What to Watch for at the markets this month
Where’s the Beef? Sage Mountain Pastures
Farmers’ market regulars know Phil Noble and his Sage Mountain Farms. He’s my guy for rare spring treats like garlic scapes. But Phil also raises cattle on his Hemet farm. They feed on the remainders of his harvest out in the fields, nosh on grass and are finished on grain. He’s been selling the beef to friends and family, and now we can buy it at his stall at the Sunday Hillcrest market. Sage Mountain Pastures sells half, quarter and eighth portions as well as 1-pound packages of ground beef. I took home the ground beef and grilled up sweet and flavorful burgers. Buy the large portions and you’ll get a mix of cuts, prepackaged and ready for freezing. (sagemountainfarm.com)
Come to Poppa
Mark Lane knows his fish. He should, after years of working for Chesapeake Fish Company. Now he’s Poppa, as in Poppa’s Fish — a regular at the local farmers’ markets. I’ve bought beautiful salmon for curing and am waiting to get my hands on hard-to-find local sea bass ribs. But Lane’s also becoming known for his unique ceviches. You never know from week to week what he’ll have. It could be catfish cured in grapefruit juice, or my favorite: shrimp and watermelon ceviche. Lane just whips these up without formal recipes, but he gave me the ingredients: chopped raw white shrimp; diced watermelon; fresh lemon juice for curing; diced red onions; tomatoes; chopped cilantro; diced serrano chilies; fresh-squeezed orange juice; a little salt and pepper, to taste; and a pinch of fresh ground ginger. (619-778-9265)
SoNo, So Good!
Zach Negin and James Magnatta are friends who grew up learning to cook from their moms. So it wasn’t surprising when the two dove into business together making pickles and mustards. SoNo Trading Company’s delicious mustards are made from scratch with organic seed blended with different vinegars, honey, herbs and spices that result in lovely flavors like champagne garlic, cilantro lime and sesame ginger. The sweet-and-spicy organic pickles are double-brined. The effect is to tickle your tongue, then strike. Snack on them, but also add them to a sandwich, to egg salad or to a hot dog. Visit SoNo at the Little Italy Mercato, Hillcrest, North Park or Adams Avenue farmers’ markets to buy the jars or taste them in their killer Cuban sandwiches. (sonotrading.com)
Amor y Tacos Is Love Between the Tortillas
You think you know all about tacos, right? You’re a San Diegan, after all. But dive into chef Deborah Schneider’s newest book, Amor y Tacos: Modern Mexican Tacos, Margaritas, and Antojitos ($18.95, Stewart, Tabori & Chang), and you’ll get a fresh introduction to the food in our backyard. Schneider scoped out the best of the taqueros in Baja’s roadside stalls and trucks. The result is a collection of recipes perfect for casual entertaining. Standouts include antojitos, tapas-like small plates; toritos — little peppers stuffed with garlic, shrimp and Oaxaca cheese; and lobster, chayote and mango tostadas with chipotle crema. Schneider doesn’t forget the drinks. Her tequila diablito, Mexican mojito and pineapple serrano Margarita are all party-perfect. And she includes marvelous tips for suggested menus and amounts to serve based on your number of guests.
Caron Golden is an expert on local markets and farms. See more of her Local Bounty finds every week at sandiegomagazine.com/localbounty.