Sunday, October 07, 2007

Corn and cauliflower

It's that wonderful time of year when some summer produce can still be found yet autumn bounty is in full harvest. Benuel Kaufman, for example, still offers cherry tomatoes and corn (both bicolor and white) along with cauliflower (orange and white) and apples. Earl Livengood featured concord grapes, heirloom tomatoes, and sweet potatoes to demonstrate bi-seasonality.

I would have indulged in what is for me a fall classic -- pumpkin ravioli from Pasta by George served with a sage-inflected brown butter -- but the weather forecast says wait. Instead, it will be hanger steak (from Giunta's prime shop) on the grill with Ben's corn to match the 85-degree daytime temperatures.

Among the apple varieties available Ben sells Macouns at $1.49 as well as Asian pears at $1.99. And unpasteurized apple cider, too.

Over at Iovine Brothers Produce a new addition are matsutake mushrooms, $41.99 if you can afford them. If you haven't read last month's food issue of The New Yorker magazine, find it -- a fascinating article about the PNW's mushroom foraging industry centered on this fungi delecti.

Also at Iovine's, Hass avocados back down to $1 apiece. Limes and lemons were three for a buck. Over at O.K. Lee, the limes were 4/$1, and you could also buy a bag of seven for a buck. OKL's cactus pears, ripe and ready, were 50 cents apiece.

In addition to the usual varieties and sources of salmon, John Yi featured king salmon from "chili" this week, $11.99. I always thought king (a.k.a. "chinook") salmon was strictly a wild product, but that's not the case. Although most of Chile's salmon aquaculture is devoted to the Atlantic salmon, it also exports farm-raised king and coho salmon. (King salmon was also the main salmon farm-raised in British Columbia, but Atlantic salmon now dominates the industry.) In other fishy news, Boston mackeral has pretty much disappeared, but Spanish mackeral is abundant at prices of $2.49-$2.99 for this delicious fish. We should start seeing fresh sardines (juvenile herring, actually) in the RTM fish shops soon.

Musical stalls

Amy's will move into the former Foster's space to sell kitchen hardware, though the inventory will be more practical and design-centric than the merchandise Ken Foster sold there. The new stall is projected to open Nov. 15, but it will only occupy the front half of the space.

The rear portion of the space will remain the market's demonstration kitchen, which will lose its side walls in order to open up the space (though it will still remain a bit hidden from the market's flow, unless you're heading to the ladies' room). RTM GM Paul Steinke says a Temple instructor is considering moving into the kitchen to operate for-profit classes there.

In the space Amy will vacate Steinke hopes to lure short-term vendors in 10-foot stalls selling "Christmas market" type items. One seller of linens is among those he's courting. He says it would represent a return to what once was one of the market's mainstays: day-stall vendors who leased space by the day. Day-stall rents are $35-$150/day, varying by day of the week.

Steinke also reports he has one party interested in the Natural Connection space to sell groceries and sustainable/natural household products. No deal yet, however.

Between the slices...

Attention Roast Pork Sandwich Fans: Expect DiNic's to expand its hours to RTM closing within the next week or two, as soon as Tommy Nicolosi can hire an additional staffer. His new ovens were delivered and installed recently, capable of roasting a total of nearly 500 pounds of meat simultaneously (though he's not figuring on using all of that capacity most of the time). The expansion also required moving most of his refrigerator capacity out of the stall.

While most everyone laments the Phillies' loss Saturday night in Colorado, there's a bright side as far as some of the RTM sandwich vendors are concerned: When the Phillies played their first day game against the Rockies at home last Wednesday, business was off considerably. Tommy said he did one-third less volume, and Hershel's reported similar numbers.

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