Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Quick Market Post

Tuesdays really are shaping up as the best times to check trends, and although I didn't really need much this time (and didn't buy much), the weather's so nice and the walk is so pleasant there and back, that it was a pleasure to head down there. I took more photos than I bought stuff.

The family that was selling the strawberries all those weeks ago and gradually moved into melons and apricots is going nuts with cherries. I couldn't believe how black these were.

There are all kinds of odd colors around. One stand was selling bunches of multi-colored radishes.

The colors don't really come through as vividly as they exist in real life here, though. Sorry.

Tomatoes are beginning to show up. One stand has huge ones -- bigger than I'd be able to use at the moment -- but still not as large as they're going to get. The tomates anciennes guy was back, and after snapping a picture of his wares, I bought two more San Marzanos and a couple of deformed-looking ones of the sort I had last time that turned out to be incredible (you can see them, on the stem, in the upper right-hand box).

The San Marzanos will be pizza-ized tonight, with a couple of salt-cured anchovies to bring up the saltiness (thanks, David) and the olive oil put on afterwards (thanks, Graham).

In addition, the tomatoes known as coeur de boeuf (beef-heart) are showing up. They look unripe, but according to Colman Andrews, this is the preferred degree of ripeness for Catalan salads. Who knows, maybe Languedocian ones, too. But the tomatoes are quite distinctive.

Some odd fruit is showing up. There were these little things that looked like figs, but were too hard, and were pointed at one end. The skin was yellow with a little red. I finally found the sign with the price and it said "poires." Really? Pears? Then there were these. There was a basket of psychedelic yellow ones nearby, but I couldn't get a shot with both. Some kind of plums?

There was one thing I was looking for that took a bit of time. Starting a couple of weeks ago, potted basil plants started showing up. There was the type I was used to, large green leaves, the same sort I'd planted outside. Then, there was another kind with tiny leaves. I remembered reading in some cookbook when I was just learning how to make pesto where the author was saying "Use the type of basil with the tiny leaves and ignore those lettuce-leaved varieties." I never had the opportunity, but I passed my hand over a couple of these leaves and the smell just jumped out at me. I really should have planted this instead of the other! But instead, I spent €1.50 on a huge bush and brought it home. This is a one-euro-cent coin, smaller than any American coin, for reference here. And yeah, it's going to be a pain to assemble enough leaves for pesto, but I suspect it'll be well worth it.


I haven't gotten around to making pesto from the mini-basil yet, but when I pulled my new, improved San Marzano tomato pizza out of the oven, I scattered a bunch of its leaves on the hot surface just before dousing it with olive oil. (You can't see the anchovies, but they were there and yes, they were the answer to the lack of salt).

I'll be doing that again!


  1. The small cherry like things do seem to be plums, based on the skin blemishes visible in the full-size picture.
    Also saw your "pears" the other day. Small and green (not unlike basil).
    Could it be Poire de Saint Jean as in this forum thread?
    Apparently they can be cooked when green in June.
    Your market looks seriously good by the way, keep up the photos

  2. I've never seen basil like that before. I'll be interested to hear how the pesto turns out . . . with an accompanying recipe of course!

  3. Well, Inez, I already found out, because I made the revised pizza last night, and when it came out of the oven, I tossed a bunch of those leaves on the hot tomatoes before drizzling it with olive oil. That, and the mild anchovies, made the dang thing.

    If you want to take up urban gardening in Berlin, since I seem to be an enabler, lemme know. I can get seeds for this style of basil easily and cheaply and mail 'em to you.

    And Graham, this is all the Marché des Arceaux in Montpellier. C'mon down!

  4. Oh that basil looks good.
    It's lovely to come out of a 'winter' of parsley and walnut pesto to the summer taste of basil.


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