Thursday, July 22, 2010

Visiting the Hillcrest Farmer's Market (And Indulging My Inner Hippie)

So, apologies for not actually, uh, writing this on time (or, you know, writing anything else for the past week, for that matter). I claim HEAT SLUGGISHNESS. Which is basically what happens to me whenever it starts to get hot in San Diego. And by hot, I mean in the hundreds. Blehhhh.

See, in SoCal, we have something called “June Gloom”, which refers to the way it tends to get sort of cool and overcast (and sometimes even rainy!) during June. It goes against everything people tend to think of when they think of Southern California, is utterly wonderful and refreshing, and extended into July this year—probably to lull me into a false sense of security, so when the temperature suddenly ratcheted up into triple digits it was harder to adjust to the new situation I found myself in (namely, up a mildly sweaty creek without an air-conditioning-shaped paddle).

Dear June Gloom: come back soon, plz.

Ahem. Let me clarify.

I HAVE NO AIR CONDITIONING. My strategy to combat this tends to involve strategically placed fans, enough Otter Pops to singlehandedly prop up the high-fructose corn syrup industry, and lots of anguished sighing, but since the rest of my family functions perfectly fine without utilizing such methods, I concede that I might be (read: probably am) slightly overdramatic about the whole thing.

Shameless excuses aside, what I MEANT to write about last week (and blew off) was my trip to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market* last Sunday with my mom and boyfriend. Hillcrest, for anyone not in the know or not willing to follow the asterisk down to the website I stumbled upon, is pretty fabulous. It’s a big San Diegan counterculture hub, and if you ever go you know you’re about there when you start seeing the rainbow flags†. Or, you know, the giant suspended Hillcrest sign.

It really is kind of hard to miss.

And so, to the brunt of this post: I lovelovelove the Farmer’s Market. As I mentioned in the last post, my family puts a heavy emphasis on food and cooking; what I didn’t mention is that there's also an emphasis on gardening. I remember growing a lot of produce as a kid—zucchini, pumpkins, green beans, peppers, citrus fruits, pomegranates, berries, herbs—we didn’t grow everything, but we grew a lot. Even as I grew up, when we started getting busier and weren’t able to spend as much time on gardening, we still tried to keep up with the herbs and at least a few kinds of produce. I figure that’s the least I can do while in college, to say nothing of cooking (which I’ll also be doing a lot of—I’ve been temporarily placed in Burton-Conner, a dorm with a strong kitchen culture and no dining hall, and if I stay there—which is likely—I’ll be cooking for myself and probably my suitemates a good deal). And because of those experiences and the drive they created, I have a deep affection for places like the Farmer’s Marker and Whole Foods that allow me to engage in similar experiences and explore the field for myself.

The Farmer’s Market happens to be a place where a love of food, cooking, and gardening all converge in a spectacular display of edibility and excitement, tinged with a whiff of obsessive health-nuttiness. I totally cop to squealing like a little girl to my boyfriend upon arriving (“OMG LOOK at all the awesome FRUITS and VEGGIES that I can COOK WITH SQUEEEEE”). And while it is true that you couldn’t swing a free-range Pacific salmon around without whacking some sign or banner labeled “organic”, “local”, or the like, I think that some people, in their distaste for the hardcore proponents of the organic and slow foods movements—who, to be fair, can come across as self-righteous—tend to forget that organic, fresh-from-the-farm produce tends to taste pretty damn good, in addition to being good for the environment. So it’s not like you’re giving up flavor for sustainability. It’s a pretty win-win situation.

HOW CAN YOU RESIST SUCH GLORIOUS BOUNTIES OF NATURE? The produce, I mean, not the random people who occasionally walk into my shots. As for why I’m including so many pictures, I don’t know if I could fully express in words the vibe of the place and how amazing it actually is, so I toss up the pictures I take. Me: acting like a tourist for your benefit!

Now, the Farmer’s Market is probably something like 60% produce and product tents and 40% prepared food tents. And so I’ve dutifully documented the latter tents as well, because I’m of the opinion that getting your grub on acts as a disproportionately large motivation to go to the Farmer’s Market, though that might change now that I’m cooking for myself more and there’s apparently a relatively nearby (!!!) market at MIT .

Dueling Tamales!

Righteous Turkish food. They recently opened a restaurant nearby, and when I visited I found out they make their own hummus. WHY THEY DO NOT STOCK IT AT THE FARMER’S MARKET, I DO NOT KNOW.

There were also Dueling Gyros!!! Sadly, my shitty MS paint splicejob was thwarted by the fact that I didn’t get a picture of the other joint.


Allow me to repeat myself: MMMMMMMMM. For reals. Times a million.

That panini doesn’t stand a chance.

So, the above pictures of the panini tent and the below pictures of the 410 Degrees cookie tent represent my favorite foodstalls of the day/all time. I can’t really add anything, so feel free to just gaze at the Frenchmen-made paninis and FABULOUS CREATIVE CHEWY COOKIES OMG.

I want these served at all major milestones in my life. Graduation? Check. Wedding? You betcha. Birth of my first child? We’re handing out these puppies. None of that fake cigar bullshit.

The guy manning the tent was pretty cool about me getting all touristy on him. I admire those capable of handing verbally flailing young women armed with cameras.

Pancakes and bacon, people. Pancakes and bacon.

Two cookies framed by my boyfriend’s giant manhands. They each, er, have a bite taken out of them. I might’ve forgotten that I wanted to take a picture of them before trying them.

And so that was my day at the Farmer’s Market. Tasks accomplished:

A) Bought some zucchini to make some effing awesome zucchini bread
B) Made sure the stomachs of all involved in this expedition (namely me, my boyfriend, and my mother) were filled with glorious noms
C) Acted embarrassingly tourist-y for the purpose of gathering blogpost material
D) ???
E) Profit!!!

Okay, maybe not those last two. South Park references aside, I felt Highly Productive. Yay for actually getting stuff done? Of course, my productivity for the week was promptly used up judging by the lateness of this post, but yeah. Until next time! Which will hopefully be tomorrow.

*Holy crap, there’s a website! Look: Why did I not know this? I feel so uninformed. Thank you, Google, for making me feel like a luddite or somesuch historical relic.

† Coincidentally, this past Sunday my mom and I were driving to Whole Foods (which happens to be located in Hillcrest, and which, alongside the Farmer’s Market, stands as Hillcrest’s primary draw for me—seriously, it’s like crack for people too health-obsessed to actually do crack) and accidently got caught in the San Diego Gay Pride Parade. For real, we were this close to becoming a float in their route. Somehow the fact that the Pride Parade was that day escaped our notice until we found ourselves in nearly stop-and-go traffic staring down a truckbed filled with rainbow-painted men lifting their shirts up at the crowd, Mardi Gras-style. It was kind of awesome.

Lastly: all pics are mine except the first two, which are courtesy of the Ventura County Star and the Hillcrest B&B.

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