• Posted by Califia Suntree on December 20th, 2011, 6:10 AM

    In 2008, the New York Times ran a piece about so-called “flavor tripping parties,” hosted by an impresario who went by Supreme Commander (aka Franz Aliquo). His parties featured the so-called miracle fruit, synsepalum dulcificum, an ovoid red berry that makes sour things taste sweet. Chew the berry, and for anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour, your taste buds are taken on a wild, sugary ride. A few weekends back, I was lucky enough to be invited to a flavor tripping party, hosted by high school friends Alfred and Laura (pictured at left, with the miraculous berries, and a package of the active ingredient, miraculin, in tablet form). To celebrate their birthdays, the couple handed the fruits out to the assembled guests; we chewed and chewed and proceeded to rip apart a rather eccentric-looking buffet of bitter and sour foods, from to kumquats to yuzu and everything in between.

    That first bite of lime was scrumptious–like wedges of limeade–and I was popping raw cranberries and just wishing they  tasted like that “in real life.” Laura reported a concoction of sour cream on lemon wedges as “lemon meringue pie,” Guinness was “a chocolate milkshake, goat cheese tasted like cheesecake, and green olives tasted like chocolate fudge!” Other friends reported dark stout as “chocolate soda,” and people simply devoured cherry tomatoes.

    Alas, after that initial rush with the lime and the cranberries, I thought my flavor trip had come to an end. I munched two more miracle berries, but nothing–the snacks just tasted like themselves. (I ate them anyway.) Toward the end of the event, I was telling folks about my “immunity” to the miracle, when someone handed me a little wrinkled fruit. I ate it without asking what it was, and was kind of in shock–it was the single sweetest thing I had ever eaten. Like cotton candy concentrate crossed with dates or treacle. Turns out, I had just munched a whole umeboshi–a Japanese sour plum, that is extremely tart and salty. It was absolutely bizarre, to have your mind and eyes telling you one thing, and your mouth telling quite a contrary tale! A trip indeed…

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on October 31st, 2011, 6:00 AM

    Strippers jumping out of cakes is so passé. But zombies? Now that’s a party! In honor of Halloween (and Zombie-Americans’ $5 billion share of our economy), here’s an incredible photo of my friend Carrie’s creepy-fabulous birthday cake. Yes, that is an undead corpse’s hand trying to escape its red velvet tomb and grab you with its delicious marzipan fingers. This fully edible work of pastry art was created by Cakes by Mona New York, based on Carrie’s design. The birthday girl gives the cake a rotting, gore-covered thumbs up: “Best bloody cake that a fondant loving zombie could hope for.”

  • Posted by Allison Grimaldi Donahue on December 27th, 2008, 9:33 PM

    I recently purchased a medium-sized red cast iron fondue pot by Le Creuset. I think the cast iron pot made a big difference because there wasn’t even a little burning, which I have seen happen with steel fondue pots. You can always eat the cheese straight from the saucepan but the feeling isn’t the same and the cheese doesn’t stay quite as warm without the little flame.

    While it is on the stove, the key is to keep things moving. Once it is in the fondue pot the key is simply to keep eating, then there is no danger of burning the cheese. I served two separate batches of fondue, that way the cheese stayed evenly melted and everyone got their fill. Read on… »

  • Posted by Allison Grimaldi Donahue on December 27th, 2008, 9:04 PM
    Photos by Scott Valentine

    Photos by Scott Valentine

    Fondue, the term, comes from the Latin fundare, to melt, and has found its way into the vocabularies of nearly every romance language. It is a winter tradition in the French-speaking part of Switzerland but it has adherents throughout the Alps. Eating fondue is a simple way to get warm and full and it’s relatively economical since it is made of cheese, the poor man’s meat. Unlike other foods, cheese often improves with age and can last many months. When the weather in the Alps turned cold, the cheese that had been made in the summer, even if it wasn’t in its prime, could be melted down into a delicious sauce. Even stale bread could be salvaged because of fondue—dipping anything into a hot bath of cheese can renew its life force. Read on… »

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