Saturday, September 18, 2010

A little food trivia....

Equinox has been busy testing out some new recipes for the menu as this weather cools and Fall is fast approaching.  Yesterday they tweeted: 

Monterey white seabass with little neck clams, chorizo and saffron broth appearing on the menu this weekend w/ Pernot Puligny Montrachet '08

And I was immediately wiping up pools of drool of my desk.  But I also began to think about saffron that day as well.  I am a sucker for saffron.  In college I used to go to my Iranian-Jewish friend's house for Shabbat every Friday and her Mom would make the most amazing saffron rice for this special meal.  This was my first introduction to this "a little dash packs a punch" spice. Now when I see it on the menu I am immediately sucked in and want to try.

Saffron is a pretty interesting plant with a very long history.  The spice comes from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus and it takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas to make a single pound which explains why it is the world’s most expensive spice. But not only is saffron prized for it's taste but also it's color.  The word saffron originates from the Arabic word zafran which means yellow.  And anyone who has had saffron know that it colors everything a rich golden yellow color.  In India this color is considered the epitome of beauty and is the official color of Buddhist monk's robes.

It originates from the Mediterranean, but has been brought to many other countries through the Roman Empire and Muslims from North Africa with the largest current importer being Spain.  It turns out that it is even cultivated in small quantities throughout the US, which I was completely unaware of, but is considered a more earthy and not as potent varietal in the gradations of saffron experts.

Whooooo!  What a complicated and intricate history this little plant has.  If you want even more info, because trust me there is so much more, check out Wikipedia or one of the many online spice encyclopedias for a quick reference about this spice.  Or just come over to Equinox and try our new menu and experience saffron for yourself.


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