For the regular consumer, decent pine nuts are colossally difficult to procure. Everybody sells pine nuts, you say—and it’s true, they’re all around. It’s the decent part that’s tough to achieve. I switched to walnuts for pesto after too many batches ruined by rancid or weirdly metallic-tasting pignolas. I even changed my favorite pine-nut cookies, though I end up calling them pine-nut-cookies-made-with-blanched-slivered-almonds.
Even so, I continue to try every new source I come across. I was a little chary to give the new ones from Los Alamitos-based Frieda’s Produce a chance because they’re from China, where some of the worst-tasting originate. They’re adorably teensy, and I could see right away they at least looked different from the disappointing needle-shaped narrow type commonly seen in bulk. Besides the cute factor, they’re tender, sweet, and creamy, without a hint of rancidity, and are easily found at Orange County Ralphs stores, $5.99 for a 3-ounce packet. I look forward to the reunion of pine nuts with basil, garlic, and Parm in the blender, and to restoring my cookies’ good name.