Thursday I made an unscheduled trip to San Diego to be with my mother after an equally unscheduled surgery. She's fine, but I was glad to come down to be with her and help her out around the house while she recoups.
But as long as I'm down here, I couldn't turn up the opportunity to check out a farmer's market. Some quick research indicated that the best of the bunch is the Hillcrest Farmer's Market on Sundays. To find the foodiest market in the gayest neighborhood was an unexpected treat.
A quick jaunt down the 163 dropped us within blocks of the DMV parking lot that houses the market, where we also found parking without too much fuss. Dorothy, I'm not in San Francisco anymore!
I of course expected to see different things at this market. While the Bay Area is just waking up from the grip of winter's chill, SoCal enjoys a robust growing season pretty much year round. While we're scraping to get creative with root vegetables and dark leafy greens, San Diegans are enjoying artichokes the size of your head, billowing cumulus clouds of cauliflower and tomatoes fer chrissakes. And while we're just now seeing tulips and daffodils, they have long-stem roses, orchids and tuberoses.
Perhaps the biggest difference was in the presence of diverse and beautiful exotic fruits, such as mangoes, bananas, passion fruit and more than one vendor selling cherimoyas. I couldn't refuse the opportunity to try some of these unusual treats.
I got talking with a tea vendor (and friend of Vegan Lunch Box's Jennifer McCann), picking up a bag of her black tea chai. Most interestingly, she showed me that she will be growing heirloom varietal tomatoes from the Ukraine, Russia and Siberia, otherwise not available in the states. I look forward to returning in the summer to sample them.
San Diego's market also has quite a lot in the way of prepared foods, much of which looked (and smelled) really good. There was Turkish, Greek, Argentine, Mexican, and a smattering of other ethnic foods. Foolishly, I ate before coming to the market. What was I thinking?
There's also a much larger presence of crafts vendors than at our
own market -- apparel, jewelry, artwork, textiles, what have you.
Overall the market isn't quite as large as Ferry Plaza, but I'm sure that changes as the seasons change. If they get what they do at the beginning of March, I can only imagine the bounty in August. And I aim to experience it first-hand.
Hillcrest Farmer's Market
3960 Normal St (at Lincoln), San Diego