How to Tell if That Peach Is Ripe? Ask Southern California’s ‘Produce Hunter’

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SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Shopping at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, Karen Beverlin reached into a five-pound box of tart Belle Magnifique cherries, grabbed a couple and ate them.

Tart cherries are tricky to size up at a glance: Flavors can range from gently tangy to very sour, and just looking at them offers no reliable clues. All Ms. Beverlin had to go on was her palate. She ate a few more, and smiled.

She motioned to Tristan Aitchison, the chef de cuisine at Providence restaurant in Los Angeles. He hadn’t intended to buy cherries, but after seeing the look on her face — and tasting the cherry she held out to him — he decided he had to have five pounds. The stand, Andy’s Orchard, was already sold out, but Ms. Beverlin let him buy one of the boxes she had ordered.

“She’s the godmother of the market,” said Mr. Aitchison, who relies on her advice about what to buy as he plans his menus. Within a week, the roast duck entree at Providence sported a grilled cherry sauce.


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