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rlibkind

Reading Terminal Market (Part 2)

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I recall having seen seafood sausage at D'Angelo's on 9th Street in the Italian Market. No clues on the casings though. Might be worth calling over there to see what it's made from.


Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Hey Bob-Speaking of gumbo, anyplace you know of in the market that has seafood sausage in a non pork casing? I don't think Martin's has it...We're making a seafood gumbo for someone that doesn't eat meat...if not the Terminal, do you know anyplace else? Thanks! Tarte Tatin

Not sure about fish, but I've gotten turkey sausage without pork casing from Trader Joe's.

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breadfruit.jpg

When William Blight set sale on the HMS Bounty to the South Seas to collect breadfruit trees, his goal was to bring them to the Carribean to see if they could become a crop suitable for feeding slaves working sugar cane fields and refineries. You don't have to resort such extreme measures. They're available at Iovine Brothers Produce at the Reading Terminal Market for $1.99 a pound.

When one of the cook's at the Down Home Diner, a native of Trinidad, spotted them he quickly grabbed a few for roasting.

Despite its name, breadfruit is treated as as a vegetable, not a fruit. The fibrous flesh, a staple in many tropical regions, can be either roasted, baked, fried, steamed or boiled. It's taste and texture is loosely compared to potato or fresh-baked bread. In the Caribbean it is sometimes mashed with bacalao, olive oil and cooked onions. The seeds are also edible, and are likened to chestnuts in flavor and texture.

Although primarily used as a substitute for other starchy vegetables, it can also be used as a pie filling, though usually in combination with chocolate, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, sweet yams or taro.

The National Tropical Botanical Garden's website offers a number of recipes here.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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This being the winter doldrums, at least as far as fresh produce is concerned, my posts normally decline in quantity this time of year. This winter of near-blizzards is no exception, but the weekend before last caused me to alter my opinion, slightly, about a root vegetable I've regularly slighted: the humble rutabaga, a.k.a. Swede, a.k.a. Yellow Turnip.

The cause of my conversion is the delicately-flavored smallish specimens which have been on sale at the Reading Terminal Market's Fair Food Farmstand since the onset of winter. They hail from Vermont's Deep Root Organics. a cold storage coop on the northern climes of the Green Mountain State.

Along with parsnips from the same coop and supermarket "baby" carrots, they became the vegetable component of a Valentine's Day dinner I composed for my Valentine, who has always held the rutabaga in high esteem (must be her Scandinavian heritage). I cut the veggies into half-inch dice, tossed with a minimum coating of olive oil, along with a little thyme, salt, pepper, a scant teaspoon of sugar (to encourage browning) and roasted them in the oven.

To my amazement, the rutabaga actually tasted good! Maybe it was the sugar, maybe it was the roasting, since my previous encounters with rutabagas had always been simply mashed with butter. But these roasted rutabagas had a more subtle countenance than the mash, so that the flavor note I previously found offensive became appealing. Will wonders never cease?

The veggies accompanied filet mignon, a cut she enjoys but I rarely prepare for myself because of its lack of flavor compared to other cuts of steaks, though its tenderness is always to be admired. This beef came from Harry Ochs, and the combination of high quality beef and the method of preparation made it a hit, even with me. I simply seared it in a pan, three minutes on a side over medium high heat to get a nice char (not disturbing the meat except once, to turn turn it), then finished it off in a 450F oven for another four minutes for medium, my Valentine's preferred doneness. While it rested on a warm platter under foil, I made a pan reduction with cream sherry finishing with a small knob of butter. Although I prefer my steaks rarer, this retained just enough pinkness to remind it came from a living thing, and had great flavor.

Dessert was a sampling of truffles from Neuchatel Chocolates of Oxford, Pennsylvania, every bit as good as any truffle we've had. The creations from Swiss chocolatier Albert Lauber can be had at the Pennsylvania General Store.


Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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The bargain of the week at Iovine Brother's Produce at the Reading Terminal Market appears to be lettuce.

Displayed front and center yesterday were four varieties, each priced at two heads for a buck: Romaine, Green Leaf, Red Leaf, and Iceberg.

Although there's nothing wrong with a nice green salad, or a wedge of Iceberg with freshly made blue cheese dressing, it seems a good time of year to consider making Lettuce Soup. Cooked with some potato, one of more members of the allium family, and herbs, pureed and finished with a wee bit of butter, it's a fitting dish for winter, but a relief from root vegetables.

The Chilean grape harvest is approaching peak, and prices have dropped accordingly at Iovine's. One-pound clamshells of white seedless were available for a buck, tray-packed bunches for $1.49. Iovine's also had a variety labeled "Tomcat", but at $5.99/pound I passed them by. They are a variety of Muscat, one of the original grape varieties, and are sweeter than the norm.

It might be a good week for making guacamole. Iovine's also featured ripe and ready avocados (don't store them for long!) at 50 cents apiece. Limes were a reasonable four for a buck.

Over to the fishmongers. I haven't done a taste comparison, but Golden Fish has been selling "dry" scallops for $13.99, a considerable savings versus John Yi, where they sell for $17.99. Golden also has something I haven't seen at the other stalls: unagi, Japanese barbecued eel, $6.99 a pack.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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100227herbiary.jpg

The Herbiary opened for business Wednesday at the Reading Terminal Market, just in time for the Flower Show. They specialize in medicinal herbs, tinctures, essential oils, dietary supplements and other plant, and nature-based remedies. The Herbiary is located adjacent to Contessa's French Linens, across from the Cookbook Stall.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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For years I've been looking at "Mountain Trout" displayed as filets at the Reading Terminal Markets' fishmongers, knowing full well they weren't trout, but not quite sure what they were. Down in Baltimore they call this "Lake Trout".

Today I noticed (at Golden Fish) a sign which identified them, parenthetically, as hake, which is a member of the cod family, as is its very close cousin, the Whiting, which is usually found hereabouts as Silver Whiting, but sometimes called Silver Hake, as if things aren't confusing enough.

All the varieties are interchangeable, as least as far as culinary purposes are concerned. All are suitable for frying, steaming, poaching and baking, though broiling or grilling would be too extreme for these delicate and very mild-tasting fishies. Hake are the most popular fresh fish in Spain, and take particularly well to parsley and potatoes.

In other seafood news, Golden Fish is carrying a new item, head-on shrimp, $7.99/pound. You could probably save a bit by walking over to Chinatown, since that's where Golden procures these formerly frozen farm-raised crustaceans from China.

Nobody asked me, but . . .

Why is farm-raised striped bass more expensive that wild striped bass, a.k.a. rockfish: $6.99 vs. $4.99 at John Yi.

In the event you're wondering, the King salmon at John Yi (and just abou anywhere else) is farm-raised from British Columbia. Like it's Atlantic cousin, it gets its color from feed.

The Produce News

Cucumbers galore at O.K. Lee, including two seedless (or nearly so) varieties: Japanese and English. The former are a buck for what appears to be a one-pound bag with about six of the five or six-inch cukes. The latter are two 16-inches for a buck.

OKL also has bags of green seedless grapes for a buck (a tad more expensive if on trays) and Hass avocados at 49-cents apiece (essentially the same price as Iovine's where they're two for a buck).

Another cucumber-like item normally found in Chinatown made its way to the RTM today: Iovine Brother's had Bitter Melon sitting next to the bell peppers, $2.99/pound.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I haven't been to RTM in many years, but as a native of York, every time I do go, I get an almost overwhelming rush of nostalgia, both for RTM itself and for the great old covered markets in downtown York. Somehow they smelled so incredibly similar.

I'll be spending two days in Philadelphia this week and definitely plan to stop at the Market... I know everything fresh is out of season, but would still love to enjoy some favorite prepared foods from my childhood. That means Pa Dutch favorites like red-beet eggs, Lebanon bologna (can't believe I'm saying that, but it's true!) etc. For dessert: I can get all kinds of fancy pastry here in NYC, so what I really hope to find in Philly is the opposite - whoopie pies, that sort of thing. No fancy cupcakes, I don't care how good they are.

Any places I should be sure to hit?


Edited by mig (log)

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Depends which two days you're spending. The PA Dutch vendors are generally only at the market Wed. or Thurs.-Saturday. Go to the Arch Street side of the market and check out the Hatville Deli. They have great Lancaster style cold cuts (including delicious Lebanon Bologna), cheeses and fresh tubs of whipped butter. The other PA Dutch vendors are centered around the Arch Street side of the market, so you should be able to find all those things that you miss.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I know it's too late now, but the PA Dutch vendors will often open for the whole week on weeks when events like the Flower Show take place. I had a Miller's Twist pretzel on Tuesday this week, and reminded myself why I don't go to the RTM on weeks like this.

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Wifi Whiffs at RTM

The free WiFi network at the Reading Terminal Market has been down for about a week. So bring your 3G card if you want to surf or retrieve your email.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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American industrial agriculture, in its never-ending quest to sell more and meet perceived needs that really aren't, has unveiled a new fruit, the plumogranite.

Vinnie Iovine of Iovine Brothers Produce, Reading Terminal Market, says it should arrive sometime in July from California. It's basically a pluot (a plum-apricot hybrid) which has been endowed through botanical science with high anti-oxidant levels similar to those of pomegranate, hence the triple-combo name.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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There's a bit of a discrepency in the prices of a particular poultry at the Reading Terminal Market.

At Godshall's Poultry, capons are priced at $3.99/pound while across the aisle at Giunta's Prime Shop they are $1.99. Giunta is selling birds produced by Eberly, which are free-range and surgically altered (which is more expensive for producers than chemically altered). I don't know whose birds Godshall's is selling, they they were marked free-range and naturally-fed, so I suspect they were surgically altered also.

If the birds weren't so big (capons usually run somewhere around 8-12 pounds), I'd do a taste test.

If you haven't tried one, do so. particularly if you favor breast meat, since capons, due to their alteration, have significantly larger breasts. Roast them just like a chicken; they'll just need more time because of the size.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Bill Beck of Beck's Cajun Café says he's solved his beignet problem and assures me they're light and fluffy inside, and crispy on the exterior. I haven't tried them to confirm yet.

They are available on Wednesdays and Sundays only. Bill's beignet man (who comes in the night before to prep the dough) makes only enough for 30 orders each day.

Beck tried the beignets last year, but the results were inconsistent at best. He shut down beignets until he could invest the time to figure out what was goint wrong and fix it.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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The chives in the backyard container started to shoot up last week, enough so I could clip some as a soup garnish last evening. But that doesn't mean we'll see local produce anytime soon. Maybe we'll see ramps (and they won't be local) by late March, and perhaps some tiny potatoes from Earl Livengood by mid-April, but asparagus will have to wait for late April, and strawberries another three weeks or so beyond that.

But if you're hankering for spring, there's alway Mexico and California. Iovine's Brother Produce offered asparagus and strawberries this week at reasonable prices, and the quality didn't look bad.

The Mexican asparagus, $1.99 for a one-pound bunch, was thin and bright green; though the purple-topped local variety will no doubt be tastier, these didn't look bad.

The California berries were huge, if not fully ripe. $2.50 for a one-pound clamshell.

Cacus pears must be in season in Mexico and Southwest. Both Iovine's and O.K. Lee have been selling them at bargain prices. The former had slightly smallish ones today at five for a buck today.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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First time I've ever spied it at the Reading Terminal Market, but Golden Fish had conch today, $12.99/pound.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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When Charles Giunta opened Giunta's Prime Shop at the Reading Terminal Market a couple years ago his goal was to offer natural, hormone-free meats. It didn't work. As Charlie has complained to me on numerous occasions, customers like all-natural, hormone-free, no-antibiotics beef, but few want to pay the freight. Price beats all.

As evidence, he points out that the Reading Terminal Market has the highest volume of food stamp purchases in the state, and these shoppers have to be particularly thrifty. Shoppers who are fortunate enough not to need food stamps are just as thrifty. With few exceptions they also buy on price, though just like food stamp shoppers they seek the best possible quality for their buck.

The market for the premium meat remains small. Either of the city's two Whole Foods store, which carry hormone-free, natural meats exclusively, sell only half the dollar volume that he does each week, Giunta estimates. Even Harry Ochs, long renowned as the market's premier butcher specializing in prime meats, doesn't move much of the good stuff: look at Ochs' cases and you'll see nearly half the space taken up by prepared foods and Boar's Head deli meats; much of the fresh meat that remains, while certainly of high quality, is conventionally-raised.

Although Giunta has concluded he can't make a living if he relied on all-natural product, that doesn't mean he won't stop trying to make it work, at least for part of his business.

This weekend, you can expect to see all-natural, hormone-free, antibiotic-free meats from Peterson & Shaner, a small-scale operation in Douglassville, not far from Pottstown. Peterson & Shaner raises about 50 head of Black Angus for slaughter each year, as it has since the 1950s. The beef is grass fed until shortly before slaughter, when they are switched to corn and other grains grown on the farm. They are shipped only so far as a Quakertown slaughterhouse for processing, with the carcasses sent back to Douglassville where individual customers can order whole sides which are they butchered while they watch (and the customer does his or her own packing). They hang the beef for two weeks before they let the customer do the packing.

Because Peterson & Shaner doe not use growth hormones, the sides are smaller than most commercial beef, which means the steaks and other cuts will be smaller (though you can always get a thicker cut of steak if you want more meat). It also means don't expect any filet mignons, since the tenderloins are much too small.

Giunta made a trip Sunday to Douglassville and came back with three sides, which he's starting to cut today. As of this morning, he's still figuring out the pricing, but expect them to be a few bucks a pound more than his usual product.

If you want have access to this type of quality beef at the Reading Terminal Market, bite the bullet and go buy some this weekend. If Giunta doesn't move it at a price at which he can make a fair profit, don't expect to see it in the future.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Earlier this week Iovine Brothers Produce featured California strawberries at $1.99 for a one-pound clamshell. Yesterday they added Florida berries at the same price. As good as they looked and smelled, I'm still holding off until our local berries appear in May, though if you're hankering for a strawberry strawcake there's no reason to wait.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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100331ramps.jpg

It must be spring, because Iovine Brothers Produce touted the first ramps of the season this week.

They're only $1.99 a bunch . . . but the bunches are very small. The one I picked out seemed the heftiest, and it weighed out at only two ounces. That puts the cost at somewhere around $16/pound. It's a good thing a little goes a long way. I plan to use them with some halibut tonight.

Also featured at Iovine's this week:

* California strawberries, $1 for a one-pound pack

* Lettuces, 99-cents a head (romaine, iceberg, green and red leaf)

* Asparagus (U.S.), pencil thin, $1.99/bunch

* Seedless grapes, $1 for one-pound pack


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Wan's Seafood has the first Boston mackerel I've seen this season, but it was pretty wan-looking, and pricey at $3.49. Better to wander over to John Yi's or Golden Seafood: both were selling Spanish mackerel, $2.99 at the former, $3.49 at the latter. Spanish mackerel is just as tasty as the Boston variety, and quite similar in taste and a tad more meaty.

Speaking of seafood, you could get your shrimp and grits for breakfast today at the Down Home Diner. The Rock Shrimp Scampi and Grits special was $7.99.

Iovine Brothers Produce still had ramps, $1.99 for a bunch of four to six. Earlier this week I par-boiled the whites, chiffonaded the greens and added them to a foil package of halibut, carrots and parnips before baking for 17 minutes at 425F.

In addition to the ramps Iovine's had another sign of spring, California strawberries, $1 for a one-pound clamshell. And to go with them you could buy intensely ruby-red rhubarb from the Pacific Northwest, $3.99/pound.

A new item at Iovine's is Tropicana-branded clementines. It's the end of the season, but this Califormia citrus, selling at $5.99 for a five-pound box, had an intense, alluring aroma when you break them open.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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After 17 years, Earl Livengood is leaving the Reading Terminal Market. But come May the market will add a farmers' market on Sundays with up to 14 growers and value-added producers.

In recent years the Lancaster farmer and hauled his produce to the market, leaving his wife Joyce to staff the stall with a helper while he trekked to the Bryn Mawr farmers' market. This year, prompted by declining sales at the RTM, he decided to avoid the mileage by continuing at Bryn Mawr on Saturdays while adding a new market at the Upper Merion Township Building in King of Prussia.

The market's fees may not have been the major reason for Earl's departure; his rents ranged from $25 to $75/day, with the higher fee levied at the peak of the local produce season. A bigger influence my have been the competition due to the availability of local produce at the Fair Food Farmstand, Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce, O.K. Lee and Iovine Brothers

Livengood will continue to sell his produce (and son Dwain's beef) Tuesedays at South and Passyunk and Thursdays at Fairmount.

Paul Steinke, RTM general manager, learned of Livengood's decision Thursday. At the spot in center court where Livengood has sold since 1993 Steinke installed a table and a commemorative book, which shoppers could sign wishing the Livengood's good fortune in their non-RTM endeavors. No doubt Steinke wants to keep in Livengood's favor, should Earl find the other Saturday venues not as profitable and wish to return. Steinke would welcome him back with open arms.

The farmers market will begin either the second or third week of May across 12th street, next to the outdoor Parkway parking lot between Arch and Cuthbert streets. There's space for 14 vendors (no sandwich vendors). Farm To City, which will manage the market for the RTM, has lined up nearly half a dozen sellers so far, and hopes to fill it out by opening. Hours will 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, with possible expansion to another day if demand warrants.

Jim Iovine, who owns Iovine Brothers with sibling Vinnie, told me he welcomes the competition. If it draws additional shoppers to the RTM, Iovine figures he'll get more business from buyers who can't meet all their needs at the outdoor venue. Iovine said Sunday remains one of his busiest days, third behind Saturday and Friday.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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The chickens have come home to roast. For Charles Giunta that's a good thing.

A ruling today by Common Pleas Court Judge Mark I. Bernstein gave Giunta the right to sell hot rotisserie chicken from his stall at the Reading Terminal Market, Giunta's Prime Shop.

Giunta had been seeking to sell the cooked birds for more than a year, but was turned down by RTM General Manager Paul Steinke on the basis that Giunta's lease did not permit him to sell hot foods. Giunta sued the market and today Judge Bernstein ruled from the bench that there's nothing in the lease to prevent the butcher from selling the rotisserie chicken.

The market's board holds a regular meeting tomorrow and will consider whether or not to appeal.

Steinke said Giunta's lease was written to allow the vendor to sell pre-cooked meats for consumption at home as well as prepared meats (for instance, stuffed meats) for cooking at home, much as Harry Ochs & Sons does.

Also influencing Steinke's initial rejection of Giunta's request was concern it would harm the existing business of another merchant, Dienner's Bar-B-Q, which deals primarily in rotisserie chicken.

The suit has been simmering for about a year, but unlike the highly publicized and emotional battle with Rick Olivieri of Rick's Steaks, which took on the dimensions of the personalities involved, this was "strictly business". It totally lacked the histrionics of the earlier case which resulted in a settlement in the market's favor in which Olivieri left the market.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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The chickens have come home to roast. For Charles Giunta that's a good thing.

A ruling today by Common Pleas Court Judge Mark I. Bernstein gave Giunta the right to sell hot rotisserie chicken from his stall at the Reading Terminal Market, Giunta's Prime Shop.

...

The suit has been simmering for about a year, but unlike the highly publicized and emotional battle with Rick Olivieri of Rick's Steaks, which took on the dimensions of the personalities involved, this was "strictly business". It totally lacked the histrionics of the earlier case which resulted in a settlement in the market's favor in which Olivieri left the market.

Don't understand the comparison. Nothing spiteful or vengeful by the RTM board in this litigation. Nobody's livelihood was usurped. Market tradition wasn't trampled.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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The Fair Food Farmstand at the Reading Terminal Market had great ramps and fiddleheads this week. Thursday I parboiled the fiddleheads, completed cooking by steaming, then finished by tossing them in a little olive oil and garlic. Great accompaniment to some sockeye salmon from Trader Joe's I had defrosted.

Both Fair Food and Iovine Brothers Produce offered two types of asparagus yesterday. At Fair Food it was certified organic vs. the less expensive IPM (Integrated Pest Management). At Iovine's New Jersey stalks were $3.99 vs. $2.99 from those from California.

Over at John Yi's the soft shell crabs are back, pricey as usual: four for $20.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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