st dalfour preserves

Discovery Monday

10 June 2013

Go to Google’s home page today for a delightful tribute to Maurice Sendak, on what would have been the author/illustrator’s 85th birthday.

Sendak died last May, the day after my dad, and that week NPR’s Fresh Air replayed a wonderful interview he had with Terry Gross in 2011. Honest and thoughtful in discussing his life and growing older, Sendak is less crochety and more elegiac than in his much-seen pair of interviews with Stephen Colbert from early 2012.

But the animated Google tribute captures with great joy the heart in Sendak’s work. If you miss it today, find it in the Google doodle archives.

Juice-sweetened jam

I know I’m a little obsessed with jam…but these no-added-sugar fruit preserves from St Dalfour, a family-owned French company, are pretty incredible. During the sugar shortages of World War I, the family developed a method of making preserves using grape juice concentrate from their vineyards as sweetener.

I have yet to try them all, mostly because the wild blueberry, with its concentrated tiny berries, and raspberry-pomegranate, more deeply-flavored and complex than raspberry alone, are both so good I can’t bring myself to stray.

You may have seen St Dalfour preserves in tiny glass jars at restaurants, and I have seen the tall full-size jars occasionally in stores. I order mine from iHerb, an excellent online resource that even lists its products’ expiration dates (first-time iHerb customers can use code “LIL330″ for a discount). Amazon only sells the mini jars.

Chefs with a conscience

I was happy to see this article from the weekend Wall Street Journal, “Fine Dining Without Reservations”, about chefs that are eschewing the traditional crutches of cream, butter and lard to create healthful and flavorful restaurant food. Hopefully it heralds a new trend in restaurant dining.

And on the fast-food end of things, I also enjoyed this article on Nate Appleman, former James Beard award-winning chef at A16 in San Francisco and past Iron Chef finalist, who took a detour from his blazing restaurant career to work on menu development for Chipotle Mexican Grill. His move in 2010 shocked many, but I admire the fact that he chose to spend more time with his son, who had developed a heart condition, and saw an opportunity to make less-glamorous but more widespread impact on how people eat today.

Google buying Waze?

Rumor has it that Google is set to acquire traffic-app company Waze for over $1 billion. The Israeli company is five years old with 100 employees, and no doubt its Palo Alto staff will contribute to the renewed frenzy in the Silicon Valley real estate market if the acquisition goes through.

And in case you missed my previous rave about the real-time traffic-informed navigation that Waze provides, you can read it here. Or just go ahead and download it – it’s free and life-changing.

Apron entrepreneur

From the Los Angeles Times: a fun story about apron manufacturer Hedley & Bennett and its 25-year-old founder, Ellen Bennett, who started the company a year ago and is on track to generate $1 million in annual sales. The aprons, with durable cotton fabrics and cheekily stylish designs, sit at the intersection of function and design. But clearly the real draw is the energetic Bennett, who has managed to sell her customized offering to restaurants and style-conscious retail outlets – and to get herself a story in the LA Times. Impressive initiative.

* * *

We’re off to Ohio end of this week! I think I’ll go happily to sleep on my soapstone counters when we get there.

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