Alhambra Farmers Market
The Alhambra Source visits the Sunday morning farmer's market once again, this time for classic fall fruits. (Yes, this is Southern California, but we are craving that crisp-weather flavor this time of year when it's a bit brisker.) What makes a pear Asian? We explore that and what to do with its pair, the Bartlett. Then we discover more apple varieties than we could have imagined: from Cinnamon Spice to Sommerfelds.
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A lovely pair of pears
Looking at these two pears — Bartletts (aka Pyrus Communis, the curvy green ones) and Asian "apple" pears (aka, Pyrus pyrifolia, the round tan ones) — it's hard to believe they come from the same genus. Both have the typical floral pear flavor, but the texture differs. Bartletts have a dense crispness, while Asian pears have a juicier crispness that is very light. Bartletts make better cooking pears (take a look at the number of recipes offered by the official California Pear Advisory Board!). I've found Asian pears to be much too watery for most pear recipes, but I definitely prefer them for raw eating. Asian pears also have more of a melon aroma which makes for a very refreshing juice. With the round shape and crisp texture you can see why they're commonly called "apple pears." A great coincidence for this report!
My favorite combo is to pair Bartletts with salty cheese, whether it's smoky gouda in a grilled cheese/ panini or pungent blue cheese with glazed pecans in a salad. I've been meaning to try poaching pairs in wine for a classy dessert (this recipe from angelasfoodlove.com sounds even better with the whipped mascarpone filling), but I never seem to have any leftover bottles of wine laying around.
You're the apple of my eye, just don't ask me what type
Last week we took a look at the super sweet papaya melons from Ha's Apple Farm, but there was something I neglected, a glaring oversight that leaves me quite red in the face…their apples. I would hate to just brush over them, which is why we're going back to give them a proper mention.
I thought I knew a thing or two about apple varieties. I'm familiar with Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Fujis, and Galas. But I received quite an earful after standing around the booth for a few minutes. Vendors mentioning the fresh Sommerfelds, the upcoming Orin and Winesap harvest, customers asking about Empires and Cinnamon Spice. I lost track in the sea of names, and turned to the free samples of dried fruit for solace.
But then the vendors came to my rescue: they told me which apples are good for baking, for juicing and sauces, and even just a good "eating apple." For some general apple goodness try grilled cheese with cheddar, bacon and sliced Fujis. Carmelize sliced Galas and onions to serve with some hearty bratwurst. Next time you roast a chicken try spreading diced Red Delicious and onions on the pan. Once the chicken is cooked you can then smash up the fruits and veggies with the pan drippings for an amazing sauce. And it goes without saying, but its seriously time for some pie and cobbler.
While I sit around dreaming of apple pie and bottles of wine, share some recipes or give us your favorite apple and pear varieties!