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Hispanic Markets in SD

So, our favorite rag has been running a series of articles about the explosion of Hispanic markets in San Diego, something this board as been well aware of for some time. Here are the links to a couple of them:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/20... (from today's U/T

)

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/20... (from 10/29 U/T

)

Northgate recently opened at 54th & University, has anyone been to that store yet? I love 43rd & the 805, but know that some of their smaller stores don't equal it. I'm wondering how 54th & Uni compares with the 43rd St. store, as it's somewhat closer than than 43rd St.

Has anyone tried El Super in National City. It's part of the very large Mexican retail chain Grupo Chedraui and I'm curious as to what their approach has been to serving the American market.

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  1. From the Northgate chain we tried so far the one at 43rd&805 and the one in Escondido - both have a very good selection but somehow we liked the one in Escondido more as it was a more relaxed shopping (even though both markets were very crowded).

    1. ...sure would like to see a Northgate or similar in coastal North County.

      DD, a bit tangential but you probably would know - in Japanese cuisine we use a root vegetable called Yamaimo ("Mountain Potato" aka Nagaimo "Long Potato") that is shaped liked a Daikon radish (but roughly 2/3rd the length) with a consistency (when sliced) a bit reminiscent of Jicama but when grated turns very "gloopy", what we call "Neba Neba". It is thin-skinned with a light tan color, and has thin wiry hairs as roots scattered sparsely about its skin.

      What surprised me was when I went to visit the Mexican farmer's market stands at the Escondido swap meet several of them, I'd swear, carried this exact same vegetable. I tried as best as possible to determine whether it was similar or not in actual use, but the language barrier got in the way.

      By chance would you happen to know what this might be called in Mexico and how it might be used? Do the Mexican grocers carry this as well? (I don't ever recall seeing it at either Northgate or Pancho Villa...)

      -----
      Pancho Villa's
      3245 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

      7 Replies
      1. re: cgfan

        Yes, I do know what you're talking about and the entire name is escaping me at the moment. It's something "cerro". I'm pretty sure I've got a photo of it on the other computer at home. I'll take a look and see if I can find it. I know the name is in the photo. I took it at Northgate before security told me photos weren't allowed. Northgate almost always seems to have it. It's usually on one of the upper shelvs in the left hand side display unit as you stand looking into the produce dept.

        I've not sampled this item, but I have been told that it's a not very interesting vegetable and not very tasty.

        1. re: DiningDiva

          Thanks for the info! I knew you'd have some insight into it.

          It gets used quite a bit in Japanese cuisine, particularly but not exclusive to non-cooked dishes. It's prized for its texture, but also for its faintly sweet taste and nutritive qualities.

          As vegetables go it's somewhat expensive, and in particular the imported ones as they need to be shipped in crates packed with sawdust in order not to crush this easily damaged vegetable. I've always looked for it when I've gone to Northgate, though somehow I never came across it. I'd imagine that it'd be much cheaper there, though would be curious as to its comparitive quality.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Its called "camote del cerro" and Ive seen recipes for it from the State Of Michoacan that called for it to be cooked " capeado" (battered like a chile relleno and served with a sauce).

            1. re: kare_raisu

              Thanks, KR! In fact just now I found/rediscovered your original post on this very subject, which explains all.

              ...and come to think of it, it was during Lent when I came across it in the Escondido farmer's market.

              1. re: cgfan

                I do remember your picture of it from the Esco Swap Meet!

          2. re: cgfan

            Most of the camote del cerro that I've seen in Mexico (including most parts of Michoacán) is simply boiled with the skin on and eaten with salt, a squeeze of jugo de limón, and a sprinkle of chile. I know a lot of Michoacán cooks and I've never seen camote del cerro capeado and fried. Which doesn't mean that I've seen everything--I've just never seen it done this way in the last 30 years.

            1. re: cgfan

              Most of the camote del cerro that I've seen all over Mexico (including most parts of Michoacán) is simply boiled with the skin on and eaten with salt, a squeeze of jugo de limón, and a sprinkle of chile. I know a whole lot of Michoacán cooks and I've never seen camote del cerro capeado and fried. Which doesn't mean that I've seen everything--I've just never seen it done this way in the last 30 years. I've probably been in the wrong kitchens.

              Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

            2. The Northgate on 54th/University is smaller than the 43rd/805 location, taking up half the K-Mart store. It is very bright, clean with shiny concrete floors and has a smaller hot tray/eating area and smaller meat and fish counter. The tortilleria and bakery areas are about the same size, produce area is about the same size and the number of aisles is less.

              However, I notice a lot of repetitive locations of items in the larger 43rd Street store (three different areas of fresh made ceviche for example) using up the space.

              This location seems less crowded. The parking area is larger and not as tight at this location. {Another plus today was a mariachi band out front}

              3 Replies
              1. re: Cathy

                Also checked out the 54th street store and had a very good shopping experience. Looked like a smaller selection of tortillas and baked goods at the panaderia but we were lucky enough to be there when they brought out a fresh batch of bolillo rolls. The big plastic container was all steamed up when we grabbed some out.

                While the butcher area was smaller at 54th, they still had a huge selection of offal cuts - including beef lips. Fish didn't look so great.

                Didn't check out the prepared food area but seemed like a decent selection.

                1. re: JRSD

                  I think it had the same selection of types of tortillas and baked goods, just not 50 units of each type out on the shelf or trays. There was nothing which I usually purchase that I could not find.

                  The ceviche selection was all that day fresh, but I didn't really look at the seafood display area.

                  1. re: Cathy

                    We had bought some giant sized tortillas that I didn't see. I was referring to the non-prepared fish as the ceviches looked great.

              2. I've been to El Super and it honestly reminded me of Food 4 Less. There are a few interesting things available but Northgate is better.