It's time for cherry-picking in Chile, chestnut-roasting in Italy, and — what else? — specialty-food-hunting in New York. Welcome to the first installment of the new weekly column "At the Market," where we scour gourmet stores for the seasonal, exotic, and obscure ingredients of the moment.
What to Look For
Until clementines hit their stride, Satsuma mandarins offer the season's first intense waft of citrus. They make a lively addition to tropics-leaning fruit salads (recipe) or retro-nouveau Jell-O mold. The sweet-tart juice also sings in cocktails ($2.99 per pound at Balducci's and Grace's Market).
Rub cut cloves of rose de lautrec garlic, grown near Toulouse, on olive-oil-brushed toast for an hors d'oeuvre, or crush into dressings and dips. Their full and almost fruity flavor stays vivid for several months ($5.99 per pound at Fairway).
Thin-skinned, tomato-esque persimmons (more specifically referred to as kaki, Japanese persimmon, or Sharon fruit) are at their zenith. The Fuyu variety can be eaten while they still have a melonlike firmness, but elongated Hachiya persimmons have a mouth-scouring astringency before they're dead ripe. Overripe fruit, meanwhile, are divine in yogurt or old-fashioned pudding (recipe) (widely available).
The new-harvest olive oil from Fairway buyer Steve Jenkins was bottled last month in Sicily. Drizzle it now over grilled fish or a salad of greens and green apple; aging will mellow the oil's clean lemon-and-eucalyptus aroma, notes of almonds and roses, and peppery finish ($7.99 per half-liter at Fairway).
Perfect for Right Now
This pumpkin gnocchi's ethereal tenderness and rich, lightly spiced flavor show up well in the hearty preparations perfect for the newly wintry weather. Try them with sage-brown butter and Parmesan, or tossed with sautéed Savoy cabbage and a shower of Gruyère ($3.50 per pound at Raffetto's through mid-February). — Zoe Singer