Avocado heaven

Grocer Derek Coupe perfects the citrus display outside Lisa’s Central Market in Truckee.

Grocer Derek Coupe perfects the citrus display outside Lisa’s Central Market in Truckee.

Photo By David Robert

The avocados at Lisa’s Central Market in Truckee caught my eye right away—jade gems among a farmers’ market of other brightly colored fruits and veggies. They were organic Zutano avocados and were larger, smoother and more lime-colored than I’m used to seeing in the common Haas variety I usually buy.

Lisa’s was giving out samples of the avocados, as well as pineapple and papaya tasters. I could have easily made a lunch out of the sweet and succulent produce, but I could see that other people in the store were interested in the samples, too. So, I made sure not to take too greedy a share—not easy.

I didn’t buy the pineapple ($1.99 per pound), although it was an ideal tropical fruit, mostly because I don’t have the patience to cut off the thorny skin and remove the tough inner cord—that, and my grocery budget was tight.

The avocados were advertised as “buy two, get one free,” so it was easy to justify the purchase of a trio—about $1.33 each—and I was glad I did later in the week.

Next to the avocados was an organic guacamole mix ($3.49), a combination of dried spices, onions and garlic. The moment I spotted the mix, I decided I ought to make a meal out of fresh, organic ingredients bought entirely at Lisa’s.

I decided to make black bean soup. This required two cans of black beans ($1.29 each), one red onion (52 cents), a bundle of cilantro ($1.49), one garlic head (78 cents), one medium-sized jalapeño pepper and a small block of soft, white cheese ($2.55 for what tasted like Fontina, but I’m not really sure what it was). The guacamole would be perfect for dropping in tablespoon-sized clumps into the soup.

I’ve made my black bean soup for friends and family several times, but when I made it for my parents that night, their response was the most enthusiastic it’s ever been. Maybe I was right on with my proportions, but more likely, the soup’s impressiveness was due to the superiority of its ingredients.

Everything about Lisa’s is appealing, from the large selection of organic produce, wines, breads, dairy products and meats—for the holiday season, they’re offering good deals on hormone-free Diestel turkeys and organic beef and pork—to the ambiance, which reminds me of Pike Place Market in Seattle. There are high ceilings with corrugated metal awnings. Signs overhead say things like “Our merchants carry knives,” “Ain’t life a peach” and “Tasting explicitly encouraged.”

Three days after my jaunt up to Truckee, I walked into my kitchen and spotted the remaining third avocado from across the room. I immediately started drooling. Sitting next to a Reno-bought, blackish-green, organic Haas avocado and two browning d’Anjou pears, that Zutano looked more appetizing than any piece of produce ever has to me, and I can promise you that no avocado in my life has ever brought forth such a singular Pavlovian response. If ever you’re near Truckee, make sure to stop in at Lisa’s Central Market and sample the fine produce. Once you stop in, you’ll drool for its goods.