Little Italy Farmer’s Market – San Diego

If you have never been to some of the great farmer’s markets in San Diego you are missing out on some great produce and tasty food. Two of my favorites are the Little Italy Farmer’s Market on Saturday’s and the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market on Sunday. The Little Italy one is more geared towards produce and buying ingredients whereas the Hillcrest one is better for grabbing a bite, with anything from Russian pierogi to Brazilian empanadas or Jamaican jerk chicken. Hillcrest Farmer’s Market pictures on a next post but here are some pictures from the Little Italy Farmer’s Market.

Little Italy Farmer's Market

Little Italy Farmer’s Market

The main thing you have naturally is a lot of produce for sale. Unless you are super pressed for time I recommend you browsing through the entire market first before buying any produce. Prices vary a lot as well as how nice the produce looks. We bought a bunch of carrots from one vendor and four stalls down they had a prettier bunch for half the price. Also note that although you are at a farmer’s market not everything is necessarily organic and local, many stands have signs saying they are or are not and you can always inquire the vendor if that is what you are after.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Squash

Squash

Carrots

Carrots

Most of the vendors also offer tasters so you can try some of the produce before you buy it, its always nice to try all the different kinds of apples, a new kind of avocado or some fruit you’ve never had before. Farmer’s markets are also pretty much the only place in the universe you can get a perfectly ripe avocado to use the very day you purchased. This is nothing short of magical in my book.

The Cravory

These guys are almost at every farmer’s market in SD, including the Little Italy, Hillcrest and La Jolla ones. They offer a rotating wide variety of cookies. These are a little pricey at $2.00 each but they are soft, plump, chewy mounds of cookie that never disappoint. You can try any/as many of the flavors before buying as well. I personally love the Lemon Bar cookie as well as the Almond Joyous. They always have some nice seasonal flavors too, in this case they had some great holiday flavors like Peppermint Schnapps and Caramel Eggnog.

The Cravory

The Cravory

Bread & Cie

Bread & Cie is also at most of the farmer’s markets and they offer a wide variety of yummy bread. If you are not sure what to buy definitely just ask them for recommendations and based on what you like you can try something new that might appeal to you as well. This time we got some great focaccia and the tasty dark chocolate thing you see in the last picture. It was brioche dough rolled with large chunks of melted dark chocolate and that thing was gone in a day. Rich and chocolate but not overly sweet I cannot wait to buy it again. We also got a brioche like chocolate bread studded with cherries and dark chocolate chunks. Due to the shape we thought it was panettone so we were a little disappointed with the brioche bread which is drier than a panettone but it made the best chocolate bread pudding in the world. Oh and the Fig & Anise bread is lovely too.

Bread & Cie

Bread & Cie


Amazing dark chocolate brioche roll

Amazing dark chocolate brioche roll

Saranya

Saranya sells fantastic Thai food and the stand has done so well that they have even opened a real brick and mortar restaurant! Their curries are really good and they also sell the curry sauces frozen so you can make your own with whatever meat/veggies you want at home. I always, always stop here and get an order of the coconut pancakes. These are small little pancakes made out of coconut milk and rice flour, they are chewy, slightly sweet, very coconut-y and cost I think $1.60 for 4 pancakes. No pictures because we ate them in 2 seconds. Saranya also has the best sticky rice with mango in the world. Or at least that I have tried. Better than anything I’ve had in Thailand even…

Saranya Stick Rice with Mango

Saranya Sticky Rice with Mango

Their rice is perfectly cooked and they drizzle a sweetened coconut milk on it. Every time I’ve gotten it the mangos are also ridiculously and perfectly ripe. Ask for extra coconut milk on top and you are golden. SO SO GOOD.

And to finish I have to post of a picture of this little guy that was hanging out at the Little Italy Farmer’s Market the week before Christmas:

Much Christmas. So Santa.

Much Christmas. So Santa.

Little Italy Farmer’s Market

W. Date & India Streets
Saturday – 8am to 2pm

http://www.littleitalysd.com/mercato/

Bleu Bohème

For Restaurant Week Bleu Bohème used to have a dish called Tournedos Rossini which is filet mignon tournedos in a Madeira demi-glace on top of a crouton topped with foie gras and truffles. These are basically all my favorite things so I bookmarked this place but unfortunately never made it to Restaurant Week. We did however make it to happy hour and managed to sample quite a few dishes.

Bleu Boheme Patio

Bleu Boheme Patio

Their happy hour is quite short but worth it if you can make it to Kensington between 5 and 6 pm! Their martinis, champagne drinks, wine by the glass and craft beer selection (which is awesome btw) is all 50% off. They have a selection of appetizers and of mussels + fries that are all 50% off as well.

Basil Martini

Basil Martini

Red Ale

Red Ale

We started with the basil martini with citrus and a red ale. The basil martini was refreshing and not to sweet, it has tiny pieces of the basil in the drink which gave it a strong basil-y flavor. They also serve you crusty bread with butter right away. We liked the bread but it was extremely crusty so much so that we ended up just eating the insides.

Bread

Bread

APPETIZERS: We ordered quite a few of these. Our favorite was the Nouille au Fromage, a.k.a. the mac n’ cheese. Flat wide pasta with creamy gruyere cheese sauce, peas, duck confit and bacon all baked so the cheese is browned on top and piping hot inside. We did not see much of the duck confit but there was a good amount of bacon and this dish is a fairly large portion.

Nouille et Fromage

Nouille au Fromage

Next with so many options for mussels and fries, we chose the Moules et Frites au Champignon which has a creamy garlic sauce, white wine, bacon and wild mushrooms. This was also delicious and it came with PLENTY of mushroom and bacon (see picture below). The sauce was very flavorful and we definitely were mopping up the extra sauce with the crusty bread we did not eat (problem solved). The fries were very thinly cut and perfectly fried, we just wished they were a tad saltier. Overall would definitely order this again!

Moules et Frites au Champignons

Moules et Frites au Champignons

Next came the Galette du Crabe or crab cakes. These were 3 small crab cakes with an aioli on top and served with jicama remoulade and tomato-rocket salad. These were good but nothing too remarkable, I prefer when crab cakes have big lumps of crab as opposed to the finer shred meat, nonetheless it was not the type of crab cake that is predominantly bread and it was very well seasoned. Although it doesn’t sound very traditionally French, we loved the jicama roulade which was cool and crunchy and a nice contrast to the fried crab cakes.

Galettes du Crabe

Galettes du Crabe

Perhaps the dish I had the highest expectations for was the Crèpe de Homard, a lobster crepe with marscapone, asparagus and white truffle-carrot sauce. However the crepe was quite small and had finely shredded lobster that did not have a strong lobster flavor. The thick orange sauce had carrot and truffle but I did not care for it too much and thought it overwhelmed any lobster flavor in the crepe. Don’t think we would order this one again.

Crepe au Honard

Crèpe de Homard

Lastly another dish we quite liked was the Carpaccio de Saumon Fumé which was rum cured-house smoked salmon, crème frâiche raifort, baby arugula salad with shaved fennel, lemon zest, Champagne vinaigrette and capers. This is the only semi-healthy dish on the happy hour menu if you care for that sort of thing, but it is so flavorful we were all fighting for the last pieces of the salmon. Although we could not taste the rum-curing (not even sure if this would impart flavor though?) the combination of all the elements was very good. You had the salty smoked salmon with Champagne dressed greens, the crunch of the anise-y fennel, tangy capers and lastly the crème frâiche raifort to balance it all out.

Carpaccio

Carpaccio de Saumon Fumé

You thought that was it didn’t you? Well after all this can you imagine we still ordered dessert? We can.

DESSERT: There were many good dessert options and we had heard good things about the crème brulee crèpe however we ultimately decided on the Brioche aux Cerises. With brioche bread pudding, dried cherries, white chocolate, toasted almonds and Amaretto with crème fraîche this sounded like quite the combo. The bread pudding was not dense and was very light in texture but still custard-y in the middle. The white chocolate flavor was not very prominent but the dried cherries added sweet, chewy bites to the pillow-y soft bread. We really, really wished this had come with ice cream because that would have taken it to the next level.

Brioche aux Cerises

Brioche aux Cerises

CHECK:
Red Ale $3.50
Basil Martini $5.50
Galette du Crabe $7.48
Carpaccio de Saumon Fumé $7.98
Crèpe de Homard $8.98
Nouille au Fromage $6.75
Moules et Frites au Champignon $6.98
Brioche aux Cerises $9.95
TOTAL: $61.69 (w/ tax)

Patio View

Patio View

Overall we thought happy hour was a great deal. There are quite a few options for food and drink which was nice. The dishes that really blew us away were the Nouille au Fromage and the Moules et Frites. Everything else was good except for the Crèpe de Homard which I thought was a little underwhelming. Definitely want to make it back here for the Tournedos (*crossing my fingers it will be in the next SDRW menu*).

Bleu Bohème
4090 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
www.bleuboheme.com

PB & BCH Toast

If you are currently at a loss for breakfast we have the simplest recipe for you. It involves no cooking (is toasting cooking?) and it will be ready in about 5 minutes, depending on how fast your slicing skills are.

As much as we would love to have a full breakfast everyday, one rarely finds the time to make rashers of bacon, crispy potatoes and scrambled eggs on weekday mornings. And breakfast is, as most of us are tired of hearing, the most important meal of the day. Although we too are guilty of occasionally skipping breakfast, many studies have shown that people who eat breakfast eat less throughout the whole day. Almost on par with skipping breakfast is having an unsatisfying breakfast. Although many times cereal will do just fine, if you are pressed for time and want something hot you need nothing more than 4 or 5 ingredients.

Peanut Butter Banana Coconut Honey Toast

Peanut Butter Banana Coconut Honey Toast

INGREDIENTS:
Loaf of country whole wheat bread (We like Trader Joe’s Demi Miche bread)
Peanut butter (we are partial to crunchy but we know this is a controversial topic)
1 banana
Honey
Shredded or flaked coconut (or any other topping of your choice!)
Coconut oil

Directions:
1. Slice some of the bread to your desired thickness.
2. Toast. Spread coconut oil on both sides then pan fry until golden on each side.
3. Spread the peanut butter generously on one side.
4. Slice the banana and layer on top of the peanut butter.
5. Drizzle with honey.
6. Top with coconut flakes.

Should you follow these ridiculously simple (almost to the point of being unnecessary) directions: The toast will be hot, crunchy on the outside, and will smell coconut-y and butter-y at the same time. The peanut butter will begin to melt where it touches the bread and ooze over. The bananas and honey will add sweetness and lastly you’ll have some more texture and flavor from the coconut. So good! This would also be a perfect afternoon snack.

TIPS:
– If you are allergic to coconut you can use butter instead of coconut oil and omit the coconut flakes.
– This would be also delicious with just plain white bread or super dark rye bread.
– This is what the Trader Joe’s Demi Miche bread looks like (here).
– Instead of the coconut flakes you could also top this with dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, dates…), chocolate chips, cinnamon, nuts, or berries!

Scarpetta’s Stromboli Bread

Even though almost everyone bakes now people tend to shy away from anything using yeast. Well I promise that working with yeast is fairly easy. Especially if you have a dough hook in your mixer or try no-knead bread or pizza dough (here). It takes times sure but it will cost you a few cents and there is nothing like freshly baked bread.

Stromboli!

Stromboli!

Scott Conant’s Scarpetta restaurant has an amazing salami stromboli in their bread basket and after eating way too much of it at the Scarpetta in Vegas I was happy to find the recipe on Food Network’s website. Here’s the recipe on the site and below are some tips for making it:

SCARPETTA’S STROMBOLI

INGREDIENTS
Dough:
1 tablespoon dry yeast
Extra-virgin olive oil
5 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
Filling:
2 cups grated smoked mozzarella
Salt
1/2 bunch fresh basil, leaves chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces salami, sliced thin
Extra-virgin olive oil
Toppings:
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt, such as Maldon
1/4 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Citrus Herb Oil, for serving, recipe follows
Mascarpone Butter, for serving, recipe follows
Directions
For the dough: Whisk together 2 cups cold water, the yeast and 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Put in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Mix on speed 1, or low speed, for 5 minutes. Add the flour and continue mixing for an additional 5 minutes. Then turn the mixer to speed 2, or medium speed, and mix for 5 minutes. Add the salt until incorporated. Add 1 tablespoon oil at the end of the 5 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a large hotel pan greased with oil. If you don’t have a hotel pan, you can use a large bowl; just make sure there is ample space for the dough to double in size. Put a little oil on top as well, about 2 tablespoons.
Wrap all the way around with plastic wrap and put on top of the oven (or other warm, draft-free area) with something in between, such as a kitchen towel or a baking tray, for about 1 1/2 hours. The dough will double in size.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
When ready, transfer the dough to an oiled table or flat surface. Form into a log to make it easier to portion, and cut into two equal pieces. Cover with plastic so it doesn’t dry out. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Lightly brush a baking tray with oil. Spread out the dough on the oiled countertop with the palms of your hands, don’t use your fingertips. It should be even all the way around, with no fat edges.
Place half the fillings on one piece of dough in the order listed: mozzarella, salt, basil, garlic, pepper and salami. Fill two-thirds of the surface, leaving the bottom third and a little on the sides empty. Roll the dough over twice, seal the sides with your palm, fold over the bottom and then the sides. Transfer to the oiled tray. Rub a little oil on top. Repeat with the second portion of dough. Put the rosemary, sea salt and tomatoes on top. Cover the tray with plastic and let sit for 15 minutes to rest.
When ready, put a pan of ice in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove. Place the tray in the oven and bake for a total of 45 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn 180 degrees. Bake another 20 minutes, then turn again and bake the remaining 5 minutes.
Transfer to a new baking sheet lined with parchment. Allow the loaves to cool. Slice and serve with Citrus Herb Oil and Mascarpone Butter for dipping.

Read more here

TIPS:
– I halved the recipe, the original one makes A LOT of stromboli.
– If you don’t have a dough hook on your stand mixer and are kneading by hand, here’s a quick tutorial (video)
– When you are kneading just keep going until the dough goes from sticky and lumpy to shiny and smooth. Once the dough comes together and isn’t sticking to your hands anymore its ready!
– You don’t need Maldon sea salt but any coarse salt will do. I skipped the tomatoes and added some fleur de sel to the top of the loaves and they add a lot of texture and taste to the final product.
– Eat it right out of the oven! I mean not literally because it will be scalding hot but definitely tastes best eaten hot.