Tag Archives: Deskmates

Deskmates 4: Winter Bounty

Winter fruit is like a secret treasure. Of course, in September the locavore in me is all set to eat nothing but storage apples and berry preserves through the colder months. But by December, I give in and buy the glowing clementines and persimmons that have traveled from warmer latitudes just to brighten my winter. I love walking through Chinatown and looking at all the streetside fruit vendors, and I can never resist taking home a few fat persimmons. Usually I buy the fuyu variety since they can be eaten when firm, and I don’t want to wait for their taller cousins the hachiyas to ripen. To remember which is which, I just repeat to myself “short and sweet” as I choose my fruit.

I count myself among the lucky since I have convenient access to the best greenmarket in the city. Even when the farmers are down to the same sturdy storage apples, greens, roots, and squash, I still walk through knowing I’m in the presence of greatness. I roasted a kabocha and sauteed some kale with garlic, and ate them together for days. Can you believe such delicious things are just out there, growing from the ground?

Another of my new favorite apple varities is the Winter Banana. I first read of it in Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts book, and I was intrigued by the name and description. It’s a lovely pale yellow with a slight blush, and tastes warm and fruity like a golden delicious (one of my least-liked apples), but has a saving tartness that keeps me coming back.

And just to give the reins fully to my apple obsession, here’s a picture of another very special winter banana. I’m a sucker for fruit with leaves attached, especially when said leaf has left a rub mark on the fruit under it. I’m all out of apples at the moment, but it’s Wednesday and I know Union Square has bushels of them, so I’ll have to make time to adopt a few more.

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Deskmates 3: Early Harvest

Every fall, Angel and I await the return of The Grapes. Their name is always capitalized because they’re good enough to merit it. Officially, they’re a variety called Reliance, but that doesn’t quite cover how great they are. They’re not just any juicy red grapes, they’re bursting with the tangy grape-y flavor of Concords, though seedless and not quite as tannic. (I also love Concords, both the seedless and seeded varieties.) We first came across The Grapes at farm stands in upstate New York a few years ago, and ever since, we’ve hunted them down in the city greenmarkets.

One of my new favorite apple varieties is the Spitzenburg, and I’m in good company because apparently it was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple. I’m not quite sure where that bit of trivia comes from, unless there’s a piece of vellum somewhere listing Teenbeat-style likes and dislikes of the hunky 3rd president. Anyway, the Spitzenburg is firm and juicy, with light cider and lemon notes. I always choose apples that still have leaves attached. It gives them so much more character, don’t you think? This particular apple was doubly attractive because in addition to its two perky leaves, it also has three dried flower buds. It was the only blossom among its four branchmates to survive into applehood.

It’s a well-known fact that I am partial to purple vegetables. But really, I could take or leave any of the other purple vegetables (potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, kale) – as long as I could still have their paler siblings, of course. These purple carrots are the ones I really love. It just makes me so happy to slice one open and see its bright orange heart and little orange veins poking through the purple layer. One of my long-held food theories is that colors affect taste (really, if you ate a spinach leaf or a raspberry blindfolded, you’d know what color it was). I think these have a slight bittersweet edge and a hint of fruit flavor. They can keep their color if cooked carefully, but more often than not, they just dye the rest of the food they touch.

The dusky apple in the foreground is an experimental hybrid called NY 428. (Behind it is a Honeycrisp, the indie darling of the apple world). According to its label at the greenmarket, the NY 428 has excellent flavor but does not last long in storage, so it never got a real name. It does indeed have good flavor; it’s fruity, tart, and slightly vinuous. I don’t remember its parentage, but it has some of the qualities of Winesap and Macoun apples. It would make a killer pie, I think, and I’m hoping to test it soon.

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Deskmates 2: Beet Around

I love beets. When they’re roasted for a few hours, they’re so sweet and tender, and the way the deep red flesh moves (and looks) is almost muscular. I’m intrigued by this root that so closely resembles a beating heart.

I also love raw beets. They’re especially good thinly sliced and paired with cucumbers in a light rice wine vinegar and sesame oil dressing. And the striped chioggia beets are prettiest raw. Their colors blend together once cooked, and even if they’ve just been sitting in the salad dressing too long.

The slight astringency of these raw chioggias pairs well with cooked quinoa, more cucumber, chopped parsley and a strawberry vinaigrette. This salad made a brief appearance at a work lunch potluck – it was completely gone by the time I headed back for seconds.

Though I can’t say enough about their texture, taste, and versatility, I think I love beets best for their longevity. I roasted a bunch of beets about a month ago, ate a few, and forgot the rest. Yesterday I discovered them waiting patiently in the back of the fridge without even a hint of mold or decay, and promptly added one to my lunch. There’s one left from that batch, and I’m sure it will still be fine when I get around to eating it in a few days. Then I’ll need to re-stock.

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Deskmates 1: Some Summer Fruit

Introducing my new series, Deskmates. These are the foods that keep me going when I’m at work. Most of them are pictured on my desk, hence the name. Also, I end up eating at my desk while trying to respond to emails and edit drafts way more than I’d like to admit. No leisurely lunchbreaks for me!

At least I can enjoy the fruits of the season at my desk. And I usually stop to buy something at the greenmarket on the way from train to office.

Some of them aren’t even close to being local or in season, like this Minneola from Peru. I’m still not entirely certain of my personal plan for eating local, seasonable, and sustainable foods (besides choosing those as often as possible), but I’m allowing myself the occasional citrus indulgence. Until I move to California, that is, and have my own personal lemon grove. I’ll let you know when that happens.

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Filed under Deskmates, Fruit, Things I Did Not Cook, Work Lunch