Rick’s Pick Part II

Hold it right there. I couldn’t possibly let you read any further without first insisting you join me in embracing part of the Rick’s Picks experience. So put down whatever excuse of a drink you’re sipping. Grab yourself a tin of ice-cold beer (Tecate preferable) and crank up the volume of some Beau Jocque to 11. Ready? Let’s get pickling!

Having met the customers and sampled the goods earlier in the week, my next step was to pickle with the great man himself. Rick only tests new recipes a couple of times a year so this was a great privilege. After I rocked up at Rick’s pad overlooking Manhattan, a far cry from my tiny commune in Chinatown, we got to work.

We would spend the day focusing on testing two recipes: a Kosher & organic dill pickle & a yellow cucumber pickle. There are two ways to pickle. 1.) Preserving in vinegar, which prevents bacteria growing. 2.) Soaking pickles in a salt brine that encourages fermentation and the growth of ‘good’ bacteria to make the pickles less vulnerable to spoilage. Of the two Rick’s Picks sticks to the former and it was to be our method for the new recipes.

People often regard ‘cooking’ as a single process, when in fact learning how to shop for produce is the hardest part. In this respect Rick had already done the leg work in sourcing some of the best cucumbers around. We began with the Kosher dill pickle using a Kirby cucumber – a short and bumpy cucumber perfect for pickling due to its crunchy texture and flavour. (Conveniently they are also the perfect size to fit in a jar length ways.) Click below to view the slide show…

Our next pickle led us to experiment with one of the big food trends in the US – “heirloom” vegetables. Heirloom vegetables are the ‘new’ organic. They have not been used in large-scale agriculture, are open pollinated and examples of cultivars that date back pre 1950. More importantly, they are easy to grow and known for their quality. On this occasion we would be pickling some ‘booth bay blonde’ yellow cucumber, with tarragon, lemon and red pepper corns. After an amazing day pickling I realised that the downside was the long wait to the UK to try the results. Jars of pickles are far too heavy for a man to carry around the world with him.

Booth Bay Yellow Cucumber

Customers met. Tasters tried. Pickling done. I arrived at Union Square market on Saturday morning ready to man the Rick’s Picks stand and put everything I learned over the past week to the test.

Union Square Market New York

rickpicks union square market

Manning the stand.

Prior to arrival in New York I had the preconception that the city would be filled with rude, snobby people in a rush to get places. Frankly the thought of serving angry New Yorkers terrified me somewhat. Thankfully I was wrong. New York boasts some of the most hospitable and generous people I’ve met. Selling at the market slowly became a different type of nightmare to the one I had envisioned. On hearing my accent, locals would offer me advice on all things food and drink and enquire about how an English lad ended up selling pickles at a Manhattan farmer’s market. I received invitations for dinner, offers of tours around the city and one woman who even said I could stay with her family when I visit Lima. As the day drew to an end, so did my last day in New York. In a battle to sell pickles to New York, New York emerged victorious in selling itself to me. Goodbye New York – it’s time my vagabond shoes started to stray.

A huge thanks to Rick, Kevin, Scott and the rest of the Rick’s Picks team. A special thanks to each and every one of you I met during my time in the city and in particular JP & Even for hosting me throughout my time. You boys helped create some memories I couldn’t possibly write about on here. YOLO(T)! 

Next stop California… 

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11 thoughts on “Rick’s Pick Part II

  1. SO jealous. Hope I can get pickled with Rick one day but in the meantime I’ll enjoy his picks at Whole Foods Market over here in UK.

    • You will also be getting a jar of my pickles hand delivered Nick, by Rick, on the condition you keep them safe and procure ample dairy and meat products to accompany them upon my return!

  2. ChristineGreat idea, Julie! We grew cucumbers this year in our gaedrn, and I have a HUGE (it’s like the size of 4 supermarket cucumbers) that I have been trying to figure out what to do with. So I will have to give this a try!

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