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Old 03.10.2007, 15:45
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fresh at the market - october

October offers more than just pumpkins! Fall arrives, which means the days become shorter and much cooler, and our dietary requirements begin to change – almost subliminally. The vegetables tend to be more roots and tubers, which are full of starches and sugars, or very green vitamin-rich plants. Fruits are also more substantial, migrating more toward apples, pears and quince – or vitamin bombs like pomegranates, kiwi fruit, persimmon and citrus fruits. There are plenty of nuts and mushrooms available, even plenty of chances to wander into the woods and forage your own. Salads are moving away from delicate leaf lettuce and edging closer to hearty varieties with more assertive flavors. Meats are also entering a clear season with plenty of wild game on hand (deer, elk, mountain goat, and wild boar), wild birds (ducks, pheasant, quail), and seasonal domestic meats (turkey and all sorts of products coming from the pig – including blood sausage and liver sausage). October is a wonderful time to experience and enjoy the richness of the food that is all around us!

what to look for

The first Italian artichokes have already appeared at the market. They will continue to be available until the end of April. Early season Italian artichokes are delicious, but do make sure you are buying Italian artichokes and not the end of season Swiss artichokes. Look for Swiss beets, which are bursting with flavor and are excellent roasted. If you visit the markets, look for some unusual varieties to try out – specifically orange and white varieties – they make an interesting alternative. Broccoli, cauliflower and Romanesco are all at their peak at the moment. It is a fantastic opportunity to experience their true flavor. For something unusual, try a chayote. These vegetables originate from Central America, but have recently grown in popularity in Southern Italy. Peel them carefully, and do wear gloves as the milky white substance inside can be irritating to some. Cook them quickly in a little water and toss with butter. Their flavor is similar to a zucchini. Leaf cabbage, specifically the year’s first tender cima di rapa are just showing up at the market. They are a real treat when served with pasta and chili peppers. Parsnips and parsley root are a bit scattered during the first part of October, but they will be more widely available toward the end of the month. Sweet potatoes from Italy are fantastic at the moment. The white ones will bake to a crumbly consistency – similar to a baked potato. The orange ones are more moist and sweeter. Turnips and swedes are just appearing. They are young and sweet – excellent just eaten raw with a bit of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Leaf lettuce are starting to disappear in October. Look instead for hearty cold weather varieties: watercress, arugula (rocket) and radicchio. On the fruit side, there are plenty of apple choices (look for cox orange, Spartan, sauergrauisch, and rubinette), pear choices (Moratini, bunte, bosc, and gute Luise), and quince – one of the oldest cultivated fruits. Pomegranates are also now available. There are two types available: European (Italian and Spanish) and Middle Eastern (Iranian and Egyptian). The European ones have a rather pink interior and are quite sweet. The middle eastern ones are deep red and quite tart. Persimmons are another cold weather fruit with two types available. The hachiya variety have a lot of tannins, and must be consumed very ripe – almost jelly-like. The fuyu variety are smaller and shaped like a tomato. They have less tannins and can be consumed more like an apple or pear. They have a pleasing vanilla flavor. Finally…October is a month for pumpkins. There are plenty of varieties to chose from and many opportunities to buy fresh pumpkins at the market or directly from a farmer. Look for any of the following varieties: butternut, acorn, hubbard, Muscat de Provence, orange knirps. Along the same lines, if you have never experienced a good pumpkin oil, then now is the time. Freshly pressed Austrian pumpkin oil is the best in the world, and it is available from selected vendors. For an unusual treat…try some on vanilla ice cream!

what to avoid

With so many great potato varieties coming from Switzerland, there should be no real reason to purchase potatoes from somewhere else. Sweet potatoes from the Southern Hemisphere are prevalent in many large stores, but they are a real disappointment. Also avoid Swiss artichokes and tomatoes as the season for these products have now passed. Resist buying any of the summer vegetables: bell peppers, zucchini, green beans, and leaf lettuce. Finally, look for fresh whole pumpkins at the market and stay away from those pre-sliced plastic wrapped pumpkins in the major stores.

on the wild side

Mushrooms are all over the place, but it is really difficult to predict how they will come up. If you go foraging on your own, make sure you take a guide, a book, or know what you are doing. Many mushrooms look similar, and there are plenty of people each year who die from eating the wrong ones. If nuts are what you are after, then consider a trip to Ticino and gather chestnuts. North of the alps, there are plenty of chances to gather wild hazelnuts and walnuts.

looking ahead…

Shopping in November is noticeably different than October. There will be far less to chose from in terms of fruits and vegetables, but there will also be some great opportunities to try some unique late fall products. Look for cima di rapa (Swiss and French), Italian artichokes, Swiss and Italian cardoons, Jerusalem artichokes, salsify, black kale, and many unusual roots from Switzerland. There should be plenty of mushroom choices, along with a variety of nuts. From the fruits, look for kiwi fruit from Zürich, and clementines/mandarins. Another top specialty available in November is the year’s first sauerkraut – excellent for cold evenings!

Happy shopping and cooking…

Jack
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Old 03.10.2007, 16:08
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Re: fresh at the market - october

Thanks Jack!
You never sent me the recipe for the menu we cooked last January..
(Novo Nordisk)

See you!
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Old 03.10.2007, 16:19
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Re: fresh at the market - october

Hi Jack,

Great article.

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Mushrooms are all over the place, but it is really difficult to predict how they will come up. If you go foraging on your own, make sure you take a guide, a book, or know what you are doing. Many mushrooms look similar, and there are plenty of people each year who die from eating the wrong ones.
A couple of things about mushrooms.

In Basel Stadt (and I presume other cantons) there is a "Pilzkontrolle" (mushroom checking) service run by the local "State Laboratory". Here is a link to a page in English about it. The German-only pages give opening times. So you can forage for your fungi and have these nice folks check that eating one won't have you pushing up the daisies.

Also, in Basel Marktplatz on Saturdays there is a mushroom stall which sells a good variety of different ones - including Portobello which I love. Unfortunately they don't do Liberty Cap for some reason ;-)

Edit: Today there was an article in the Guardian newspaper this morning about mushrooms. Here is the online version.

One favourite dish I make is a warm rocket and mushroom salad which I found in the "Silver Spoon" cookbook (the bible for Italian housewives). Basically, you dress a few handfuls of rocket (rucola) in balsamic vinaigrette, and arrange the leaves on serving plates. Then in a frying pan you fry sliced mushrooms with a little extra-virgin olive oil and a peeled clove of garlic until the juice is starting to come out, then spoon the warm mushrooms over the centre of the leaves.

Cheers,

Nick
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Old 15.10.2008, 01:32
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Re: fresh at the market - october

Bump.......
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Old 15.10.2008, 01:36
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Re: fresh at the market - october

I'm having a hard time finding sweet potatoes in the stores in Basel. Other than the Indian store near Claraplatz, does anyone know of a good place to find them? I bought a couple of the white sweet potatoes there and one went rotten within a few days. The other was flavorless. I'd love to find some local-ish and fresh ones.
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Old 15.10.2008, 08:30
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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I'm having a hard time finding sweet potatoes in the stores in Basel. Other than the Indian store near Claraplatz, does anyone know of a good place to find them? I bought a couple of the white sweet potatoes there and one went rotten within a few days. The other was flavorless. I'd love to find some local-ish and fresh ones.
Most sweet potatoes in CH come from the southern hemisphere and are really inferior in quality. I've found an excellent source for nice Italian sweet potatoes in Zürich (see below), but unfortunately I don't know the markets in Basel too well. Hunt around a bit and see if you can find someone selling Italian sweet potatoes. Also, sweet potatoes do not store well - so freshness is really key. Don't refrigerate them...just keep them cool and dark for up to 3 days (cellar works well). The orange fleshed ones make nice purées and are high in vitamin B. The white fleshed ones are great roasted, but turn to glue if you try and make a purée. They are much sweeter in flavor. Another tip is to mix pears with orange sweet potatoes to make a very nice purée...

If in Zürich, visit the Rosetti stand at the market in Oerlikon on Wed. and Sat., or at Helvetiaplatz on Tue or Fri. They have a large stand that is well-marked.

Hope this helps...
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Old 15.10.2008, 11:46
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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Meats are also entering a clear season with plenty of wild game on hand (deer, elk, mountain goat, and wild boar), wild birds (ducks, pheasant, quail),
Although it is the game season, I have found it impossible to get local (Swiss) deer.
It's all from eastern europe or New Zealand. There's absolutely nothing wong with it. Some deer entrecote that we had recently from New Zealand was sublime.

It's just strange that such a big thing is made about the 'season' here but none appears to be local.

(I tried a few butchers and they all said the same thing).
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Old 15.10.2008, 12:05
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Re: fresh at the market - october

Any idea where I might find Chayote? I use them as a substitute for Opo. Opo is not easy to find.
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Old 15.10.2008, 12:06
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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Although it is the game season, I have found it impossible to get local (Swiss) deer.
It's all from eastern europe or New Zealand. There's absolutely nothing wong with it. Some deer entrecote that we had recently from New Zealand was sublime.

It's just strange that such a big thing is made about the 'season' here but none appears to be local.

(I tried a few butchers and they all said the same thing).
Hmm...strange. Not sure where you are going, but I only see local wild meat...but then again I almost always purchase meat at the market. Try a vendor called Fiechter - they are at Helvetiaplatz on Friday and Oerlikon on Saturday...plenty of outstanding wild boar, deer, elk, birds (whole pheasants right now), etc... If you can't make it to a market, then try a good metzgerei - perhaps change the one you go to and try someone else...
Jack
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Old 15.10.2008, 12:08
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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I'm having a hard time finding sweet potatoes in the stores in Basel. Other than the Indian store near Claraplatz, does anyone know of a good place to find them?

I've been buying sweet potatoes and casava (maniok) at Zuerich Hauptbahnhof in the Migros produce section below. They've been around for about two weeks now. I'll see if they are still there.
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Old 15.10.2008, 21:18
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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I've been buying sweet potatoes and casava (maniok) at Zuerich Hauptbahnhof in the Migros produce section below. They've been around for about two weeks now. I'll see if they are still there.
Thanks, but I so very rarely get to Zurich (once every couple of years)

Checked my local Migros today, but no luck...but they're a small one.
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Old 15.10.2008, 21:33
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Re: fresh at the market - october

Hi! can anyone tell me where to get water-cress? i live in baden and have looked in coop and migros, to no avail...
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Old 15.10.2008, 22:36
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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Thanks, but I so very rarely get to Zurich (once every couple of years)

Checked my local Migros today, but no luck...but they're a small one.
Nevertheless, I did walk by and see them there today. I bought a couple.

You know, in the 'states it would be easy to pick up the phone, speak to the produce distribution manager, and ask where I can buy them. Now why is that so hard to do here?
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Old 15.10.2008, 22:48
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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Hi! can anyone tell me where to get water-cress? i live in baden and have looked in coop and migros, to no avail...
I suspect you'll only find seeds because it's such a fast growing plant.

They are quite popular with gardeners big and small. If you can't find seeds in the shops near you, there are some seed webshops (for example Samen Mauser, Sämereien.ch). Water-Cress is called Brunnenkresse in German, and the more common (robust?) cress is called Gartenkresse or simply Kresse.

I don't think this question is October-related, should I give it its own thread? Apparently you can grow cress the whole year indoor.
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Old 15.10.2008, 23:17
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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I suspect you'll only find seeds because it's such a fast growing plant.

They are quite popular with gardeners big and small. If you can't find seeds in the shops near you, there are some seed webshops (for example Samen Mauser, Sämereien.ch). Water-Cress is called Brunnenkresse in German, and the more common (robust?) cress is called Gartenkresse or simply Kresse.

I don't think this question is October-related, should I give it its own thread? Apparently you can grow cress the whole year indoor.
well, jack mentioned it in the OP, and i'm hoping to get his advice on where to get them. but i dun understand what u mean by, finding only seeds. do u mean they grow and die fast, leaving only seeds behind? the OP gave me the impression that cress was in season, so one should be able to find it in markets.

hmm...i wouldn't mind listening (reading) in on a discussion about indoor agriculture, but i'm not sure how many folks here already do that or are interested. (for all u know, it could well turn out like my thread on the "perfect dinner" ) personally, i would give it a try, provided i have a half decent chance to growing enough edible cress to make a bowl of soup heh!

a little obscure trivia: watercress features strongly as a soup in cantonese kitchen, and produces a so-called "cooling" effect for folks suffering from too much "yang" in their system. interestingy, to translate back from chinese to english, watercress would be known as "vegetable from the west."
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Old 15.10.2008, 23:41
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Re: fresh at the market - october

Well now I've made a fool of myself because I only skimmed through Jack's post. I just have never noticed cress plants on sale on markets or in shops in Zurich. On the other hand I know that seeds are available and every child can grow them with a little guidance. In fact many do at some time in kindergarten or elementary school.
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Old 16.10.2008, 00:07
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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I'm having a hard time finding sweet potatoes in the stores in Basel. Other than the Indian store near Claraplatz, does anyone know of a good place to find them? I bought a couple of the white sweet potatoes there and one went rotten within a few days. The other was flavorless. I'd love to find some local-ish and fresh ones.

I have seen them in hiebers. I know it isn't Basel but it is local-ish!

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Old 16.10.2008, 00:08
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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I have seen them in hiebers but haven't. I know it isn't Basel but it is local-ish!
Oh! I usually shop there every couple of weeks (their produce is so much better than what I can find over here!) I've not noticed them, I'll look a bit closer when I go back! Thanks
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Old 16.10.2008, 00:11
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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Oh! I usually shop there every couple of weeks (their produce is so much better than what I can find over here!) I've not noticed them, I'll look a bit closer when I go back! Thanks
IIRC they are in the "Bio" section.
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Old 16.10.2008, 00:36
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Re: fresh at the market - october

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...From the fruits, look for kiwi fruit from Zürich, and clementines/mandarins.

The kiwi fruits were delightful. That was the first time I've ever had them. Thanks for the tip.
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