How Much Would You Pay For One Nectarine?

by admin on August 20, 2008 · 5 comments

Diamond Bright Nectarines

In my book, I’ve got an anecdote about the reaction people had when Chez Panisse started serving a Flavor King pluot as dessert on its prix fixe menu. It was listed as the “perfect piece of fruit” and it came in a simple, wooden bowl, absolutely unadorned.

The restaurant’s message was clear: nothing we could do to this fruit — turn it into ice cream, top it with streusel, garnish it with crème fraîche — would improve it. (After all, how could you improve on the perfect piece of fruit?)

Some people found this thought experiment to be the essence of what Chez Panisse was about. It wasn’t just about the food at Chez Panisse, it was the whole experience of eating and appreciating it, etc., etc. Other people found it the height of pomposity that Chez Panisse would charge for one piece of fruit twice the amount it would cost to buy a pound of the same fruit at a market down the street.

Turns out Chez Panisse is not the only place serving as-is fruit for dessert. Yesterday, I came across a very active thread on Chowhound about San Francisco’s Zuni Café serving one nectarine for $4.50 (and on a pretty ugly plate, at that). The responses (all 100+ of them) lean mostly towards the “height of pomposity” point of view, though there are a few Zuni/CP defenders in there.

What’s your take?

Correction: The original Chowhound poster said the fruit cost $8 but was mistaken. The nectarine cost $4.50.

(Copyrighted image courtesy of the California Tree Fruit Agreement)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Single Guy Chef August 20, 2008 at 3:49 pm

How much did you pay for the pluot at CP? While my position is I go to restaurants to try things that I wouldn’t be able to cook for myself at home, I do agree with CP that the Flavor King in particular is a perfect fruit. Have you tried them? I LOVE them, and would find them enjoyable unadorned. That said, I probably wouldn’t have ordered it at CP because I would say I’ve got some at home. But I wouldn’t look down on others who do try it because once you go Flavor King, there’s no going back! :)

rachel August 20, 2008 at 5:40 pm

I don’t see anything wrong with it as long as people know that what they are getting but personally, I wouldn’t order it. We rarely eat out as we make so much at home, but when we do, I like it to be something I can’t get or wouldn’t make at home. I already go to the farmer’s market, I can pick out my own perfect plum.

Duncan August 21, 2008 at 12:48 pm

this time of year, I’m on quest for the best nectarine. I finally had the best one EVER. It was truly unbelievable. I would’ve paid $10 for it.

phoodie August 21, 2008 at 1:10 pm

I actually found the perfect nectarine. It is called a Terra White (they have a website). Real high acid, but very, very sweet. The problem is that the grower could not get retailers to buy the nectarine…..even though it is fantastic, it was hard to sell. The grower is even considering taking out his trees and replacing them with something that will sell. Too bad we cannot figure out a way to support these small specialty farmers. Local Farmers Markets are just not enough revenue to sustain a large stonefruit crop….These trees take years to mature. I think the season may be done, but their might be some for mail order.

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