Friday, June 3, 2011

The A-B-C's of Fresh Produce

Instead of wasting multitudinous words extolling our admiration for the latest seasonal early Summer produce hitting the stands at Reading Terminal Market, we've run around visiting the Merchants and snapped what's in season NOW.  We also recently fell in love--with Talula's Garden. So brace yourselves for frequent references to this glorious new addition to the restaurant scene--more on Talula's in the coming weeks.

In order to avoid biting off more than we can chew, we are breaking the alphabet up into thirds.  Today, we'll tackle A-I.

Starting with A...
Arugula--We love it tossed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette--salt, pepper, garlic powder, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

B..Beets (divine as a side at Talula's Garden - why did their beets taste so good?  Perhaps it was the sprinkling of fresh herbs grown  right in the courtyard garden.)

C..We spotted cherries on the shelves last week!

D..Dandelion.  Hmmm.  Aimee Olexy, the owner of Talula's Garden, swears by both Dandelion and Mizuna leaves which she grows onsite and combines in a fresh spring salad.  Are we bold enough to try to recreate it..?

E..Eggplant.  We've said it before Iovine's Sicilian (football-shaped) eggplant runs rings round the conventional variety.

F..Fresas.  That's Spanish for strawberries, and there's nothing better right now.  Try Talula's Garden Chef Michael Santoro's simple preparation for a staggeringly impressive and very unique dessert:  2 cups strawberries, quartered.  Set aside an additional 1/2 cup of the damaged berries, and mash them with 1/4 cup Minus 8 Vinegar (a sweet vinegar made from post-frost grapes--hence the name--when the sugars are uber concentrated in the late-harvest fruit).    Serve the strawberry-vinegar mixture topped with crumbled meringue and sprinkled with chopped fresh mint .    Or, you could keep it really simple and buy a beautifully baked strawberry something from one of the Market's bakers.
Termini's Strawberry Shortcake
G..Greens, glorious greens.   Remember, Jack McDavid gave us his secret to cooking them--don't miss it!

H..Haricots Verts--these lovely baby string beans are divine roasted briefly with rock salt, olive oil and cracked pepper or sauteed in garlic and tossed with cashews.

I...I give up.  Can't think of any fresh produce that begins with an "I".  Can we count Iceberg lettuce?  Let's!   True confession, this crunchy head is great in a chopped salad or served retro as a wedge slathered with blue cheese dressing, but it's a bit of a guilty admission in terms of fresh, authentic, local produce consumption.  Maybe our "I" should be anything from Iovines.

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