Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's been a while since my last full report, so there's a bunch to catch up on:

John Lohac of Green Valley Dairy is back from three weeks in France. He spent two of the weeks on a family vacation in Provence, but the other week was in Meaux where he learned more about making brie. He'll be putting those techniques to work soon, so expect some interesting cheese to emerge. As it is John thinks his Noble, which is a cheddar, tastes like French Comte; while both cheeses are pressed, cheddar's curd is cut (cheddared). In addition to hawking his cheese on Saturdays across from Golden Seafood, Green Valley Dairy cheese can be found at the Fair Food Farmstand.

The Reading Terminal Market will inaugurate a new ad campaign next month under the theme "Make It Your Market." Samples of the campaign can be seen on the wall behind Salad Express and across from Foster's. The current campaign utilizing old-fashioned produce illustrations will be largely abandoned.

O.K. Lee Produce and Earl Livengood have cut a deal where Livengood has an acre under contract to OKL. The deal enables OKL to sell some produce under Pennsylvania's WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, which provides additional food subsidies for low-income, nutritionally at risk pregnant, breast-feeding and certain postpartum women, infants and childen up to age five beyond the normal WIC program.

Stopped by the Down Home Diner for the first time in a while and enjoyed perfectly done peach and blueberry pancakes with a side of scrapple and that 200-mile coffee. Jack McDavid is easing out of the Down Home Diner operation and, for all intents and purposes, it's now being run by a young man whose name I failed to remember. But he's doing a great job. He's been tweaking the menu (Philadelphia cheesesteak omelet added), but it's the same approach and quality and largely the same staff, including in the kitchen. There are also card inserts on the tables explaining what scrapple is (and isn't) and the wonders of thick cut, high quality bacon. If you haven't been to the Down Home Diner in while, treat yourself and stop by.

Charlie Giunta is moving ahead on his natural meat store. As of last Saturday, all the old cases from the former A.A. Halteman's were gone and work was about ready to start on roughing out the space in the aisle between Iovine Brothers and L. Halteman. Also as of last weekend, work had yet to begin on moving Spataro's. The reason: continuing permitting and equipment delays for the Jewish style deli that will go into Spataro's space. Spataro won't be moving until the deli is ready to begin work.

Now, onto the pricing...

Over at Iovine's Saturday. California strawberries continued to be featured at two pounds for a buck. For a buck, I picked up a bag of shredded cabbage (white and a little red, plus some carrot) for making coleslaw. Clementines $4.99/box. Although local tomatoes are at their peak, Iovine's was selling bagged Canadian hothouse Romas for a buck a pound. Also from Canada, Ontario grapes for $4.99. Local purple eggplant 79 cents. Italian prune plums $1.49, West Coast Bing cherries $1.99. California Mission figs, $3.99 a pint. Washington State blackberries $4.99 a half-pint.

The blackberries were a better deal almost anywhere else Saturday. Over at Fair Food Farmstand organic berries were selling for $6/pint; Benuel Kaufman had conventional blackberrries for $4.99/pint. It's salsa-making season, and you could do worse than make some from the Fair Food's tomatillos, $3.50/pound. Low-spray peaches $2.50, conventional nectarines and white peaches $1.25. Organic plum tomatoes $2. Concord grapes $3.50. Small lemon cukes pricey at $1 apiece.

In addition to blackberries Benuel Kaufman featured donut peaches for $4.99 a pound or $6.95/quart. Nectarines and yellow peaches $1.99/pound or $3.95/quart. Prune plums $2/pint.

On the seafood front, John Yi offered deals Saturday on Canadian farmed salmon: $3.99 for center cut filets, $2.99 for tails. Meanwhile Pacific NW fish were selling for $13.99 (king), $10.99 (sockeye) and $8.99 (coho). Large seabass priced decently at $3.99, softshell crabs $4 apiece. Over at Golden the soft shells were also $4 apiece, with a four for $15 deal to save you two bits per crustacean.

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