Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > France >
Oct 7, 2010 08:15 AM

What are the best produce varietals now in the markets?

You have all been so splendid in your responses to my queries that I'm imposing on your good will once again. As i've mentioned we are going to be cooking a lot during our two weeks in Paris. I've already gathered that we'll be eating heaps of cepes, sometimes just sauteed in beurre cru baratté à l’ancienne or Bordier. What are the outstanding varieties of pears and apples right now? The best cabbages I should have my eye out for? Any outstanding variety of any fruit or vegetable that you would like to recommend?

As an example, if you were coming to San Francisco in the fall I'd advise you to buy as many Warren pears, preferably from Frog Hollow Farm, as you could carry home. What are your equivalents?

Counting the days (3) until we're there.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: John Talbott

      Voilà voilà.
      Pears and apples are more a late Fall-Winter thing but the most important point is not the varietal, it is the producer. Check for apple and pear producers selling their stuff on markets. As long as you avoid golden delicious you should be fine.
      Plums: quetsches, the last reines-claudes.
      Grapes: first white Italia grapes, muscat de Hambourg, I don't think there''s any chasselas de Moissac left.
      Tomatoes: heirloom varieties still available, my favorite being noire de Crimée (the bigger the better). Eat raw.
      Onions: pink Roscoff onions are in full season.
      Garlic: first large-headed, purple garlic is now in its first stage of drying and available on markets.
      Figs: full season for figues noires de Solliès.
      Peaches: don't bother anymore.
      Melons: go ahead, they're still on.
      Quince: just beginning.

      1. re: Ptipois

        Thanks Pti.

        Let me just say that my buddy and I ate at Saturne today (best meal of 2 weeks) and revelled in the heirloom tomatoes

        and the roast figs lately have been super.

        1. re: Ptipois

          In my neck of the woods, the 10th, there are two guys who set up shop outside the bakery Du Pain et des Idees on fridays, selling bio, heirloom, and "producer" (Jackie Mercier) fruit and vegetables. I scored some excellent beetroot, yellow courgettes, and raspberries a couple of weeks ago. I don't know what variety they were, but they were excellent, which leads me to agree with Ptpois: it's not so much the variety that counts, but the person, or place that you buy produce from.

          Walnuts are good now.

          At the other non-bio, non PC, fruit miles scale of things, at the moment you can get the first, tiny, persimmons in Paris now, and they're only around for a week. In the same vein, Turkish muscat are also very good too.

          1. re: vielleanglaise

            Agree, his blackberries were awesome. Interesting problem though. As fruit guy brings many more people to the corner, the bread l usually get was gone at noon, drat.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Well then you should go to Tholoniat, on the rue Chateau d'eau. Not too far away, it's just been taken over by a new baker and patissier. The cakes, chocolates and bread are really good.

              Failing that you can cross the street and go to 'Gerard Difusion' and buy a belt buckle in the shape of a bulldog.

        2. re: John Talbott

          In the 5th, on Cardinal Lemoin.

          Oops, you were asking Ptipois! And Huge thanks to you PT!

        3. Look for what's cheap -- that's what's in season, and what makes it such a treasure to shop at markets here. (Cheap does not apply to cepes, by the way) All kinds of mushrooms are on offer - orange girolles, black trompes...enjoy all the varieties. Let your eyes and nose guide you -- you can't miss.

          Boskoop, Reine et Reinettes, and Elstar apples are fantastic French varieties - I prefer Elstar, because they're crunchy and sweet out of hand, but are also a fantastic cooking apple.

          Conference pears are just getting started -- they're much firmer than a William pear (the kind you always see in US groceries) -- Conference are taller and more slender, but are delicious out of hand or in tartes.

          Coco beans are fresh right now, too -- you have to shell them, but cook them like a fresh lima bean.

          Potiron (a special sort of pumpkin) makes excellent soups, and roasted gives flesh that makes stellar pumpkin pies.

          Cabbages of all kinds are just appearing -- big leafy Savoy, well as gorgeous cauliflower, and the bizarre-looking but oh-so-tasty Romanesco.

          Carrots are really good right now, too, and will be through winter.

          You do know, by the way -- you can't carry any of it home with you -- the Ag Department beagles will make you throw it all away when you enter the US.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sunshine842

            Thanks so much! And yes, if US Ag didn't take it away from us, California surely would. But I will try to smuggle home some raw milk Camembert and other cheesey delights.

          2. "What are the outstanding varieties of pears and apples right now?"

            Second muscats de Hambourg.
            And of course all the mushrooms, esp les Trompettes de la mort.

            1. Great replies so far. Don't miss the fresh bay leaves, which are different from the ones you get in Northern California. Greens are doing nicely now, especially blettes, but also kohlrabi (chou rave). And the potatoes are also full of flavor right now.

              7 Replies
              1. re: tmso

                Kohlrabi is a different creature than what you're talking about.

                You're talking about *celeri* rave -- celery root, which is absolutely delicious roasted or mashed like potatoes (better when mixed with potatoes, as they tend toward the watery side on their own)

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    Chou-rave does indeed = Kohlrabi. I just bought a "chou-rave" at the market mentioned above by vielleanglaise in the 10th, and it was delicious. The two guys are from Terroirs d'Avenir and they source local, hard to find vegetables and are worth going to if you are in the area. They get there around 13h and are there until they sell out I suppose. Last week I got amazing freshly picked corn which is not something easily found in Paris.

                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      my mistake,'s sold as Kohlrabi at my local market, on the rare occasion it shows up at all. Go figure.

                      (that is a heads-up...things do sometimes go by different names!)

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family and looks as if it came from outerspace. Celeri rave, celriac in English, is a knobbly celery root.

                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                            Sorry. Thru juggling between lingos, my spelling's gone to shot.