Earlier this week, I was putting together information on current standout local produce for a restaurant - did you know that in addition to stocking our Farmstand with gorgeous local goods, Fair Food also works with chefs and retailers to help them source local food? - and found myself with a list of some of our region's most alluring fruits and vegetables. Stock up on these items this week and your cuisine will be colorful, delicious, and perfectly autumnal.
QUINCE from Beechwood Orchards: This hard-to-find relative of apples and pears had a badseason last year - none of our orchards grew enough to wholesale - so I'm really excited that we're able to stock it this fall. When it's grown in tropical climates, the fruit ripens enough to be eaten raw, but for specimens from our neck of the woods, it's best to cook them. Poach themfor breakfast or dessert, cook them down into a deep red membrillo and serve with a strong cheese, or pickle them to serve with roasted meats.
ROMANESCO from Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op: Wish that I could eat sweet, crispy-tipped romanesco roasted with olive oil and salt all year round! A variation on traditional white-curded cauliflower, the romanesco's conical florets twirl into fractal-based patterns, making this brassica great for roasting, steaming, or even tempura-frying. And the fractal florets make some of the prettiest pickles.
OLYMPIC ASIAN PEARSfrom Terhune Orchards: Big, golden fruits with lots of crunch and juicy, sweet flavor when eaten out of hand. Slice them into asuper-fresh slaw, get indulgent with these sublime Asian pear fritters,or turn them into a soft, silky-textured pickle that's great on salads.
CHIOGGIA BEETS from Tuscarora Organic Growers: AKA the candystripe or hypno-spiral beet, it's got a light red skin and a wild pink-and-white pattern of concentric circles inside. Use them as you would red beets and highlight their unique appearance with this salad or marinate them for versatility.
UNCOMMON GREENS from David Siller andTaproot Farm: Now that pawpaw season is over, our forager friend David is back with light, lemony PROFUSION SORREL and PATIENCE DOCK, the Swiss chard-like wild green. Sorrel can be served fresh in salads, but you'll want to give patience dock a quick blanche in boiling water before preparing as you would spinach or other cooking greens. Taproot's KOMATSUNA is a little like spinach with the tall stalks of bok choy and zesty flavor of mustard greens. Sautee it with a bit of sesame oil and garlic, then finish with sesame seeds.
TASTING NOTES: We've got TWO tastings this weekend, where you'll have the chance to meet local food producers and taste (and buy) their scrumptious goods. On Friday from 10-2, Jan Cho -- the baker (and mom) behind Good Enough For Kids healthy snacks, will be sampling her granola bars, crackers, and other goodies made with local and organic ingredients. On Saturday from 10-2, Al Renzi from Yellow Springs Farm will be making a rare Philly appearance to sample his raw milk cave-aged goat cheeses: Fieldstone, their subtly savory flagship cheese, and Yellow Brick Road, which is washed in Victory Brewing Co.'s Golden Monkey Ale.