at the market

Summer Cheeses Ripen, and Hot Cocoa Combats the Cold

The eighteen-month-old cheese in our fridge looks nothing like this.Photo: Zoe Singer

Winter weather that keeps you inside has finally arrived. Venture out for supplies, then crank the oven and provision yourself to hibernate.

What to Look For
The grapefruit-size green orbs known as breadfruit resembles dinosaur eggs but taste like a mix of potatoes and artichoke hearts, with a texture between yuca and avocado. Slightly sweet, slightly yeasty, mostly bland, they can be fried like potatoes, simmered in meaty Caribbean stews, sweetened for a pudding, or boiled and used in salads — they partner well with lemon juice, red onion, and hard-cooked eggs (99 cents per pound at Batista in the Essex Street Market).

The summer milk produced by cows grazing on Alpine wildflowers and grasses is particularly rich, golden, and flavorful. It’s ripe for enjoying now in eighteen-month-old cheeses like the floral, grassy Beaufort d'été from France and sweet, creamy Gruyère Alpage from Switzerland. Pleasant Ridge Reserve, an American rendition with caramel, nut, and herb flavors, is made on the Wisconsin prairie by Uplands Cheese. Thinly slice these firm cheeses and pair them with summer-fruit preserves like sour cherry jam, or melt them in fondue or on onion soup (look for artisanal, single-herd cheeses at shops like Bierkraft, where Beaufort d’été is $18.95 per pound; Formaggio Kitchen, where Gruyère Alpage is $24.95 per pound; and Saxelby Cheese, where Pleasant Ridge Reserve is $22.99 per pound).

Seville oranges, a bitter variety grown primarily in Spain, were originally brought West by Arabic traders. Since surpassed by sweeter varieties, they are still prized for their blossoms in the perfume industry and considered vital for marmalade. A small Californian crop is in stores now; the Spanish Sevilles should arrive by mid-February. Use their bumpy skin in preserves, and try the very tart juice in seviche or duck à l’orange (California Sevilles are $1.99 per pound at Balducci’s, $2.99 per pound at Agata & Valentina, and $2.89 per pound at Fairway).

Ripe for the Moment

For the convenience of individual packets of hot-chocolate mix without the letdown of excessive sugar, salt, additives, and cheap cocoa, seek out the chocolat en poudre from Les Confitures a L’Ancienne. Splash in rum for grown-ups, drop in mini-marshmallows for kids ($10.50 for fourteen packets at Dean & DeLuca). — Zoe Singer

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