Saturday, April 14, 2007


Great deal on mackerel at John Yi's today, $1.99/pound for either Spanish or Boston varieties. And the quality looked very good. Until this week, the Boston mackerel has been on a scrawny side, with Spanish mackerel being more attractive. This week, the Bostons were nicer sized (not huge, just not tiny like they have been) and both fish were pleasingly plump and healthy-looking. Also at Yi's, soft shell crabs came down in a price to a more normal two for $10.

Over at Iovine Brothers, Vinnie was passing out samples of some honeydew melon, $1.99 each. Unexpectedly tasty for an out-of-season (here) melon. Vinnie said he got to the Food Center and saw some ugly melons and figured they had to taste good. They did.

Also at Iovine's this week, red peppers either 99 cents or $2.99, depending on size, yellows at 99 cents, greens at $1.49, orange peppers at $4.99. Bags of last of the season clementines (taste more like tangerines) $4.99; I bought a bag, and unpeeled three once I got one -- two were perfectly fine, one was a tad dessicated. Still, a reasonably good deal.

The price of ramps went up to $3.99 a bunch this week. But avocadoes fell to a buck apiece.

Next Saturday, April 21, is Scrapplefest at the RTM. Alas, I'll be foraging at the Dane County Farmers Market around Capitol Square in Madison, WI, seeking morels and cheese, so I won''t be able to pay homage to one of my favorite pig products. But I hope to post about what I find in Wisconsin!

Here's this week's abbreviated shopping list:

Iovine Brothers ($8.42)
Red bell pepper
Prepared fruit salad

Harry Ochs ($4.42)
Turkey bacon

Fair Food ($11.29)

Hatville Deli ($0.75)

Eggs (half-dozen)

Hershel's Deli ($4.60)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

If ever there were signs of spring at the Reading Terminal Market, two of them reappeared Saturday: Earl Livengood's farmstand and ramps at Iovine Brothers.

Earl's offerings are necessarily limited. Overwintered spinach (not the greenhouse variety) may have the occasional white spot on the leaves, but Earl's crinkly spinach is the real thing. (Benuel Kaufman also has fresh local spinach, and it certainly looks more picture perfect: that's because it's greenhouse spinach.) Earl also is selling a variety of root vegetables. I picked up some German butterball potatoes and parsnips; they were great pureed together for dinner tonight.

Over at Iovine Brothers big bunches of ramps (photo at right) were selling for $2.95, enough to serve four. I chopped and sauteed them in just a tiny bit of chicken fat (I didn't have bacon fat, which would have been preferred) then served them atop sauteed scallops (about $13/pound for the dry scallops at John Yi, iirc).

Dutch Country Meats is "closed for renovations". It's been sold to a new owner and should open in a few weeks. I hope they keep selling the German style wursts and loafs which they added to their lineup after Siegfried's closed.

Another sign of the change of seasons was the reappearance of soft shell crabs at John Yi's. Always pricey, they were particularly dear at $6 apiece today.

Jim Iovine says he expects to have fiddleheads in about 10 days. He's working with his contract farmer to add new crops this year and expand production. If the weather doesn't deteriorate he expects fine crops of strawberries and raspberries, along with all the other staples. This week he was selling Florida strawberries for $1.49 for a one-pound clamshell (O.K. Lee had them for 99 cents). Key limes were $1.99 for a one-pound bag, kumquats $2.99 for a small box. Another sign of spring: morels, $74.99/pound (porcinis were $49.99). String beans 99 cents, avocados $1.99 each ($1.29 at O.K. Lee). Limes were 3 for a buck, vs. 4 at the competition.

Opposite the seating area behind the Beer Garden the RTM has updated its display of photos and artifacts (photo at left). The added archival photos include a poster depicting individual merchants circa 1984. Check out the mustache on Charles Giunta!

This week's shopping list:

Crimini mushrooms
Grapes, green seedless

JOHN YI ($6.75)
Dry scallops

12th STREET CANTINA ($1.50)
Flour tortillas

Pussywillow branches
German butterball potatoes

Hanger steak