A cursory glance through the rambling list of sites in the right sidebar of this site will quickly inform you that I have a very small universe. I have a special focus on fellow Bay Area food bloggers; beyond that, I regularly monitor a handful of others around the world. But by and large, of the bloggers outside my own backyard, I am not terribly concerned with their geography.
The exception to that rule is San Diego. I began paying closer attention to food bloggers there because it's where my mother lives, and hence a place we visit with relative frequency. I became entranced with the vibrancy of the blogger community there. And on a visit down there last week, I reached out to a handful of my favorites (many of whom I had met personally before) to arrange a get-together.
Lucky me, all were available, and a plan was forged, beginning with a pass through the Hillcrest Farmers Market with Alice and Caron, after which we would connect with Kathy, Nicole and Susan for brunch at Farmhouse Café.
When last I visited the farmers market, two-plus years nigh, I was dazzled by the strange and exotic things I saw — cherimoya! passion fruit! tomatoes in March! This time around, the market felt more familiar, with produce similar to what we're seeing up in NorCal — although, our artichokes are far more diminutive!
Caron explained some other markets around town: The new Little Italy Mercato that is gaining popularity quickly, and the funky City Heights market, reflective of the neighborhood's remarkable ethnic diversity.
Hillcrest market is not huge, not as large as our main markets, and is more of a blend of produce, craft and prepared food booths. With brunch on our agenda, I didn't want to fill up, though it was difficult to resist the wafting aromas. One thing we could not resist, and in fact were expressly told to have, were at a booth that simply called them "coconut pancakes."
These Thai treats, kanom krok, are not so much pancakes as croquets of coconut milk and sugar. The batter is poured, sizzling and spattering, into the custom pan shown above, and the resulting dome-shaped goodies are turned out in mere seconds.
They're delicious, custardy and gently sweet … and volcanically hot. At five for a dollar, they made a lovely pre-brunch nibble.
Alice also sent us away with a couple truffles apiece from Guanni Chocolates. The Peruvian chocolatier infuses her confections with unique flavors from her homeland. I swooned for the Cusco, with "Aji Amarillo (yellow hot pepper), candied citrus peels and muña (Andean herb)." I'm a big fan of chile pepper in chocolate, but this really took it to a new level. And the Pisco with currants was not too shabby either.
San Diego's a great city by any metric, but the evolution of its markets and the expression of the bloggers who frequent them puts it on a pedestal.
Don't forget to visit my San Diego friends:
And don't forget my mom, Sandi of A Little to the Left!