No, this post isn’t about three sisters whose parents named after fruits… can you imagine naming three brothers Liempo, Pigue and Tenderloin? Heeheehee. One of the things I really miss food wise from living in temperate countries are some of the spectacular fruits that hit the markets from the Spring to the Fall each year. The nature, quality, taste, intensity, sugar levels, tartness are extremely unique for fruits whose trees or bushes or vines must get through a cold winter every year. This post gives you a run-down of some of the terrific fruits I found in the markets of Barcelona. First up, the earliest harvest from the annual cherry crop. Probably from the warmest regions of Spain, if not, God forbid, imported, these piles of cherries were just too attractive to ignore. I like good fresh cherries, a touch firm, either super sweet or tartly sweet. Turns out there are two broad categories of cherries: sweet and sour. These ones had a nice shine, were clearly freshly picked, sweet but wickedly pricey at nearly Euro10 a kilo. I took half a kilo home, washed, stuck in the fridge and quickly consumed a few hours later. When they are abundant and more reasonably priced, they make great jam or better yet cherry clafoutis, one of the French desserts that I really enjoy. Don’t eat too many at one time, they are a laxative…
Strawberries were in the Spanish and Italian markets big time. I have written up strawberries in Manila/Baguio before and I love them. Almost certainly they fall into my top five fruits list. The ones in the markets in Europe were big, plump, red, firm and fragrant. I wondered if most of them were raised in greenhouses given the temperatures but I suppose many could have come from outdoors in warmer regions of Spain. We bought them many many times over the course of the trip. My daughter loves strawberries and cream and they were a nutritious and delicious breakfast or snack. I like to mix them with other berries for a simple and satisfying dessert. I was thrilled to get this picture of the berries still attached to plants that were for sale at a small nursery out of town. Sometimes referred to as â€œfalse berries,â€ their fruit grow from the base or bottom of the plant rather than forming in from the ovary or flower of the plant. While these commercial, highly bred berries were superb, the smaller â€œforest berriesâ€ were also in season and since I like them so much, they will be the subject of a separate post. If I had a Spring lunch or brunch I would buy several of these pots of berries and use them as a centerpieceâ€¦then guests could pick their own! One medium sized potted plant had as many as 15-18 fruit! By the way, if you want strawberries to last longer, do not pre-wash them and stick in the fridge â€“ wash them only before you are about to eat them.
There were several other berries also on offer in the markets. Spectacular blackberries that were plump, tart and incredibly good. If you get the really black or darker ones, they are the sweetest of the bunchâ€¦the slightly burgundy or red ones can be lip-puckeringly tart. I like them fresh by themselves or mixed with other berries with a nice dollop of whipped cream but they are also used in tarts, spectacular ice creams or gelatos or helados and jams and preserves. Very closely related to the blackberries are raspberries that usually have smaller fruit but sweeter and more delicate. You can also find these in white, yellow and other colors but that is highly unusual. Paired with a nutty crust and sweet pastry cream, they make a perfect tart. Also at the markets were red currants. Oddly, I didnâ€™t see any blueberries.
Not sure if these were local as again the timing seemed a bit off but there were some pretty good peaches on offer. They smelled really good and after a day or two out on the counter they tasted reasonably peachy. Having U.S. peaches straight off the orchards in late August at the peak of the season spoils you for most other peaches but since I havenâ€™t had good ones in a long time, these ones did just fine. They were a bit firm when I bought them and though they wonâ€™t ripen more once picked, they do soften if left out at room temperature. Also in the markets were delicious apricots that were sweeter than I have ever had them. Ahhâ€¦if I had the time and equipment, an apricot tart would have been a really nice way to use this bounty.