Saturday, March 09, 2013

Winter Doldrums

Besides my own personal inertia, one reason this blog hasn't been updated regularly has been the lack of excitement in what's available at the produce markets. It is, after all, late winter, with no local produce (except for what's coming out of hydroponic growers), and the opening of farmers' markets is about two months away.

Even the citrus fruit offerings haven't been inspiring.

And while I like greens, there's a limit to how much kale I want to eat. (Has anyone else notice what a "hot" food item kale as become this year?)

Still there is some interesting produce out there, so long as you're willing to open up your wallet and let the food miles pile up, especially for items coming in from Mexico and South America.

Iovine's Produce, for example, had some asparagus today. And the bagged red and green seedless grapes are nice and reasonably priced at $2.99 for a two-pound bag. Fresh chickpeas (garbanzos) in the shell remain on Iovine's shelves for $3.99/pound. Alas, frying peppers, which for the last three weeks have been priced at a bargain 79 cents a pound, have nearly doubled to $1.49. Green bell peppers, though, were 99 cents today.

Any decent sized orange will set you back 50 cents, though smaller ones can be had at three for a buck. Florida juicers are 4/$1. A dollar's worth of lemons (3) can probably be squeezed enough to generate enough juice for a lemon meringue pie (it did for me a few weeks ago).

I'm not a big egg eater, but the difference between what supermarkets sell and what's available at the Fair Food Farmstand is amazing. Fair Food's are considerably fresher, with deep orange yolks that hold their shape. Yes, they are pricier -- even Fair Food's non-organic eggs are $3.50/dozen -- but when you've got eggs this fresh and good available it's worth the premium. They made a rich lemon curd and pristine meringue for that pie.

Though still a bit dear, the price of broccoli rabe has eased a tad, much to the relief of Joey Nicolosi of Tommy DiNic's. Joey experimented with other greens, and especially liked the way Swiss chard worked with the sandwiches, but he's sticking with rabe and spinach as the offered greens.

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