By Judi Curry / OB Rag
Liberty Public Market
2820 Historic Decatur Rd.
San Diego, CA 92106
As a recognized “foodie” I have anxiously awaited the opening of the Liberty Public Market. The one thing I miss most about living in the Bay Area is the “Berkeley Bowl” – a converted bowling alley turned into a multitude of food shops. From all I had heard, this new venture was a cross between the Bowl and the Seattle “Pike Place Market.” Even at my age I have not yet learned not to expect too much.
My friend Irene and I decided to take a look at this new venture on a Friday morning during the first week it was opened. Parking was relatively easy – but we noted it was packed when we left shortly after noon. We also found that most of “stores” did not open until 11:00am. But that suited our purpose, because we were just “lookie-loos” this first time around. Unfortunately, it might just be my “last time around.”
Perhaps it was because I just had my income taxes completed and realized that my outcome far exceeds my income; perhaps it was because of the number of tourists roaming the halls; perhaps it was because it was nothing like the Berkeley Bowl, that I became disenchanted with what I was seeing; perhaps it was just the high prices of everything, but whatever it was – I was disappointed.
For example, at “Garden Fresh” a large ear of white corn was $1.75 an ear; Haas Avocados were $2.15 each. I didn’t open the ear of corn, but I can tell you that the Avocados were not particularly large; and even if they were grown “organically” they are not worth that kind of money.
The fish market had a huge array of whole fish available, and most of the places where the fish were caught were marked, but they had not yet received their final clearance from the Health Department so you had to buy the entire fish – and fillet it yourself -. The Mahi Mahi was about 25 pounds and I had to ask where it was caught. (I will not eat or purchase farm raised fish.) The owner said it was caught in the Sea of Cortez; when I pressed where, he said it was down by La Paz. The company expected their final approval later this afternoon and would then be able to filet fish, offer breakfast, etc.
“Venissimo Cheese” was not open when Irene and I walked by, but there was a full array of cheeses available in the display cases.
“Liberty Meat” brought back many memories of fresh butchers back in the days when there were no supermarkets. But there is no way that I could afford to pay $25 a pound for Filet Mignon steaks at this stage in my life. (Particularly when I can buy an entire butt for just about $20 at Stumps Market when they have it on sale.)
“Scooped” Ice Cream was tantalizing. But they offered, among other things, “Ice Cream Tacos” for $5.25 and it was already prepackaged in cellophane. Perhaps their scoops were of a better price, but I was turned off.
I was already familiar with “Howlistic” – a healthy animal store. The prices were about the same here as they are in their Hillcrest store. The gentleman I talked to was friendly. It would have been nice to be offered a free sample of something for my dog.
And I must say something about DOGS. I have one. I love him. BUT he does not belong on a shopping trip with me, particularly where there are food stuffs being offered. Seeing all the people with their dogs walking down the aisles makes me realize that I should never buy anything on the bottom shelves!!!!
One thing I am looking into has me somewhat concerned. “Mastiff Sausage” was in the process of filling up their shelves when Irene and I walked by. But the lady pulling the cart of sausages also walked by us and the sausages were exposed to every and all people in the area. I didn’t expect to catch anything from the sausage, but what if we sneezed as she walked by? Or coughed? It doesn’t seem to me that an item that I am going to purchase should have the “exposure” that these sausages had.
Irene remarked as we passed many of the booths preparing for their opening that few, if any people were wearing gloves while they were making the salads, or pasta, or other edible items. One exception to that was at the “Stuffed” and we noticed that all of the employees were wearing gloves. (I am waiting for a call from the Health Department on both of these issues.)
I was so looking forward to this new venture. To say that I was disappointed is putting it mildly. Would I go back? Sure. To purchase anything? No. It is way too rich for me and once the newness wears off there would not be any reason to go back.
I do not think that tourists will spend a great deal there either. I can’t see them buying fresh meat – where would they cook it? – the same for fresh vegetables or fresh fish. Maybe if I had a higher income it would be a possibility, but it is way out of my price range on almost every item. But it is a fun place to look – not the kind of “window shopping” I enjoy.