This kind. Yes, that’s me – sometimes I just can’t help when the urge to cook a certain something hits, or, in the case of this weekend, I remembered New Seasons was having their annual Citrus Fest tasting this weekend and I wanted to jump in. Badly enough to brave torrents of rain, crowded parking lots, and longer register lines.
For those not familiar, New Seasons is a locally owned chained of markets that are gorgeously outfitted with beautiful meats, produce, deli and hot food bar, all the good stuff you want and then some. There are about 15 of these stores now, and at each one they host a free tasting Saturday and Sunday of some chosen food and they keep doling it out in small increments throughout the day.
What makes this so noteworthy is how beautiful these samples are presented, how complete the array provided, and the element of surprise; often times the tasting features something that you haven’t come across yet, whether in its raw form or in a recipe made right there (with thoughtfully provided cards offered alongside). Someone knowledgeable is always right there to keep the samples replenished, answer questions and unlike some workers at other stores, these people are uber-friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful.
Okay, back to sampling Citrus Fest. I remembered it fondly from last year, and this year’s was no disappointment. Ask the average Joe to name citrus kinds and he might come up with oranges, tangerines, lemons, lime and grapefruit. Above average Joe might note of satsumas and Meyer lemons. At this tasting, we had all that, but then so much more: Lemonade lemons, Persian limes, Buddha’s finger, blood oranges, and pomelos and the list goes on. I realized which kind of grapefruit I like best (Rio Star) and while I thought Honey tangerines would be the victor in the Peelable Lunchbox category, I actually preferred the Page tangerines, a narrow win over the ubiquitious Satsuma.
I stayed at that counter a good 20 minutes, sauntering back and forth, reading every sign, tasting, retasting, and even enjoying the reaction to others as they found new favorites or realized some were far out of their comfort zone (let’s just say finger limes are not likely to catch on with the under 10 set, at least in America).
After the tasting, I took a leisurely stroll through the store, enjoying my Vitamin D rush and all the lovely smells and sights herein. I came home with a small bag of treasures – a giant bag of Moro blood oranges, one of those lovely grapefruits, a wee bit of truffle butter (get ready, little red potatoes, I have got big plans for you), Albina City Nuts Snack Sampler and Dave’s Seed Bread – best under $15 purchase I have made this week.
Upcoming tastings include Chips and Dips (sweet Lord, hallelujah!) and Unusual Food Pairings (their website hints only at “unconventional tastes”). The possibility of trying dozens of chips and dips free of charge with like minded chiphounds?
Surely this must be what heaven looks like.