On a trip to Los Angeles earlier this year, before all the Red O brouhaha and even before Red O itself, Rick Bayless tweeted his amazement at seeing so many different avocado varieties available at the farmers markets. Locals may have just politely nodded and moved on, but it really is an embarrassment of riches that is often taken for granted.
The Hass has been the king for a long time, and deservedly so, its nubby black leathery skin protecting a nutty and rich green meat underneath and a “season” that can be best described as extensive. But the belle at the ball right now is a true California native, the product of a chance seedling rather than meticulous hybridization, and with a rather short harvest season. The Reed will be around for maybe another month, weather permitting, so enjoy it while you can.
The Reed is a slightly mottled, round green avocado, with a smooth and thick glossy skin. When fully ripe, the flesh is like dense custard, super buttery and smooth with nary a fiber to be found. The flesh near the pit has a slightly nutty flavor, but overall it's the richness that dominates. Samples from Rancho Santa Cecilia out in Carpinteria (which also has Hass, Fuertes, and Bacons) peeled so easily that it seemed like the flesh wasn't even attached.
Avocados, like bananas, are a fruit that ripens after it's been picked, so your vendor will likely have hard, new fruit mixed in with riper specimens. When ripe, the skin transforms from a standard green to a dark pine color. Choose for avocados with solid, uncut flesh, but leave the ripeness choice up to your grower. Day-of avocados will be super soft and delicate. But if you aren't planning an immediate bowl of guacamole, your vendor can pick a few for you: their expertise will yield you perfect fruit on the day you need it.