Friday, February 29, 2008

Mysterious Tendrils

So I'm not really sure what this vegetable is, but I thought that such a mysterious and fabulous day as Leap Day deserved something equally special. I took this picture in Hanoi, Vietnam last summer before traveling down to Saigon for my brother's wedding. We were eating bun cha, a dish that consists of grilled pork(ish) meatballs dunked in a bowl of fish sauce (nuoc mam), vermicelli noodles, and assorted greens. These tendrils came on the greens plate along with mint leaves, Chinese basil, and other anonymous herbs. Maybe the picture below will help someone figure out what these tendrils are. The food was amazing. Unfortunately, my cousin's Belgian friend Tim got sick afterwards, a cautionary reminder of the risks of street food. I did my own stint of bathroom time in Hong Kong back in '97, and my iron stomach has conquered over all potentially harmful digestive beasties ever since. (Knock on wood, eek!)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Blue Hubbard Squash

Meet the blue hubbard squash. Kind of creepy, no? Like a ghostly brain one might find washed up on the sea shore. Or in the old mother's cupboard? As an added testament to their strangeness, the sign above in the left-hand photo reads, "What are these?" Despite their chalky exterior, the blue hubbards are yellow-orange inside and can be used like other squash to make soups, pies, and other baked squashy dishes. For some quality literature on this squash's origins, take a look at "Blue Hubbard Squash: the Mystery Unveiled." Apparently the best way to crack it open is to put it in a plastic bag and drop it on the ground. Call it the farmers' piñata, if you will.

I saw these last November with Erin and our friend Paula at Oak Hill Farm, a produce fantasy land in Sonoma that also operates a flower stand at the S.F. Ferry Building market. I didn't actually buy one because I had already spent more than was advisable on other beautiful vegetables and flowers. The whole place really is magical.

Inside the barn at Oak Hill Farm

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I love...

...winter salads, like this one. It sprang from the bounty of Pike Place Market, where blood oranges, red and golden beets, and belgian endive jumped out at me this Valentine afternoon.