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Oct 23, 2006 06:45 AM

romaine lettuce

I love caesar salads and I love romaine lettuce. It's my favorite of the salady greens.Anyway, my issue is that Ilove the hearts only. I bu romaine occasionally. I do not like the bagged stuff. It never tastes right, but I am forced to buy it sometimes because the fresher stuff never seems to have ANY of the heart portion. Is there a reason? Am I missing something? The dark green part doesn't taste as good to me. I live in the bay area, does anyone know where I can get the stuff where you peel back the dark green and get a beautiful heart? Thanks.

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  1. I am also finicky about romaine hearts, and it's one of my tests of a restaurant whether they use only the heart or the whole head either out of ignorance, indifference, or 'economy'.

    As for buying it in the store, I can only think it's some combination of seasonality plus supplier. Summer is usually the worst time for greens as they tend to bolt (send up central stalk and turn generally bitter). Good news? We're heading into wet & cool winter when greens will be at their sweet & tender prime.

    If you live or pass through the East Bay, stop by Berkeley Bowl which typically has romaine hearts for sale.

    1. Star Route Farms sells hearts of romaine most of the year. They sell at Ferry Plaza and the Marin Farmer's market.

      1. Blue Heron's "little gems" are similar to romaine hearts.

        1. Rainbow had some nice romaine today, not very dark outer leaves, and not huge heads, so it wouldn't take much to get to the heart.
          You should really try the Little Gems you can get at Farmers Markets, they are lovely, so tender and crisp, you won't be able to go back to the three to a package stuff, not that you were thrilled with it anyway.
          Star Route at the SF and Marin markets have it, as well as a couple of other vendors, Star Routes generally the nicest though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rabaja

            Yes, *definitely* Little Gems. It is just the best lettuce ever. It's an heirloom romaine, I believe. Blue Heron, at the Berkeley markets has it, as RL mentioned. Last Tuesday they'd run out by the time I got there. Seek it out and you will never, ever want to eat any other romaine again. Yes, tender and crisp, it lacks a major spine that makes most romaine too woody and bitter for my tastes.

          2. Both Berkeley Bowl and Monterey Market have Little Gems. I don't think they're anything but Boston (or butter) lettuce with some of the greener leaves stripped away.

            Also, the inner leaves of romaine have less nutriments than the outer, greener, leaves. I'd say to avoid those outer leaves, but put some of the leaves between the outer and inner core in your salad or you'll be missing stuff that's good for you.

            3 Replies
            1. re: oakjoan

              Little Gems are actually a variety of Romaine lettuce, not stripped down butter lettuce. They have a crisp, crunchy quality, not a soft texture.
              The quality of this particular lettuce is much better at the FM's, as opposed to BB or MM

              1. re: rabaja

                The texture and shape are also quite distinctive, nothing like the heart of a butter lettuce.


                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  The little gems look delicious. I'm going to try them.