Blood Lime: The tiny blood lime is sweeter than its green cousin, with ruby-red flesh. It's quite a fancy hybrid: it was created by crossing the red finger lime with the Ellendale Mandarin, which is itself an orange/mandarin hybrid. We found this type of lime at the Marin farmerís market. Itís also great to use in cocktails, makes a killer gin and tonic and is also fab with steamed fish and ceviches.
Ogo Seaweed: This is mainly eaten along the coasts of Japan, typically served cold. You can find this seaweed at health stores, fish markets or in Chinatown.We use it in fish preparations by hydrating the seaweed in water. It's extremely healthy for the immune system and has loads of vitamins. Because ogo contains the thickener agar, it is also used professionally to make custards and gels.
Burdock Root: Burdock root looks like a tiny carrot. It's very crisp and has a sweet, mild, and pungent flavor with a little muddy harshness that can be reduced by soaking in water briefly. Itís often served pickled in Asian restaurants. You can always go to Japantown and find it in the produce section. We slice the root very thin,, marinate it in soy sauce and sesame oil, and use it in salads. It's also used in broths or soups.
Elephant Garlic: It looks like a giant clove of garlic, but itís not a true garlic at all. Itís similar to a leek. The flavor is milder than garlic, and easier to eat raw, especially when fine-chopped in a salad. We like to serve it in our smoked sunchokes, breakfast radish and octopus salad.
Breakfast Radish: We like to use these tiny red-tipped white radishes in octopus salad. It has a sweet mild flavor and succulent crunch. It's a French Heirloom variety of radish and we find them in the spring and early summer at the Marin Farmerís Market.
Sorrel: If you like tart flavors, youíll like sorrel leaves, whose flavor many compare to sour wild strawberries. The plant gets its distinctive sharp taste from oxalic acid, which is [pay attention, kids!] a poison. Donít worry though; itís harmless in small quantities. Right now we are making a sour chimichurri out of it and serve it with aged Rib Eye with mushroom chutney. It can be found at the Ferry Building Farmerís Market.
If youíre ready for a sweet taste of poison or some healthy seaweed gel, Parallel 37 is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. And if you come across these items at your own market, now you have some inspiration to try them out!
[Photos: Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco]