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, 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.
Monday, December 14, 2009
With the approach of Christmas the variety of piscatorial delights at the Reading Terminal Market's fishmongers expands. New today were herring (sardines) and spearlings, both $4.99/pound at John Yi.
I'll pick up some of those herrings (head-on whole, ungutted but scaled) on my next trip. They are probably fated for a quick pan-fry, with those I don't eat immediately destined to marinating in a vinegar brine with onions, then consumed with rye bread slathered with copious amounts of butter, and Aquavit.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
That halibut I purchased a week ago at John Yi's in the Reading Terminal Market (about one and a third-pound) wound up providing the basis of five servings: three for dinner the first night, them two "leftover" portions of fish hash.
I first encountered fish hash at a so-so short-lived fish restaurant on Mount Desert Island near Acadia National Park. The restaurant, Bulger's, was replaced after a season or two by XYZ, one of my fav Mexican restaurants anywhere I've been in the U.S.
Fish hash is nothing more than leftover fish turned into a potato-onion hash. It's best with a mild, firm white flesh fish like halibut or haddock. Here's my recipe:
All purpose potato, 1 to 1-1/2 pound
Fish filet (white flesh), 6-8 ounces, cooked and roughy flaked
Onion, one medium
Bell pepper, one medium
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
- Prep washed, skin-on potatoes into half-inch cubes. Dice onion to roughly the same size.
- Melt 2-3 tablespoons bacon fat in 10-12 inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
- When fat is hot, turn heat to high and add potatoes and cook, undisturbed after initial tossing, for five minutes.
- Return heat to medium-high, toss potatoes, add caynne, salt and pepper, layer onion and bell peppers on top. Cook for five minutes more undisturbed before tossing again. Continue cooking for about five minutes more, tossing occasionally to brown everything nicely. Add flaked fish, toss some more. When it's heated through, serve.
Friday, February 20, 2009
It seems my earlier report that the shad at John Yi's were harvested from Southern U.S. rivers was mistaken. According to the signs, these comes from European waters. Further research shows that there are two species of European shad inhabiting eastern Atlantic waters from Morrocco north to Norway, though the commercial shad fishery is centered in the Gironde-Garonne-Dordogne basin of France.
Although these fillets, whole fish and roe sets looked fine, you're probably better off waiting for the local run, which arrives in late April and early May. Or visit the annual Lambertville shad festival, scheduled this year for April 25 and 26.
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
A steaming bowl of chili or cauldron of soup seems essentially in cold weather. Fish chowder also satisfies that craving for me.
I went with a piece of haddock from John Yi's Saturday. Since I'm the only one in the house who enjoys this New England classic, I only used about a quarter pound of filet. A lot of folks think New England chowders have be creamy and thick. They don't. IMHO, whole milk allows the flavor of the fish to come through best.
I start out by gently sautéing in bacon fat a small onion, a stalk of celery, and half a carrot, all diced to about one-quarter inch. Once they turn translucent I add a medium diced potato, and gently sauté for about 10 minutes. Next comes about a cup of stock (I used vegetable stock made primarily from last fall's red celery from Tom Culton of Headhouse Square, though either fish or chicken stock would work very well) and a cup of milk, which simmers the veggies for another 10 minutes. By this time the potatoes are just about done, so it's time to add the fish (cut up into spoon-sized pieces), salt and pepper to taste, and thyme, dried or fresh, maintaining the pot at a simmer. After five minutes add a tablespoon of butter -- don't stir, just let it melt atop the liquid. By the time the butter adds its yellow sheen, the fish is probably cooked through. Once in the bowl, I top the chowder with fresh chopped parsley. To accompany, I used the last of my precious stock of Crown Royal crackers, a Maine favorite which has been discontinued by Nabisco, but OTCs would work well, too. Saltines and oyster crackers just don't have the necessary heft for those soup.
If you don't like plain white fish, no reason why you can't use shrimp, lobster, scallops or clams.
That filet of haddock at John Yi's in the Reading Terminal Market set me back $7.99/pound, which was also the price of the flounder. Fluke was $9.99. It was also one of those weeks where wild striped bass cost less than its farmed-raised cousin (a striped bass-white bass cross), $4.99 vs. $6.99 for whole fish. Boston mackeral has made an early appearance (it's strongest runs start in the spring), with prices ranging from $1.49 to $2.59, depending upon size. Medium-sized porgies were $2.99, cod filet (which would be an other good choice for chowder) $9.99, black sea bass $5.99.
A Wan's Seafood, the haddock would have set me back $11.99/pound. Whole striped bass as $3.99 (though the quality didn't look quite as good as at Yi's), though the filets were appealing at $9.99. Wan's was the only RTM fishmonger still selling sardines, $3.99.
Golden Fish's new cases displayed wild striped bass at $4.99, whole black sea bass at $4.99, Bronzino (another sea bass, farm-raised in Europe) for $7.99 on the bone, and particularly good looking, fat mackeral at $2.99.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Local TV stations were scheduled to cover the crush of shoppers at the Reading Terminal Market during their morning shows today. Hundreds line up before the doors open at 8 a.m. the day before Thanksgiving.
In addition to the Pennsylvania Dutch merchants who made an early showing this week at the Reading Terminal Market, Earl Livengood was also there Tuesday and Wednesday (today). Among the many autumn produce stalwarts at Livengood's were romanescue heads of diminutive size, perfect for two eaters.
Arctic char made its appearance at John Yi's this week. The filets are selling for $14.99. Char is usually farm-raised in Canada and Iceland, and is considered to be considerably more environmentally benign than salmon aquaculture. Char, a salmonid, is somewhere between trout and salmon in size and flavor. Expect more fish variety at the market as we approach Christmas.
This past weekend busted all sorts of records for market visitors, according to RTM GM Paul Steinke, with the highest attendance seen since the Flower Show. Much of it was driven by Philadelphia marathon competitors and visitors.