EACH morning, produce floods into San Francisco from some of the nation’s most spectacular farmland — Napa’s hilly vineyards, the sun-baked orchards and green fields of the eastern valleys, the Pacific Coast’s misty pasture lands. San Franciscans scoop it up with barely a thought, as if excellent fresh food were simply a California birthright.Uh... what? "Scoop it up with barely a thought"? Did this writer even come to the Bay Area? I know the NYT tends to be a bit... let's say, "myopic" when it comes to California, but really. Every farmers' market in the area that I've ever been to has been full of people who were actively interested in and engaged with their food and the people who grow it. You couldn't swing a baguette in this area without hitting a foodie. Bah.
And from the article Knife Skills: Creating Feasts for the Eyes:
Mr. Parker is one of the leading talents in the art of fruit and vegetable carving. Once a dusty formality that lived on in the form of radish roses in out-of-the-way hotels, food art, as it is known, is enjoying a new vogue. The services of its top practitioners are much in demand, providing them with a nice income between fiercely fought carving competitions.The photos are impressive (photo gallery here), but I can't help but hear Julia Child saying "It's so beautifully arranged on the plate — you know someone's fingers have been all over it."
“We’re seeing more fruit and vegetable entries every year that are incredibly creative,” said Thomas Smyth, chairman of the Salon of Culinary Art, an annual competition sponsored by the Société Culinaire Philanthropique in New York. Recent eye-catchers, he said, have included melons carved to look like Fabergé eggs and lifelike cockatiels made of butternut squash, carrots and papaya.
But then, I'm much more towards the California cooking end of the food spectrum: given an ingredient or ingredients, what simple (so as not to obscure their nature) and tasty way would be best to prepare them? Not so much into the molecular gastronomy thing — Blumenthal, Achatz, and all the rest are extremely talented, but to me that's chemistry, not cooking.