Saturday, January 16, 2010
A one-pound pack of strawberries for $9.99? Get used to it, at least for the next month or so.
The freeze in Florida and heavy rains in California are taking their toll on off-season winter produce. At Iovine Brothers Produce at the Reading Terminal Market today, the clamshells of Driscoll California strawberries were as expensive as I've ever seen them, $9.99. In late January and into February, Iovines frequently features strawberries from Plant City, Floriday, at bargain prices, typically $1 or $2 for a one-pound pack. Don't expect to see them anywhere near that price this winter. The Florida freeze hasn't yet impacted citrus prices but Vinnie Iovine expects they'll start heading north over the next week or two. He's even, for all practical purposes, out of leeks! About one-third of Florida's total winter fruit and vegetable production has been lost to the freeze.
The Dutch and other growers will take up some of the slack for some of the items, but they'll be priced to reflect the shortages caused by natural phenomena. Chilean fruit isn't expected to be heavily affected, since most of what they grow isn't duplicated during winter in California and Florida, but even the Chilean grapes have been dear, with better quality bunches selling for upwards of $4.99, though some smaller Chilean seedless grapes could be had for $1.99 today.
Vinnie expects his display bins of specials will be heavy on the root vegetables, rather than fruit, in coming weeks.
Supply, demand and inventory hold their sway over fish prices, too. At John Yi today the mackeral was selling for $1.99, vs. $2.49 yesterday -- they gotta move it before it becomes too old. Meanwhile, Golden priced mackeral today at $2.99. A similar price discrepancy could be found in sardines: $4.99 at John Yi and $1.99 at Golden; there was no discernable difference to my eye in size and quanity between the two fishmongers.
Crowds were thick at the RTM at mid-morning today. Partly that was due to the opening of the home show across the street at the Convention Center, but also because of a soccer convention that ends today. Yesterday, DiNic's ran out of roast pork by 4:30 p.m., which Joe Nicolosi attributes to the soccer crowd.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
It's citrus time at the Reading Terminal Market.
Over at Iovine Brother's Produce Spanish clementines are the star, $4.95 for a five-pound box. The skins aren't quite as zippery as they'll get a little later in the season, but they peel easily enough and have a good sweet-tart taste, as is appropriate for this variety of mandarin orange, which some contend is a lemon-orange cross.
I spied at least three varieties of navel oranges today, one selling for four for a buck, another for three for a buck. Jumanis were two for a dollar. Tangerines, grapefruits and other citrus fruits are also coming into season.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Shad from Southern rivers appeared at John Yi's last week. Today they were selling for $3.99 (buck), $4.99 (roe) and roe sets were commanding $7.99. Local shad don't appear in the Delaware until May.
Based on how good it was a few weeks ago, I bought some haddock fillet at $7.99. I'll pan fry it tonight, perhaps in a panko crust.
More About Citrus
Or, at least, price reports from Iovine Brothers at the Reading Terminal Market.
The prices have held relatively steady except for a whopping reduction in the cost of limes. For the past week limes have been selling for a dime apiece. With Hass avocados under a buck (89 cents), it's once more guacamole time.
On to the other citrus:
- Honeybells, small 8 for $1
- Honeybells, large 2 for $1
- Temple oranges, 4 for $1
- Cara Cara oranges, 5 for $2
- White grapefruit, 89 cents
- Jumbo red grapefruit, 3 for $1
- Small ruby grapefruit, 4 for $1
- Navel oranges, 3 for $1
- Mineola oranges, small 4 for $1
- Mineola oranges, large 2 for $1.49
- Jumanji oranges, 2 for $1.49
- Juice oranges, 4 for $1
Oh, and black truffles, $300/pound, with the two packs I saw priced at $18 apiece. Makes a heck of an omelet.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I counted more than a dozen varieties of citrus fruit at Iovine Brothers Produce Saturday morning. Here they are, along with prices:
- Temple oranges 5/$1
- Jumanji oranges 2/$1.49
- Blood oranges 4/$1
- Tangelos 5/$1
- Tangelos (3-pound bag of about 11) $2.99
- Tangerines 10/$1
- Ruby grapefruit (medium) 3/$1
- Red grapefruit ( large) 2/$1.49
- Navel oranges (California) 2/$1.49
- White grapefruit (medium) $2/1
- Honeybells 2/$1
- Cara Cara red oranges 2/$1.49
- Navel oranges (Sunkist medium) 3/$1
- Juice oranges (Florida) 4/$1
- Red navel oranges (Florida) 4/$1
If organic and small grower citrus from Florida is one of your requirements, you might consider stopping by the Fair Food Farmstand and paying a premium. Navels and Cara Cara red oranges were selling for $1.50 apiece, Sunburst tangerous 95 cents each. A premier juice variety, Hamlin, priced at 60 cents apiece. Red grapefruit were $2.75.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Florida juice oranges, Valencias and small navels were selling for 20 cents apiece. Sunburst tangerines continue to be eight for a buck. Among the grapefruits, larger pink and white grapefruits were two for a buck, small ruby three for a buck, larger Star ruby 99 cents apiece. Lemons and limes were both selling for 25 cents each, though O.K. Lee offered bags of limes (8 to a bag) for about half that price. In buying citrus, don't go by looks alone; instead, go for the fruit that's heaviest in the hand for its size.
Iovine's is also pushing imported berries. Half-pint clamshells of Argentine blueberries and Mexican raspberries could be had for a buck apiece. More attractive, to me, were the California brown figs, $1.99 for a box of about eight.
With Thanksgiving approaching, string beans are in demand, and Iovines featured bins of crisp fresh ones for 89-cents a pound.
Even though it's still autumn, John Yi must think it's spring. You could buy small whole shad there for $2.99/pound. In a few weeks we should start to see a wider variety of fish as Yi and the RTM's other fishmongers stock up for the holidays.