Lunar New Year Filled with Roosters and Dragons – both Edible and Legendary

Chinese New Year Gift Basket from Manhattan Fruitier

Lunar New Year Gift Basket from Manhattan Fruitier

This Chinese New Year, the year of the Fire Rooster, begins on January 28. During the two-week celebration of the New Year, family and friends gather for feasting and to honor household and heavenly deities. It is one of the grandest, most celebratory annual events throughout the world.

Originating in the ancient Shang Dynasty (17 to 11 BC), this lively holiday was a way to ward off the legendary monster “Nian,” who loved to feast on little children and farm animals. Along with his appetite, Nian had some peculiar hang ups. He detested the color red and abhorred loud noise. So people decorated their houses in brilliant reds and set off fire crackers in the streets to send Nian away for another year.

Even though China adopted the Western calendar and January 1st as an official New Year date, the Lunar New Year is still of the utmost cultural and historical importance. Chinese continue to celebrate the traditions and customs of Lunar New Year, albeit now with a shorter new name – the Spring Festival.

During the Spring Festival, mandarin oranges, tangerines, pomelos and all types of citrus are gifted as tokens of good fortune, happiness and abundance. These fruits are displayed on kitchen tables throughout the two week celebration as a harbinger of a healthy, hopeful and prosperous New Year to come. Another highly-prized celebratory fruit during the Spring Festival is the Dragon Fruit or Pitahaya. Wildly popular for its brilliant fuschia-pink coloring – some believe the color of luck – Dragon Fruit is often placed on altars for the Lunar New Year.

Dragon Fruit or Pitahaya

Dragon Fruit or Pitahaya

Dragon fruit, or pitahaya, is actually a vine-like cactus that originated in the Americas but became almost exclusively popular in East and Southeast Asia over many years. It’s a fruit both moody and mysterious. The pitahaya’s aromatic flowers bloom one night only, on the full moon, and can only grow by nocturnal pollinators that bring this magical fruit to fruition.

The white flesh of the Dragon Fruit is soft like a ripe peach and is easily eaten with a spoon once you cut the fruit in half. It has tiny black seeds that are easy to eat. The flesh is slightly sweet with a touch of lemon flavor. Delicious as well as exotically colored, it will ward off the monster Nian until at least 2018.

New York City Chinatown Parade

New York City Chinatown Parade

This 2017 Lunar New Year Spring Festival begins on January 28th . If you happen to be in New York City, check out the New Year’s Day Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival, kicking off at Chinatown’s Sara Roosevelt Park.  Usher out the New Year celebrations on February 5th with a bang and clang two weeks later at the dazzling Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown.

Happy Lunar New Year to you all!

Celebrate Fall with Apple and Pear Varietals




We are never short of delicious apples and pears here at Manhattan Fruitier, but the fall is when we receive crates of new-crop varieties straight from our favorite orchards.

Many apple and pear varieties have been in danger of extinction due to commercial growers seeking more durable types that can sustain long periods in cold storage. This has led to breeding apples that conform to the model of perfectly round, red and shiny, while casting away the knobby, oddly shaped russet types that are packed with brilliant flavor. Over time this has trained many people to eat with their eyes and not their mouths.

We are fortunate to have access to lesser known apple and pear varieties as a few dedicated farmers remain committed to growing these “forgotten fruits” and bringing them to market.

Here are some of the apples we will be featuring this Fall




The Zestar apple tastes sweet and tangy, with accents of brown sugar, and is known for its unique flavor. The apple is best used for fresh eating, and for use in a variety of baked goods, sauces, desserts, and salads.




Mollie’s Delicious has a subtle pinkish red skin and exceptionally pleasing taste. While Mollie’s Delicious has the distinct “bottom bumps” of a Red Delicious, it is not a Red Delicious sport. Rather, it is a cross between Gravenstein and Golden Delicious bloodlines.




The Blondee is a sweet, cheerful early apple with an alluring fragrance. Great for eating out of hand or cooking. It was discovered growing amongst an orchard of Gala apples. It ripens a few days before the Gala and is one of the only yellow apples available in the early weeks of apple season. Blondees have been described as the “yellow Galas.”



Asian pears have been a staple in our gifts for years, but we’ve recently been swooning over a wonderful varietal grown in New Jersey (of all places). The Shingo pear, grown at Evergreen Farm, is the crispest, sweetest, most mouth-watering pear we have ever eaten. This exceptional Asian pear has pearly white flesh and is subtly sweet and fragrant, juicy and crisp to the bite. Best eaten cold, they explode with a refreshing burst in your mouth. In case you couldn’t tell, we adore this fruit!


Apple Black Oxford blog homepage crop 20161101_0399

The Black Oxford is small and quite dark, spattered with rust-colored speckles. The blush is a deep red with purple overtones, almost mahogany, sometimes described as having a blackish bloom. The apple is slightly ribbed and classically shaped, round to conical. Flavor is mild and sweet with a hint of sweet corn, vanilla, and the pure sweetness of cane sugar. The Black Oxford originates from Paris, Maine (Oxford County) about 1790.


Apples Blue Pearmain 20161101_0398

The Blue Pearmain is an old New England favorite dating back to the 1700’s. No one knows where it originated, but ancient trees can still be found in the most rural areas of New England. It has a blue-purple color and the russet blaze around the stem. The medium to very large fruit is sweet with just a bit of tartness. The flesh is fairly dry, firm, dense and slightly crisp.  It is tasty eaten out of hand although the skin is rather tough so you might want to peel it first.  Blue Pearmain makes a good baked apple as its thick skin holds up perfectly



Esopus Spitzenburg originated in Esopus, Ulster County, NY, in the latter part of the 18th century and is reputed to be Thomas Jefferson’s favorite dessert apple. He ordered 12 trees of the variety from William Prince’s Flushing, Long Island nursery in 1790 to plant at Monticello. “Spitz” is a large apple, oblong in shape, smooth-skinned and colored a lively, brilliant red, approaching scarlet. It is covered with small yellow specks. The yellow flesh is rich, juicy, and sprightly.


Apple Orleans Reinette 20161101_0397

Orleans Reinette is an old-fashioned 18th century French apple with a reputation for good flavor. Over time it has been known by many different names, including Winter Ribston. These apples can be found growing in the cooler climate of England as well as Oregon in the United States, and can still be found growing in areas of France. Orleans Reinette apples are medium-sized, plump apples with yellowish-green skin, orange russet, and a red blush. The skin is a rough classic russet texture, and very crunchy. Flavor has hints of sweet oranges and a nutty finish. It goes well with buttery cheeses such as raw milk Swiss-style.


Meet the Artist & Anthologist: Bascove

Sustenance & Desire: A Food Lover’s Anthology of Sensuality and Humor, is a compilation of works that encompasses all things we love at Manhattan Fruitier;  still life paintings & poetry and prose by well-known writers all explicitly detailing man’s sensual & humorous relationship with food.sustenanceanddesire

Artist, anthologist, and long-time friend of Manhattan Fruitier, Bascove, recently let us in on the inside scoop on Sustenance & Desire: A Food Lover’s Anthology of Sensuality and Humor. 

What was your inspiration behind  Sustenance & Desire: A Food Lover’s Anthology Of Sensuality & Humor?

Still lifes have always been a genre I adore. Over the years I have painted dozens. It’s a joy to study and interpret a thoroughly delicious subject. I had already produced books on two of my passions; bridges and reading. Food seemed like a natural addition.

 With all the available food literature by great writers, how did you go about selecting which authors & works to include?

I was familiar with the work of most of these writers. How could an anthology not include Proust’s glorious reveries from the taste of madeleines or Nabokov’s from hunting for mushrooms? Thinking about food, thinking deeply, brought about many issues; it’s necessity, of course, but could any other subject be so steeped in social, political, and spiritual components? I read through stacks of books of poetry and prose, it was like a treasure hunt. It began to take shape as a collection about food as love, as laughter, as need, as memory, and as the multitude connections between families, lovers, and friends.

 Which specific piece in the anthology resonates with you the most?

Colette and M.F.K. Fisher’s sensual writings about food were the initial inspirations, a passage from Fisher begins the collection: “It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others”

Have you had any experiences where fresh fruit played a prominent role?

Yes. In Paris, in the fall, the markets have copious amounts of the most sublime fruit, most noticeably fresh figs. I had never experienced any taste quite as grand, I would go through bowlfuls of them.

My work was shown at a gallery in Paris for over 20 years. I would schedule my exhibitions for the fall so I could satisfy my addiction. My dear friend, and owner of the gallery, would often have a “demi-kilo” waiting at the little hotel where my husband and I would stay.


If you were an insect, what fruit would you want to pollinate?

Figs are infinitely appealing, but being claustrophobic I would never have the endurance of those implacable female fig wasps. Cherry pollination seems like a safer trade.


How many servings of fruit do you eat on an average day?

Three to four, but in summer that number can easily increase.

If you were limited to only one fruit forever, what would it be?


bascoveWith Solo exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York, the Arsenal in Central Park, the Municipal Art Society, the Hudson River Museum, the Noble Maritime Collection, NYU Fales Library, and The National Arts Club, Bascove has documented and celebrated the Bridges of New York City. She has worked with The New York, Brooklyn, and Roosevelt Island Historical Societies, and has lectured and arranged events with the Museum of the City of New York, the Central Park Conservancy, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the Municipal Art Society, NYU Fales Library, and the Hudson River Museum. Three collections of her paintings have been published, accompanied by anthologies of related writings: Sustenance & Desire: A Food Lover‘s Anthology of Sensuality and Humor, Where Books Fall Open: A Reader’s Anthology of Wit and Passion, and Stone and Steel: Paintings and Writings Celebrating the Bridges of New York City. As a writer she has been a contributor to Arte Fuse, Stay Thirsty, The Three Tomatoes, and New York Arts Magazine. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of the City of New York, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the Noble Maritime Collection, the Harry Ransom Collection, University of Texas at Austin, The New York Public Library, MTA Arts for Transit, The Library and National Archives, Canada, the Rachofsky Collection, the Norwalk Transit District, Time Warner, the Oresman Collection, The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University, and Musée de Cherbourg.

Color Your World!

Tutti Frutti

In a tech-filled world of tablets, gadgets, phones and drones, what adult among us hasn’t wanted to step back to our childhood, at least for an afternoon, back to the blissed-out zen of breaking in a new coloring book with colored pencils or crayons? Well, sometimes you can go back.

Grown-ups are actually coloring again, and it’s really o.k! Adult coloring books have found their way to the top of best-seller book lists in the U.S. and Europe and, what’s even more amazing, they are bringing joy, creativity, and relaxation to the masses – when we all need it the most.

Coloring Party

We are big on coloring at Manhattan Fruitier. Our own Lauren Westbrook learned first-hand the joy of coloring as an adult when given The Secret Garden by Johanna Basford as a gift by a childhood friend. One rainy afternoon at her friend’s lakeside cottage they sat, side-by-side, each coloring a page, just as they did when they were girls. They found the activity just as satisfying years later, but what seemed different was the sense of tranquility it brought as well as the undeniable desire to play with unexpected colors and shading. She highly recommends coloring as a creative outlet for all, especially gratifying for the non-artistically inclined adult.

We are excited to carry the work of two illustrators who have designed the most beautiful tools for this growing phenomenon. Johanna Basford, whose books are responsible for this new wave of fun – and Louise Fili, award-winning graphic designer, author, lecturer, illustrator, and friend of Manhattan Fruitier who has designed gorgeous colored pencils for filling in and outside the lines.

 Johanna BasfordJohanna Basford

Johanna Basford is an illustrator and ‘ink evangelist’. Growing up on her parent’s fish farm in native rural Scotland, her intricate work stems from the flora and fauna that surrounded childhood life. She graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, specializing in silk screen prints and drawings. Johanna Basford’s success has become familiarly known to us with commissions by Starbucks, DKNY, and Chipotle’s “Cultivating Thought” Author Series, to name a few.  She describes her detailed drawings as, “every piece starting as a simple pencil sketch…organically evolving…and slowly creeping over the paper.” Her work for adult colorists is distinctive and with her books an imaginative adventure awaits.

Louise FiliLouise Fili

Louise Fili, renowned graphic designer, has used elegant and original typefaces and an Italophile aesthetic to transform many a corporate logo, including the logo of our own Manhattan Fruitier. Her work is found in permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the Cooper Hewitt Museum and the Bibliotheque Nationale.  We offer her splendido set of twelve “Tutti Frutti” colored pencils, inspired by classic Italian packaging and stationery. These double-sided pencils with complimentary hues of brilliant color will inspire your written words and drawings. Buon divertimento!

This gift from our Spark Collection, combines Johanna Basford’s newest coloring book, “Enchanted Forest”  with the superb quality and elegant style of the “Tutti Frutti” pencil set designed by the incomparable Louise Fili. Guaranteed to bring smiles and evoke childhood memories while it unleashes the tranquility and creativity for grown-ups who are young at heart.

Manhattan Fruitier Staff Summer Getaway Top Picks

Summer’s in full swing at Manhattan Fruitier and we’ve got vacation on the brain. While it’s always busy here, it’s also a time to book our trips and schedule some long weekends. We’re all city people but we like to get away – even for a day.
Where are you going this summer? Wherever it is, we hope it’s Beachy Keen.

If you still have some undecided weekends in your near future, maybe we can help. Here are our favorite local and not so far away haunts that we enjoy. Cheers!

Lisa – Production  “Usually I take Metro North to Cold Spring in Putnam County. It’s a wonderful little town on the Hudson river. It’s cooler there in the summertime, being right on the Hudson River. Lots of hiking trails and kayaking opportunities. When I want a getaway closer to home I head to the NY Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Their Frieda Kahlo show this summer is a must see.”

 Cold Spring, NY
Cold Spring

Arlinda – Production  “I go to Manhattan Beach almost every weekend. It’s near Coney Island and Brighton Beach but nowhere near as crowded. I just love it. The parking is free and the water and the sand are much cleaner.”

Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn NYManhattan Beach Park

David – Head of Customer Service  “ I do day trips to Southampton in the summer. It’s just beautiful there. I get up early, jump on the jitney and spend the day at the beach then around Main street for the shops and cafes. When I don’t leave town, I grab a drink and head straight to the Highline. It’s the best urban oasis the city has to offer. ”

High LineThe Highline

Charles – Head of Expediting & Facilities “My getaway is Cape May. You can get there quicker, but I like drive to the end of G.S. Parkway and jump on the Cape May Ferry. It’s kind of like the Hamptons but better in my opinion because it’s all coastline. Beautiful views, old houses on stilts and little casinos. Tons of history if you want to visit the little museums. Sometimes we do mini-golf and there are great restaurants that serve seafood that they catch fresh that day.”

Cape May, NJCape May

Jackie – Production  “City Island! I love it. The scenery is beautiful, the air is so fresh.I like watching the speedboats, walking around and then get a table at Sammy’s Fishbox for Coconut Shrimp. They are the best!”

City Island, NYCity Island

Hugh – Finance & Bookkeeping/IT Manager  “I have two favorites for day trips in the summertime that both a short ferry ride away. Governer’s Island and Snug Harbor. Governor’s for the great food carts. I grab a bite and go to the big grassy area at the top of the hill where you can look back on the Manhattan skyline. Snug Harbor for the Chinese Scholars Garden.”

Chinese Scholars GardensChinese Scholar’s Garden at Snug Harbor

Jehv and Lauren – Co-Owners  “Lauren and I like to sneak away for a day – preferably in the middle of the week – to Point Lookout Beach on the south shore of Long Island. PLB is a pretty well-kept secret, which means it’s relatively quiet. It’s a very long and deep beach so it’s not hard to find a little island of serenity in the sand. You get there as if you’re driving to Jones Beach, and then take the Point Lookout exit just before the Jone’s Beach toll plaza. It’s less than an hour’s drive from Manhattan.”

Point LookoutPoint Lookout

Sara – Marketing Manager “I like spending  the summer taking day trips all over the NY area, but I am especially fond of the Pine Barrens in NJ. You take County Rte 539 through the barrens and along the way are lots of country towns with markets and farm stands on the weekend. When it’s blueberry season it’s a great road trip since that’s where they are mainly grown and there are tons of roadside stands to pick up quarts (or pick them off the trees on a hike!). Sometimes I’ll go back out in the fall for the Cranberry Festival. They have cranberry bog tours in early October.”

 Pine BarrensPine Barrens

Sarah – Product Development, Purchasing “Summer and I have an uneasy relationship since I burn in a hot NY minute, so I seek out the the shady places. I’m fortunate to live down the street from my favorite place in the city, Greenwood Cemetery. I spend a lot of time there every week walking the paths. There are over 8000 trees and most are giants, the oldest trees in NYC. It may seem a bit morbid but it’s the most idyllic, peaceful place. Plus, the cemetery really encourages tourism with tons of events – theater, dance performances, picnics, trolley and walking tours.”

Greenwood CemeteryGreenwood Cemetery

 Amanda -Customer ServiceShakespeare in the Park (Central Park). My sister and I will go at least once this summer. We bring a picnic blanket and some folding chairs and wake up really early for the ticket line.”

Shakespeare in the ParkShakespeare in the Park