Stock Up at the Market

The following blog is from San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles’ summer intern.

Cruising the streets of Ocean Beach on any given Wednesday evening, you will find yourself at an impasse on the 4900 block of Newport Avenue, where the road is blocked off each week from 4 to 8 p.m. for the eclectic melting pot that is the Ocean Beach Farmers Market. A weekly attendee myself since high school, this gathering has provided me many a unique gift and food-induced coma.

OB is a slightly gritty and yet completely endearing area whose persona is most succinctly encapsulated in the stretch of asphalt known simply as “Newport” to locals. To name just a few of the marvels on display along this fine promenade: WINGS (the gutted skeleton of the former Strand Theatre now converted into the ultimate tourist hub), The OB International Youth Hostel (with a psychedelic paint job that would do Dr. Seuss proud and sporting more peace signs than Woodstock), The Black (OB’s local den of iniquity aka its version of Spencer’s Gifts) and a varied sprinkle of boutiques and bars.

With this setting in mind, one can now add in rows of stalls lining both sides of the street for two blocks, a picturesque California sunset glowing vibrantly behind it all. Feel the press of people thronging the sidewalks, natives and gawking tourists alike. While your eyes take in the view, your ears are busy processing perhaps the strangest mix of music ever in one area. Last Wednesday, I was treated to the musical stylings of a man on a bagpipe; another playing a suitcase that had been converted into a guitar; the official band of the evening (a talented Blues group called Chicken Bone Slim & the Biscuits); and a gentleman playing a digeridoo that produced a sound reminiscent to the frantic jungle beat from Jumanji.

With more than a hundred vendors selling food, beverages and art, certain words seem to be common: LOCAL, RAW, ORGANIC, PRESERVATIVE FREE and intermittently GLUTEN FREE, DAIRY FREE and VEGAN. These terms perfectly describe the quality and nature of the goods available, all from native vendors and fresh as can be! Many OB inhabitants do their weekly grocery shopping at the market, as it is home to all manner of fruits, vegetables and flowers from local farms, including Valdivia Farm, Honey Moon Ranch and Rivas Farms.

Some come for more specific fare, drawn each week to get their dose of addictive goods. My friend Christina brings a refillable, gallon-sized bottle for The Green Fix, an extremely popular juice stand that regularly sells out of its Original Green Juice: a concoction of kale, chard, collard green, Romaine lettuce, dandelion, parsley, water, apple, banana and flax seeds. It costs $29 for your first gallon and $27 for refills.

My personal favorite is something for the more carnivorous at heart. With the appearance of a child’s ice cream sundae, the BBQ Parfait sold by Ranch Wood BBQ is a delectable combination of your finely cooked meat of choice, mashed potatoes and zesty barbecue sauce — all in an easily manageable cup. This meaty munchy should be followed, after a period of art-perusing digestion, by the delightful creation known as a Wookie: Na Pali Frozen Organic’s combination of ice cream and the majesty of a waffle-cookie — a dessert as charming as Chewbacca without that wet-dog flavor!

I also frequent One Green Love, an “earth-conscious Bohemian boutique,” as described by its youthful owner, Jeni Jeffries. Gemstone-adorned necklaces and handcrafted greeting cards are representative of the feel of most of the art available at the market.

Another staple of the event is Poster Heaven, a stall providing vintage-inspired clothing, art and posters, bedecked with an extensive mix of images from the Buddha to Bruce Lee. It’s a perfect stop for college freshmen to deck out their dorms with the feel of yesteryear.