Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Taste of the Market: A Sampling of the Future for the Public Market

I don't usually like to write up an event after it's happened. Really, what's the point since you can't attend after the fact? But last weekend's Taste of the Market at the San Diego Public Market in Barrio Logan is the first of a number of community events coming up so if you live in San Diego and are rooting for the future of a public market here, you need to see what you may have missed so you won't make that mistake again.

On Sunday afternoon, more than 230 people ate and drank their way through the two warehouse halls that on Wednesdays and Sundays are the farmers market. But on this late afternoon, the warehouses were transformed into whimsical spaces filled with imaginative eateries created by restaurants and chefs who had been paired with local farmers and purveyors. Andrew Spurgin and Melissa Mayer, who co-chaired and coordinated Taste of the Market, each had their own little hot spots. Spurgin's Broussard's Po' Boy cafe was straight out of New Orleans and featured, what else, a fried oyster po' boy.

Mayer, on the other hand, went south of the border with a vibrant blue cantina, serving a smoked chicken torta.

The list of restaurants and chefs just goes on and on. Plus, there were vendors you'd usually see at the farmers market--Suzie's Farm, Nicolau Farm (chèvre), Cardamom Bakery, Jennywenny Cakes, Viva Pops, and SuperNatural Sandwiches among them. Below is a snapshot of a perfect culinary festival:

Dave Rudie, Tommy Gomes, and Ken Gardon of Catalina Offshore Products

Ken and his octopus salad

Chef Chad White of La Plancha Baja Med

Chad White's Apple brulee, fermeneted Julian Hard Cider vincotto, Gilbert Qunitos Farm kale, lardo, Smit Orchards apples, sesame nori gremolata

Chef Craig Jimenez of Roseville Cozinha and colleagues. He made a luscious goat cheese ravioli (sourced from Nicolau Farms)

Snake Oil Cocktail's Michael Esposito, Andrew Spurgin, and Public Market co-founder Dale Steele

Jenny Williams of Jenny Wenny Cakes

Joanne Squires-Sherif of Cardamom Bakery & Cafe

Katie Grebow of Cafe Chloe

Gina Frieze of Venissimo topping off a slice of Bread & Cie baguette loaded with Gina's house-made ricotta 

Salumi, cheese, and bread: a collaboration that is the goal for Pete Balistreri, Venissimo, and Bread & Cie at the Public Market
Pete Balistreri of Tender Greens and P Balistreri Salumi

Alchemy's Ricardo Heredia and his pig from Da-Le Ranch

The Blind Burro's Sara Polczynski making these beautiful veggie tacos below

Tony Nguyen and SuperNatural Sandwiches' variation on their Harpy sandwich

George's at the Cove's Trey Foshee and (below) his  slow-roasted Maciel carrot salad 

The Red Door and The Wellington's Trish Watlington and Chef Miguel Valdez with their seared local yellowtail over pumpkin uni bisque

Hurray for Viva Pops!
As I said, this was just the first of the big market events the Public Market will be holding, according to market maestra, Catt White.

The next Taste of the Market will take place on March 24th, and, says, White, "will be a celebration of our ethnic diversity, with chefs showing off Japanese, Filipino, and Chinese specialties, German sausage, tastes from Tijuana, and more, teamed with local farmers for ingredients, of course."

Between now and then they'll be hosting a movie night with local chefs' takes on snack food. As White says, "Think popcorn, hot dogs, and Junior Mints kicked way up." The tentative date is March 8.

All this, of course, is hand-in-hand in anticipation of the market going full time in spring or summer, with permanent stalls and artisan cheese making, salumi curing, a tortilleria, coffee roasting, and baking on premises. Indeed, the proceeds from ticket sales at Taste of the Market are going toward the development of the Market Kitchen, a commissary kitchen for vendors and micro-businesses that will also feature community education classes on cooking and nutrition.

So, really, pencil in the next dates on your calendar. This was just the first of many special public events at our Public Market. You'll want to be there.

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