Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The bargain of the week at Iovine Brother's Produce at the Reading Terminal Market appears to be lettuce.
Displayed front and center today were four varieties, each priced at two heads for a buck: Romaine, Green Leaf, Red Leaf, and Iceberg.
Although there's nothing wrong with a nice green salad, or a wedge of Iceberg with freshly made blue cheese dressing, it seems a good time of year to consider making Lettuce Soup. Cooked with some potato, one of more members of the allium family, and herbs, pureed and finished with a wee bit of butter, it's a fitting dish for winter, but a relief from root vegetables.
The Chilean grape harvest is approaching peak, and prices have dropped accordingly at Iovine's. One-pound clamshells of white seedless were available for a buck, tray-packed bunches for $1.49. Iovine's also had a variety labeled "Tomcat", but at $5.99/pound I passed them by. They are a variety of Muscat, one of the original grape varieties, and are sweeter than the norm.
It might be a good week for making guacamole. Iovine's also featured ripe and ready avocados (don't store them for long!) at 50 cents apiece. Limes were a reasonable four for a buck.
Over to the fishmongers. I haven't done a taste comparison, but Golden Fish has been selling "dry" scallops for $13.99, a considerable savings versus John Yi, where they sell for $17.99. Golden also has something I haven't seen at the other stalls: unagi, Japanese barbecued eel, $6.99 a pack.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
The Radicchio di Treviso at Iovine Brothers Produce at the Reading Terminal Market was priced at $17.99/pound today in cello-trays. Heads of regular radicchio were $5.99/pound.
If you buy those Hass avocadoes from the Dominican Republic for $1 apiece (they still need a day or two to ripen, based on my light squeezes this morning), the limes to accent your guacamole are a little less dear: five for a buck.
Once upon a time you could buy dried Italian porcini mushrooms at Iovine's. All they've had recently are Chilean porcinis, which aren't bad but not as good to my taste. You can find the Italian ones over at the Spice Terminal; while I don't recall the price, it's considerably north of $30 a pound.
I'm lazy today so I passed up buying ingredients for soup. But it's definitely the right weather for it. I ran into one acquaintence who was planning to make a mushroom soup with maitakes (a.k.a. hen of the woods). For a mushroom barley or cream of mushroom soup, I like the dried porcinis, but also plain old fashioned white button mushrooms. Plain domestic mushrooms tend to be a forgotten food among foodies, but they represent excellent value and depth of flavor, particularly if they're a bit shriveled (but not slimy), which intensifies their flavor.
I complained previously about the high price of grapes. The green seedless ones were even more expensive today: $3.99/pound. Bell peppers are about as expensive as they ever get: even the frying peppers were $1.99/pound today.
The long English cucumbers (nearly seedless) are a good deal at Iovine's, however. Two for a buck. I'm going to make a quick Scandinavian style pickle from one to accompany fried fish for dinner.
As we near the holidays, the variety and price of fish seems to increase, especially those staples enjoyed for Night of the Seven Fishes. I picked up some cod filet from John Yi today at $9.99/pound, which is pretty much the normal price in retail markets. Good-looking whole wild striped bass was available at Yi and Golden Fish for about $6/pound.
What the Reading Terminal fishmongers don't carry is one of my favorite clam varieties: the soft "steamer" clams, which when prepared for frying are often called "Ipswich" clams. You can get them at Wegman's for $5/pound. The RTM fish stalls also don't offer much variety in the way of oysters. Chesapeake, Virginia and, occasionally, Long Island shell oysters are available for about a buck apiece, as are shucked oysters for stewing and frying, but I've yet to see this bivalve from more the northern waters of Maine, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Still no beignets at Beck's Cajun Café.
Joe Nicolosi does more than make great roast pork sandwiches at Tommy DiNic's. He's an accomplished musician. Although his main thing these days is classical piano (he's hard at work on his Chopin), he's going to be playing bass with his old band in a reunion of sorts Wednesday at Johnny Brenda's.
It's always fun to people-watch at the Reading Terminal. Today I squinted rudely to read the badges of one group of visitors attending a convention: the American Anthropology Association. They must have been there to study participants in a cheer-leading competition at the convention center, who were also gawking at the food and sandwich stalls.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
A month or so ago, Chilean avocados appeared at Iovine Brothers Produce at the Reading Terminal Market. Today the $1 apiece fruits hailed from the Dominican Republican, which I had not seen before.
We seem to be in an interregnum as far as table grapes are concerned. All the varieties I looked at recently have been priced at $2.99/pound. We may not see significantly cheaper grapes until the Chilean harvest starts in late winter.
I picked up some nice, heavy-for-their-size navel oranges today, three for a buck. Not a bad price, but they should come down a bit as we get into winter.
I started to use the smoked haddock I picked up a few weeks ago at Wegman's in Cherry Hill. I took about five or six ounces out of the one-pound filet and mashed them up with an equal amount of cream cheese (softened with about a tablespoon of sour cream), ground in some black pepper, and finished with a couple tablespoons of both onion and parsley. Very yummy on good rye bread.
Speaking of sour cream, I bought some at Fair Food. Although "all natural" it was full of vegetable gums, for no apparent reason. The Dairylead brand, available at some supermarkets, is made from nothing but cream. It may not be organic, but it's good.
One of my readers reports that he tried to find the smoked haddock, a.k.a. finnan haddie, at Wegman's, but they were all out. If you find it, don't pass it by.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Super Bowl Sunday is usually the peak day for guacamole. But with the Eagles playing Sunday, and the Phillies in the World Series Saturday, Sunday and Monday, why not dip into some this weekend?
The price of avocados and limes at Iovine Brothers' Produce shouldn't stop you. Large, Chilean Hass avocados were selling for a buck apiece today, and a lime will set you back a dime. Today the avocados were a bit on the firm size and could use a day or two of ripening. But they'd certainly be ready by Sunday.
Charlie, one of the managers for Iovines, says the Chileans have been in the avocado business for a long time, but the California Avocado Board worked to keep them out of the U.S. for the past 10 years. Now they're back, which means competition for both California and Mexico, the world's largest exporter of Hass avocados.