Saturday, November 21, 2009
The aisles were crowded at Iovine Brother's Produce at the Reading Terminal Market this morning as shoppers sought veggies for their Thanksgiving tables. Once you managed to fight your way through the aisles, however, checkout was a snap: Jimmy and Vinnie Iovine rigged up a couple of additional registers, so there were an even dozen cashiers working.
Once reason for the crowds might have been the prices. White utility and Idaho potatoes, in five-pound bags, would set you back only $1.99. A 10-pound bag of non-Idaho russets were an even better deal, $2.99. Red potatoes were a relatively pricey, but still thrifty, $2.99 for a five-pound bag.
Onions were a good deal, too, at a buck for a two-pound bag (red or yellow). Three-pound bags of carrots were selling for two for $3. The green beans for your classic canned fried onion-topped casserole, however, were $1.99/pound, about twice as much as you'd pay at peak season. If you like some bay leaf in your stuffing, tray packs of fresh leaves were $1.99.
Among the non-Thanksgiving produce, limes have tripled in price, to 3 for $1. Hass avocados were two for $1.49.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
When I think of Jujubes, I think of the tiny gummy candies from Heide's I would buy during my pre-adolescent years at the Saturday matinees at the Elmora Theater in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where I saw such classics as "X the Unknown" and "The Blob".
Little did I know there was another Jujube, which I found recently at Iovine Brothers' Produce at the Reading Termninal Market (photo top right). Unlike the sweet, sugary little pellets of my childhood, these Jujubes are alleged to have medicinal properties, as well as a more adult taste. They somewhat resemble dates and, indeed, are sometimes called Red Dates or Chinese Dates, though their origin is probably India. They have a wonderful scientific name: Ziziphus zizyphus. For those interested here's the Wikipedia entry.
The kaffir limes (photo at right) are also purportedly medicinal and are primarily used in Southeast Asian and Indonesian cuisines, frequently in a curry paste. They are also available at Iovine's.
With the coming of winter (it sure seems close with our recent weather) Iovine's is bringing in more citrus fruit. This past week Valencia oranges were available in bags at a bargain price of $1.99 for a four-pound bag. Tangerines were six for a buck, and Florida navels were five for $2. Cara Cara oranges were 3 for $1. Limes were a bit less pricey today, 5 for a buck. Lemons were 3/$1, but they were heavy with juice. After a hiatus of a week or so, red and green cactus pears are back in stock.
Figs remain available, at least those from California. A pint box of about a dozen brown figs was selling for $4.99 at Iovines. Chile, which dominates the out-of-season fruit market in Philadelphia, is expanding into avocados to compete with Mexico. Iovines was selling medium sized fruits this week, 2 for $1.49; smaller ones were in a separate bin for a quarter apiece.
For as long as I've been shopping there Iovines has sold tofu, but only the medium firm type they package into plastic containers in water. This week they expanded tofu offerings to include three or four additional firm and super firm versions, including a "tofu cutlet" ready for cooking. You can find them in the refrigerated cases by the Filbert Street checkout.
Unpasteurized cider is back in stock at Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce, available in pints and half-gallons. (In the past Ben Kauffman has also sold it in quarts; maybe he'll have those next week).
Kauffman's always has a nice selection of brassicas each fall, and this year is no exception, as demonstrated by the purple and white cauliflower, romanesco and broccoli in the photo at left.
One of the joys of Lancaster County in the fall is the appearance of local celery. Livingood's had them at the RTM this morning, $2 a bunch. The celery grown in Lancaster County is a tad less stalky and more leafy, but it's crispy freshness (versus the trans-continental California product) and deep green color make it welcome. I'll put some stalks on an old-fashioned relish tray, with a selection of olives, at dinner tonight. (Drat! I forgort to buy some fresh radishes to complete that tray.)
If we're lucky when we get closer to Thanksgiving we might see some white celery, which is the same thing as green celery except that the stalks are buried so they aren't exposed to light; the process is the same that produces white asparagus. This labor-intensive celery makes a wonderful side when braised in butter with a little white wine
These Ying Yang dried beans from Culton Organics are just one of the many varieties of fall produce I found at Headhouse Square Farmers' Market last Sunday.
Tom also featured some delicious, though small, chestnuts. They roasted up perfectly (about 10 minutes in a 425 toaster oven; be sure to make a small 'x' on the flat side to avoid popping). Out of the first two dozen chestnuts I roasted, there were only two that were moldy/inedible.
Brussells sprouts have been making their appearance at local markets, too. Tom was selling his for $5 a quart. His white, purple or orange cauliflower and romanesco was $5 for medium-sized heads. Yellow string beans were $5/quart, sweet potatoes $2/pound. Among fruits, Tom had delicious Winter Banana apples as well as Asian pears; they were pricey at $1 apiece.
Pumpkins, as predicted in a previous post, are expensive this year. Blooming Glen's jack-o-lantern pumpkins were $8 apiece. Long Island cheese pumpkins, ideal for baking use, particularly pies, were $6 each; huge Blue Hubbard squashes were similarly priced. Butternut squash was more reasonable $1.25/pound, Delicata $1.50. Blooming Glen still had field tomatoes last Sunday for $3/pound. Potatoes, both all-purpose and small Russetts (baking) were $2/pound.
North Star Orchards' apples were all $2/pound, except the Honey Crisps, $2.50. Magness pears were $2.
Beechwood Orchards apples were $4/quart, $4.5o for Honey Crisps. Pears were $5/quart, chestnusts $6/quart.
Margarums also had potatoes, including $2/pound Russetts.
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.
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.