Yesterday, this end of the hall caught wind that product had received samples of some new vegetables that we are looking to feature in the Spring 2007 Park Seed catalog and rushed down to get a first glimpse at what exciting tasty treats would come out of the box. How could we ever have imagined what we were in for??!!
When I first saw Romanesco in my grocery aisle, I thought I was looking at an artsy fractal painting in a gallery and nearly dropped my bag of apples! And the squeal I let out at the checkout counter when they asked if I found everything okay – quickly grabbing my spiraled treasure to show them how neat it was – must have left many with jaws gaping for sure! Similar squeals were heard down the halls of Park Seed yesterday when this green gem was pulled from the box.
A traditional crop of the Mediterranean coast of Italy between Rome and Naples, Romaesco is becoming a popular gourmet vegetable. It is being lumped into the Brassica genus, which includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, but taxonomists have struggled with exactly where to place this marvel. The French call it “Chou Romanesco” – translating to “Romanesco cabbage,” while others have deemed it “Romanesco broccoli” or “Romanesco cauliflower.” I’m sure there are very scientific arguments well over our heads (my head, at least) that could go on and on and on, but whatever it is – I love it!
Most comparisons liken it to cauliflower. I think it’s much better than cauliflower, although I’ve always shied away from white vegetables ever since reading Bunnicula as a child. The heads are tightly packed like a cauliflower, but it has a much sweeter and more mild, nutty taste. It also keeps its vibrant color when cooked for a striking plate presentation. As much as I enjoy eating it, I still have an overwhelming urge to shellac it and leave it out as decoration on the coffee table. There’s something very sea-creature-esque about it. I can’t wait to try it in the garden – rows of sprightly, spiraled chartreuse cones packed together into one gloriously unusual head.
The next item out of the box was an amazing example of vegetal growth for sure! The Nandrin Carrots inside were over 12 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide – each! Our Director of Horticulture for Seeds sprinted into action and cut one so we could taste – how sweet! Literally, sweet! We were a little worried that the center would be as woody as a piece of, well, wood! We were all pleasantly surprised that it was quite tender and delectable despite its enormous size. The size is actually a plus since they make great carrot chips when sliced! You can easily pick them after they’ve reached normal carrot size of 8 to 9 inches, but why stop there when you can impress friends and family with SUPER CARROT! It matures in about 65 days and has a cylindrical, Nantes shape. Perfect growing beside all the State Fair giant vegetables!
Be on the lookout for these in the Spring Seed catalog folks!