Little Italy Mercato Market, San Diego

For Valentine's day, CK and I decided to make dinner at home and have a nice evening in together. I've never been a fan of Valentine's day. I put it in the same category as New Year's, a commercial holiday that makes people feel compelled to go out, spend money, and expectations to make it a "special" day.

We headed to the Little Italy Mercato Market to see what was in season. The Little Italy Mercato is a downtown market that has blocks of vendor stands selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, to sweets, to hand made jewellery. It is open every Saturday from 9am - 1:30pm.

We arrived to a live flamenco band with people dancing on the streets. We had a wonderful morning walking the market, and met a bunch of great people.

Here's a mini tour of the vendor stands:

Our first stop was at San Diego Kelp Bed Products where we learned how to prepare sea urchin. They were displaying live sea urchins, and had super fresh samples of sea urchin on toast.

You eat sea urchin for its roe...which I did not know. That's actually all sea urchin is made up of, roe and stomach lining. Most restaurants remove the stomach lining (shown below), but there are some that eat it. They sell live urchins for about $3 a piece.

Loic Patisserie was at the market selling their delicious french pastries and desserts. Chef Loic was trained in France, and was recently named the Western Regional Pastry Chef of the Year by the American Federation of Chefs.

Mmm...crème brûlée. We ended up buying one for dessert.

Lisko Imports was there with their fresh pasta, olives, and sauces. Their pasta was made that same day, and their sauces rock!

Eclipse Chocolat was there selling there exotic artisan truffles. We tried the lavender sea-salted caramel truffle, and that was really good. They had other cool flavors such as pistachio lime, balsamic pink peppercorn, black sesame anise, and cacao many interesting flavors to choose from.

Viva Pops was one of my favourite stands we visited. Lisa, the creator of Viva Pops, was high energy, and great to talk to. Viva Pops makes organic gourmet popsicles, and they come in neat flavors such as cucumber chili, nectarine basil, and Asian Pear (C, I thought of you)!

I had trouble picking a flavor, so Lisa recommended the pineapple chili pop. It was a great suggestion! It had a nice refreshing flavor from the pineapple, and there was just enough chili to give it a kick in every bite. CK told me to cool it with my spicy foods :-)

I also really wanted the lavender lemonade popsicle, so I went back for seconds after I finished the pineapple chili.

Lisa will be opening up her own Viva Pops store in Normal Heights early this Spring, so be sure to go check it out if you can.

There were many other wonderful stands such as Knight Salumi with their cured meats.

Local bakery Bread and Cie.

A vast selection of fresh and smoked fish.

Raw vegan Peace Pies.

And lots of fresh fruit and veggies.

What did we end up buying for our Valentine's day dinner?

We bought garlic basil pappardelle with red pepper tomato basil pesto from Lisko Imports, and tossed it together with some grilled chicken. It was awesome. The pasta was extremely fresh, and the pesto was perfect.

On the side we steamed some baby artichokes. They were the size of limes, and had no fuzzy choke in the middle.

For dessert, we shared a crème brûlée from Loic patisserie, with juicy blood oranges.

Little Italy Mercato
Date Street from Kettner to Union
San Diego, California, USA
Telephone: 619-233-3769


oh wow. The food at the market looks AMAZING. I SO want to try the pineapple chili pop (although I worry about the heat levels since I'm a wuss) AND the asian pear. :D

I think going to the market was a great idea. I'd love to do that for V-Day... A celebration of a LOVE for FOOD! :D