The Union Square Greenmarket celebrated its 30th birthday on Saturday, and fall officially begins at the end of the week. While the forward-thinking are canning tomatoes and hedonists are gorging on peaches and corn, farmers are talking about the frost. Upstate farms could experience a nighttime freeze by October, but until then, the late-summer parade continues.
What To Look For
Despite their unglamorous name, elongated Amish Paste heirloom tomatoes have a sunny, intense flavor. Their thick scarlet skin is easy to peel, and they yield a show-stealing sauce — add some pancetta to refine their overt sweetness and acidity ($4.50 per pound at Stokes Farm, available Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday).
Pale, Lilliputian Fairy Tale eggplants are fragrant and creamy. Because of their pronounced flavor, they need only be halved and roasted with olive oil and salt. They're also ideal for flattening into little boats and loading up with tidbits like sautéed fennel and sausage or crumbled Feta and mint ($3 per pound at Muddy River, available Friday).
Eckerton Hill's jewel-toned chiles are at their plumpest and most intense — many will scorch your hands and mouth on contact. But it's you who should scorch the generally mild Padrón chile. Sear the little green bells whole in hot oil, sprinkle them with sea salt, and serve as a tapa. But beware: One in ten is fiercely spicy. In Spain, tradition dictates that whoever gets the hot one buys the next round of drinks ($3 per half-pint at Eckerton Hill, available Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday; on Friday, find them for $5 per pound at Yuno's Farm).
Early-fall fruits are now ready. The frosted-pink seedless Reliance grapes ($3.50 per pint at Fantasy Fruit, available Saturday for the last time until spring) are juicy and spicy, suited to semi-firm cheeses with character, like Morbier. The beloved British Cox's Orange Pippin apples ($1 per pound at Samascott Orchard, available Friday) are old-fashioned, dense, and slightly mealy with bright, deep flavor — bake them to accompany meats or slice them into the season's first apple tarts.
Blink and You'll Miss It
Tamarack Hollow slaughtered a pig for a roast that was canceled, so offal — jowls, snout, ears, and trotters — is available there early this season, alongside the usual cuts ($3 to $10 per pound, available Wednesday).
— Zoe Singer