Have You Heard of the Bronx Grape?
I think I found my new favorite fruit: the Bronx Grape. The delicate pale green-to-pink grapes have a sweet, honey-like taste but with a muskiness that adds a subtle complexity. Alice Waters called them “mind blowingly delicious: sweet, tender, and juicy, with a touch of the unique flavor of Concord grapes,” in The Art of Simple Food. They’re fancy. And so hard to find, which of course only adds to the appeal.
Roughly 90 years ago the Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station and the New York Botanical Garden developed the Bronx Grape, a cross between a Thompson Seedless and Concord Grape that resulted in the seedless table grape. You can actually see the original Bronx Grape vine on display at the New York Botanical Gardens.
Alas, the vines that grew the grapes weren’t a fan of the East Coast. They suffered fungal diseases, cold damage and other ailments and disappeared from New York not long after being created. Until recently, the only place you could bite into a tasty Bronx Grape was in Northern California (you can normally find them at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza farmers market) where the grapes have been thriving albeit in limited quantities for nearly a century. Due to their fragility, the grapes don’t transport well.
Baldor Foods started flying very small amounts of Bronx Grapes from a farmer California’s Salinas region, back to New York in 2015, distributing them to city chefs at Upland and more as well as through Agata & Valentina and Eataly.
They’re only available for a few weeks every August to September.