Friday, August 08, 2008

Meet me at the Mercato

Little Italy Mercato - Saturday Mornings on Date Street

Have you been to the new Saturday morning Farmer's Market in Little Italy yet? If not, you're in for a treat. Instead of a parking lot, the market stalls line the sides of Date Street, a far more scenic locale, and the crowds, at least for now, are much more manageable than they are at Sunday's Hillcrest and La Jolla markets. I also prefer the Saturday time slot (9:00 AM to 1:00 PM) because it doesn't interfere with my Sunday morning laziness.
Pepper sat Sage Mountain - Little Italy Mercato

I recognized a lot of the vendors from the other markets in town, and discovered a few new ones. Sage Mountain Farms was there, the photo above is of some of their peppers. I stopped to visit with Mariella Balbi of Guanni Chocolates, who sells some of the best chocolates in town. (Love the Pisco and the Aruma.) I saw the Bread and Cie guy, Smit Orchards, and a few others I recognized from Hillcrest, but I didn't see the Salsa Chilena people, and my beloved Barry, of La Milpa Farms, was not there - but I can always catch him on Fridays at the La Mesa market.
Little Italy Mercato 8.2.08

My favorite new discovery was the Schaner Farms stand, in the upper third of the market, on the North side of the street. They had a lovely assortment of produce, but what really caught my eye were the turkey, duck and guinea hen eggs they had on display. I bought six - four duck eggs, one turkey and one guinea. Our usual Sunday breakfast is fried eggs with levain toast and Niman Ranch bacon, and these were a great addition - though I regretted that I served them them with croissants this time, since they were so rich. They taste just like chicken eggs, only more so - almost buttery, with a slightly heavier texture.
Assorted Eggs at Schaner Farms Stand

They also sell fresh squeezed Orange Passionfruit juice, which I definitely would have bought if I'd been heading straight home after the market. Instead, I went on a little taco tasting expedition with Alex and Josh, who met me there at the market. (More on that coming very soon!)
Schaner Farms Stand at Little Italy Mercato

The Schaners don't sell at any other markets in the urban areas, they told me they sell most of their produce to LA area restaurants, and they sell at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market in LA . (not sure if it's the Wednesday or Sunday market or both.) I'm actually hoping to check out the Sunday market next weekend when I'm in LA with a friend. We're doing a girls spa weekend at the W, and we have reservations at Pizzeria Mozza and Bar Marmont. I can't wait!

View more photos here.

Little Italy Mercato Farmers' Market
on Date Street at India
9:00 to 1:00 PM Saturday mornings


  1. just went to Pizzeria Mozza. we loved just about everything. The fried squash blossoms were so yummy, but I love squash blossoms! Have a great trip.

  2. Unfortunately I have too much on the plate on Saturdays until after Labor Day but then this is NUMERO UNO on the list. Great photos and details. Thank you soooo much for the report.

  3. Pizzeria Mozza is always a nice treat but overall I am bit disappointed about their pizza dough. I prefer thin pizza and theirs is more bread like but their toppings are nice and high quality. For me their highlights are the antipasti. One thing I never understood at Mozza is their butterscotch budino which is their "famous" dolci with for me is a boring disaster.
    I don't know when you are going their but if you come late (we are normally their around 10pm) you also have a high chance to see some celebreties or camera crews. Last time we got some extra antipasti because me pizza got cold after it was apparently filmed as the main event for some local TV report about Pizzeria Mozza.

  4. Hi, do you happen to know if they allow dogs at this farmer's market? I noticed two in your photo, and it would be nice to bring my little Filet along =) Thanks!

  5. Ali - glad to hear it, I'm looking forward to it (obviously!)

    Foodiechick - it will still be there, perhaps we can meet up??

    Honkman - thanks for the report. I tend to like thinner pizza too (which is impossible to find here) but I will hope for the best.

    Liz - they have signs up that say dogs have to be a certain distance away from the food - but I saw more dogs here than I've ever seen at a market, so it might be a little more lax than some - I think because it's on a street. You certainly would not be out of place.

  6. This is when it kills me to live in Vegas. I would love to have a farmer's market like this to frequent.

  7. My wife and I were going to go to the market today for the first time, but we got caught up in other things. I was happy to find your review of the Little Italy farmers market. I will surely check this out next week thanks to your post.

  8. I love going to farmer's markets. They are the best. Luckily, SLC has a good one!

  9. Love your blog. Isn't it wonderful to live in San Diego where the food and the weather is just divine?

  10. Sounds like there is an amazing variety at the mercato! Never had duck or turkey eggs myself but you've certainly piqued my curiosity...