News: Mercato provides taste of California
Story by Lance Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot
SAN DIEGO -- The blocks between Kettner and Union along Date Street transform every Saturday from 9 a.m, until 1:30 p.m. into a market boasting the freshest produce, eclectic foods, musicians and handmade jewelry.
Service members and families stationed aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar are only a short drive from the Mercato, Little Italy’s farmers’ market in downtown San Diego, which is a friendly environment for kids, dogs and families with strollers.
California’s consistently warm weather produces a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables all year, so the produce at the market is as fresh as it gets.
“When I first moved out here, my friends took me [to the Mercato],” said Katie Mauer, a new transplant to the San Diego area. “We don’t have anything like this in Iowa. Our farmers’ markets happen in the summer and usually only have corn. I didn’t know avocados could be in season all year.”
In addition to a varied selection of produce, the market is alive with the sounds of local musicians, and shoppers can explore the wares of local jewelry artisans while enjoying samples of specialty foods from local restaurateurs.
Catt Fields White, the Mercato manager, personally selects each of the 100 vendors that populate the market each week.
“The attention to detail the manager puts into [the market] makes it special,” said Sage Bova, a chef with La Creperie, a custom crepes booth at the market. “[White] ensures everything is top of the line. Everything is high quality and there is a good selection. This market is designed to be good.”
The Mercato promotes diversity in all its products. Shoppers can sample Indian cuisine, Thai and fresh crepes, or check out locally-made tablecloths and handmade wine bottle holders.
“It’s Californian, not necessarily Italian,” explained Akram Attic, owner of Thyme of Essence, a spice and olive oil vendor.
Attic is one of many vendors who knows his repeat customers and greets them as they return to buy more of his locally-made spices and olive oils.
“We want to promote the local producers,” said Attic. “None of these products saw storage and the price is right.”
The Mercato highlights local businesses in order to promote the local economy, show residents what is available to them in their own neighborhoods and ensure shoppers get only the freshest foods, explained Attic.
Whether a Marine is new to MCAS Miramar or a long-time local, the fair prices, fresh food and ocean view are hard to beat.
Shoppers can find two hours of free parking at the intersection of Date and Union.
For more information, visit www.littleitalysd.com/mercato.