Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Farmers Market Coming to San Diego: Adams Ave.

If you're a fan of the Saturday Little Italy Mercato run by Catt Fields White, but live over in the Normal Heights/Kensington area, you're going to love this bit of news. On Sept. 9 (the first Wednesday after Labor Day) White is launching a new farmers market in your neighborhood on Adams at 40th St. The market will be held every Wednesday afternoon from 3 to 7 p.m.

Already she's got a terrific line up of vendors that include Schaner Farms (love their eggs!), Smit Orchards, Sage Mountain Farms, Randazzo Farms, Da Le Ranch, Omega Me Well, Viva Pops, and Knight Salumi.

In just over a year, White has made the Little Italy Mercato a go-to market for San Diegans who love the urban setting with its beautiful bay view and carefully selected vendors. Recently, she opened another stretch of Date St. to accommodate new vendors--close to 90 at this point. Plus, she's doing chef demos and other special features. With the new market, both regular customers and chefs who have been asking for another quality mid-week market, will be able to buy high-quality local organic produce and other items from farmers and producers they already have a relationship with.

One question I get a lot is do we have too many farmers markets already (about 30 in San Diego County) and I asked White if this new market adds to what some vendors complain about already--that they're being spread too thin.

"No, I don't," she said. "A quality market in the area will attract shoppers and farmers and vendors. Each good market has its own flavor and attracts new devotees, along with occasional visitors."

White does think that we'll continue to see some attrition as markets that have opened without a strong base of both farmers and shoppers fold. "Markets, like any other business, have to devote time to quality control, marketing, and customer appreciation," she noted. "In our case, we have two customer bases, farmers/vendors and shoppers, and we have to make sure that we create an environment that benefits both. We'll continue to do that at both markets, and I expect both to thrive as a result."

The Little Italy Mercato is held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Date St. just off Kettner Blvd. Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming Adams Ave. market.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

More Beer! And the Cooks Who Use it to Perfection!

Time again for the Cooks Confab! This time, the theme is Craft Beer: From Grain to Glass, Farm to Table. And, we're moving from La Jolla to downtown San Diego. Specifically Stingaree. More specifically, the rooftop!

You can find the menu here, but just a sampling of participating chefs includes:

  • Antonio Friscia of Stingaree, of course
  • Jason Knibb of Nine-Ten
  • Nathan Coulon of Quarter Kitchen
  • Christian Graves of JSix
  • Andrew Spurgin of Waters Fine Catering
  • Amy DiBiase of Roseville
  • Olivier Bioteau of Farm House Cafe
  • Paul McCabe of Kitchen 1540
  • Katie Grebow of Cafe Chloe
  • Jeff Jackson and T.K. Kolanko of A.R. Valentien
And more! And, the brewers? They've got Stone, AleSmith, Ballast Point, Green Flash, Lightning, and The Lost Abbey. Each brewer is paired with chefs to create a fabulous dish.

Ah, the specifics. It's on Sunday, August 9 from 6 to 9 p.m. The cost is $90 per person and includes food, beer, other beverages, tax, and gratuity. Plus, a portion of the ticket sales goes to support Slow Food Urban San Diego. Valet parking is available.

These are hugely fun and delicious events! Make your reservation by calling (619) 544-9500.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Got a Garden? Try Crop Swapping

A couple of days ago I got a connect request from a local woman named Christina Blankenship on Linkedin. She explained that she recently helped her husband with the branding and launch of his new website, which helps people exchange the excess harvest from their gardens.

The site, called Crop Swapper, is fascinating. You send them your name, your location in San Diego, and the kinds of crops you have. They'll, in turn, tell you the two locations where they'll be setting up, along with the date and time. You show up with your fruits, veggies, flowers, herbs, or what have you and then be prepared to take other crops home to your table.

So far this month, among the items swapped have been sunflowers, carrots, lemons, mint, Japanese cucumbers, heirloom and cherry tomatoes, rosemary, oregano, Serrano chiles, and gourdseed corn.

Currently, the calendar shows two weekly meeting spots: Del Cerro Park on Del Cerro Blvd. near SDSU on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. and Canyonside Park on Black Mountain Road (between the 56 and the 15) on Tuesdays at 6 p.m.

On the site you'll also find gardening tips and some inspirational quotes. I think this is a great idea and hope you'll check it out.

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