Sunday, November 18, 2012

Life intervenes

Culton's Leaning Tower of Pumpkins
Life has intervened in my blogging pasttime since late September, but I'm back, at least for this pre-Thanksgiving missive.

It's hard to pass up taking a photo of Tom Culton's produce displays at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market. Today he featured a Leaning Tower of Pumpkins. However, Tom actually asked me to take a picture of his nuts . . . that is, his English walnuts.

Culton's produce will be around all winter long this season, since he plans to participate in the year-round Tuesday market at Rittenhouse Square.

North Star Orchards made their last appearance of the season at Headhouse today (the market continues on Sundays until just before Christmas, plus it will be open this Wednesday). Among the apples available was Caville Blanc d'Hiver, a French dessert apple: definitely on the tart side, but tasty and best eaten fresh out-if-hand. Expect Beechwood Orchards, however, to stick around until the market closes for the season; they had a great variety of apples today, including some Newtown Pippins. I had five pounds of Winesaps in the fridge from last week' market visit that I had planned to turn into pie; I was too lazy, however, and made applesauce instead. Three Springs had a "crate" offer today: fill up a crate with the apples of your choice (except Honeycrisp) for $25.

Reading Terminal Market News 

Work in progress: Valley Shepherd Creamery
Lots has transpired at the RTM since I last wrote, including the opening of Wursthaus Schmitz. Plenty of brats to choose from, most made by Rieker's of Northeast Philadelphia, except for the solitary hausgemacht (home-made) brat. You'll have to bring them home to cook, however, since the stall's exhaust system isn't complete yet. When it is, they'll be selling them hot and ready to eat. Nice, if limited, selection of salads, cold cuts, and German grocerty items. (I've got to pick up a bottle or curry ketchup to use on my tater tots.) Although some of the Pennsylvania Dutch delis and butchers have had some traditional German items over the years, I've sorely missed the selection that had been offered by Siegfried's when he was in business at the RTM. Wursthaus Schmitz doesn't have quite the selection that Siegfried offered, but it comes close.

Valley Shepherd Creamery hopes to be open for business by Christmas, but it will be close. Tiling of the cheese-making room is scheduled to start this week.

The great publicity continues to roll in for DiNic's. In addition to being featured in a recent Inquirer article on meatballs, the Cooking Channel will bring in its HD cameras in a few weeks to feature the sandwicherie at the Reading Terminal.

Hershel's East Side Deli has been doing boffo breakfast business. This past Saturday, at least in the early morning hours, the line was longer there than at DiNic's! I like the French toast, but Andy Wash makes an attractive omelet, too, and the potato pancakes are solid (they are the thick variety, rather than the lacy style).

Fresh chick peas at Iovine's
How many truckloads of collard greens will Iovine Brother's Produce sell before Thanksgiving? To use a fine accounting term: lots. Come Wednesday they'll have a 5 a.m. delivery from the produce center, then get another in mid-morning.

A non-traditional Thankgiving food would be fresh chick peas, which are back in stock at Iovine's. At $3.99/pound, however, a bit dear.

The annual holiday model railroad exhibit at the Reading Terminal Market opens Friday, which means Steve Bowes and his organic produce will be displaced to center court for the duration.

After New Year's you can expect work to start on the move of two stalls within the market. Downtown Cheese will shift its operations to the piano court, across from Golden Seafood and Metropolitan Bakery. And Nanee's, the South Asian samosa emporium, will move to the spot formery occupied by Coastal Cave. Taste of Norway, selling smoked salmon, temporarily occupies that spot now as a day stall; co-owner Erik Torp is mulling whether not to seek a permanent location at the market or simply close after the holidays.

The Downtown Cheese and Nanee moves promoted RTM General Manager Paul Steinke to pass up his initial plan to lease what is now a small seating area off center court between Wursthaus Schmitz and La Cucina at the Market. With seating to be sacrified at the Piano Court due to the Downtown Cheese move, now's not the time to cut back seating capacity further.

No word yet on when KeVen Parker of Miss Tootsie's will begin work on his soul food eatery to replace Delilah's. He still has to come up with a new name, since Marion Iovine uses Tootsie's for her salad bar/cafeteria.