The Seasons of Grace's
We’ve all heard the expression “going back to our roots.” In my personal experience, I take this in both a very literal and figurative way. Growing up, Balducci's began when I was just a little girl as a produce market. My father and mother, Louis and Maria Balducci, strictly sold the freshest, highest quality produce, and only that. There was no such thing as a Prime Meat department or Coffee Bar, we sold what we knew, and that was the most delicious farm grown products a New York market had to offer.
If there is one story I like to tell over and over again, it’s the one about my pop and his watermelon. When I was a teenager, my pop bought this huge watermelon from Chile…the first of its kind in New York City. My mom and I thought he was crazy buying something that no one had ever heard of, but his response was always “whatever I don’t sell, I’ll bring it home to my family.” After that one item, Balducci’s quickly became the go-to market for any and everything of quality and exotic origins.
Nowadays, with both markets in full swing, we still try to maintain the same principles my parents displayed. However we’ve changed a couple of things. When you go to other markets, they carry certain produce items year round regardless of their quality just to say “yeah we have that.” In Grace’s we believe fruit and vegetables are the fashion of nature, everything has a season. Figs, berries, melon; all of these have a height season, where their flavor and texture cannot be disputed as anything but nature’s candy.
Between my late husband and founder of Grace’s Marketplace, Joseph Doria, and his brother Dominick Doria, they only believed in selling the best at its best. In both stores we have a veteran produce staff that is more than willing to help you select the ripest melon or sweetest pear.
I always encourage and stress that all shoppers buy only what’s in season, hence why Grace’s only carries certain produce items respectively. I wouldn’t sell anything to my customers that I wouldn’t serve to my own family. When we start to carry things out of season like some of my competitors, where do you think they are getting their products from? Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica… All places that are quite far from us require a long process of shipping, and not to mention the health risks. I know organic produce is all the rage right now and rightfully so, but what’s point if the product is sub-par to begin with?
Sometimes you are going to have a craving for something, or have a recipe that requires a specific product, but always keep in mind the seasons. There is always something comparable, always a substitute that you can use and will probably taste better. I personally love figs. Growing up there was nothing better than when my parents brought home ripe figs with a little cheese or prosciutto…it’s the best. But I know it’s a treat you can’t have all the time, and I wouldn’t want to because it just not the same.
So next time you come into Grace’s and you’re looking for a little something fresh, keep in mind, if Grace’s doesn’t carry it at the moment, it’s because we know you wouldn’t enjoy it.
Posted on 3/11/2012 at 7:45:00 AM