Jambo from Africa!

Jambo from Africa!

Greetings from Zanzibar, an island (actually several) off the coast of Tanzania. I’m sitting on a table under a sea almond tree, its trunk wrapped in colored lights. If I reach to the left I can almost touch the sand. The Indian Ocean is maybe 30 feet away, the water black and quiet, though I … Continue reading

Time for tomatillos

Time for tomatillos

Tomatillos take me back to San Miguel de Allende, the fabled artist’s colony in the hills four hours northwest of Mexico City. On my first visit earlier this month, I drank homemade margaritas on a rooftop terrace with friends while watching the sun set, and spent days strolling narrow cobblestoned streets and feasting on tortilla … Continue reading

Savoy faire

Savoy faire

That basketball of a green cabbage lounging in the produce department has a lot going for it. It’s a nutritional powerhouse, it feeds an army, it’s economical and lasts for weeks in the fridge. But you really must meet its sophisticated cousin, the savoy. It’s the pretty one, more oval in shape and clad with layer upon … Continue reading

Pass the Pomelo

Pass the Pomelo

Whether you spell it pomelo or pummelo, we’re talking one BIG piece of fruit. “It’s hard to get people to try them,” admits Gary Laux, a fourth-generation California citrus grower, “but don’t be overwhelmed by their size — once you get inside, that’s where all the fun’s at.” Laux has been growing the world’s largest … Continue reading

Master of shallots

Master of shallots

Frank Schroyens loves the finer things in life. In 1980, the former Belgian diamond cutter traded his specialized tools for a tractor on a tobacco farm in Southern Ontario. In 1999, Schroyens switched to growing shallots, a crop beloved in Europe. At the time they were unknown here outside the kitchens of Euro-trained chefs. Today, … Continue reading

Root for rutabaga!

Root for rutabaga!

January 25 is a big night for rutabaga as Scots around the world celebrate the birth of their beloved poet Robert Burns 256 years ago. A traditional Burns Night feast stars haggis with bashed neeps and tatties, which translates as ground offal and oatmeal cooked in a sheep’s stomach with sides of mashed rutabaga and potatoes. … Continue reading

Have a Wonderful pomegranate

Have a Wonderful pomegranate

When Harry Connick Jr. sang “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” he probably wasn’t referring to pomegranates, but he could have been. Wonderful just happens to be the name of California’s most popular pomegranate variety, in season from October to January. Bins of shiny red fruit have held centre stage in supermarkets for … Continue reading

Ready, set, roast!

Ready, set, roast!

Walking in the Italian woods can be perilous in the fall, as ripe chestnuts rain down from above and land with a thud. On impact, the tennis-ball-sized pods burst open, revealing three burnished brown chestnuts, two with fat rounded sides and the middle one flat on both sides. From the end of September to November, … Continue reading

Rare tomato an Italian celebrity

Rare tomato an Italian celebrity

In the fertile volcanic soil around Mount Vesuvius, near Naples, grows a plum tomato considered a treasure in this part of Campania. Bright red with a pointed end and dimples on the sides, the oval pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio is harvested in July and August and stays fresh until the following spring, giving pasta … Continue reading

Sicilian wanderings

Sicilian wanderings

Night falls in the village of Porto Palo, steps from the ocean on Sicily’s southwest coast. We got here just in time. Not sure we’d have found the Da Vittorio B&B and restaurant in the dark, and we would have missed seeing the orange and olive groves along the narrow road. Our rooms are  large but spare , a letdown after our  lovely hotel … Continue reading