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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kishu Mandarins

I decided to hit one of my favorite places to find groceries, this would be Berkley Bowl, it was perfect timing for me, as I was meeting a friend for lunch (Phat Matts and a brilliant brisket today).  I picked up a baggie of marinated pork cheeks from Matt's over run as well as a baggie of Phu Quoc Island white pepper.  This already started out as a promising run for gathering interesting foods.  Then I saw these at Berkeley Bowl West, a lovely display of kishu mandarins. 
Now, you may be thinking these look just like those Cuties easy peel Mandarins that are in every store, but, these are far from those in a few key ways.  They have a different flavor that is heavily influenced by a strong aromatic component and a flavor profile that is a sweet/sour/bitter balance that creates a much more complex flavor.  In a market space that seems to lean ever more to super sweet, these run contrary to the trend.  I think they are a connoisseurs' citrus.  They are also...tiny!
See that quarter, that is no perspective trick, these little guys are no more than a golf ball in size, and have been cultivated to be easy to peel, seedless and really rather cute.  A perfect snack for a child, or an adult who is willing to pop a half dozen out of their soft peels.  They have a nice tender flesh with a strong aromatic hit even as you are popping one after another into oblivion.
One of the joys of shopping at a location that carries a little more variety, even if sometimes the cost is a few pennies more per pound, is that you find super seasonal and not altogether common treats that are what fruit can be at it's best for those of us who do not live with an orchard in back.  I always find interesting fruit and veggies at these types of stores, this is what being food centric is really all about.

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