Thursday, August 7, 2008

Greenmarket day, August 2, 2008

We went to the Union Square Greenmarket last Saturday. Here's a picture of the booty.

From left, we got duck eggs, corn, puntarelle, heirloom tomato, onions, white eggplant, strawberries, and purple basil.

We still haven't eaten the duck eggs, but it was the first time we've ever bought them. We finally bought some fresh corn. It's so good right now. Mabel says that corn is her favorite food of the moment.

Who doesn't like heirloom tomatoes? But we mistakenly bought a $6 one! Wow. It wasn't really worth it. But Mabel protected that thing like, well, like an heirloom tomato. Someone bumped into her at the market and bruised it a little. In that guy's defense, though, heirloom tomatoes will bruise if you look at them the wrong way.

The onions just looked so perfect that I had to get them. Mabel was mesmerized by the white eggplant. The strawberries were excellent. Their flavor was so concentrated that they tasted like strawberry jam. And the purple basil. I thought that maybe it was amaranth so I was staring at it until the merchant spotted me and asked if I wanted to smell it and handed me a bundle. Well, why not? The purple basil would go perfectly with the yellow tomato for a salad. We picked up some fresh mozzarella on our way home.

I'd never heard of puntarelle, but The Silver Spoon had a recipe for it (citing The River Cafe) that I used as a guide. When I looked it up on the internet later on, I found that the recipe, Puntarelle alla Romana, is a fairly classic treatment. The sauce is a vinegary anchovy mix. We use marinated Alici anchovies that we buy from Murray's. I had no idea what I was going to do with it when I bought the puntarelle, or even really what it was, but Mabel loved it. She had been craving some sort of chicory salad, and this green is pretty much as chicory-y as you're going to get. She deemed it intense.

Comparing it to other pictures of puntarelle from a google search, though, makes me think that the puntarelle we got at the greenmarket was an atypical one. Or one at a different point of growth than when people usually eat it. Or maybe it was mislabeled and I got something completely different. I have no idea. But it was wonderful and we'll be looking out for it again.


momneedsanap said...

That doesn't look like puntarelle. Puntarelle looks like asparagus on top, but has one base instead of individual bases.

Could you have bought early stages of ramps (wild leeks)? But the base on your photo doesn't look like ramps.

Did yours taste like a cross between garlic and onion? Ramps have a really strong garlic taste. Your picture looks delicious anyhow.

momneedsanap said...

By the way, if you're ever in town visiting James & Christine, my husband and I would like to take you and Christine's family to The Corner Place Korean restaurant in LA.

I already told Christine about it when our families spent the day at Malibu beach. She liked the idea since she and James has never been.

David said...

Yeah, it doesn't look like puntarelle. We were at the market again today, and I looked a little closer. It was definitely not mislabeled. Maybe it's a local variant that they just label puntarelle. They were so busy I didn't stop to ask them what the deal was, but maybe I will eventually.

I have no idea how these plants develop, so maybe the bases eventually merge? I think these are off-season plants. It's difficult to get any of this information online, so I'll just have to ask around. They are definitely not ramps. They are intensely bitter with no onion or garlic taste.

I'd love to go to The Corner Place. That sounds like fun.

David said...

I actually went back to the greenmarket for the second time today to pick up some more corn for the week. (They gave me 10 ears for $3!). The stands were winding down, so I asked the person selling puntarelle why it looked different. She said that it is the same plant but that the soil and climate is different where it is grown in Italy. You really do need to be around Rome to get the stuff to form a single base.

But I think it’s great that it’s different in America. That’s local eating for you. You could call it vegetable terroir. She said that the bases are edible, like the Italian puntarelle, and that some people will even roast and eat the roots.