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rlibkind

Reading Terminal Market (Part 2)

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Yesterday's Italian Festival at the Reading Terminal Market nearly didn't happen.

The reason: what many merchants consider a harassing approach by the city's Health Department.

Even the pig paid a price. The roast pig from Cannuli's couldn't be served from a single piece. Instead, the Health Department insisted it be cut up in smaller pieces. Hence, Tom Nicolosi of DiNic's and Rich Foley of Martin's took their knives over to Tootsie's to do the dirty deed. Ostensibly, according to RTM GM Paul Steinke, the inspector thought keeping the animal whole would not allow it to keep at a safe temperature.

The bureaucrats' insistence that one merchant submit a special HAACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) Plan for squeezing orange juice just for this occasion, something he does at his stall with Health Department approval, caused that vendor to withdraw from the festival.

As Steinke delicately told me, there was intense "interaction" with the health inspectors. Some of the merchants were less delicate.

Nonetheless, despite the diffficulties, center court was filled with tables displaying and dispensing Italian goodies, from espresso from Old City Coffee to Italian style beef chuck roast from Dinic's.

It was not, however, the market's first-ever Italian festival. Dom Spataro said one was held in the early 1990s.

Of course, given the number of Italian-American merchants, every day is an Italian festival at the Reading Terminal.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I probably take way more than average person with regards to share of food safety risks, but I still think the whole thing has gone overboard. In an effort to minimize the number of incidents, we're losing an appreciation of what it means to eat well, and taking the joy out of dining.

But although most on eGullet might agree, the majority out there would rather their food be risk-free rather than delicious.

BTW - I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind cutting up the whole roasted pig. The only "safe" temperatures for storing food are under 40 F or over 160 F. So unless refrigerated, merely cutting up the meat wouldn't put it within those ranges.

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Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce offered local strawberries at the Reading Terminal Market today. But only technically. These berries, priced at $5.95/pint (two for $10) were raised indoors, according to Benuel Kauffman. Don't expect to see outdoor grown local strawberries for at least another two weeks, more likely three.

Ben also had some gorgeous looking indoor-grown seedless cukes, at least a foot long each.

Both Iovine Brothers Produce and the Fair Food Farmstand are selling veggies from New Jersey's Flaim Farm. Both, for example, had Flaim's leeks ($1.75/pound at FF, $1.95/pound for smaller examples at Iovine's).

As I wrote last year when Iovine's began carrying Flaim's produce (sometimes marketed under the name Panther), the Vineland farm produces romaine, kohlrabi, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, swiss chard (green, red), rainbow kale, turnips, napa cabbage, squash, eggplant (four varieties), peppers, escarole, endive. tomatillos and scallions on 450 acres. The farm was established in 1934 and is now operated by brothers Kevin and Bob Flaim. They also sell at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market.

Iovine's is also handling another producer's output in common with Fair Food: eggs from Natural Meadow Farms, Lancaster County.

Fair Foods still had fiddleheads today, $16/pound. No sign of ramps anywhere at the market, but FF had some rather pungent fresh spring garlic. IPM asparagus was $3.30/bunch, chemical-free stalks $3.50.

Most of the halibut I see at the Reading Terminal hails from Alaska, usually frozen. Today, at a savings of $7/pound vs. the $18.99 for the Alaskan version, John Yi had firm white filets from Canada. I bought some to try tomorrow. One of the fishmongers said it's slightly "fishier" than the Alaskan version, which is no sin in my book so long as it's fresh. Boston mackerel also made a reappearance at Yi's, $2.99/pound for whole fish.

Jim Iovine was touting tomatoes and corn this week. I tried the former, and they weren't bad: $1.49 pints of cherry tomatoes that, if they didn't quite taste like summer, came close.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Giunta's Prime Shop should begin roasting chickens soon at the Reading Terminal Market, now that proprietor Charles Giunta's legal battle with market management over whether he could add that item to his inventory has been won.

As of yesterday, the rotisserie had been installed, but needs a bit of tweaking before the birds start turning. Expect to see them cooking sometime later this week.

Given the diminutive size of the countertop appliance, it hardly provides significant competition to Dienner's, which has rotisseries lining its back wall.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Rotisserie update: The chickens were going round and round on Charles Giunta's rotisserie today, but they weren't for sale. Charles is still testing and tweaking the device, but hopes to offer birds for public sale this weekend.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Small 'C' potatoes at Iovine (see below)

The Fair Food Farmstand at the Reading Terminal Market had plenty of fiddleheads $16/pound) and ramps ($4/bunch) this afternoon. They are considering adding a ramp supplier from a more northern area of the region, which means at least a few added weeks of availability. Both ramps and fiddleheads were quite fresh and in good shape. I'll be combining the ramps I bought today with mushrooms (both roasted) to accompany leftover flank steak.

Bunches of different greens were prominently displayed at Fair Food today, too, all supplied by Paradise Organics. In addition to a variety of tender greens for salad, you could obtain Lacinato and Curly kales, rainbow chard, collard greens and mustard greens.

A.T. Buzby's Jersey strawberries, available at $5.50/quart Sunday at Headhouse, could be had today at Fair Food, with a markup to $7.

Simply for comparison's sake, I picked up a pint of strawberries at Iovine Brothers' Produce, $2.49, from their contract Bucks County grower, Shadybrook Farm. These berries are smaller than Buzby's giants, but still nice sized. They get the taste test for dessert tonight.

Beyond berries, Iovine offered plenty of other local produce, especially various green things from Flaim Farm in South Jersey. Bunches of spinach were featured out front for 99-cents, but there was also green and red leaf, Boston and romaine lettuces, arugula, dandelion, green chard, leeks, basil, cilantro, radishes and sweet potatoes from Flaim and other South Jersey growers.

They weren't local, but the 'C' sized red and yukon potatoes (photo above) sure looked tempting, especially at 99-cents/pound. Might be time for some potato salad.

Busman's holiday? Tom Nicolosi, proprietor of Dinic's, can't get enough of the heat from his ovens. So he went out and bought himself one of the Green Egg outdoor ceramic barbecues. He started experimenting last weekend and loves it; he even is going to try to make red gravy (Italian tomato meat sauce) in it!

In my garden, the chives are starting to flower. They should be fully open tomorrow when I'll add the edible blooms to salad.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Pierce and Schurr once occupied Stall 820 at the Reading Terminal Market where Martin's Quality Meats continues the butchers' tradition. But they live on through this American Angus Association beef chart poster, which adorns the exterior wall of Martin's walk-in refrigerator. If I recall correctly, Pierce & Schurr lasted until circa 1980 at the market.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Rotisserie update: The chickens were going round and round on Charles Giunta's rotisserie today, but they weren't for sale. Charles is still testing and tweaking the device, but hopes to offer birds for public sale this weekend.

I had a chicken last weekend and it was fantastic! With full disclosure, I did not pay for the chicken, yet I will happily return to purchase one on a rushed weekday evening.

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Martin's Quality Meats at the Reading Terminal Market has got you covered for grilling season, now that recent temperatures have hit the high 80s (though today it's a tad nippier and wetter).

Featured on a low key sign were lamb ribs, $3.29, and beef back ribs, $2.99, in addition to Martin's usual highly varied assortment of sausages.

I took to the grill a couple of days ago with some loin lamb chops I purchased back in early January from Harry Ochs. These two beauties held up well in the freezer. After defrosting I lightly salted them and placed them in a bag for another hour in the fridge, then immediately before grilling applied a dry rub of pepper, rosemary, thyme and garlic powder. Cooked to just half a step beyond rare to an even rose they were incredibly deep in flavor.

A better seafood buy at John Yi's than the New Zealand salmon I disparaged in another post is the Boston mackerel. The very fresh looking dressed fish sold for $2.99/pound. Had I not consumed a smoked, peppered filet from Duck Trap for dinner last night I might have indulged.

One of the pricier fruits at Iovine Brothers today were the black figs at $3.99 apiece! They were next to similarly priced rambutan, a "hairy" relative of the lychee.

Over at Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce, Benuel Kauffman was selling strawberries at $6.95/quart, about the same as the A.T. Buzby IPM quarts over at the Fair Food Farmstand. (You can buy the same Buzby berries Sunday at Headhouse for $5.50/quart). Ben's asparagus was $2.95/bunch.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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After a winter of $2/pound string beans, Iovine Brother's Produce featured good looking ones for 99-cents this weekend.

Other items that drew my attention today were small Georgia peaches, 89-cents, and Kiwis, 5/$1. Green peppers were 99 cents, reds and yellows $1.99, orange peppers $2.99, frying peppers $1.99. Also, beautiful thin bulb scallions (a.k.a. green onions), 2 bunches for $1.49.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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DiNic's goes whole hog. Well, actually a piglet, a 30-pounder to be precise.

Undoubtedly influenced by the popularity of the roast pig from Canulli's he helped carve for the Reading Terminal Market's Italian Festival, Tom Nicolosi, the roast pork mecca's proprietor, will be roasting a whole pig later this week. If all goes well, you can taste it Friday or Saturday.

But it won't be a special item on the menu. As son Joe Nicolosi explains, they'll be using the pig for their regular pulled pork sandwiches.

Cooking time, however, will be considerably longer than the normal seven or eight hours for the butts that make up the standard pulled pork. That's because in addition to the whole pig, it will be stuffed with butts. Cooking time will likely be upwards of 15 hours for the pig and and butts. The pig is being supplied by RTM butcher Charles Giunta who will be giving the Nicolosi's boning instructions as well.

This won't be the first experiment for Tommy Nicolosi. Last year he tried roasting butts with the skin on to provide some extra crunch, but he wasn't pleased with the results. Other experiments have fared considerably better, such as shen he added brisket and the Italian-style pulled pork to the menu a few years ago. If the whole roast pig works out in terms of taste, customer acceptance and economics, expect it to be a regular part of the menu.

Tommy doesn't limit his experimenting to his center court store. Earlier this spring for his South Jersey backyard he purchased a Big Green Egg cooker. He's quite happy the results, even going so far as to cook Sunday gravy (that's Italian red meat sauce) in it. The ability to control temperature is outstanding for a charcoal-fueled grill, he said.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Tomatoes, cherries, strawberries at Kauffman's

Summer is drawing nigh. Just look at the produce at the Reading Terminal Market. At Iovine Brothers' the peaches have crept up from Georgia to South Carolina (and one local farmer said his early varieties will be ready in just a couple of weeks). Strawberries are starting to get soft with a little more mold and will soon disappear, but the first cherries have appeared.

The cherries could be found today at Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce where proprietor Ben was selling pints for $3.95. His English peas, in the hull and snow peas were $3.90/pound, red new potatoes $2.95/pint. Over at the Fair Food Farmstand, snow peas, sugar snaps and English peas were $3.50/pint. You could save considerably on sugar snaps by walking over to Iovine's where they were $1.99/pound; although their provenance was not marked, the one I sampled tasted as about as fresh as what I've found in farmers' markets.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Market Plans Expansion

Space for more vendors in planned $4.5 million renovation

With all possible space completely leased for the first time in more than 16 years and other entrepreneurs wanting to join its roster of vendors the Reading Terminal Market Corporation has drawn up plans for carving out about 3,500 square feet of additional retail space from its existing footprint. It would expand the selling floor by nearly 9 percent from the current 40,000 square feet.

Closer collaboration with Bob Pierson's Farm To City, which operates many of the area's farmers' markets (including the recently inaugurated Sunday market outside the RTM) is part of the plan; that organization is expected to move its staff to enlarged office space at the market.

A Farm-to-City/RTM collaboration augers well for the market's desire to bring some farmers back into the market for direct sales to shoppers. (For more on that see Replacements for Livengoods, below).

Paul Steinke, now in his eighth year as the market's general manager, hopes funding for the expansion and related renovations can be secured by the end of the year and work begin in 2011.

Another benefit from the expansion will be larger restrooms, with a significant number of added stalls for the ladies who form a long line in the aisles when market traffic is heavy.

The genesis of the project was the need to rehabilitate the existing obstreperous freight elevator, which had merchants accessing basement storage areas cursing. The additional retail footage will be created by relocating to the basement current storage and prep space on the market's east side after the existing elevator is fixed and a second elevator installed in an existing unused shaft.

The market's Avenue D aisle, which provides access to the current storage areas, restrooms, and two vendors (Miscellanea Libri and the shoeshine stand) would be moved further west to create the retail space.

The new restrooms would occupy space currently occupied by the market's floor operations staff, La Cucina at the Market and part of the aisle known as 11th Street. Seating and event space would be added next to the relocated La Cucina along Avenue D. More retail space would be carved out on both sides of the new Avenue D.

The additional office space for market office staff and Farm to City would be created by extending the existing office loft over the remainder of Tootsie's Salad Express.

The expansion would take place in phases, starting with the elevator work, after which storage would be moved to the basement. Restrooms would then be expanded, followed by the new retail space and the extention of market office space.

The new Avenue D would temporarily jog around the rear of Flying Monkey Patisserie and L. Halteman Family's meat, deli and produce stall. Eventually, after their leases come up for renegotiation in a few years, Avenue D could be straightened out.

Replacements for Livengoods

No doubt about it, both market shoppers and managers miss Earl Livengood's Saturday-only produce standing selling fresh Lancaster County produce from his farm in center court. Earl declined to return this year, favoring his existing presence at the Bryn Mawr farmers' market and adding King of Prussia on Saturday.

To fill the void Steinke said he is close to adding a rotating series of producers to Livengood's spot. Two produce growers and one non-artisinal cheese-maker are in discussions to occupy the space on Saturdays.


Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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If you stop into your local WAWA you can pick up a small pamphlet that has pass for discounts at the terminal and many other city locations.

Or if you're the printing type hit up this link and have at it.

http://www.michelleafreeman.com/images/ppw.line.pdf


BARS, CAFES, EATS & SWEETS

Carmen's Famous Italian Hoagies*
51 N. 12th Street
215-592-7799; www.readingterminalmarket.org
Hours: Monday- Saturday 8AM-6PM
Description: Authentic Italian hoagies and the best Philly cheesesteaks in the Reading Terminal Market.
Discount: 10% off any hoagie with purchase of a fountain drink. Must present pass before upon ordering.

Famous 4th. Street Cookie Co.*
51 N. 12th Street
215-922-3535; www.famouscookies.com
Hours: Monday- Saturday 9:30AM- 5PM; Sunday 9:30AM-4PM
Description: Baking and serving 12 different types of cookies from chocolate chip to cinnamon raisin walnut.
Discount: 10% off

Metropolitan Bakery*
51 N. 12th Street
215-829-9020; www.metropolitanbakery.com
Hours: Monday- Saturday 8AM-6PM; Sunday 9AM-5PM
Description: Producing delicious breads and confections with a deep belief in thoughtful preparation using high quality and locally sourced ingredients.
Discount: 15% off. Valid at 19th Street and Reading Terminal Market locations only

Olympic Gyro*
51 N. 12th Street
215-629-9775; www.readingterminalmarket.org
Hours: Monday-Saturday 9AM-6PM; Sunday 9AM-5PM
Description: Specializing in homemade Greek food- gyros, souvlaki, spankopita, and baklava.
Discount: Free Baklava with the purchase of a sandwich

SHOPPING

Herbiary*
51 N. 12th Street
215-238-9938; www.herbiary.com
Hours: Monday - Saturday 8AM - 6PM; Sunday 9AM - 5PM
Description: Selling bulk herbs, teas, tinctures, essential oils, flower essences, nutritional supplements, and body care products. All products are either organic, wildcrafted, or cultivated without chemicals.
Discount: 10% off

EDIT: Forgot to link the other locations you can use it. http://www.welcomeamerica.com/patriot-pass-discounts


Edited by Conal (log)

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I visited the Reading Terminal Market today for the first time in more than a month, arriving just after they opened the doors so I could avoid the crush later for the Ultimate Ice Cream Festival.

My first stop (photo above) was to check out the status of summer produce at Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce, where proprietor Benuel complained about how hot it's been. (Why should he be different than anyone else?)

The mid-summer stone fruits were greatly in evidence: sugar and yellow plums for $2/pint, yellow peaches for $2.49/pound, pinks for $2.99, apricots $2.95/pint. Despite reading elsewhere the the blueberry season would be abbreviated this year, Ben had plenty, though pricey at $4.95/pint. Silver King corn was 50 cents an ear. Tomatos: beefstakes $3.49/pound, cherries $4.95/pint, Sun Golds $3/pint, heirlooms $4.99/pound

Sweet white corn picked yesterday was also 50-cents an ear (6/$2.59) at the Fair Food Farmstand. Organic purple eggplant $3.50/pound, Fairytale $4.50. Heirloom tomatoes here were $5.75/pound, organic fields $4, Sun Golds $5/pint. Stone fruits: nectaries and white and yellow peaches $2.50/pound; apricots $3.50/pint, all varieties of plums (Shiro, sugar, Early Gold) $3.50/pint. Lemon cucumbers $3/pound, baby white cukes $3.75. Musk melons (cantelopes) from A.T. Buzby were $4.50 each.

L. Halteman ususally has some of the best deals in local produce and today was no exception with peaches going for $1.99/pound, apricots $2.59/pint, sugar plums $2.89/pint. The musk melons were $1.29 each, or two for $2. Whole round yellow watermelons were $5.19 apiece. Blueberries $3.29/pint, $5.49/quart. Corn was 3/$1, field tomatoes $2.99, Brandywines $4.19 a quart (3 large tomatoes).

Over at Iovine Brothers Produce the corn was also three for a buck. Limes were 10 for a buck, Hass avocados $1.49. Jersey field tomatos 99-cents, Jersey green peppers $1.49/pound, red long hots and frying peps the same price. String beans $1.99. Jersey blueberries $1.99/pint. California black figs were $1.99 a pack (eight ounces). White and red seedless grapes were $1.49/pound, blacks $1.99.

Since I'm just back from Norway I had to check the fish at John Hi, where dry scallops were quite high at $18.99/pound. Among the salmons, farm-raised Norwegian was about $10/pound while wild Alaskan King and Sockeye were $17.99 and $14.99, respectively. There was also New Zealand "wild" king, $15.99, but it's undoubtedly farm-raised despite the sign.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Elizabeth Halen, who's been blogging about baking and other food topics over at Foodaphilia, can't resist the urge to turn avocation to vocation. So she's bought the Reading Terminal Market outpost of Flying Monkey Patisserie.

The seller, Flying Monkey founder Rebecca Michaels, plans to continue to operate the cupcakerie at 1112 Locust St.

Halen doesn't officially take over until Oct. 1, but she can frequently be found at the center court stall now. She plans to expand beyond the cupcakes, brownies and bar cookies in the current offerings. You might want to check out the recipe list on her blog to get an idea of the possibilities.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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You have have noticed some new flavors at Bassetts Ice Cream stall in the Reading Terminal Market, including Mango, Green Tea and Macadamia Nut.

Those flavors, which sell respectably in Philadelphia, are big hits in China, where Bassetts has sold its ice cream for the past two years. Michael Strange, proprietor of Bassetts, says he's shipped hundreds of tons since starting in May 2008.

The 40-foot containers are trucked to Port Newark-Elizabeth on a regular basis for export from Bassett's contract plant near Johnstown, Galliker Dairy Co. The ice cream is distributed in the Beijing area.

Strange said he had had inquiries in the past to sell abroad, but the deals always fell apart. The Chinese deal, however, has taken off like hotcakes, er, ice cream on a summer day.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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The Amish haven't always been at the Reading Terminal Market, though it might seem that way. They've certainly been there since I started shopping there in 1982. In fact, they only arrived two years prior.

How the Amish set up shop underneath the Reading Railroad's hub was retold by Steve Algott at today's market event commemorating the 30th anniversary of Amish merchants at the Reading Terminal Market. Algott was assigned the task of managing the property when the Reading Company's real estate arm reasserted control with the ending of the master lease held by Center City landlord Sam Rappaport.

One of Algott's first moves was to evict eight of the remaining 18 tenants whose businesses didn't fit the Reading Company's vision for the space under the tracks. Among the remaining tenants whose businesses are still active are Pearl's Oyster Bar, Harry Ochs, Bassetts, Halteman's, John Yi and Godshall's.

Algott found Amish tenants to occupy the northwest corner of the market, where most of the evicted tenants were located, at Booth's Corner Market, a conglomeration of Amish merchants in Chester County that's been around for 80 years. On the spot he met with Sam Fisher who agreed to bring his and other businesses to the Reading Terminal on a handshake deal.

As Algott tells the story, he immediately told Fisher he'd return to the city and draw up the lease papers. To which Fisher responded Algott would have to rely on the handshake: the Amish wouldn't sign leases. Algott went back to his Reading Company superiors with his "good news" (I've got tenants) and "bad news" (they won't sign a lease). But the Reading Company took the chance, and the Amish came, bringing their familes to start businesses in downtown Philadelphia. The rest, as they say, is history.

In addition to Algott, other speakers at the noontime ceremony in the seating area behind Miller's Twist's pretzel stand included David Esh, one of the first Amish tenants and operator of Hatfield Deli. Among the original Pennsylvania Dutch who remain are Dienner's Bar-B-Q, Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe (formerly Fisher's), and Esh.

Also in attendance were Steve Park, the first general manager of the RTM for the Reading Company, and his successor, David K. O'Neill, under whose tenure the market attracted scores of additional vendors and undertook the modernization program concurrent with the building of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

To O'Neil, the presence of the Amish reflect one of the keys to a market's success: a gathering place where people can come together.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Did anyone else see the monstera fruit that Iovine has had the past couple of weeks? I picked one up and it was rather interesting. I wouldn't say it is my favorite fruit, but it is well worth trying

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The Amish haven't always been at the Reading Terminal Market, though it might seem that way. They've certainly been there since I started shopping there in 1982. In fact, they only arrived two years prior.

How the Amish set up shop underneath the Reading Railroad's hub was retold by Steve Algott at today's market event commemorating the 30th anniversary of Amish merchants at the Reading Terminal Market. Algott was assigned the task of managing the property when the Reading Company's real estate arm reasserted control with the ending of the master lease held by Center City landlord Sam Rappaport.

One of Algott's first moves was to evict eight of the remaining 18 tenants whose businesses didn't fit the Reading Company's vision for the space under the tracks. Among the remaining tenants whose businesses are still active are Pearl's Oyster Bar, Harry Ochs, Bassetts, Halteman's, John Yi and Godshall's.

Algott found Amish tenants to occupy the northwest corner of the market, where most of the evicted tenants were located, at Booth's Corner Market, a conglomeration of Amish merchants in Chester County that's been around for 80 years. On the spot he met with Sam Fisher who agreed to bring his and other businesses to the Reading Terminal on a handshake deal.

As Algott tells the story, he immediately told Fisher he'd return to the city and draw up the lease papers. To which Fisher responded Algott would have to rely on the handshake: the Amish wouldn't sign leases. Algott went back to his Reading Company superiors with his "good news" (I've got tenants) and "bad news" (they won't sign a lease). But the Reading Company took the chance, and the Amish came, bringing their familes to start businesses in downtown Philadelphia. The rest, as they say, is history.

In addition to Algott, other speakers at the noontime ceremony in the seating area behind Miller's Twist's pretzel stand included David Esh, one of the first Amish tenants and operator of Hatfield Deli. Among the original Pennsylvania Dutch who remain are Dienner's Bar-B-Q, Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe (formerly Fisher's), and Esh.

Also in attendance were Steve Park, the first general manager of the RTM for the Reading Company, and his successor, David K. O'Neill, under whose tenure the market attracted scores of additional vendors and undertook the modernization program concurrent with the building of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

To O'Neil, the presence of the Amish reflect one of the keys to a market's success: a gathering place where people can come together.

What is the attraction of the products offered by the Amish vendors? I live in lancaster County and I can tell you that the growing process of the Amish is not in any way superior to any small local farm. In particular any animal products. There is nothing wrong with their stuff. But it is no better than that offered by many non-Amish vewndors. Do people think that what they offer is of a higher quality or better some how? When I visit the RTM I observe the Amish run baked goods stand and always say to myself, Whats up with that? Nothing special there at all.

I guess in the city the Amish are seen as something special. Where I live, they are just like everybody else. Trying to make a buck or two.

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Mike, I agree with your analysis entirely. In fact, I am not at all a lover of Amish baked goods -- they are simply way too sweet for me, which is why I passed up the free slices of shoo fly pie they were passing out at the ceremony.

What IS important about the Pennsylvania Dutch and the RTM is the fact that by attracting them as vendors, the Reading Company and RTM management provided draw for customers and cemented the RTM as the go-to food emporium in center city.

Back to the food. It's hard to find the variety of barrel pickles anywhere else in town that the pickle stall offers, and for quite some time one of the Amish stalls was one of the few place I could count on finding lard-fried potato chips in center city. And let's face it, the fresh made pretzels are way better than those you find in airports and malls! And until the Fair Food Farmstand was established, Benuel Kauffman's offered the widest variety of local produce, the good efforts of the Iovine brothers notwithstanding. And although I'm not a huge fan of it, where else in Center City can you find souse?


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Monstera fruit is sweet and tastes a bit like pineapple but not as sweet. One guy at Iovine described it as similar to jackfruit but I am not familiar enough with jackfruit to say if that is accurate or not.

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It's the season for cruciferous vegetables, including the brassicas.

Here are some broccoli and cauliflower displayed by Ben Kauffman at his Lancaster County Produce stall at the RTM:

101015cruciferousben.jpg

The Iovine Brothers are no slouches when it comes to brassicas. The red and savoy cabbages below sold for 69 cents a pound last week, the green cabbage 50 cents.

101015cabbagesiovine.jpg

The Iovine's have also had some great deals on peppers recently. Today both non-local orange and local green bell peppers were bargans, 99 cents a pound iirc. Frying peppers from South Jersey were 79 cents, and red peppers $1.49.

101015peppersiovine.jpg


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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101023cactuspearsoklee.jpg

O.K. Lee had some gorgeous cactus pears today at a bargain two for a buck. I've used them for sorbet, and also in margaritas, though I'd imagine they would work in other cocktails, including mojitos. The color of the juice is intense, making any beverage made from it a great showpiece. Four fruits should yield about a cup of juice.

Quick thought for another use: make a sugar syrup with it and drizzle atop vanilla ice cream.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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