Monday, June 15, 2009

A foodie day in San Diego

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My husband took our kids to see his parents this weekend. It was the first 48-hour period I've had alone in my house for more than eight years. I needed it. Looked forward to it. And planned it meticulously.

I know you don't want to hear about how I cleaned out my closet (I did) and made bags of clothes and shoes for Goodwill (seven) and a neighbor (one). Or how I spent many hours on the couch watching reruns of House and Big Love.

What you want to hear about is the day I spent "foodblog geeking" in San Diego. Lucky for you, I took lots of pictures.

First I met up with Caron Golden, a San Diego food writer I met via Twitter. She took me to the Little Italy Mercato (farmers market), with its gorgeous view of the water and luscious artisan foodstuffs.

I was starving when we got there, and Caron recommended the tiny Thai coconut pancakes, so I tried them. They were soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and absolutely delicious.

The produce didn't interest me much - I get plenty of that, and probably better, at the Santa Monica farmers markets - so we concentrated on the unique food products not available up here. I started at Heartland Harvest, where Seth, the owner's son, did a fine sales job, nudging me to sample their honeys and grain mixes. I came away with a spicy ginger honey mixed with bee pollen, plus packages of Moroccan Chowder, Bolivian Pilaf and East Indian Khichiri (Seth gave me a taste of that, and it was outstanding).

Next I sampled, and bought, some handmade sausages from Knight Salumi Co: uncured soppresatte and cacciatori, both dry salumi with a smooth, spicy flavor. That was for my husband (lucky guy).

I also bought the husband some dark bar chocolate from Eclipse Chocolat, in exotic flavors: Moroccan spice, blackberry sage, and sea salt with cocoa nibs. He's only tried the blackberry sage so far, but he seems to like it - it's almost gone. And he is indeed picky about his chocolate.

I came home with two bottles of avocado oil, a product I'd never seen before. According to the young woman from Bella Vado who sold it to us, it's equally good on salads and on your face. Avocados have a lot of vitamin E, so I can imagine it would be great for your skin, but I haven't tried it yet. Anyway, I bought one bottle of straight avocado oil, and one flavored with lemon. For the latter, they press the lemons with the avocados, rather than adding the essence afterward, and it was certainly intense and aromatic.

I finished up my market morning with a very, very nice soy latte from a lovely guy in a big orange truck. Embarrassingly, I can remember the names of neither the guy nor the truck. But he makes a mean coffee. (Note: Caron kindly supplied me with the names: David Wasserman of Joes on the Nose. Sorry, David, and thank you for the delicious latte!)

Then Caron and I continued on to Specialty Produce, a gourmet produce distributor. Kelly, who works there, is also a Twitter friend, and she very graciously came to work on a Saturday to show me around. She also slipped a few treats into my bag for me to take home and play with. Recipes to come, I promise.

We wandered the aisles of the warehouse, peeking into boxes, thinking aloud about what we'd do with this or that. For example, coconuts:

Micro-greens of all colors and flavors:

Dragon fruit (tastes like melon, I'm told) - this is Caron holding one:

Fresh taro root (it took us a while to figure out what this was):

and popcorn shoots, which really do taste like corn. They're yellow because they're grown in the dark.

There were all kinds of other things on the shelves, like truffle stuff, oils and vinegars, and salt of all kinds:

I brought home some of the popcorn shoots, which I think I'll use in a little salad dressed with walnut oil, lemon and coarse salt. I also got a few apriums, a celery root, a few small watermelon radishes (they're green on the outside and veined pink inside), a bunch of baby white carrots, and a large golden beet. What will I do with them? Wait and see....

After our tour of Specialty Produce, Caron, Kelly and I had lunch at Saffron, a local and much-loved Thai place. The noodles were terrific, as was the house-made ginger beer.

Many thanks to both Caron and Kelly for showing me around. I really enjoyed myself.


kellypea said...

Sounds like the two of you have a great time! I've never been to the Farmer's Market in Little Italy, but LOVE Specialty Produce. I'm still reeling with the idea that this is the first 2-day alone time you've had in 8 years? Oh. My. Goodness. I can't imagine. Sounds like your planning paid off big time!

Erika Kerekes said...

Kellypea: I'm hoping I don't have to wait another 8 years for a weekend on my own (hint, hint, dear husband)....

Next time you'll come with us, right?

John Amschler said...

Caron definitely did you right when she led you to Chef Woods' Thai Coconut Pancakes.

Luckily I can get them 2x a weekend - once at the Little Italy Mercado and then on Sunday at the Hillcrest Farmers Market

Erika Kerekes said...

John - I have been dreaming about those thai coconut pancakes since last spring! I hear you can get them at the Hollywood farmers market up here but I don't get that way too often. I might just need to learn to make them myself.

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