Thursday, February 16, 2012


I can't help but notice the amount of fruit and vegetables in the Fairway Market's produce area in Douglaston. That's probably due to the first thing encountered outside the store is featured produced and the first section when you enter. Rows of produce and and array to choose from. Then there is a full wall of organic produce to boot.

There is much in season, so where is it all coming from? I arranged an interview with Peter Romano, the Produce Manager for all of the Fairway Markets as I first ask about where the produce is coming from, since most of it is out of season. He told me that it's coming from the USA as well as countries such as Costa Rica, Peru, Chile and Argentin, where they engage in great farming practices.

The next subject was organic produce which is his preference as well making up of 14 percent of the sales. Grown on a soil that has been free of spray for at least three years. "I can tell the flavor". It's cleaner and doesn't have all of that residue." We talked about thick skinned fruits and vegetables where it doesn't matter as much, such as avocados and bananas.

Citrus fruits was the next topic. Cara Cara, resembling an orange, are pinkish in the inside and sweeter than an orange. Meyer lemons are thin skinned and sweeter than regulars lemons. Although there are 3 types of blood oranges, the one featured is called Moro, red in the inside, sweet, but tart. Mandarin oranges are small and "sweet as sugar". Pomelos look like large grapefruits. White in the inside and sweeter than a grapefruit.

On to mushrooms. Baby bella are in the portobella family. White standard mushrooms are cultivated, not wild and most common. Shittake have a great flavor. Portobella can be substituted for a steak. They buy them with no stem so that there is no waste. Great for grilling and put into a roll.

Whereas most people focus on apples, I wanted to focus on pears, all grown in Washington State. Bosc are hard and crunchy. Should be bought brown. They don't spoil easily and has the longest shelf life.

Bartlett should be eaten when ripe and although not the juiciest are sweet with a little tartness. Two varieties an Anjou one red that are sweet and more for eating vs the green used for cooking...mostly pouching.

When it comes to the sweetest and juiciest it's the Comice, called the King of the pears. Soft when ripe (yellowish). Seckel pears are sweet, crunchy and more bite size.

Organic beets and carrots was the next subject. I spotted beets that were orange in color and called golden beets. Peter said that these beets are less sweet than the red but more gentle on the palate. The particular carrots that I was looking at were thin with the leaves coming out as if they were just picked from the garden. They are one step up from baby carrots and sweet.

You say tomato and I say tomato. All of the tomatoes at this time are coming from the greenhouse. Kumato tomatoes are the best! They are more purple in color and small. Sweetest tomatoes and great in a salad. Best time to get heirloom tomatoes are in the summer, which are multi-color.

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