May 7, 2006 |
Inside the special bag Isabelle Vajda brings back each year from Paris are four things (five if she has room): five packets of couscous fin, four cans of Clement Faugier chestnut paste, two large cans of duck confit and lots of Haribo chocolate-covered marshmallow teddy bears. Any extra space and she might add a few boxes of green lentils. Yes, she knows she can get them here, but the ones she buys in France she thinks are just a bit firmer.
June 20, 2005 |
The color of Buddhist monks' robes and the artist Christo's "The Gates," saffron is also the name for the spice derived from the dried stigmas of the crocus flower (Crocus sativus). Native to India and the near and Middle East, pure saffron is highly precious: A thousand flowers yield just a few grams. The higher the altitude in which it is grown, the more precious the carotenoid-rich spice is considered.
October 30, 2002 |
I'm standing on a bluff overlooking the ocean, soaking up the afternoon sunshine. It's that delicious warm part of a fall day when the chill of the morning fog has burned off but before it can creep back for the evening. Below me, the sea cracks against a rocky beach. Catalina looks like it's about a block away. In my hand, I hold a brown paper bag full of just-picked fennel pods. Their warm perfume mingles with the fresh salt air. And all I can think about is dinner.
March 21, 1998 |
From his sprawling stone house atop a hill near Java's southern coast, Parmin, a farmer, can see the neglected green brambles of his clove trees half a mile away. The groves are untended and wild, the boughs of his spice trees laden with unharvested cloves. Since the president's son took control of the industry eight years ago, Parmin's clove harvest has brought him less than what he paid his workers to pick the buds. Finally, he gave up.
September 30, 2009 |
It's a sausage lover's world out there, right? Especially at this time of year, nothing goes better with a great cold beer. The crisp crunch of that first juicy bite, the perfect blend of fresh ground meat redolent with toasted spices and pungent herbs. Granted, you can increasingly find some pretty good packaged sausages. But for the true fan, nothing compares to the texture and flavors to be found in great homemade sausage. Sausage making is an art that spans almost every regional and ethnic cuisine, a craft carefully honed and perfected over thousands of years.
May 28, 2008 |
IF YOU sit at the table in the window at Tara's Himalayan Cuisine, a new cafe on Venice Boulevard in Palms, you can study a large panoramic photo under the tabletop glass. It's a scene of the mountain region from which the cafe takes its name, but rather than the more common sight of peaks with no sign of human habitation other than prayer flags, it pictures the city of Pokhara, Nepal.
February 4, 1996 |
No doubt about it, in Tucson they like chiles. From sweet bell peppers and mild New Mexico reds to picante chiltepins and fiery habaneros, chiles are integral to Tucson's gastronomic scene, which is fragrantly influenced by the cuisine of its southern neighbor, the Mexican state of Sonora. A visit to El Charro Cafe is a wonderful introduction to Sonoran-style cuisine.
December 24, 2001 |
For half a millennium, the aromatic little seed of the Myristica fragrans tree is said to have cured everything from boils and backaches to strokes and the plague. Arabs and Indians swear that it's an aphrodisiac. Malcolm X smoked it in jail when he ran out of marijuana. Wars were fought over it--including one that rendered the obscure New World island of Manhattan to the British. Today it's in toothpaste, perfume, sausages and soap--not to say countless cups of eggnog.
July 30, 2003 |
Priced vanilla at the supermarket lately? One 4-ounce jar of extract, $9.15 to $17.99. One bean, $11.69. Some brands are selling vanilla in a puny 1-ounce size to reduce the sticker shock (down to $3.89). And everybody agrees prices are headed higher. What's going on? Just four years ago, prices were falling, following the breakup of the cartel that had controlled Madagascar's vanilla production.
March 5, 2008 |
WALK into almost any taqueria and you can get agua de tamarindo, a refreshingly tangy Mexican drink made from tamarind fruit. But tamarind is not just Mexican, and tamarindo is not just a drink. Wonderfully zingy, tart and piquant, with an intriguing herbal-floral note, the fruit's flavor shows up in a wide-reaching array of cuisines -- Southeast Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Eastern and Northern African, and Caribbean.