Saturday, February 10, 2007

We're still five weeks away from the vernal equinox, but another sure sign of spring (besides shad) showed up at the RTM this week: pokeweed. Earl Livengood has it. The poke comes courtesy of Earl's friend and neighbor Sam Conslyman who gathers the poke in the fall then buries them in sand and waits for them to pop. Otherwise this week, Earl's offerings were limited to root vegetables, winter squashes and chestnuts.

Hershel's East Side Deli had hoped to be open this weekend but wasn't. Last time I spoke with the proprietor he said he was waiting for final city permits.

After Mark Bittman published his article about mackerel, which he called the "Rodney Dangerfield of the fish world" because it doesn't get any respect, it seems there might have been a run on the species. None was to be found at the RTM today, though last week it was plentiful at $2.49-$2.99/pound. However, Spanish mackerel, a closely related variety and which can be treated the same way, was available at $2.99 at John Yi's and Golden.

Iovine Brothers has some smallish California navel oranges priced at four for a buck, a relative bargain considering the West Coast freeze. In case you haven't noticed, Iovine's now sells milk; it's organic and located in the refrigerated case next to the Filbert Street checkout.

Last month Jim Iovine told me he and his brothers were considering moving their production into the RTM's basement and converting existing "back office" space to additional selling footage. That won't happen anytime soon: Jim says the costs and complexity of installing pumps to dispose of wastewater from the produce washing process make it part of "long term plans" rather than anything in the immediate future. Jim, by the way, is hobbled after tearing his Achilles' tendon while challenging his children in basketball, which required surgery two weeks ago; means he has to give up his winter golf trips to sunnier climes.

Not all the meat at the Fair Food Farmstand comes frozen. Check the refrigerator case and you may find Countrytime pork chops or Meadow Run lamb cubes like I did today. What's available fresh varies each week, depending on stock needs and supplier deliveries.

Here's my shopping list from today:

Black seedless grapes ($1.99/pound)
Fruit salad (one-quart container)
String beans ($1.99/pound)

Pork sausage links

Fingerling potatoes

Brioche bread (one-half loaf)

(Mocha-French Roast blend)

Pork chops (2)

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