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>white strawberry (白いイチゴ)

Violets are blue.
Strawberries are... white?

Not only is this white strawberry still a strawberry, it can be a seductively sweet strawber
ry. Size is comparable to red ones, bigger than yellow-tinted alpine strawberries.

Lovely novelty gifts of fruits and vegetables are irresistible,
and more developers are coming up with interesting new cultivars.

One pink-tinged white strawberry breed is being grown near the city of 防府 (Hohu) in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and is still waiting for a proper name. So far, it goes simply by 白い苺 or 白いイチゴ, "white strawberry".

The white cake sold at 洋菓子工房ゆーたん bakery in the town of Matsumi (pictured on the right) is decorated with a mix of regular red strawberries and these still rare gems.

Why is the strawberry sad?
Because she is in a ...

No worries - you won't see THIS kid in a jam anytime soon.


>flor de pito, izote, loroco... pétalos comestibles

The energetic electrician installing recessed lighting in the kitchen is from El Salvador. With a wide grin, he boasts of having at least 10 siblings, a dozen aunties and uncles, and a couple of dozen nieces and nephews. Among this happy clan, there are at least a few amazing cooks.

"I am the baby. My parents tell me I was a mistake." He grins again. 

"I have this big family, and no one in our family is named Carlos. No Jose. We have different names." It amuses him that people mistake him for a Mexican, but it doesn't bother him, not too much. 

"We have different foods, too. The best is the pupusa my auntie makes." 

The essential ingredient is loroco, an edible flower. 

 "Everybody uses loroco in our pupusas. It's a flower. We eat many many flowers. In eggs, in soups."

Flower-loving Mesoamericans.

Indeed, yellow blossoms of flor de ayote, pink buds of madrecacao, white petals of flor de izote and red buds of flor de pito.

>pupusas de queso con loroco (Salvador-style tortillas stuffed with cheese and vegetable blossoms), Sarita's Pupuseria Salvadorean, Los Angeles, CA

>huevos con loroco - eggs with loroco, rice and beans, Elizabeth Restaurant, Redwood City, CA

>soy lecithin-free chocolates?

While sitting around eating bonbons and admiring HD TV's trees, rocks, ice, dirt and flowers, I noticed that all but 2 of my chocolate bars had soy lecithin listed as their ingredient. The good(?) guys - Taza's "Stone Ground Organic 70% dark" and Theo's "Madagascar 65% cacao".

Soy or soya lecithin is not an additive I readily understand to be natural. What with all the GM
(genetically modified) food controversy, soybean's image has gone from healthy to possibly harmful. It does make you pause when you think of lecithin as the emulsifier for paint and soap, and sure, margarine. Not quite enough to scare me, though.

This "mouthwatering" passage is taken from :

"We are manufacturing soya lecithin, it is used as emulsifier, also to increase life of products, to reduce fat content and also for easy spreadability of the product. Lecithin is a mixture of polar and neutral lipids and phosphalipids. Polar lipid consist of glycolipids, neutral lipids are triglycerides, phosphalipids contain phosphates. This is in liquid form. Thus lecithin contains Acetone Insoluble Phosphatides, its ingredients are phosphatidcholine, phosphatidyleth, V linositol, phosphatidylserine, other substances are triglycerides, fatty acid, carbohydrates, this is extracted from fresh soya gum directly through fully automatic plant. Uses: Soya lecithin is used as food emulsifier in confectionery (Biscuits, Bread, Chocolate, Candies) Aquafeed, Poultry feed, Paints, Inks, Explosive, Animal feed etc."


am still disinclined to get involved in agenda-ridden "organic lecithin" or "organic chocolate" movement, but I have to admit, I can't help liking the natural sound of cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole vanilla beans. Period.


>veggie monologue and the c word

I am not sure when this started, but I am not much fond of cooked carrots. I prefer them raw.
There are plenty of other c word veggies I do like -

chilli pepper

all of which I recently found on the menu at Adour Alain Ducasse.
And coffee.
(I chose Ethiopian Harrar Longberry at Adour.)

What, did you think coffee beans were grains?
Not legume, either. "Fruit", then, maybe. Okay, seed.

I nominate coffee as the ubiquitous yet mysterious c word of the day. I don't usually allow myself to touch it after 5 pm.

"(The Harrar coffees) are grown on small peasant plots and farms in the Eastern part of (Ethiopia) near the old capital of Harrar, at about 5,000 to 6,000 feet. You may see these coffees called longberry Harrar (large bean), shortberry Harrar (smaller bean), or Mocha Harrar (peaberry, or single bean). The Harrar may become Harari, Harer, or Harar." -


>sweet nothings - tributes in red, white, black and blue

I am not making fun of this commercially sacred and festive red-saturated day, am I?

As Ophelia sang, tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day. If she was born in the era of modern greeting cards, and was awaiting March 14th instead of February 14th, AND IF she was less ruefully inclined and more tartly or mathematically inclined, she might have been persuaded to sing of Pi Day, as well.

Pi day, yes, March 14th, is also designated as "White Day", when you are supposed to return the favor you received a month earlier, with a gift sufficiently white-chocolaty or marshmallow candy-coated.


Not a bad candidate for the next month, but it would be a wrong color. April 14th has been appropriated by some people as Black Day, when you could gather to indulge in black food together to either celebrate your chic singledom or to wallow in dark gooey sauce.

(This is nutty... so what is May 14th, then?)

It would depend on what you're celebrating.

Let's see. The curiously over-eulogized Frank Sinatra, Ol' Blue Eyes, died the same day Seinfeld aired its final episode after 9 years, on 5/14, 1998. It is Independence Day in Israel - their flag is blue. You are still alone after all these cheerful get-togethers.

"Blue Day", it seems, at this point.

No, really, I am not making fun of any of these. Bring on the Blue M&M's and Jelly Belly Berry Blue Jelly Beans. :)


>pione (ピオーネ), large black seedless grapes

The pursuit of the perfect seedless grape continues.

One of the more popular grape varieties in Japan, pione is almost unknown in the U.S.

Dark violet-black and perfectly round, it resembles the concord variety, and does have somewhat similar sweet, floral characteristics.

Despite sounding like Italian subatomic pi meson, (pione is named after "pioniere" in Italian, meaning "pioneer", or French pionnier?
) the fruit is rather large, and it is seedless.

A cross between Cannon Hall Muscat and Kyoho (巨峰) grapes,
pione was created by Hideo Igawa (井川秀雄) in 1957.

Ideal candidate for sorbets, pione grape is used in all sorts of jellies, cakes, wine and myriad other pretty confections, and even in ... curry.

Pictured below are fruit curries - white peach curry, pione curry and persimmon curry, and on the right is "pione waffle".


>garganelli, strozzapreti, cappelletti, agnolotti...

I can never get the pasta names straight.

A pasta guide for
Italian restaurants (serving good ones) would be handy.

I wouldn't really want our menus to come with shiny
little accompanying pictures, either. They would start to look like T.G.I. Friday's.

I suppose I'd have to make one myself.
Here's one for *L'impero, which offers a relative bargain four course prix fixe at $64. Different from seven course $110 chef's tasting menu.
(Some cab drivers don't know where the charming Tudor City Place is, between 1st and 2nd. I wasn't paying attention, and he stayed on 42nd and missed it. You have to tell them to go to 41st and turn.)

*since closed, now Convivio


L'impero Winter Dinner Menu



Garganelli con Funghi e Rosmarino

-homemade pasta quills, braised wild mushrooms scented with rosemary 

derived from Latin gargala, tracheal artery
mnemonic - 'quill', 'cannoli'


Agnolotti al Bietole e Ricotta di Bufala
-swiss chard and buffalo ricotta ravioli, tomato puree and garlic breadcrumbs

derived from Latin anellus, diminutive of anus ring
mnemonic - uh, 'ravioli'

Tagliolini al Nero di Seppia alla Pescatore
-squid ink tagliolini with mixed seafood

like tagliatelle, cut into strips
mnemonic - 'fettuccine, spaghetti'


Strozzapreti con Seppia, Pancetta e Cime di Rape
-hand-rolled maccheroni with cuttlefish, pancetta and broccoli rabe 

means 'priest choker'
mnemonic - 'pretty ringlet'

Cappelletti di Frutti di Mare
-crab and shrimp filled pasta with black trumpet mushrooms and lobster butter

from Latin cappa 
mnemonic - 'little hat'


Fusilli al Ragu Napoletano
-handmade pasta twists, Neapolitan pork shoulder ragu and cacciocavallo fonduta

from Latin fusus
mnemonic - 'corkscrew'


Tortelli di Amatrice con Salsa di Cacio e Pepe
amatriciana filled pasta, melted butter, pecorino and black pepper

from Latin

mnemonic - 'dumpling'

L'arte di mangiar bene.
Buon appetito!


>pollen salt, xeres vinegar, sablé, piquillos, Adour Alain Ducasse

frisson of happiness" and "lyrical, joyous haunt of mango". It is just as well that Adour by Alain Ducasse did not inspire in me such poetry.

Perhaps it was awkward when the inexperienced eager-to-please server failed to pronounce geoduck as gooey-duck. Perhaps it was disappointing when I found the advertised geoduck layer to be too mysteriously thin, perhaps non
existent, in the pretty hamachi dish.

But this is the exciting brand new New York restaurant which opened just last week. Instead of being jaded, why don't we just appreciate this relatively simple menu at Adour restaurant in the St. Regis space where Lespinasse used to be.

The highlight of the evening?
Playing at the interactive wine bar. Sort of like playing iPhone on the bar table.