I go to the beach nearly every Saturday morning - not for surfing or sunbathing, but for outdoor grocery shopping. The PB Farmers Market is one of San Diego's smaller markets, offering only direct farmer-grown products - there are none of the street-fair style prepared-food stands or arts-and-crafts booths. I love the fact that every vendor is a local farmer (or farmer's kid!) selling only what they grow - it's all fresh and top-quality, and the selection is getting better all the time.
I always start at the South end of the market where most of the heavy things are located - they go into the bottom of my bags. My first stop is Schaner Family Farms from Valley Center for onions, garlic, shallots.
This winter we also enjoyed their super sweet Tangellos, a cross between a mandarin tangerine and pomello grapefruit (affectionately dubbed "franken-fruit" by Mike). Now in early May we're getting beautiful spring onions and green garlic.
Next stop is Polito Family Farms (also from Valley Center) for big bags of Valencia or Navel oranges and huge Oro Blanco grapefruit. Depending upon the season I get all kinds of lemons, limes, tangerines and avocados here as well. France is usually running the stand and she always has a young man helping her out - in this case, her son.
A fairly new addition to PB's Farmers Market is the Hopkins AG table. Darrin sells raw and freshly roasted and seasoned almonds from his grandfather's almond and cherry tree farm up in Bakersfield.
Our absolute favorite are the fresh, raw, in-shell almonds. Tasty snacking, but since it takes time to crack open the shells they don't disappear by the handful the way the others do - much safer for the waistline!
Cherry season started last week, and our first batch was great.
At the table next door I purchase my weekly supply of lovely, red tomatoes, grown on a farm near Carlsbad. These tomatoes have been tasty the entire year - even in the winter months.
Every week, rain or shine, Annie (aka "the Ramona Egg-Lady") sells local, farm-fresh eggs from her family's Eben-Haezer Egg Ranch in Ramona. I always get a dozen large, free-range browns.
The PB Market is split into two sections. Crossing over to the Northern half, the focus shifts to flowers and fresh vegetables.
One of my favorite stops is the Maciel Family Farm stand manned each week by Sue and Laura with occasional help from a young man. Laura and her husband, Adam (who is at a market in Temecula on Saturdays) grow a huge and varied assortment of vegetables and flowers up in Bonsall. The selection changes frequently, but I can always count on greens like romaine and red leaf lettuce, swiss chard, mustard greens, collard greens, spinach and kale. Often there are beets, turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, chives, lemons, tomatoes and fresh herbs like tarragon, parsley and cilantro.
Right now they have the sweetest, most flavorful carrots I've had in ages.
Just across the way, George and Lois sell freshly cut flowers from their farm near Encinitas. Every week George teases me: "Look Lois, she's here. It must be time to close up shop." Without fail, I'm always running late and by the time I'm at their stand it's almost noon - market hours are 8am to 12pm...
In addition to large mixed bouquets, roses, and seasonal bunches of lilies, freesia, tulips, and gerbera daisies, Lois and George sell beautiful little bouquets of mixed posies. I like to keep one by my kitchen sink at home.
Right next door, Brandt Beef parks their refrigerated truck. We've been enjoying their meats since they first set up shop in our market just over a year ago (you can find posts of ours using their products here: New York Strip, Bavette Steak, Tri-Tip and, of course, burgers) . If you time it right, you can often sample a freshly grilled piece of steak or burger - I was too late this time.
Several stands sell strawberries, but I've been buying mine from the same two guys since January, when the berries were a bit "crispy" but loaded with great flavor. Now, later in the season, they really can't be beat.
Located right next to the Maciel farm stand, these two guys (who don't really pose for pictures) bring their strawberries, blueberries and vegetables from their farm up in Oceanside. I've been really pleased that this stand carries things like cauliflower, broccoli, snow peas, artichokes and bell peppers. I'm looking forward to corn season, too.
Finally, my last stop of the morning is here at the potted-plant stand. There are gorgeous hanging plants and lots of potted flowers of various types.
The grower is a super friendly fellow. Over the years, I've purchased several pots of herbs now growing on my patio - rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano, basil, mint and tarragon. During the winter holidays he sells an assortment of poinsettias, while currently he's got chile pepper and tomato seedlings.
There are a few items carried by multiple growers at the PB Farmers Market, but generally speaking each one fills a specific niche allowing me to do a significant proportion of my grocery shopping on Saturdays at the beach.
Surf, sun, sand and a really good farmers' market - I'm happy.
Pacific Beach Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8am - noon
Mission Boulevard between Pacific Beach Drive and Reed Avenue
(at Promenade Mall)