the vegan gourmet is always on the look out for interesting produce options. because so many ingredients are off limits, we gotta keep it fresh. i mean, really...think about it. there are hundreds, thousands, millions? of items, ranging from everyday staples (butter, cream, lard) to all forms of strange exotica that we mindfully omit from our each and every dish. so when we come across a special breed of potato (we saw some the other day at the farmer's market called "red cloud," which inevitably makes me think of floating dreamily on a fluffy cumulous of mashed potatoes), or white asparagus, or green paradise figs, we get our organic cotton panties all in a wad. new products mean new possibilities, and when you just can't face another stir fry, that is a beautiful thing.
the other day when i was walking through the italian market, i was scanning the produce stands for an interesting fruit option to adorn my morning granola. berry season is mostly over (sob! see ya next year), figs were expensive, etc etc. and then a small container caught my eye. kiwi berries! the label said "kiwi grapes," but that didn't fool me for a second.
i first learned of kiwi berries at work, and have loved the little dudes ever since. on the outside, they don't resemble kiwis at all: smooth skin with not a spot of fuzz. actually, they kind of look like - and are roughly the same size as - green cherries.
but then when you cut them open:
like a tiny kiwi! so i bought a box for a dollar and experienced the little buzz of finding something special. i bet these would be a snazzy little garnish on cupcakes or a fancy cocktail...
the wikipedia tells me that while we associate kiwis with tropical climates, kiwi berries are native to korea, china and siberia. the vines are quite hardy, and though they need a frost free period of 150 days to properly grow, they do survive temperature drops. also, the vines apparently smell like cat nip and cats love it! so next year, i'm growing these babies in my back yard, to snack on all summer long and to attract a gaggle of kittens to hunt the mice that frolick in our kitchen at night!