Tuesday, June 26, 2007

La Jolla Open Aire Market: Produce Lust in La Jolla

So, here I was Sunday morning, exhausted from a stressful work week and too much weekend socializing. My plan was reasonable: eat breakfast and then hang out on my patio until early afternoon with a languishing stack of New Yorkers and the wonderful novel I’m halfway through, “The Last Chinese Chef,” by Nicole Mones. I had plans to go out to eat later in the day at Romesco in Bonita with my friend Angela so a quiet morning reading would be heaven sent. But, I was torn; I really wanted to go to the La Jolla farmers market, or, as they refer to it, the Open Aire Market. Be lazy or be indulgent? Indulgence won and after returning from the dog park with Shayna and leaving her with her own breakfast, I set off to see what I could forage in La Jolla.

What a difference from the OB retro-60s parade. Of course, the La Jolla market is much more sedate and with an older and more upscale crowd of shoppers. Held at La Jolla Elementary School, it’s less street fair and more festive market with a single blues guitar providing the aural ambience. And, there’s a parking lot—especially cool since, as an early bird, I easily found a spot. So, already I was ready to roll with the luxury of time to take it all in.

But where’s the food? Only once you get past the rows and rows of crafts booths with silver jewelry and carved wood bowls, flowing gauze dresses and garden tchotchkes, as well as the obligatory kettle corn booth, does real food start to make an appearance. But, it was completely worth trekking through the kitsch. This week the produce was so sublime with so many unique offerings, I was beside myself with pleasure. Be forewarned—I took lots of photos of gorgeous food and I’m just going to shoehorn them all in here.

First up, prepared foods. Although it was barely 9 a.m., Vila’s Salsa was my first stop. Owned by Isabel Range, known as Vila, the booth has a range of salsas, from the sweet and tangy mango to a series of reds going from mild to medium then hot and finally, fiery (courtesy of roasted habaneros). All were delicious and even the fiery salsa wasn’t beyond the pale, but my favorite was her salsa verde, a smooth, rich blend of roasted tomatillo and avocado with a hint of heat. Range also sells homemade flan in several flavors, including chocolate, coffee, mocha, coconut, pumpkin and strawberry.

That was a great intro and not having had breakfast, it was hard to resist what followed—booths with crepes, Belgian waffles and Louisiana sausages. Belinda’s Cocina, with its chile relleno burrito, breakfast burritos, enchiladas and wonderful tortilla chips and salsa, smelled divine. The woman making corn tortillas on the hot comal came this close to convincing me to buy breakfast but I was on a mission to scope out the entire market so I kept going.

Finally, produce. I stopped first at Cervantes Farms from Ramona and sampled some sweet and juicy Santa Rosa plums.

Then I strolled over to the booth for Betty B’s Ranch, also based in Ramona, where owner George Schnurer had the most intriguing collection of citrus, including very tangy limequats (a cross between key limes and kumquats) and sweeter orangequats (a cross between mandarin oranges and kumquats). Like regular kumquats, they’re tiny with thin skins and you just pop them into your mouth for an unusual explosion that melds sour and sweet with a touch of bitterness from the skin.

Schnurer also invited me to taste his sweet pixie tangerines and blood oranges. Of the three varieties that can be traced to Sicily, Moro, Sanguinelli and Tarocco, he had the seedless Taroccos on display and they were lovely to look at with their flush of red skin and bold ruby fruit. They’re very sweet and juicy and make for an unusual glass of juice. If you’ve ever wondered, the distinctive color is a natural mutation due to the presence of anthocyanin (the same plant compound responsible for the color of pomegranates). Taroccos also have the highest vitamin C content of any orange variety.

Then my eye caught what was truly a sea of strawberries, organic Chandler strawberries from Peterson Specialty Produce. These are the antithesis of the hard, pinkish berries that are passed off in the supermarkets. Loaded with sugar and juice, they reminded me of my strawberry touchstone—the flats I used to buy at a stand off the Rose Ave. exit on the 101 in Oxnard on the way to or from Santa Barbara, where my sister went to college. I think I actually got drunk from eating them one after another. Well, these Chandlers were magnificent.

But, what was around the corner just made my heart sing. Boysenberries. Plump, juicy reddish purple boysenberries. Named after California grower Ralph Boysen by Walter Knott (of Knott's Berry Farm fame), boysenberries are thought to be a cross of blackberries, raspberries and loganberries. I love their tartness, but hadn’t seen them in years—just made due with blackberries from Henry’s or Trader Joe's, which are good, but don't seem to have as much flavor. So, here was a treat. For days, I’ve been enjoying them naked, in harmony with blueberries and sliced strawberries, for breakfast.

That wasn’t all I bought from Peterson Specialty Produce. I found lovely bunches of baby bok choy and a crazy quilt of yellow and green squash.

They were simply so pretty I couldn’t resist. I’ll probably bake the striped zucchini and summer squash with olive oil, bread crumbs, herbs and parmesan cheese, but I’ve already tackled the psychedelic yellow and green mottled zucchini.

I did a take off on a Patricia Wells recipe for Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocado that happened to show up in the current issue of The Week magazine. Basically, you use a mandoline (a washboard-looking adjustable slicing tool recently made popular by Oxo) or, in my case, one of those terrific Kyocera double-edged Mandoline slicers (the yellow one) and thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise after trimming it. Mix up a blend of lemon juice (about 1 tbl.) and olive oil (1/4 c.) with sea salt and pepper and fresh thyme leaves (lemon thyme is even better). Spread the zucchini slices on a platter, just overlapping and drizzle with the lemon oil mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for an hour at room temperature. Per Wells’ recipe, alternate the zucchini and thin slices of avocado and then sprinkle with pistachio nuts. I used what I had and alternated the squash with thin slices of sweet white onion and sprinkled the dish with more thyme leaves. Wells’ version is probably exquisite. But, with a beautiful vegetable, any riff will work and mine did just fine.

Back at the market, I left Peterson Specialty Produce and discovered Rodriguez Ranch. Carlos Rodriguez, son of the owner, led me through a tour of their stunning organic produce. There were bunches of itty bitty baby red carrots next to hardy red scallions.

Nearby was a rainbow of Swiss chard, followed by beets—gold, red and a cheery candy cane.

Then came red and white striped French breakfast radishes, and, finally, torpedo onions—visually, a cross between a red onion and red scallion. These, says Carlos, are great on the grill.

I filled my French shopping basket with the red carrots and scallions and the French breakfast radishes. Then I noticed another leaf veggie that was a deep dark forest green and asked Carlos about it. This was black kale, which I learned later, is also called cavalo nero and developed in the 18th century in Tuscany. Carlos stuck a bunch of the kale in my bag and told me to come back and let him know what I thought of it.

It wasn’t hard to figure out what to do with it. It’s got broad stiff leaves that obviously needed to be blanched first, so I cut the stem out of the bigger leaves and threw the whole bunch into a big pot of salted boiling water for a few minutes. After draining the now softened greens, which took on an even bolder color, I sliced a few of the red scallions and used my little Kyocera slicer to get very thin slices of a couple of cloves of the heirloom garlic I had bought last week in OB. In my wok, I heated some olive oil and added the garlic. Just as I could smell the aroma of the garlic I added the kale and the scallions, tossed in some salt and pepper and sautéed the mix until the kale gave a little more in texture. What I love about this vegetable is that, unlike spinach, which can be hard to control when cooking and often leaves a tinny aftertaste, the black kale retains some structure and heft and has a deep, dark flavor. And, the addition of the red scallions worked well. Raw, they’re a little tough and very pungent. Cooked, they soften, of course, and develop a sweetness that’s a nice contrast to the kale.

So, what else was at the market? My favorite plumcots from Smit Farms, which was also selling wild blueberries. And, bunches of hard-to-find fresh epazote.

This is a Mexican herb, strong and lemony, often used in cooking with beans to help alleviate the gastric problems that can arise afterward. The word epazote comes from the Aztec words 'epatl' and 'tzotl', meaning smelly animal. Others call it Mexican tea. You can use it raw but more likely you’ll find it dried in packages in markets like Northgate Gonzalez.

Sage Mountain Farm had unusual organic Armenian cucumbers, which are sweet and crunchy. If I didn’t already have a large hot house cucumber in the fridge waiting for me to eat, I would have bought one of these large striped cukes.

I also found some unusual looking watermelon radishes. They aren’t gorgeous; in fact, they're downright homely, but so odd in color and size that you have to see them.

Across from these stalls was a collection of potted herbs from Casablanca Nursery in Valley Center. They had a lovely selection of five-inch pots of lavender, chocolate mint, lemon balm, pineapple sage and tomato plants. They also had a wide selection of basils, including curly-leaf mammoth basil, which has a strong licorice flavor, and an even stronger Thai basil, great for stir fries. I bought a pot of spicy bush basil, with its tiny thyme-like leaves that are wonderful for pesto.

At Valdivia Farms’ booth were gorgeous heirloom tomatoes—I’m such a sucker for these—and half pints of little multi-colored sweet cherry tomatoes, which I love to snack on.

Their mini veggies—little yellow summer squash and vibrant green zucchini—were beautiful, as were their squash blossoms.

I bought a large bunch of their Dragon Tongue Beans. These crazy looking flat purple and cream beans are sweet and flavorful, raw or cooked—packing far more taste than their green bean cousins.

I could make a meal just munching on them raw, but I steamed them briefly in the microwave for a minute, only slightly disappointed by the loss of color that results from cooking them. Then I tossed them with the rest of the lemon mix from the zucchini and refrigerated them to let them marinate. The result was a still-crisp bean redolent of the lemon oil and full of its own sweet bean flavor.

Interspersed among the produce were booths manned by some wonderful characters. George Petrou sells olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and capers. With every customer who came by, he’d pull out a notebook to show his organic certification, talk about his 107-year-old mother, still living in Delphi, and boldly declare in a strong Greek accent, “Olive oil is the best medicine.” He had me convinced. I walked away with a tall bottle of cold, first-press, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil.

Next to Petruou Foods was Belen Artisan Bakers and the enthusiastic Louise of Impeccable Taste, who makes sugar and sugar-free jams, pickled beets, bread and butter pickles, sherry wine jelly, cherries brandy, chutneys and mustards.

She also sells the baked goods for Belen. I tasted her lime marmalade, truly an explosion of lime, and her lovely black cherry jam. I ended up buying one each of the gorgeous scones—cranberry orange and cranberry walnut—and a loaf of organic country garlic French bread. The scones are divine, with a great texture and perfectly balanced flavor. I enjoyed the bread, but have to admit that it was too glutinous and could have been lighter.

Then I encountered the ebullient Vinnie Abdin of Majestic Garlic, with his more restrained sister Veni. They make vegan-friendly garlic spreads in a variety of flavors, including curry, dill, smoky and cilantro. I don’t quite know how they do it, but this stuff is great and very low fat. Add to a baked potato or pasta, serve with baked pita or raw veggies as an appetizer or snack. Use it in a stir fry. It’s quite remarkable.

Finally, I ended up at Peggy’s Pasta, which I had encountered earlier at the OB Farmers Market. Here, the booth is a full 35 feet and they fill it up with nine styles of pasta, 35 styles of bread and some gorgeous pastries, including a splendid flourless chocolate cake filled with a rich chocolate ganache. Heat it in the microwave for 10 seconds and the ganache spills down like a volcano, inserting itself into every seductive bite of very light cake.

At the end of all this, I still hadn’t had breakfast, but I was sated. As I left, I ran into my friend Jan Percival and her daughter. Every weekend, the two go to breakfast together in the neighborhood and then head over here. It’s a ritual Jan says they count on and I truly understand why.

La Jolla Open Aire Market is located on Girard at La Jolla Elementary School.

Have some thoughts about the La Jolla Open Aire Market or other farmers markets in San Diego? Do you have a favorite neighborhood market or shop that carries unique or unusual foodstuff? Let me know or add to the conversation by clicking on comments below:

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Farmers Market Comes to Tierrasanta in Late August

Welcome, welcome news for those of us who live in Tierrasanta.

Beginning August 23, the community will have its own weekly certified farmers market. The De Portola Middle School Foundation is partnering with De Portola to host the market, which will be held every Thursday afternoon from 3 to 7 p.m. in the front school parking lot.

The market will feature fresh produce, flowers, fish and seafood, as well as food vendors and crafts. Half of the proceeds from sales will go to the Foundation to benefit students at De Portola.

It's been a long time coming...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Ocean Beach Farmers Market: The Sixties Live in OB

Who says the 60s are over? Every Wednesday afternoon on Newport Ave. in Ocean Beach, beginning at 4 p.m., you would think Jerry Garcia, Ken Kesey and even his psychedelically painted Magic Bus had never left our collective consciousness. Flower power, along with organic veggies, still live at the OB Farmers Market.

Of course, between the street musicians, the arts and crafts and the llama rides for the kids, it almost seems that the food is beside the point. But, it’s not. In this one little block between Cable and Bacon, you can find all sorts of farm fresh organic produce, flowers and prepared foods. The only caveat? Parking is a bear.

Which is why my planned leisurely afternoon outing turned into a frenzy of note taking, photo shooting, food tasting and finally purchasing—all to be wrapped up before 6:30 when I was due at my friend Marti’s house a few blocks away for our book club’s monthly meeting. I had promised to bring appetizers from the farmers market but at 6:45 was still frantically racing around trying to pick up some unique goodies from various vendors. All because I couldn’t find a parking spot.

But, don’t let this detour you. The OB Farmers Market is a hoot—the people watching and dog watching have high entertainment value, along with the street musicians. And the vendors offer some remarkably wonderful stuff.

One of the first stops I made was at the Smit Orchards stall. Among the apricots and peaches, strawberries and rainier cherries were a pile of utterly gorgeous, sweet and juicy plumcots. After sampling a couple of pieces I gathered about a dozen in a bag to enjoy at home. They’re the color of apricots but with the texture of plums and a flavor that merges the two. They alone are worth the parking hassles.

As I continued along in the June gloom, buckets of brilliantly colored flowers perked up the street. Yellows verged into orange and just approached red in the many varieties of sunflowers. Yellow and blue iris competed for attention with tuberoses. Lilies, whether pink or yellow or white, put out an intoxicating scent. The customers were drawn like bees and so were the many dogs accompanying them.

Just a few yards down was the Milagro farm stall, red tables overflowing with braids of heirloom garlic, and enormous heirloom red onions and beets. They were tempting but I didn’t need a braid of garlic and don’t love beets, so I picked up a couple of heads of the garlic and a promising looking sweet red onion before moving on.

Well, I tried to move on, but was fixated by the mini parade of llamas passing by. The little kids, one with a long blond shaggy Mohawk, one with a close shaved scalp and a pretty-in-pink girl were happily perched on these docile creatures as they passed by The Electric Chair hair salon and Apogee body piercing. Only in OB.

Back to the food. Among the “regular” offerings of produce at one stall were Japanese tomatoes, touted as being low acid. I bought a few and have found them to be fully ripe, juicy and sweet. Then, there’s Jackie’s Jams, sold not by Jackie but by Robert, who would love for you to stop and taste flavors ranging from peach ambrosia and mango raspberry to zippy jalapeño and plum. Robert scooped a spoonful for me of tomato and I could imagine placing a small dollop of it on slices of toasted sour dough rounds topped with a very soft brie.

Near Jackie’s Jams was the very tempting Dr. Chocolat, with their pastries and candies. Six-inch chocolate surf boards perched next to slices of carrot cake, éclairs, fruit tarts and peanut brittle. The butternut brickle they were handing out as samples were that perfect crunchy candy combination of sweet and salty.

The ubiquitous CJ’s mini and regular pies were there also as was another bakery stall, Johann’s Austrian Bakery, with its challah, olive bread, and gorgeous nutty multigrain bread.

I had to move on, but stopped in front of Richie’s Roasted Products. For those uninterested in roasting chiles themselves, you can get all sorts of roasted peppers here, from jalapeños and serranos to anaheims, red bells and pasillas. The company also sells homemade dips. I picked up the spinach, artichoke, pasilla chile and parmesan dip—the mild version—for my book club meeting. My friends enjoyed it but said it could use some salt.

Next to them was La Salsa Chilena, run by Chilean native Silvia Almonacid and her daughter Patricia. They sell homemade tortillas and chips, salsa roja, chipotle salsa and a smooth guacamole. I bought a pound bag of the chips and am still enjoying them. You can also find their products in Albertson’s and Ralphs.

In the spirit of multiculturalism, I moved on to Baba Foods, with their many flavors of hummus and pita chips, their Mediterranean salads and baklava, their falafel and, what I ended up buying, their very tasty taboulie.

I couldn’t get near the Gourmet Tamales stand, with its crowd of customers hovering to pick up some of their 20 varieties. I’ll have to go back and try the pork loin with roasted green chiles and the tinga (spicy chicken with chipotle). If those don’t appeal, there’s the vegan spicy black bean, the sweet corn and scallion and garbanzos, green beans and red sauce. Vegetarians might enjoy the feta cheese, corn and jalapeño or the spinach, feta cheese and tomatillo. Of course, they have dessert tamales, too—pineapple, coconut and raisin; strawberry apple; orange mango and pumpkin spice.

In search of more good produce, I found myself in front of a group of tables with magnificent Blue Lake and wax beans. I bought about a pound of the wax beans which I intend to cook briefly and toss with honey, lemon zest and garlic oil. I also bought a couple of round zucchinis and some fabulously ugly heirloom tomatoes that are as full of robust tomato flavor as they are homely.

There was also a display of sumptuous looking baby zucchinis with squash blossoms. I was so tempted to buy some, but decided to wait for another time.

Nearby was more produce, the most remarkable being the enormous, bowling pin zucchinis.

My final stop was Peggy’s Pasta. Her breads and pastas proved irresistible and I succumbed to a small round of sour dough, a couple of white cheddar cheese-topped rolls, a loaf of multigrain and a couple of packages of pasta—thick and chewy basil pappardelle, true comfort food with olive oil and grated parmesan, and a wonderful plain fettucine that cooks up beautifully.

Marti told me to keep an eye out for the vendor who sells Key Lime Avocado Oil. In my frenzy to see and taste as much as possible before making my book club meeting, it completely slipped my mind. But, when I got to her house, she promptly remedied that. Her husband and daughter were on their way to the market so he promised to pick up a bottle for me. It turns out that Peggy’s Pasta sells the oil… I had completely missed it.

Anyway, what to do with Key Lime Avocado Oil? The company that produces it, Pacific Culinaria, suggests grilling shrimp, scallops and fresh Maui onions, splashed with the oil. It’s also good for sautéing because it has a high smoke point.

I tried it on the shrimp, which I enjoyed with Peggy’s unadorned fettucini, chopped heirloom tomatoes, slices of heirloom red onion, a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts and a vinaigrette I came up with:

Key Lime Avocado Oil Vinaigrette

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbl. Key Lime Avocado Oil Vinaigrette
2/3 c. Tiburtini Aceto di Vino Bianco, a sweet, unfiltered white wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 large clove of garlic, minced (I used a clove from the heirloom garlic I bought)
1 tsp. granulated sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Those couple of tablespoons were just enough to produce a rich, sweet citrus flavor that was also wonderful with the romaine salad I had for lunch earlier in the day. In the salad I added one of the sweet, low-acid Japanese tomatoes, which perfectly complemented the citrus tones of the dressing.

Long live hippyland in OB. As Ken Kesey said, “You’re either on the bus or off the bus.”

The Ocean Beach Farmers Market is located on Newport Ave. between Bacon and Cable streets.

Have some thoughts about the Ocean Beach Farmers Market or other farmers markets in San Diego? Do you have a favorite neighborhood market or shop that carries unique or unusual foodstuff? Let me know or add to the conversation by clicking on comments below:

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sausage King: A Taste of the Mother Country in Mission Hills

This past Saturday I had several friends over for brunch. During the week, in anticipation, I was obsessed about what I was going to serve. And, of course, I was also pondering what I going to cover for San Diego Foodstuff this week. I partly resolved the first by lighting on a recipe from Bon Appetit for baked French toast topped with blueberries and pecans—but what to serve with it? Fresh fruit, of course, but what else? I needed a protein and after discarding the idea of bacon (love it, but don’t love the lingering smell in the kitchen for the week after), I lit on sausages. And, if sausages were the answer, then I needed to go to the Sausage King in Mission Hills—thereby resolving my second issue.

Sausage King is a longtime stalwart on West Washington St. in Mission Hills. Sitting for more than four decades on the block between Falcon and Goldfinch, it’s actually a rather intimidating place from the outside. Just a glass door alongside a long silent wall that shows no hint of what’s going on inside. So, I’d never ventured in before. My bad. It’s a local favorite for a reason.

For those who haven’t read the many articles on the place, Sausage King has been in business for 44 years. Long a partnership between sausage master Fred Spenner, a native of Kassel, Germany, and John Krodel, a Wurstmacher from Bamberg, Germany, who died just over a year ago, Sausage King has provided local customers with the flavors of the mother country. In its heyday, the partners had five shops around San Diego and processed some 25,000 pounds of meat in the side room of the Washington St. shop.

Those were the days when there were several slaughterhouses in the region from whom the Sausage King could purchase fresh beef, pork and veal. Today, says Spenner, who continues to run the one shop on his own now, there are no more local slaughterhouses. But that doesn’t mean the meat they use isn’t fresh. The pork, Spenner says, is flown in fresh from a slaughterhouse in North Dakota.

The store is the essence of the anti-hip, a throwback to a long ago time of formica floors and bulky steel cash registers that required strong fingers to press down recalcitrant number keys. (I recognized the Sausage King’s register as a cousin of one my maternal grandparents had 40 years ago in their Alhambra laundromat.) The shop is small and dark, definitely in need of a fresh coat of paint, but lush in the aroma of smoked meat. Little four-inch sausages reminiscent of beef jerky hang in a long row behind a case filled with more sausages; salamis; sliced lunch meat; imported cheeses like Edam, Gouda, Austrian Swiss and Beer Kaese; and pickled herring.

Today, Spenner produces 34 sausages and lunch meats on site as well as 10 different smoked meats, like Westphalian ham, Black Forest ham and bacon. All with the help of an enormous meat grinder, an intimidating sausage machine and two hickory-fueled smokehouses—one hot for items like bratwurst and knockwurst and one cold for salamis.

Hot smoking keeps the smokehouse at a steady, hot temperature to cook the meats. Cold smoking doesn’t cook the meat, but flavors and preserves it before they go into the enormous refrigerated room to dry. There they hang or sit in rows on shelves.

In the refrigerator I saw several large salamis collecting thick mold, which Spenner explains is a necessary part of the process. “Mold pulls out the moisture from the meat onto the casing to allow the flavors to develop as it dries,” he says. “If you don’t get mold, you won’t end up with a good-tasting salami.” Of course, the mold and casing are pulled off the salami at the end of what is apparently a tricky process to achieve in San Diego, where the humidity is variable and constantly has to be monitored. “When I told people I was going to make salamis in San Diego, I was told it couldn’t be done because of the inconsistent humidity,” says Spenner. “But, we were able to overcome it.”

Spenner also sells several cuts of fresh beef and pork, special cuts just right for a good schnitzel for instance.

And, if you’re longing for a taste of Germany beyond meat, you'll find shelves filled with chocolates—Lindt, Ritter Sport, Asbach brands—along with mustards, coffee, jars of pickles and sauerkraut, packages of noodles and mixes for traditional dumplings, spaetzle and other dishes. Sausage King also brings down fresh baked goods from Streit’s German Bakery in L.A. You can pick up fresh streudel and coffee cake as well as any of a variety of rye breads.

But, really, it’s all about the sausages and throughout the morning, people filed in to get their fix. According to Spenner, the liver sausages and the wieners are the top choices. And, why not? The wieners once cooked, have an irresistible snap of the natural casing from the first bite and are packed with various seasonings. (I can’t tell you what they are—Spenner refuses to divulge closely held recipes.) And the best part? No fillers. In fact, not a heck of a lot of sodium either. With all the tasting I did that day, I didn’t end up with the puffiness you get from commercial sausages and salamis that are laden with salt.

The salamis were heavenly. There’s the spicy Hungarian salami, a gorgeous red and packed with flavor.

The yummy cervelat, made of minced pork, beef and bacon and cold smoked, is a little milder, as is the German-style salami. I also tried the Thüringer, a deeply colored beef salami with a full rich smokiness.

At the shop, Spenner gave me a taste of one of his smoked meats, Schinkenspeck, a prosciutto-like dry-cured ham, part ham, part bacon and just too good for one’s own good.

From, there I moved on to the lunch meats—he handed me a slice of veal loaf still warm, chewy and spicy with a hint of nutmeg, then made up a package for me of a light and chewy head cheese, bologna that tasted nothing like the Oscar Meyer I had as a kid sandwiched between slices of Wonder Bread; a fulsome blood and tongue sausage; and German minced bologna. And, for the first time, I tried liverwurst, It is as smooth and creamy and flavorful as pate, even if it’s made from pork, not goose.

But, what to serve at my brunch? I chose smoked bratwurst, a link of beef blood ring sausage and a regular bratwurst. All were hits on Saturday. Okay, only my friend Jolene and I ate the blood ring sausage, which I sliced and heated on the griddle along with the other sausages.

And, for good measure, I bought a weiner, bockwurst and knockwurst.

Those, I took over to my parents’ house to sample for lunch with the lunch meats, a jar of Inglehoffer stone-ground original mustard, garlic pickles and a loaf of Streit’s Berliner Land Brot rye bread. There, we had a feast reminiscent of Saturday afternoon lunches at my paternal grandparents’ when I was a kid.

Sausage King is located at 811 West Washington St.

Have some thoughts about Sausage King or other ethnic markets in San Diego? Do you have a favorite neighborhood market or shop that carries unique or unusual foodstuff? Let me know or add to the conversation by clicking on comments below:

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