Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Marketing

With the holiday weekend, traffic seemed just a little slow at both the RTM and Headhouse Square: not dead, mind you, just a tad less frenetic.

Which doesn't mean there weren't wonderful foodstuffs to acquire at either one.

Blooming Glen has been back at Headhouse for the past couple weeks, displacing Weaver's Way as the anchor produce vendor at the Lombard Street end of the shambles. They featured a humongus crop of French breakfast radishes. A more peppery, larger elongated French radish could be had at Weaver's Way. Talula's Table also returned this Sunday after a brief hiatus. Another vendor which missed the opening few weeks but is now a regular is Buoni Amici of Hammonton, selling greens, spinach, veggies, berries, beets and other produce. A.T. Buzby's strawberries were selling for $5 a quart. Culton Organics has been featuring baby artichokes recently; I didn't check the price this week, but the week before they were two for $4. Il Professore, a Roman food maven acquaintance, undoubtedly purchased a few.

My purchases at Headhouse this past Sunday included some wonderful looking frozen pork steaks from Natural Meadows Farm. They only raise Tamworth hogs, a heritage breed. Although comparatively lean compared to other heritage breeds, it's still considerably better marbled than today's factory pigs. The steaks I purchased looked suitably, but not too, fatty. We'll let you know when they get et.

Over at the Reading Terminal Market, the Fair Food Farmstand alone offered berries at three different prices depending upon provenance. The conventional berries, from a Delaware grower, sold for $3.50/pint or $6/quart. "Chemical free" berries from Rineer Family Farm were $4.50/pint. Organic berries from another grower were $5/pint. Fair Food also continued to sell snow peas at $4.50/pint.

Local strawberries were also in evidence at Iovine Brothers Produce for $2.50/pint and Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce for $3.50 a half pint or $4.95/pint. L. Halteman also featured local berries ($3.99/pint) and scallions $1.29 bunch).

My Memorial Day weekend grilling consisted of chicken in a coriander-cumin rub (Friday), partaking in a block party Saturday (we supplied cupcakes), hambugers Sunday (ground to order by Harry Ochs, 1.25 pounds chuck + six ounces filet mignon), and hot dogs Monday (the five-to-a-pound "Syd's" kosher style beef dogs from Best Provision, Newark, only available by making a trip to the plant).

We met friends for brunch at the RTM Sunday morning, but by the time we arrived at 10:30 a.m., Hershel's East Side Deli had sold out of all varities of bagels save one, the "everything" bagel. My hand-sliced belly lox was yummy on the salty bagel.

If you like Cracker Jacks, you'll love the Keystone Krunch sold at the Pennsylvania General Store. It's not inexpensive ($9.99 for a large bag which has about six normal servings, though the nutritional info label says the bag holds four servings), but it's far superior, even if you don't get a prize. The caramel covered confection includes not just popcorn, but almonds and, true to Pennsylvania style, pretzels. Great when watching the Phillies crush the opposition, as they did the last two days as I was enjoying Keystone Krunch. (Pennsylvania General Store created the blend and originally made it, but they've farmed the manufacturing out to Asher's.)

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