A Visit to the Public Market
By Judi Curry
I have always enjoyed going to different areas in Barrio Logan. Sometimes I would go every few months; sometimes I would take my foreign language students on a “tour” of San Diego and introduce them to a taco at Las Cuatro Milpas, but NEVER have I ever visited the area 3 times in one week – soon to be 4 times in the same week – as I am doing this week.
Why? There is no question that I have a compulsive personality. I can no more eat one potato chip than I can eat one piece of “See’s Candy.” Why only have one martini when two make me feel so much better. But let’s face it, how many taco’s, taquito’s, tamale’s can you eat in a week? So what is the pull?
Last week two of my daughters and I went to Barrio Logan with the hopes of visiting the new Farmer’s Market on National and Beardsley but found out it was only open on Wednesday and Sunday and we, of course, were not there on either of those two days. They also wanted to “revisit” Las Cuatro Milpas – a fun place we used to go to when they were children. (It was just as much fun now!) And I wanted to visit Ryan Bros Coffee on Main Street because I have received their coffee as gifts and I was curious about the shop.
So this Wednesday – yesterday – a new trip to Barrio Logan was the call of the day. This time Stephanie and I went with Irene and Ro – two members of my support group – and started out at the market at 9:30am. (They open at 9; close at 2:00.) I can’t exactly say that we were disappointed, because over all we were not, but there were few vendors selling their wares on this cloudy morning. I had heard that Sunday was the “better” day, and I am sure that is correct. But the lack of vendors – and the lack of buyers – gave us a very intimate feel for the Public Market.
The fruits and vegetables practically glowed with freshness. Never have I seen such big radishes and celery. I bought a flat of strawberries at 9:30am in the morning and made 32 jars of jam by 5:00pm. And the most amazing thing about the strawberries was that there was only ONE strawberry that was completely spoiled and I could not use it, and only 4 strawberries that were spoiled in spots that could be cut out and still used. I had a rough moment when the biggest earwig I have ever seen crawled onto my hand – but I shook him off right into the garbage disposal. (Even the bugs were big!)
We talked to almost every vendor there; each one friendlier than the next. The free samples were succulent; and I even asked one of the farmers what I could do to make my tangelo’s sweeter for the next crop. The variety of a farmer’s market was somewhat lacking, but I was assured that there is more of a selection on Sunday. We are already making plans to return in two weeks.
Before leaving we spoke to Jane Sandri, one of the people running the market. What grand plans they have for the 93,000 square foot space. She, Catt White, and Dale Steel have drawn up actual architectural plans for the market. It will cover approximately three quarters of a block; will have permanent stalls; open 6 days a week; will have a commercial kitchen that people can utilize to make their own products as well as having cooking lessons for those interested. The plans are exciting and sometime in the next few weeks I hope to be able to interview Catt White, because her name came up later in the day as well as at the market.
Since none of us had any pressing appointments until 1:00pm, we decided to mosey on down to Las Cuatro Milpas for breakfast. Even at 10:00am there was a small line, and when we left at 11:00am there was a bigger line. Everything we ordered was good; tamales, rice and beans, taquito’s; taco’s, etc. The one thing they didn’t have was hot coffee, so that necessitated one more stop – back at Ryan Bros.
I asked if either Tom or Harry was there, because I wanted to make sure that they had read my review the week before. Not only did they read it, but they posted it on their Face Book account. Tom graciously came out to greet us – remember, he knew Stephanie from her volunteer work and their children went to the same school – and spent 15-20 minutes talking to us. We all had a different kind of coffee drink, and wobbled out of the restaurant fully sated.
So what’s next? Well, look for my review of another new restaurant in the Barrio area in the next few days. This time three of my fellow journalists will join me in reviewing one of the newer area restaurants. And remember when I said that Catt White’s came up again? It seems that she was instrumental in starting the Little Italy farmer’s market; she is instrumental in the beginning of this new restaurant; and, in fact, has her offices in the same building as the restaurant.
I can hardly wait for my next trip to Barrio Logan!