Stories from the market worth telling

The Leucadia Farmers Market turned eight this year, and with more than 80 vendors it has firmly established itself as a fixture on the local shopping and dining scene. I could very easily write a column on each and every vendor, as they all have a story worth telling.

I figured the best way to write about what has become an integral part of my weekend experience in Leucadia was to simply share some highlights from my weekly ritual.

Suzie’s Farm is one of 80 vendors at the Leucadia Farmer’s Market. Photo by David Boylan

Luckily, I happen to live close enough that walking or biking is an option. If there is any way you can arrive to the market on foot or bike, it just makes the experience that much more rewarding. My backpack is filled with reusable shopping bags and a Sunday New York Times for perusing while I dine on whatever my breakfast or lunch selection is. Lately though, I have determined that there are definitely enough people-watching opportunities to make the Sunday paper thing optional.

My preferred market course is to enter the produce aisle near the knife sharpening truck and beeline to the Morningstar Ranch booth for my weekly fix of their Green Drink. It’s packed with so many greens and other good stuff it makes drinking a cup every morning feel like I’ve had a healthy salad with my cereal. I’ve seen people walk away with 20 or more bottles of this so get there early before they sell out. By the way, the Morningstar Ranch folks also run the Yellow Deli in Vista.

The produce aisle is filled with the freshest offerings from area farms including Suzie’s Farm, who also supplies some of San Diego’ finest restaurants. There is a booth that is filled with flavored almonds that take them to a whole new level. Dates, organic super foods, hemp, Chi bars, and micro greens are all represented as well. Toward the end of the produce aisle, the booths start to diversify.

SonRise Ranch is there with free-range happy meats, poultry and eggs. Nearby, the lobster tail guy offers great deals and Bitchin Hot Sauce offers their gourmet heat. As I round the corner, I always stop at Le Rendezvous bakery for a fresh baguette. This “connector aisle” is really starting to fill up with some fun options. Granola Girl is there along with a tea booth, vegan cheesecake, a coffee guy, and a cool Moroccan and French Deli doing some killer pesto and salami. Millie’s Gelato from chef/restaurateur Susan Sbicca is also a cool new addition to the scene.

As the connector aisle turns left into the home stretch, the non-food offerings start to pick up. Worm castings coexist with the Lotion Lady, a hat booth, killer pottery, and plenty of clothing booths that offer the latest in eco-chic attire.

The home stretch is where the food court vendors are and this is where things get difficult for me. For the longest time it was simple, I hit up Annel & Drew’s Kitchen for their Cuban sandwich and an artichoke. I devoted an entire column to this combo as they are that good. They now also offer what I consider to be the best breakfast sandwich in town.

That said, there are plenty of other worthy vendors vying for my post shopping meal.

The wood fired pizza, artisan sausages, sushi, Belgian waffles and fries, Mexican, Indian and gyros all tempt me on a regular basis. It’s fun to go with a group and order from a variety of booths then sample from each. I’ve made it a point to expand my horizons and have never been disappointed.

After I make my food court selection, I find a table and proceed to soak in the scene that this very eclectic market has become. Live music, usually a mix of folk, Americana, country and bluegrass, has the kids dancing and sets the perfect scene for a most enjoyable dining experience.

On my way out, I stop by the plant guy who is full of good advice on anything garden-related and has a nice variety of fruit and vegetable plants to stock your garden year round. After my artichokes started disappearing, he alerted me to the fact that gophers have a thing for artichoke roots and to line my garden underneath the plants with chicken wire.

Ron LaChance is the guy running the show and he has done a great job of creating a perfect mix of vendors that make the Leucadia Farmer’s Market a delightful part of Sunday in North County. Hours and location can be found at leucadiafarmersmarket.com.

Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday-Friday during the 7pm hour.
David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at david@artichoke-creative.com or (858) 395-6905.

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