Photo by Stefanie Michejda.
Starting right about now, and continuing for only the next few weeks, we’ll be seeing kishu mandarins in restaurants and produce markets. About the size of a chestnut, the kishu is seedless, soft and sweet. Many of them come from organic growers such as Churchill Orchards in Ojai, but since they are extremely labor-intensive (they need to be picked by hand so as not to pull the delicate skins off), not many farmers invest in them. We called Greenleaf Produce today, supplier to many of SF restaurants, and found out that a big shipment just arrived, so they should be popping up on menus any day now. We hear they’re already gracing desserts at Chez Panisse and there was also talk of kishus appearing at Bar Jules’ daily-changing menu just a few days ago. If you want to get your own, they’re in full stock at Monterey Market in Berkeley. You can also order them at the Churchill Orchards link above. Like me, your first thought will no doubt involve putting them in a nice fresh spinach salad, but beware: It’s difficult to get one peeled and then let it sit there waiting for its brethren to be shucked, all fragrant in its tiny plumpness. The temptation is to pop it into your mouth immediately, and so on, until your little pound of kishus is gone, gone, gone.