In the Kitchen: Summer comes early and a cool tool

David Karp / Los Angeles Times

Greetings fellow gastronauts,

Welcome to the latest edition of our newsletter, in which we’ll ponder the vagaries of nature and the wonders of a bench scraper and enjoy some outstanding beverages.

And be on the lookout for Saturday's Counter Intelligence newsletter, with stories about the dining scene and Jonathan Gold's restaurant reviews. 

— Russ Parsons

Of early peaches and expensive lettuce 

Did you notice your neighborhood jacaranda trees blooming earlier than normal? That you’re seeing cherries, peaches and nectarines earlier? That you’re paying more for lettuce? All those things are related.

The same warm winter weather that has pushed local trees to flower has also worked its magic on what are normally summer tree fruits. Cherries, apricots and even peaches, plums and nectarines are all in the markets right now, as much as three weeks earlier than normal.

Los Angeles Times

And speaking of cherries, do you need some ideas on how to use them? Does a Pavlova with roasted cherries and cinnamon whipped cream sound like something you might be interested in? How about a spiced cold cherry soup?

While that warm winter weather giveth, it also taketh away. Have you noticed the price of lettuce lately? How about cauliflower? Wholesale prices are as much as double what's normal because of supply gaps. It’s a bit wonky, but it’s explained here.

Los Angeles Times

Great tool, not a lot of dough

Sometimes the very best kitchen tools are also the simplest. One of Test Kitchen director Noelle Carter’s favorites is the bench scraper, a simple square metal blade that can clean dough from work surfaces, transfer chopped vegetables to a pan, and divide pastries into portions. All that for only a couple bucks. 

John Verive / Los Angeles Times

Feeling thirsty? 

Those famously arrogant guys at wildly popular Stone Brewing surprised the beer world by reformatting some of their most popular brands. Beer writer John Verive says the results are generally good.

And former Spago sommelier and current winery owner Kevin O’Conner says that what you really should be drinking these days is Alsatian Riesling.

Modern Bite

A real California shortbread

Aren’t these cookies knockouts? They’re simple shortbreads, but they are frosted to look like vintage Malibu Potteries tiles. Burbank’s Modern Bites baking company makes them.


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