Sechuan Buttons It's been two years since I attended the annual NY Fancy Food Show, as I've been so busy with "the book." It was reported to me that the show had been much quieter and not as well attended but this year things seemed to have picked up. In the past I have always spent one entire day walking every isle of the huge Jacob Javits convention center. I love to see the new products and revisit/taste some of the favorite old ones. But this year it was impossible to cover all the isles because I kept bumping into old friends. Of course part of the benefit of this is we gave each other advice as to what we should be sure to see. It was a great joy to see my old friend Ariane Daquin of D'Artagnon and I hung out at her huge booth for about an hour as other old friends stopped by. When I asked after her daughter Alixe whom I've known since she was about 2 years old but haven't seen for years the lovely young woman dressed in Three Musketeers garb complete with sword (with grilling tip at end) said "I'm Alixe!" Now 21 she is helping her mother at the booth with the same charm and out-going personality as the rest of her extraordinary family. I also visited Harold Imports, my distributor (for my roselevybakeware), Crossings, my favorite Eurovanille, John Boyagian of the wonderful oils including citrus oils, Vermont Butter (owner Allison Hooper just wrote her first book In a Cheesemaker's Kitchen), Fran's Chocolate (I agree with Obama--my favorite chocolate caramels topped with sea salt) and met her delightful daughter and son who are now working with her. I discovered that her son had studied with Bill Yosses, who is now the White House pastry chef and had studied under me many years ago! I also chatted with Gretchen Goehrend of India Tree--my baking wouldn't be the same without her Muscavado sugar, and of course Sarah Leah Chase and Nigel Dyche of Coastal Goods. I tasted an amazing Buffalo mozzarella, which reminded me of the one I adored in Naples. The importer told me it was indeed from Caserta, near Naples. It's called Ponte Reale organic and I'm hoping to find it in NY in the near future. The most interesting new product was a lead from Gillian Duffy of NY Magazine. It was Sechuan Buttons, edible flowers from Africa/China, carried by Koppert Cress USA micro-vegetables. When a tiny bit of this fuzzy yellow 'button' is put in your mouth it explodes like pop rocks candy and the sensation lasts about 10 minutes. But the most amazing thing is that not only does it not distort the flavor of other food eaten at the same time or afterwards, it actually intensifies it. Recommended use is in drinks, dessert, ice cream, and sorbet. I think it especially would be fun to experience the electric sensation along with the cold creaminess of ice cream. I can't wait to experiment with it.
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