping and perfect for this week's chilly nights. The North Park Farmers' Market has all the ingredients you need, and here are a few tips to make your fondue fun:

DO start with great cheeses. Stop by Taste Cheese and pick up great cave aged Gruyere from the mountains of Switzerland, and maybe a tub of their signature Shredded Blend, or try Springhill Cheese Company’s Old World Portuguese.
DO serve crunchy vegetables like bright purple carrots, crisp celery and French radishes from J.R. Organics; romanesco cauliflower from Suzie’s Farm; or zucchini from Valdivia Farm.
DO include some roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, parsnips or mushrooms from Proios or Kawano Farm.

DON'T forget a loaf or two of fresh bread from Belen Artisan Bakers for cubing and dipping.
DON'T be afraid to add your own touch to the flavor, perhaps by using apple or cherry cider from Smit instead of (or along with) the traditional wine or Kirsch.  
DON'T skip the salad - a simple plate of farm fresh greens with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of California Olive Oil is all you need to compliment your fondue. 

Ready, Set, Dunk!


Blacked Eye Peas in PB

January 3, 2012 - 5:08pm
Catt W


Every culture has traditional foods for inviting luck in the New Year and whichever you choose the Pacific Beach Tueday Farmers' Market offers all the ingredients you need for eating in the New Year right.

In Italy, as in many cultures, pork is usually on the menu since pigs move forward and represent the fat of the land. Conversely, hope you finished that lobster on New Year's Eve. They move backwards and are considered bad luck on New Year's Day. Ditto chickens and turkeys that scratch backwards, but we're thinking rabbit would be auspicious. Along with the pork, Italians eat lentils symbolizing money, like the beans and peas that many cultures consume.

Do You Feel Lucky?

December 30, 2011 - 6:13pm
Catt W


Every culture has traditional foods for inviting luck in the New Year and whichever you choose the Little Italy Mercato offers all the ingredients you need for January 1st eating.

In Italy, as in many cultures, pork is usually on the menu since pigs move forward and represent the fat of the land. Conversely, finish that lobster on New Year's Eve. They move backwards and are considered bad luck on New Year's Day. Ditto chickens and turkeys that scratch backwards, but we're thinking rabbit would be auspicious. Along with the pork, Italians eat lentils symbolizing money, like the beans and peas that many cultures consume.

We're going for the version that started in the Southern United States. Buy Susie's Farm's fresh black eyed peas; they cook up much faster than the dried ones. Suncoast Farms offers a variety of dried beans, so pick your favorites. Add sausage from SonRise Ranch or pork chops from Da Le Ranch. For traditional Hoppin' John, add rice.

We'll be cooking it all up with a mess of greens, representing paper money. Germans typically eat cabbage or sauerkraut and Happy Pantry has you covered there. Boiled or sauteed collards, kale, chard or even spinach will work, and JR Organics, Suzie's, and Sage Mountain Farms offer a wide variety. Add a chopped onion and some crushed garlic. We like the kick of a sliced jalapeno or other chiles. Cornbread from Belen Bakery will round out your meal. Then just sit back and welcome good fortune in 2012!


Get more green

October 31, 2011 - 11:51am
Britta T

You know those greens you find in certain salads with really assertive flavors, like peppery arugula or bitter endive and dandelion? When paired with sweet citrus fruits like oranges, ripe pears or crunchy apples, and figs, you change the flavor experience of your daily dinner salad from great to sensational. Roasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pecans) bring out the even more sweetness in the greens. There are endless possible variations on this theme, especially if you account for dressings and oils or other heavier decorations. If you're hankering for something fresh, tasty, and not overly saturating, try combinging fresh arugula from Suzie's Farm with Valencia oranges from Paradise Valley Ranch, and roasted almonds from Hopkins AG. Or, for an easy lunch salad, combine frisee (that curly, fancy looking lettuce at Suzie's), with quartered ripe apples, toasted pumpkin seeds from the gorgeous varieties available at Maciel & Family, then top it with thin sheets of tender slices of beef that you can pick up from Son Rise Ranch and cook until they're perfectly roasted and juicy. 




June 7, 2011 - 10:19am
Hillary E.

Greens come in all shapes and sizes. Some are sweet and tender, others are grassy, assertive and toothsome. Some varieties grow wild and other can be found in most any garden or on farms. Personally, I'm a huge fan of all these greens; haven't met one I didn't like yet. Which is why, strolling through the Mercato last weekend I was surprised by a wild and tangled pile of mystery greens. Surprised not just because it was stuck in the middle of all the citrus at Polito Family Farms, but also I'd never heard of it. Agretti, the sign read, "little sour one".

And here's what I found out from the man who grows it himself: It's an Italian green, typically grown in the salt marshes around the Adriatic, but it will thrive in any salty environment. Highly prized by chefs , agretti's crisp and tender little leaves look like an underwater marine plant and when eaten raw the taste is reminiscent of sour grass - a little acidic, grassy and naturally salty. With a similar nutritional content to that of spinach, you can use it almost the same way. And like spinach when it's sauteed or blanched, the flavors mellow a bit and a squeeze of lemon really perks things up. Actually, as it was explained to me, the squeeze of lemon is imperative.

Last night, after stripping the tender leaves away from the thicker stems, I sauteed a couple of handfuls of agretti in a bit of olive oil and minced garlic for a few minutes, just until it wilted a bit but still retained some bite. I took it off the heat, squeezed the juice from one quarter of a lemon over the top and transferred it onto a plate. I then did a quick pan roast of a snapper fillet from Poppa's Fresh Fish - nothing but a little salt and pepper - and laid the fish over the agretti. One last quick squeeze of lemon over the top and dinner was served. Bright and lively, this was an excellent pairing of the agretti and fish. Thanks goes to Bob at Polito and Mark at Poppa's for the expert tutelage.

I hardly put a dent in the bunch, so I've still got some experimenting to do. Pesto is at the top of my list, but maybe you have some other tasty suggestions?


April 8, 2011 - 9:06am
Hillary E.



Travel off the beaten path and explore the more unusual side of the Little Italy Mercato. Look beyond the baby lettuces and strawberries that are popping up everywhere and discover some lesser known, exciting varieties of fruits and vegetables.


  • Kumquats at Rancho Mexico Lindo and Schaner Farms.  These mini citrus are an explosion of flavor. From their sweet edible rinds to the brightly tart and acidic flesh, they keep your taste buds guessing. Enjoy pickled, candied with braised meats.
  • Mizuna from JR Organics is a delicious little mustard green with spiky, elongated leaves. Less of a bite than arugula, but still pleasantly peppery add it to your salads or toss it in your next stir fry.
  • Icicle radishes from Sage Mountain - Perhaps, you walked right past these one week thinking they were baby parsnips? It's been known to happen. But radishes they are, crisp and spicy; delicious on a baguette slice slathered with Springhill's butter and a little sea salt from She Sells Sea Salts.
  • Cherimoyas at Heritage Family Farms. Also known as custard apples these green and faceted skinned fruits are ripe when the flesh gives slightly to the touch. Cut them in half then scoop out the creamy flesh and enjoy the flavors or banana, pineapple, papaya, peach and strawberry all in one bite.  Nature's own smoothie!


March 31, 2011 - 3:49pm
Hillary E.


Calling all aspiring urban farmers - Tom King Farms has your number. Find them at the Little Italy Mercato with their new lettuce box subscriptions and pick your own lettuce options.

Here's how the subscription works; you buy your initial box, either 3 or 4 feet in length, filled with soil and baby heads of greens. Each box is planted with variety in mind to keep your salad bowls ever changing. You take it home and the baby lettuces are yours to raise and harvest as you see fit. Then when it's all gone you return your box and exchange it for a new one, at a much reduced cost, to start anew. It's gardening made easy!

Or perhaps you'd rather harvest your own lettuces at the market? Tom King has you covered there as well. Simply select and pick your living lettuces right out of the planters to create your own custom salad mix. Whether you choose to pick at home or at the market, these greens are about as fresh as you can get!

Souper Mercato

February 25, 2011 - 5:19pm
Chris S


This Saturday will be cold, at least by San Diego standards, and that has us thinking of some of our favorite soups.  Beets and carrots from Suzie's Farm are the basis of a satisfying bowl of borscht, seasoned with fresh dill.  Swiss chard and kale from JR Organics make a gorgeous green soup that really comes alive when topped with a bit of fresh chevre from Niciolau Farms.  If you've got the time, grab a fresh whole chicken from Descanso Valley or Dale Ranch and spend the afternoon turning it into tortilla soup; finish it with avocado slices from Paradise Valley.  Bouillabaisse, cioppino and moqueca are just a few of the world's famous seafood stews; see Poppa's Fresh Fish or Bristol Bay Salmon if you're ready to invent your own famous fish soup.  Winter squashes from Sage Mountain are a great start to a hearty winter soup; we sprinkle  chopped chipotle flavored almonds from Hopkins Ag on our version for the crunch and the extra kick.  If you need another soup idea this Saturday, come to the info booth; we can point you to the best ingredients in the world.  If you've got a great soup recipe to share that uses farm fresh local produce, please send it to us at  Have a souper Saturday!

Get Your Greens Today!

February 17, 2011 - 11:36am
Chris S

JR Organics has tender young dandelion greens, perfect for tossing with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a splash of organic California olive oil from Thyme of Essence; keep the green theme going by adding chopped green onion and sliced avocado from R&L Farms.  If you're looking for something a little heartier, try  Suzie's Farm braising greens mix; it makes a great side dish with or without DaLe Ranch bacon, and also makes a unique and delicious topping for a homemade pizza with whole wheat dough from Conchetta's.  Rainbow chard is one of our favorite greens for cooking, we chop it and add it to soups, stews and pasta dishes (with Lisko's fresh handmade pasta, of course.) 
Don't fret if you're not cooking tonight, you can still get all the green goodness your body needs by picking up a smoothie from Green Fix.  They blend organic chard, kale, dandelion and other greens from local farmers with apple and banana to make an unbelievable tasty smoothie that's chock full of vitamins, iron, calcium, folic acid and other good stuff.  Grab one today and see how delicious healthy eating can be!

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