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rlibkind

Reading Terminal Market (Part 2)

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People don't already get that the Reading Terminal Market is a "venue for purchasing food for home?"  Such uncomprehending market-goers will likely never survive a trip to the market in the first place, having been culled from the species seconds after failing to grasp that a "Don't Walk" sign means don't walk.

We locals ought to, but the area gets a larger-than-normal share of visitors from beyond, "beyond" here defined as anything you can't get to with a plain-vanilla TransPass and no zone fare.

It's sort of like having those guys who toss the fish right underneath the giant neon sign and clock at the Pike Place Market.

The only problem with this logic is that the Rick's Steaks space is not the first thing many, or even most IMO, visitors to the RTM see. It's my impression that the most heavily used entrance to the RTM is the one at its southwest corner, on 12th just north of Filbert -- it's where the market's bulletin board and information booth are located.

The entrance next to Rick's is the second-closest to the Arch Street entrances to the Convention Center, though, and the closest one that can handle heavy traffic -- it's more visible than the one that leads to the market's NW corner up a couple of stairs -- so maybe some of the folks attending conventions or gate shows might do a double-take to see produce, fresh fish, or meats in the display windows at this point -- but how many conventioneers cook? (Gate-show patrons are a somewhat different story; you might be able to capture some of them, as they're usually local in origin.)

If you ask me (but I'd ask Paul Steinke if you really want the truth), the most heavily traveled entrance to RTM seems to be the one on the corner opposite from the Convention Center. It seems to be perpetually clogged with hungry tourists entranced by the aroma of Beiler's cinnamon buns and made immobile.

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Actually, I've been meaning to collar Paul on one of my regular visits (he's usually there on Saturdays), so I probably can, BHF.

But on further thought, there also seems to be a rough form of "zoning" at the RTM that this would disrupt a bit.

The 12th Street wall of the market is a Restaurant Row of sorts, with even the few ingredient vendors fronting the westernmost aisle also offering prepared foods to eat. The ingredient vendors tend to be located inside the Market, with only Iovine's Produce having a significant exterior exposure along the Filbert Street wall.

The two categories of vendor sort of coexist around the central court, with butchers Harry Ochs and Martin Giunta along its western edge, John Yi Seafood on the northern, Flying Monkey Patisserie (baked goods fall in both categories, IMO) on the eastern, and the rest eateries.

I'm still not sure that the 12th Street wall is the place to put a fresh food or ingredients vendor without some additional reinforcements in the area.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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A belated report on my finds from last Saturday:

Benuel Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce offered sweet cherries (and a few sour pie cherries, too) at $3.95/pint. We should start to see more pie cherries this weekend; the pie cherry season is short, usually no more than two or three weeks. Ben also has red and yellow pear tomatoes ($3.95/pint) and sun golds ($4.95).

Those bargain limes at Iovine Brothers, which had been 10/$1, were 5/$1 last time I checked. Still less pricey than the lemons @3/$1.

The Fair Food Farmstand expects a planoply of fruits and veggies this weekend. Its weekly newsletter said they'll have pie cherries, red and yellow sweet cherries, red currants, gooseberries, red and black raspberries, blueberries, sweet corn, and Brandywine tomatoes among other goodies.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned the wild Alaskan king salmon selling at John Yi's for $22.95/pound. I should have waited a few days. Since early last week it's been $19.95. And for you shrimp 'n grits lovers out there, John Yi has some outrageously sized extra jumbos from the U.S. South Atlantic coast (that means South Carolina or Georgia, folks) for $22.99; they come in at four to six to a pound. Actually, these big shrimp look ideal for the grill. Now that spring is officially over, the price of mackeral surged a bit to $3.99 from $2.45-$2.99. Wild and farm-raised striped bass (the latter are actually a cross of striped bass and white bass) selling for an identicial $5.99 for whole fish; a very similar marine bass, farmed European Branzino, is $8.99.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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A belated report on my finds from last Saturday:

Those bargain limes at Iovine Brothers, which had been 10/$1, were 5/$1 last time I checked. Still less pricey than the lemons @3/$1.

Limes were 5/$1, but the dollar rack this weekend was amazing. In addition to the standard 8 oz bag of buttons, I got four bags of great peppers (Orange, Red, and a variety pack) and two big eggplants for $1. There was a roasted pepper salad, baba ganuj in the jdanton household this weekend.

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I was so overwhelmed by the depth, variety and volume of produce this weekend that I've combined my fruit and vegetable report for the Reading Terminal and Headhouse in one. You can find it here.

On matters of protein, however, the RTM demands its own account.

John Yi didn't have fresh mackerel, but offered salt mackerel at $2.50/pound. I've purchased, cooked and enjoyed pre-packaged filets from Shop Rite in the past; these were dressed (headed, gutted, de-finned) and, like the packaged item, require overnight soaking in several changes of cold water (try running the tap real low) before baking or sauteing. That takes out the salt, but the flesh remains nicely firm. If fresh fish is required, Alaskan sockeye filet was a bargain at $9.99, as was the Spanish mackerel at $1.99 (whole). Softshell crabs were $6 apiece.

Of course, it's really grilled meat season. Giunta's Prime Shop was selling their hearty, deeply-flavored rib eyes on the bone for $9.99 last week, as well as hanger steaks for $6.99 and flat irons for $7.99. Lamb breast ribs, one of my favorite summer grills, were $2.59, short ribs $4.59 (or five pounds for $19.95). Dinosaur beef ribs were $1.99.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I'm off to Maine, so I won't be posting about local stuff for a couple of weeks. (I'll undoubtedly be putting in my two cents on the New England board about what I find in restaurants and markets.)

But before I go, just a quick, exceedingly brief comment:

Wow! Both the RTM and Headhouse were chock-a-block with the full range of gorgeous summer produce this past weekend. All that was missing was blackberries, and since peaches have appeared already, they won't be far behind. The apricots are juicy and luscious, the blueberries spicy, the tomatoes real (including heirlooms), the white corn sweet and corn-y. Doesn't matter whether you to to the RTM, Headhouse or any of the neighborhood farmers' markets, all are offering the best of summer. Indulge!


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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We got incredible blackberries this past Wed at the Nolib Farmer's Market.

Opposite Standard Tap, Wed afternoons.

Only two stands, but good stuff...

Urban girls produce, and the bread/cracker guy from Sunday Headhouse market at the south end.


Philly Francophiles

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Iovine Brothers was busting at the seems with summer produce Saturday, including local sweet corn. I went for the very fresh green beans Saturday, priced at 79-cents. Another great bargain were the scallions from Delmarva. Instead of breaking them down and trimming for sale, they were selling in bags containing about a dozen bunches for $1.99. These weren't old veggies Iovine was trying to get rid of, either; they needed only normal washing and trimming. The decidedly non-local limes prompted me to make many a summer cooler at 8 for a buck.

Earl Livengood's open-pollinated corn, both at South Street and the RTM, is exceptional this year. And in another week or so, Fair Food, if it follows previous years' form, will start selling Mirai, an incredibly sweet Japanese hybrid.

Benuel Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce, also no slouch when it comes to selling quality in-season corn, has grown across the aisle, occupying some of the space vacated by Dutch Country Meats. Ben went so far as to move one of the refrigerated displaty cases to make way for a market wagon filled with the summer's bounty.

Still no signs of Jonathan's Best, the grocer slated to take over the former Margerum's/Natural Connection space across from Dutch Country Meats. Some of the butcher space was supposed to be taken over by the Amish pretzel stall. No signs of any of that yet.

After a year's hiatus the RTM's annual Pennsylvania Dutch festival is back, and among the activities will be an auction of Amish crafts (including a handmade quilt) conducted by Moses B Smucker Auctioneers of Narvon. More details on the event (to be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday) at the market's web site.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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If you plan to make BLTs with all the luscious tomatoes tomatoes available, you can't go wrong with the Green Meadow Farms product double-smoked by King's Butcher Shop in Paradise, sold at the Reading Terminal by the Fair Food Farmstand. Then again, the applewood smoked bacon available at Harry Ochs works, too. And I've got a package of Country Time's uncured bacon (also from Fair Food) sitting unopened in the fridge which I'm going to try soon.

As noted in another post, Livengood's is offering fresh killed chickens at the moment. Dwain Livengood said they'd be available fresh rather than frozen at $3.80/pound whole. The birds are in the 3-4 pound range, and it's best to reserve them. I'll pick up mine this Thursday at Fairmount, but they'll also be available Tuesday afternoon at South Street and Saturday at the Reading Terminal.

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At the Pennsylvania Dutch Festival earlier this month, Nick Ochs got into the spirit (photo above) with some overalls and a straw hat. As usual, the festival attracted strong summertime crowds to the market, and the pony cart rarely traversed the block with an empty seat. Fishers was making donuts in center court, and I tried a hot oe as soon as I arrived about 8:30 a.m. Alas, the oil must not have been hot enough: I could have fried a flounder with all the grease this baby absorbed.

Both Iovine's and OK Lee offer local produce as well as the same California, Florida and Mexican imports you'd find at a supermarket (though usually at a lower price). Jersey tomatoes and Pennsylvania corn are among Iovine's offerings, as well as local eggplants, green beans, etc. Finds from further afield recently have included raw peanuts and black figs.

Plenty of local produce can also be found at L. Halteman's and Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce. Benuel Kauffman has expanded across the aisle (photo below) to some of the space formerly occupied by Dutch Country Meats.

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Across the aisle (between 12th Street Cantina and Martin's Meats) is the vacant space once occupied by Natural Connection and, before that, Margerum's. David Schreiber has finally got his financing in place and signed a lease, so work will begin soon on converting the spot to his Jonathan's Best grocery. "The store will carry a wide variety of gourmet groceries and packaged foods, plus pre-made sandwiches, salads and their signature line of soups to eat in or take home. Dave, a native Philadelphia, hopes to open in October," said Paul Steinke, RTM general manager.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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RTM GM Paul Steinke advises I erred in ascribing the donuts at the Pennsylvania Dutch Festival to Fisher's in my previous post. They were being made and sold by Beiler's, the Pennsylvania Dutch bakery at the market.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Plenty of goodies reflecting both summer and autumn can be found at the Reading Terminal Market right now.

L. Halteman, though primarily a butcher shop and deli, offers in-season produce at the Reading Terminal Market. Love the primitive Lancaster County scene that serves as a backdrop (see photo above) to their fruits and vegetables, which are usually of high quality and competitively priced.

Expect to see paw paws this weekend at Livengood's and the Fair Food Farmstand. I'll be checking out the former this afternoon at their Fairmount & 22nd venue. For those who've got a yen to travel, or just want to learn more about this native North American fruit, visit the Ohio Paw Paw Festival this weekend, just about 8 or 10 miles down the road from Ohio University, Athens. Livengood had a few of the paw paws gathered by Sam Consylman last week, but there weren't many and they weren't ripe. If a paw paw is all green and lacks significant mottling, it's not ready. The browner and softer the better. They were priced at $2.95/pound.

Local grapes are plentiful right now, including Concords, which Livengood's was selling for $3.95/quart. They've also got ground cherries, a curious, tomatillo-like fruit (a.k.a. Cape Gooseberries) in a papery wrapper, $2.95/pint. Good for snacking, but I also think they'd make great preserves. Iovine Brothers featured scuppernong grapes recently, $3.99 for a 1.5 pound clamshell.

It's the peak of local pear season, especially Bartletts. Benuel Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce at the RTM was selling them for $1.49/pound. Apples, of course, are now starting in a big way. All the early commercial varieties could be found this past week at the RTM and city farm markets. Iovine's also had navel oranges from South Africa (it's the end of their season) at three for a buck.

I'm still concentrating on peaches, however. Iovine's featured Jersey whites and yellows at $1.19 recently and nectarines at $1.49. O.K. Lee had Jersey yellows recently for 99-cents. Ben Kauffman's yellow peaches and nectarines were $1.99, white peaches $2.69. Plums are still plentiful, though the season is shifting to the late varities like the Italian prune plums, $2/pint at Kauffman's.

Still plenty of local corn available, though the quality sometimes flags a bit late in the season. Livengood's was selling theirs for 70-cents an ear, Kauffman's for 50-cents, Iovine Brothers three for a buck. And ya gotta have tomatoes. Kauffman's was selling Brandywines for $2.99. Iovine featured Jersey plum (Roma) tomatoes at 99-cents; over at Fair Food Farmstand they were going for $2.

It's fig season, and Fair Food was selling some from a South Philly tree at six for $3. (I can pick them for free up the next block in my Fairmount neighborhood). Iovine's got California black figs at less than half that price: $2.99 for a pint box of about 10-12.

Cauliflower reared it's snow white head at Ben Kauffman's stand last week, $4 for an exceedingly large specimen. Other fall veggies won't be far behind.

The price of lemons fell at Iovine's to a dime apiece, but limes are still a quarter. They are selling local green peppers for 99-cents, $1.99 for sweet red bells. Both come from Shadybrook, the Iovine's contract supplier in Bucks County.

On the protein front, chicken feet must be getting more popular, since the price seems high at $2.19/pound at Godshall's, where hearts go for $2.09 and livers and gizzards $1.89. What happened to lamb shanks, which used to be a cheap meat, looks like it's happening to chicken feet. For comparison, Eberly's whole organic chicks were selling for $3.89 at Giunta's Prime Shop. Over at Martin's Quality Meats & Sausages, one of my favorite "trash" cuts, lamb breast (riblets) could be obtained for $3.29. I forget the price, but Martin's brother Charles Giunta had veal breast at a bargain price, too.

I don't know if they'll have them this week, since fish supplies are so variable, but John Yi's recently had the largest porgies I've ever seen, $2.99 for Florida behemoths. Headed mackeral was for for sale at $1.99, whole black bass for $5.99.

La Cuchina, the cooking class at the RTM, is working with Temple University to offer some star-chef classes this fall. Here's the lineup: David Ansill, Oct. 14; Marcie Turney, Oct. 20; Lance Silverman, Oct. 27; Ralph Fernandez, Oct. 30; Brinn Sinnot, Nov. 10; Marc Vetri, Nov. 15; and Aliza Green, Dec. 1. My guess is these classes will fill quickly.

One wag called it the Bermuda Triangle of the market: the meridian between Tootsie's Salad Express and Olympic Gyro: vendors locate there but mysteriously disappear. The latest victim was the Everyday Gourmet, in the space formerly occupied by Andros. Their concept for prepared food never caught on. Further along the meridian, Dutch Country Meats gave up the ghost earlier this year, and Natural Connection left the space formerly occupied by Margerum's. The last spot will be filled by Jonathan's Best, brought to you by the same folks who operate a similar gourmet market in Chestnut Hill. In addition to groceries they'll feature homemade soups and pre-made sandwiches.

The availability of a full "block" where Dutch Country Meats and Everyday Gourmet were located presents a challenge, but also an opportunity, as far as RTM GM Paul Steinke is concerned. Among the features of the space is a fully-installed range exhaust, a rare commodity in the market, and a walk-in refrigerator. Right now Benuel Kauffman is using part of the Dutch Country Meats space on a temporary basis.


Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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A few weeks ago I raved about Green Meadow's bacon, and said I'd also report on the nitrite-free product from Country Time. Alas, the Country Time bacon is one I won't be purchasing again. Much too salty, light in the smoke department. The saltiness is a problem I've tasted before in nitrite-free bacons. Gimme chemicals, especially natural ones like saltpeter.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Fishers' Stools Stink

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Walking around the Reading Terminal Market this morning I noticed the stools at Fisher's, the Pennsylvania Dutch section merchant who sells fresh pretzels, ice cream and candies. Seems like a little minor investment is in order. Certainly doesn't reflect well on the merchant or the entire Amish section. Proprietor Paul Fisher should either recover the stools, replace them or remove them.

Keeping up appearances by individual merchants is in tune with some minor sprucing up market management is undertaking: a repainting of the seating areas, additional bins for recyclables, and the ordering of a new striped awnings to adorn the Arch and 12th street sides.

Another merchant volunteered to me with no prompting that he thought it weird that the row between aisles 8 and 10 is where most of the market's vacancies occur. The market would still like to locate a produce vendor when Rick Olivieri vacates his space Oct. 31. GM Paul Steinke would love to see the Fair Food Farmstand move there, but placing produce where they get afternoon sunlight makes it a less than idea location for that use without significant engineering and electricity consumption.

Fair Food will be spending more on electricity soon, even if they stay in place. Co-manager Sarah Cain said a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay for refrigerated vegetable gondolas, which should improve the shelf-life and quality of produce that needs cooler temperatures. That means some significant rearranging of the stand's layout is in the offing, including a possible expansion into a small part of the adjacent seating area. Another grant has been awarded for improved signage, which will be designed once the details on the new refrigeration equipment and stall design is locked up.

The Fair Food Farmstand also began accepting USDA food stamp electronic cards this week. It's something many of The Food Trust's farmers markets have been doing for a while.

The fall cabbage crop has started to show up at produce vendors. Earl Livengood had small heads of red and green cabbage. Benuel Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce had half heads of large green cabbages for $2. Ben also has the cauliflower I mentioned in a previous post:

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Another sign of fall could be found at Iovine Brothers Produce: pumpkins. They featured a bin of small "spooky" pumpkins selling for $1.99 apiece. Welch's, mostly known for their grape juice and jellies, is extending the brand by licensing their name to a distributor of table grapes; Iovine's had three-pound clam shells of green seedless grapes selling for $1.99 today. (Welch's is dear to my heart: I went to college at a historically Methodist liberal arts college with affiliated seminary where one of the women's dorms was named after the Welch family, which started their business in 1869 in Vineland to provide grape juice for communion for the alcohol-free congregations.)

Yet another sign of autumn: chestnuts at Livengood's, right next to the paw paws.

I've written before of the Joe Jurgielewicz & Son ducks available at Giunta's Prime Shop. In addition to whole ducks at $3.95/pound, Giunta's recently added packs of legs ($6.49) along with their boneless breasts ($12.95). Just in time for confit-making season.

Another correction: I misspelled the name of the cooking school at the market in a recent post. It's "La Cucina", without an "h".


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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White and red cranberries are in season at the Fair Food Farmstand. Lemons and limes were both eight for a buck at Iovine Brothers Produce Saturday, and rather ripe but eminently useable Hass avocados were a buck apiece. Iovine's local red bell peppers were selling for 99 cents, as were suntans; the orange and yellows (not local) were $1.99. Regular and Sicilian eggplants from South Jersey were two pounds for a dollar. Across the way at L. Halteman, quince was $1.99 and both butternut and acorn squashes 69-cents.

Andy of Hershel's East Side Deli said he's eliminated the middleman and is now buying his briskets (for corned beef and brisket) and navels (for pastrami) directly from one of the major Midwest suppliers. He's also brining his own corned beef and pastrami. Much to my surprise, Andy said he doesn't smoke his pastrami; it's all done through the magic of the cure and the seasonings. After some web research I learned, indeed, that pastrami does not necessarily have to be smoked to be authentic and tasty. Whodathunk?

Those $6.49/pound packs of duck legs at Giunta's Prime Shop. I wrote about in a previous post were $5.95 as of this past Saturday. I picked up some mild Italian sausage Saturday from Martin's Quality Meats & Sausages; I sliced and sauteed them to top a penne baked with homemade tomato sauce (made from Roma's from Margerum's at Headhouse), fresh mozarella, ricotta, and parmesan.

Chocolate By Mueller at the RTM has long been a licorice-lover's delight. This week I discovered a favorite hard candy among them: Hopjes, a Dutch coffee-flavored confection. I was reacquainted with this treat earlier this year when a couple of pieces arrived with the check at the Belgium Cafe in Fairmount.

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Work has started at Jonathan's Best, the grocery-soup-sandwich emporium which will occupy the former Natural Connection/Margerum's space. The new shop is looking for a late October opening.

Last week I complained about the condition of the stools at Fisher's. RTM GM Paul Steinke advises the vendor will be re-doing his stand, but not until after Christmas.

The RTM's annual Harvest Festival is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 18. There will be hayrides around the block, stacks of hay along Harry Ochs Way (Filbert Street), a pumpkin patch, and special autumn treats from a number of vendors.

Mitch "Wild Thang" Williams was selling his salsa and signing autographs Saturday. A portion of the proceeds went to the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the ALS Association.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Termini Brothers is offering "Bones" for All Saints Day. They are hard-to-the-teeth pastries (they appear to be flour-reinforced meringue) shaped in the form of bones, spirits, gravestones, etc. Hard to imagine they're not also available at the South Philly bakery and Termini's other locations.

Fair Food Farmstand is selling heritage breed turkeys from Griggstown Quail Farm at a considerable savings compared to what Griggstown charges at its own stall at Headhosue Square: $6.50 pound at the Farmstand's Reading Terminal Market outlet vs. $7.99 by Griggstown at Headhouse. In addition, the Farrmstand is selling traditional turkeys for $2.99 (naturally raised) or $$4.50 (certified organic). Don't count on picking one up on a lark the day before Thanksgiving; reservations are essential.

For the rest of your Thanksgiving table, you can take advantage of Fair Food Farmstand's other offerings, including both common and unusual squashes and white and red cranberries.

Aaack! The Farmstand is still using the term "wildcrafted". Last spring it was used to describe fiddlehead ferns. In the FFF's most recent weekly newsletter they are promoting Hen of the Woods mushrooms "wildcrafted by Patrick Murphy". Wildcrafted is taken to mean the gathering of wild plants in a manner which causes no permanent harm to the environment or the species. The goal is laudable, the nomenclature deplorable, a grave abuse of the English language worthy only of the most depraved advertising copywriter. How about "sustainably-gathered" instead? Wild-crafted erroneously suggests Patrick created/raised/nurtured the mushrooms.

Oh, well. At least the newsletter no longer considers the Jonamac a heritage apple!


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I've neglected these past few weeks to mention that fresh, unpasteurized apple cider has been available at the Reading Terminal Market. You can get it at Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce and, on Saturdays, at Earl Livengood's. I've taken lately to heating it up, then adding a shot of bourbon and half a shot of apple brandy (Laird's 7-1/2 year old 100 percent version). If the weather's warm, use a highball glass, fill with ice, and top with a splash of ginger ale. Unless I've missed something, the ciders I've seen at Headhouse have been pasteurized.

Making a butternut or pumpkin soup? A splash of the cider won't hurt.

Craving a cheese steak while at the Reading Terminal Market? Rick's may have moved on, but you can still satisfy your urge at either Spataro's or the Down Home Diner. I haven't tasted either, so I can't vouch for them.

It shouldn't affect shoppers, but a new validation technology started this week for the Parkway garage across 12th street from the RTM. Merchants had to install new validators. Still the same price for customers: $3 for stays under two hours with when you spend $10 (cumulative) and get your parking ticket validated at by an RTM merchant. Overstay the two hours and your fee will escalate rapidly.

The Pennsylvania General Store will be honored by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce as its Retailer of the Year. Proprietors Mike and Julie Holahan opened the business at the Reading Terminal Market 21 years ago. Market representatives will be among those attending the Nov. 6 awards dinner at the Hyatt Regency.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Cheese Steak correction. In previous post I erred in reporting that the Down Home Diner offered cheese steaks. That used to be the case, but not now. Recently revised menu, however, only lists a cheese steak burger, i.e., a burger with provolone, peppers and onions.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I'm a little ashamed to admit that I'd never had Martin's sausages before! I turned that right around and bought some bratwurst and andouille last week. I smoked it all for a couple of hours yesterday over a mix of hickory and mesquite- the bratwurst, served on a Sarcone's roll with spicy mustard, was just insanely good. INSANELY good.

The andouille wasn't bad, but a little strong for eating straight- I'll toss it into a soup or a gumbo later this week.

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I'm a little ashamed to admit that I'd never had Martin's sausages before!  I turned that right around and bought some bratwurst and andouille last week.  I smoked it all for a couple of hours yesterday over a mix of hickory and mesquite- the bratwurst, served on a Sarcone's roll with spicy mustard, was just insanely good.  INSANELY good.

The andouille wasn't bad, but a little strong for eating straight- I'll toss it into a soup or a gumbo later this week.

Sounds yummy, Andrew. I picked up some plain old mild Italian sausages a few weeks ago to have with some baked penne and they were perfect. But don't forget Harry Ochs' sausages, either. I used some chorizo in a caldo verde when the cold weather first hit and it was superb.

btw, how did that pork belly from Charles Giunta turn out as bacon?


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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btw, how did that pork belly from Charles Giunta turn out as bacon?

Ah, thanks for asking! I cured half of it with a maple/brown sugar cure and smoked it with applewood: I was pretty happy with it. The other half is in my refrigerator right now, curing with a mixture of black pepper, garlic and juniper berries. That's not going to be smoked: I'm going for something closer to pancetta that I can use primarily for cooking.

Then next week I'm going to ask if they can order me another belly...

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I've neglected these past few weeks to mention that fresh, unpasteurized apple cider has been available at the Reading Terminal Market. You can get it at Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce and, on Saturdays, at Earl Livengood's. I've taken lately to heating it up, then adding a shot of bourbon and half a shot of apple brandy (Laird's 7-1/2 year old 100 percent version). If the weather's warm, use a highball glass, fill with ice, and top with a splash of ginger ale. Unless I've missed something, the ciders I've seen at Headhouse have been pasteurized.

I've been getting the unpasteurized cider at Lancaster Central Market. I do believe there is a markedly taste difference. I too like to drink it with the Laird's bonded, although, the blend is not so bad here as well. I like adding a dash or two of bitters as well.

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Colorful chard from Earl Livengood attracted lots of attention at the market Saturday. Benuel Kauffman also had a multitudinous spectrum of brassica specimens. Visit Robert's Market Report for more photos.

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A number of merchants, including Iovine Brothers Produce, are making alterations to their stalls. At Iovine's, the first two rows of produce (mostly fruit) are now in low bins, opening up the vista to the standard veggie display cases and, beyond them, to the racks of dried fruits and nuts against the Filbert Street windows. The refrigerated mushrooms have been added to the coolers next to the checkout on the Filbert Street side.

Harry Ochs added a new refrigerated case dedicated to prepared items, such as stuffed flank steak and pork chops, patés, etc. Alas, the big hunks of subprimal roasts are now invisible, sheltered in the walk-in refrigerator.

All the cases and shelving appear to be in place at the yet-to-open (as of last Saturday) Jonathan's Best grocery and soup emporium. All that's missing is the stock. I figure they'll work hard to open in advance of Thanksgiving.

With Rick's Steaks departed, most of that space is now being used as a seating area.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Jonathan Best opened last week in the spot formerly held down by Margerum's and the Natural Connection. The high-end grocer is a welcome addition to the Reading Terminal Market. The homemade soup selection looked inviting, the flavored spreads appetizing, and the chocolate bar selection downright sinful.

That's the good news. The bad news: it's not Margerum's.

The beauty of the old Margerum's store, which closed in 2001, was that if you needed a jar of Hellman's mayonnaise or a bottle of Heinz ketchup for a recipe, you could get it. You'd pay a bit more than at a supermarket, but not unreasonably so. That was in addition to all the wonderful variety of dried legumes Noelle Margerum stocked.

You can still buy mayonnaise or ketchup at Jonathan Best. But the mayo won't be Hellman's and the ketchup won't be Heinz's. The mayo will be some organic, high-end variety priced at $6.59 for a 16-ounce jar. The ketchup will be an $8.99, 11-ounce bottle of from Wilkins & Son of the U.K.

The problem, of course, is that a merchant can't make a living selling Heinz ketchup and Hellman's mayonnaise at the RTM: the margins aren't great, the volume too low. To make the rent (which is lower for grocers and purveyors than it is for the lunch stand vendors), a grocer has to do something more. That appears to be where Jonathan Best succeeds. I haven't tried the soups yet, though they look good and plenty of market visitors this week were trying the free samples being ladled out. I did taste one of the spreads (pumpkin), and it would be a perfect nibble with cocktails for the fall season. The chocolate bars (expensive, the cassis-flavored dark bar I purchased was selling at the equivalent of $37/pound) are excellent.

If you prefer to buy your spices jarred rather than in bulk, as at the Spice Terminal, Jonathan Best is for you. They've also got a larger selection of dried pastas than Salumeria. And the selection of fruit jams and preserves expands upon that available at the Spice Terminal.

Still, it would be nice to be able to buy some non-gourmet mayo for my tuna salad or ketchup for my burgers at the market. Maybe even a box of corn flakes I can used for oven-fried chicken!

Following Linus Pauling's advise . . .

Just in time for the flu and cold season a plethora of citrus fruit has arrived, including at Iovine Brothers Produce at the Reading Terminal market.

Florida juice oranges, Valencias and small navels were selling for 20 cents apiece. Sunburst tangerines continue to be eight for a buck. Among the grapefruits, larger pink and white grapefruits were two for a buck, small ruby three for a buck, larger Star ruby 99 cents apiece. Lemons and limes were both selling for 25 cents each, though O.K. Lee offered bags of limes (8 to a bag) for about half that price. In buying citrus, don't go by looks alone; instead, go for the fruit that's heaviest in the hand for its size.

Iovine's is also pushing imported berries. Half-pint clamshells of Argentine blueberries and Mexican raspberries could be had for a buck apiece. More attractive, to me, were the California brown figs, $1.99 for a box of about eight.

With Thanksgiving approaching, string beans are in demand, and Iovines featured bins of crisp fresh ones for 89-cents a pound.

Even though it's still autumn, John Yi must think it's spring. You could buy small whole shad there for $2.99/pound. In a few weeks we should start to see a wider variety of fish as Yi and the RTM's other fishmongers stock up for the holidays.

Ikea at the market

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Ikea showed off holiday food treats Thursday at La Cucina, the demonstration kitchen and cooking school at the Reading Terminal Market. Ikea staffers outfitted in blue-striped frocks lured customers in with Pepparkoker, a ginger snap-like cookie.

I tasted the gravlax, with various cheeses, meetballs and sweets also available to sample. Alas, I was disappointed in my search for, as Ulla would say, "many different herrings": not a single tidbit of Culpea harengus, the Atlantic herring species that finds its way into so many excellent Scandinavian buffets.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Over at the Reading Terminal Market, extra checkouts have been added at Iovine Brothers Produce for the holiday rush in an effort to keep those long lines moving.

Many of the Pennsylvania Dutch merchants, who are usually closed on Mondays and Tuesday, will be open on those days (as well as Wednesday) before Thanksgiving. Those planning to be open both Monday and Tuesday are AJ Pickle Patch, Beiler's Bakery, Hatville Deli, L. Halteman Country F0ods, and Lancaster County Dairy. In addition, the Dutch Eating Place, Dienner's BBQ Chicken, and the Rib Stand will be open Tuesday.

On the day before Thanksgiving, shoppers lined up waiting for the doors to open at 8 a.m. will be treated to free sample cups of coffee, courtesy of Old City Coffee. But it won't be at all the doors: just the 12th & Filbert entrance.

This morning 12 servers were working at Godshalls to push out those Thanksgiving birds, with a lineup of customers as soon as the market opened at 8 a.m. Expected even longer lines Wednesday.

Temporarily, at least, the Fair Food Farmstand has some extra display space, though no sales space. It's in the vacant stall formerly occupied by Everyday Gourmet and, before that, Andros. Squashes and other colorful items point the way to the the farmstand.

The paperwork is moving along for a new pork purveyor who will move into the space formerly occupied by Dutch Country Meats. The stall has a long history of pork vendors dating back to Moyers and Charles Giunta (who now operates Giunta's Prime Shop). The butcher will sell the Stoltzfus Meats' product line, including scrapple and sausages as well as fresh pork. Not determined whether he'd handle deli products. In addition to its store in Intercourse, Stoltzfus sells at the Ardmore Farmers' Market, the New Castle Farmers' Market, and Beechwood Deli at the Fairgrounds Farmers' market, Allentown.

The Philadelphia Daily News' has selected the Reading Terminal Market as recipient of two of its People's Choice Awards: Best Farmers Market and Best Produce.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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