Wednesday’s Farmers Market- Ocean Beach

Every Wednesday from 4-8 pm (& pm in the winter), Ocean Beach has a Farmers Market on Newport Ave. between Cable and Bacon Streets. The website has information on the groups performing and promises a funky and free-spirited vibe is in store for its patrons.

Who could resist such promises?

Unbelievably delicious!
Unbelievably delicious!

If you want to get your vegan on and gas up your gluten-free mojo, get down here to Ocean Beach. After passing several international food vendors I stopped to try a sample of the most different ice cream I have ever tasted- Strawberry Basil Sorbet… It. Was. DELICIOUS! I was unprepared to bring home ice cream, so, this little delicacy will be at the top of my list the next time I visit. Sold at $10 per pint in glass mason jars, but bring back the jar and it nets a $2 discount. A little online searching helped me figure out that this is Na Pali Coast Frozen Organics. Worth the drive, people, check out their site for details.

IMG_8531I’ve had my online eye on De La Ranch’s meats for awhile. If you thought there were no local, grass fed meat suppliers in The Southland, think again. De La Ranch is in Elsinore and the ranch is open to the public if you are interested in seeing where your food comes from. We bought a pound of their Farmers Sausage for breakfast this weekend. Can’t wait to try it.

Great music enjoyed by happy dancers.
Great music enjoyed by happy dancers.

There was officially invited music for the crowd to dance to and enjoy, and there were so many people dancing that I couldn’t get a great photo. Everyone was really enjoying themselves. I counted four other buskers scattered about the market playing an assortment of styles.

Ocean Beach has the most produce and food vendors that I’ve seen at the different markets in the area- meats, nuts, dried fruits, ice creams, desserts, baked goods, cheese, sausage, kombucha, mushrooms, in addition to the much desired fruits and vegetables. We bought onion and garlic flavored pistachios and WILL BE BACK for the coco almonds. I tasted the kombucha and give it two thumbs up.

The Ocean Beach Farmers Market delivered on its promise. It was indeed the most fun and best market that I’ve visited yet.

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Tomatoes as far as the eye can see!
Tomatoes as far as the eye can see!

Tuesday’s Farmers Market- Mira Mesa

On Tuesdays in Mira Mesa as the high school kids leave for the day, the Farmers Market kicks into gear. About forty vendors split pretty equally between produce, cooked foods, and merchandise, sell their goods on the northeast corner of the school grounds.

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Most shoppers were here…

Now is the time to pick up the last of the summer berries and squash of all kinds were available at all the produce stands. I picked up a nice cherry and apple cider from a stand selling San Joaquin Valley apples. I bought it for The Husband but it looks too good and I’m going to have to make him share. One vendor had about 90% of the clientele of the entire market selling asian greens, vegetables and even a kind of vegetable vine… I regret asking what the heck that was. Clearly, that is the place to buy your produce.

IMG_8508Another stall sells fresh seafood including enormous sea urchins. These were whoppers. They are also available on the half shell, as this happy guy was enjoying during his vacation visiting family.

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Uni on the half shell!

Japanese, Filipino, Indian and other foods are available. The Indian food stall was passing out samples of their sauces, oh my GOSH they were delicious! They let me know that they sell at most of the local Farmers Markets, so keep an eye out for Masala Cottage and their delicious sauces to take home or made to order plates with rice and samosas. One guy said he gets his dinner at Masala Cottage every Tuesday afternoon, he loves their food that much.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s Farmers Market trip… I’m getting one of these dinners for sure.

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Fabulous Indian food from Masala Cottage, I kid you not!
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Not many buyers in view because they are all at that one stand pictured above…

Monday’s Farmers Market- Welk Resort

IMG_8507Just outside of San Diego’s northern city limits, north of the city of Escondido is a resort that offers the only Farmers Market operating on a Monday. After a quick call to double check with one of the Welk Resort’s operators that yes, indeed, there is such a thing as the Welk Resort Farmers Market, I made the drive north to see what goodies were available.

IMG_8500 (1)This is a nice little Farmers Market with about 60 vendors, and I walked away with some superb tomatoes and lovely caramels… even though the lotion and music stalls were giving passers-by the hard sell of their products. They were one step from pushy, really.

But the main goal for this week has already been accomplished: tomatoes like this for dinner! Tomatoes have been strangely absent around here recently, I didn’t grow any and didn’t find a neighbor to mooch from this season… and let’s face it- if a tomato doesn’t come from your back yard, your neighbors’, or a reputable local grower, it just isn’t worth eating.

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Heaven…. I’m in Heaven! These are “Pineapple Tomatoes,” I am told. Very sweet and VERY delicious.

Seven Farmers Markets in Seven Days

From SDFarmbureau.org
From SDFarmbureau.org

When my kids were younger, we frequently went to the local Farmers Markets. For them, Kettle Corn was the reason to be dragged along. For me, the local pork patties and bratwurst, grass-fed beef, fruits, and vegetables were the draw. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten corn on the cob so fresh that no cooking, salt, or butter is necessary; and Indiana’s pork patties are not to be missed. No grocer has ever been able to provide tomatoes or peaches that can compare to what you can purchase from a local supplier, and if your neighbor isn’t sharing, the Farmers Market is your next best bet.

Here in The Southland, we have the treat of multiple Farmers Markets open nearly every day. Next week, I’m going to take a mini mental vacation and visit a different market every day… I can’t wait! I’m hoping to pick up something for dinner a few nights, some locally produced meats, and other end of the season produce to put up in my freezer. Maybe I’ll find some completely new food to try?

San Diego Farmers Markets (on SDFarmbureau.org) is a great link with mostly up-to-date information on all of the Farmers Markets in the San Diego county area.

From SDFarmBureau.org
From SDFarmBureau.org

New Tricks with Old Friends- Aqua Hiking and Kung Pao Calamari (Bonus! Make a Friend Try Ahi Poke)

Friends visiting us from out of town? A visit to Torrey Pines is mandatory.

Torrey Pines State Preserve this Friday… so lovely:

Stunning blue sky, green pines, and red cliffs, two days ago...
Stunning blue sky, green pines, and red cliffs, two days ago… 

Southern California is experiencing a severe drought right now. So, when the friends from Indiana are visiting, what do we get for the weather? Two days of steady rain thanks to Hurricane Dolores. I didn’t snap any pictures of the ominous grey and black clouds as they rushed up on us, but did find this lovely photo online. Imagine the fog like this… just coming down in buckets:

This is the closest photo I could come up with- Torrey Pines in the fog... (photo credit to andrewharper.com)
This is the closest photo I could come up with- Torrey Pines in the fog… (photo credit to andrewharper.com)

Our hike today started with clear skies, but by mid-morning, the hurricane bands started coming up from the south. And fast. By the time we started the return hike, the skies opened up and we enjoyed (!?!) the rest of the walk along the water’s edge and the base of the cliffs in the pouring rain. At least we had the warm rain and beach to walk along!

Very VERY wet hikers make it to the car...
Very VERY wet hikers make it to the car…

By the time we made it back to the car we were soaked to the skin. I amazed that we managed to keep the cameras and phones dry. The hair dryers and styling products were a waste of time this morning. We looked (and felt) like we had jumped in a pool.

We finished the evening at a favorite fish restaurant, Bay Park Fish Company, where we talked two of the most unlikely of diners to try ahi poke- they didn’t die nor did they hate it! I had to try something new to eat since hiking in a total downpour wasn’t good enough for my New Thing o’ the Day. Kung Pao Calamari- yum. It is on the appetizer list, but with a side of rice, voilà- dinner.

Here you go, Scott, proof of your wife trying the ahi poke:

OHMYGOSH DEBBIE IS EATING RAW FISH!!!
OHMYGOSH DEBBIE IS EATING RAW FISH!!!
Kung Pao Calamari with a side of rice- delish.
Kung Pao Calamari with a side of rice- delish.

Two Moms Finally Let Loose at the Fair, Part One

We made it!

We came, we lingered, we laughed. Oh, how we laughed.

Black Magic roses... stunning color and shape!
Black Magic roses… stunning color and shape!

We delighted in the floral specimens, scarcely believing that roses could achieve that color or dahlias could be that perfect. We wanted to die for the level of fluffiness we witnessed in the bunnies on display. The student art floored us- what talent! The collections and cooking entries included everything from the amazing to the confusing. We left with enough examples of beauty and to fodder for laughter for ages to come.

THE FLOWERS

Fair Award Winner "Charlotte Ann"
“Charlotte Ann”
"Ketchup and Mustard"
“Ketchup and Mustard”

Roses have names, we know that. “Peace, Mr. Lincoln, Iceberg, and Julia Child” are all common varieties, but today at the fair we found many far from common- names like the enigmatic titles given to race horses or those found on the back of sailboats… a few could be romance novel titles, honestly.

Stunning "Memphis Magic"
“Memphis Music”
"George Burns," what a fabulous tribute!
“George Burns”
"Power Point" is another winner
“Power Point”

A sampling: “Renegade, Black Magic, Playboy, The Fairy, Wise Portia, First Kiss, Super Hero, Betty Boop, Foolish Pleasures, Mother’s Love, Power Point, Nemesis, Seattle Destination, Bees Knees, Shameless, Lusciously Lucy, Monkey Business, Jump for Joy, Hot Cocoa, Gourmet Popcorn. ”

Huge dahlias!
Huge dahlias!
"Clouds and Rain"
“AC Clouds and Rain”
"Mary Eveline"
“Mary Eveline”

The dahlia displays were no less stunning- what amazing symmetry and size! Annika’s take-away after seeing the dahlias was how much these flowers seem to jump right out of a Dr. Seuss book. I left wishing I could come back with a golf club. “Fore!!” Just kidding… kind of.

THE CRITTERS

We were both sad to see that there were no fancy chickens in the livestock barns, but were completely delighted with the bunnies. Oh my GOSH, it was a fluffy overload. How can something be that impossibly fluffy? Here are a few of our favorites:

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Annika’s Goth Bunny
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World’s Cutest Bunny
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Fluffiest Neighbor #2

These are a few of the fluffiest, cutest, most adorable critters I have ever seen at a state fair.

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Fluffiest Neighbor #1

There were as many people crowded around the bunnies as there were anywhere. Everyone wants to just marvel at their sweetness, and who can blame them?

We left the animals saying goodbye to the mama pig and her piglets, reminding Annika of how she prefers to eat marzipan pigs to the real ones. Mama Piggy gave me an entirely different idea: it was high time to visit the corndog stand.

Why I am really at the fair...
Why I am really at the fair…

Coming up in Part Two- Student Art and Photography, and the Home and Hobby collections, displays, crafts and foods.

Two Moms and A Lot of Fun…

The Intention:

Zumbar- the best coffee in San Diego
Zumbar- the best coffee in San Diego

Two moms have all teens and pre-teens either in school or otherwise accountable. They meet for coffee and pastries, have tickets to the San Diego County Fair, and plan to spend AS MUCH TIME AS THEY WANT, all morning and afternoon, to pore over the art, horticulture, cooking, and any other exhibits WITHOUT KIDS SAYING “Mooooom, we’re booooooored, can’t we leave the exhibits and ride the Throw ‘Em Upper Coaster now?!??”

Hidden Agenda:

Get the Swedish partner in crime to try Fair Food. Fried Fair Food.

The Reality:

The fair is closed for the first two Tuesdays. Dammit!

What We Did:

Liberty Station
Liberty Station

Sat in the fairground parking lot for five minutes wondering how it escaped both of our attention to this Tuesday closing… kept getting distracted with twenty other subjects, then decided to hit another San Diego landmark instead. Liberty Station? Great idea! I’ve never looked around this beautiful site or explored the grounds.

Need to come back to see more!
Need to come back to see more!

We had a great time wandering around, looking at all of the different art shops that were open at the time… less than half, I’d say, but we picked up flyers about a bunch of upcoming local events, classes and restaurants. There’s a WINE AND CHEESE AND CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL!! June 26th, people, mark your calendars- I know I am!

Bonus:

I kind of covered the hidden agenda, but it was a total compromise. Stone Brewing has an appetizer that can convert any vegetable hater- Deep Fried Brussels Sprouts, with Pancetta and a Honey Balsamic dressing. Holy Explicative, these are great, and I’m glad I got to introduce my friend to this snack and the lovely Stone restaurant.

We are trying for the fair again later this week. We are bound and determined. And I will make Annika try fair food- corn dog or funnel cake… her choice!