MarketBasket: Fig paradise
The end of summer this weekend features some of the most fleeting seasonal delights. Here are two special ingredients that should be snapped up this moment - or they'll be gone:
Vine fresh field peas
Field peas and beans are virtually always dried. But when they're fresh, they cook faster with no presoak, have a more obvious vegetal flavor and are silky to the tooth. They are also extremely rare. But pay a visit Sunday to surprising La Finquita, the small but distinctive urban farm plot in south Kensington, and you'll find fresh White Whippoorwill and Blue Goose cowpeas (a Southern staple related to black-eyed peas) that are still in their pods. They require some easy shucking - but stew them simply, and you'll find they're worth it. - Craig LaBan
Fresh cowpeas, $8 a pound, Sundays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., La Finquita, 428 Master St. (at Lawrence), 215-427-3463.
Paradiso is what Giovanni Gagliardi called the figs of his childhood in Abruzzo. So when the 80-year-old South Philadelphian ripped out his driveway and planted the trimming of a fig tree, he knew they should be called Paradise. And they are, in so many ways. Currently sold at the Fair Food stand in the Reading Terminal Market, the thin green skins of his figs harbor a heart of such deeply delicate ruby sweetness as to border on poetic. It's no wonder the doting Gagliardi rises at 5 a.m. each day during fig season to beat the heat, squirrels, and birds: "I get them before they get me!" - C.L.
Giovanni's figs, $1 each, Fair Food farmstand, Reading Terminal Market, (215) 386-5211.