What is now a Saturday institution for San Diego farmers market devotees started out as just a hope by market manager Catt White that a great location—Date and India Sts.—and high-caliber vendors would bring shoppers to her first venture in the business. Three years later, the Little Italy Mercato is thriving, with more than 140 vendors and often more than merely selling produce going on—like cooking demos and cookbook author signings. Last year, it even hosted a relaxed Cooks Confab event.

The market has evolved from offering mostly organic produce to also include fresh eggs, poultry and meat, cheeses, pasta, olive and avocado oil, and a wealth of artisan-made products—both edible and craft.

This Saturday Catt and crew will be celebrating the Mercato’s third anniversary with a "Citrus Circus" that features jugglers having fun with local citrus fruit, a limoncello-making demo, and vendors bringing out their best citrus-inspired recipes—from glazes and marinades to desserts.

The Little Italy Mercato is held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There’s even free, two-hour parking at Washington Elementary School. For more information about vendors, parking, and the Mercato celebration, go to www.littleitalymercato.com.

And here is Rancho Del Sol farmer Linda Zeiser’s Limoncello recipe:


  • Traditional Italian lemon-flavored liqueur
  • 10 + organic Italian lemons (more the better)*
  • 1 (750 mil) bottle 80 proof vodka
  • **Better using 100 proof or Everclear
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar

1. Wash and peel lemons (zest only). Be sure to peel off only the yellow skin, no white pith! Use a serrated peeler and it makes an easy job.

2. Place the peels in a glass jar with a tight lid. Add vodka or Everclear. Store in a cool dark place for at least 40 days-( the longer the better).

3. After 40 days, make a simple syrup with sugar and water boiled for five minutes.  

Let cool and add to alcohol and peels. Let sit for at least a week.

4. Strain through a coffee filter paper and pour into sealable glass bottles. Keep in freezer for use.

Enjoy it straight, over ice, on ice cream, in iced tea or lemonade, in champagne, over cake, or include in a dessert sauce.

* Juice the peeled lemons and try a sorbetto or use in vinaigrettes or however you would use lemon juice.

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