I love flowers, but it seems that even when I am dating someone, the charm of purchasing flowers for a lovely lass such as myself is a lost tradition, so I buy them for myself, and my favorite place to get them is the farmers’ market, not only because they tend to have a wide selection, but also because flowers are cheap at the market. In San Diego there is a market running somewhere everyday, and I tend toward the midcity ones. I typically go to the North Park one, but I missed it last week, so I went to the Mission Hills one, which is open on Fridays from 3 – 7 instead.
The Mission Hills Farmers’ Market is located on Falcon Street, just off of West Washington. I walked in on the north side and was immediately offered a sample of vegan soup. Not one to pass up free food, I happily accepted from the spirited gentleman behind the counter. He recommended the gazpacho, saying, “If you like tomatoes, you should like this.” Obviously, I accepted a shot. He began to tell me about the cold soup, and as I whipped my head back, he added, “You won’t be able to not say, ‘Mmmm.’” As if he could read my mind, I instinctually went to say, “Mmmm,” as soon as I finished and only pursed my lips together to stop to prove I could not be so predictable. I told him I would take a container.
As he bagged the $4 soup, he let me know that I could get three items for $9. I had no intention of buying anything else, but alas, I asked what the other soup on display was. Carrot ginger – good hot or cold. That sounded divine, so I tried it with one of the homemade whole wheat pepper crackers on the side and, of course, bought both, bringing my three item total to a straight $9. I thanked him, picked up my flowers, and I was on my way.
When I got home, I put my soup in the fridge and my crackers in the pantry, saving them all for another day. I had the carrot ginger soup first. Surprisingly, I like that one better than the gazpacho. It’s delicious. The carrot is sweet, but the ginger gives it that savory bite. Texturally, it’s smooth, which was likely helped by the addition of silken tofu to the mix. I heated it up, which made for soothing sips. Even though the soup is clean, without any vegetable chunks, it maintains a certain heartiness, and you probably could add some potatoes and carrots to give it more substance, but I found I was happy with it as it was, and with pure ingredients, like vegetable broth, carrots, onion, and ginger root, along with a short shelf life that let me know it had no preservatives, I also felt good eating it.
I had some of the crackers with the soup, and again, the purity of them leaves me feeling satisfied, but not weighed down. Made simply of whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, water, canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, cracked black pepper, red pepper flakes, and sea salt, these crackers are crispy and carry a bit of heat – not an overwhelming amount, but enough to leave that bite on the back of your tongue.
I ate gazpacho on another day, and it additionally packs a little heat, but combined with the cool temperature, it’s interesting and tasty. The gazpacho is beautiful and reminiscent of a salsa in texture. In fact, a couple days later, I actually did have this with a few tortilla chips because it’s also kind of tastes like salsa – the kind I make anyway. With tomato juice, tomatoes, bell pepper, and cucumber, its bright colors and natural ingredients invite you to enjoy this refreshing dish.
If you’re at the farmers’ market look out for Fresh Start Foods. Just a little booth with a couple delightful people standing behind the table, offering all natural, vegan wonders. And do go to the Mission Hills Farmers’ Market. Despite being small, there are more vegan booths than I see at other locations.