secret life of ferns
Although the indigenous Pohole fern has been growing on Maui's volcanic slopes for centuries, only recently has one farm, Hana Herbs & Flowers, decided to sell it to mainlanders. The fern has an asparagus-artichoke flavor and is delicious sautéed or steamed ($10 a pound; 808-248-7407).
Being master of the restaurant universe evidently isn't enough for Alain Ducasse, who has earned six Michelin stars at two of his restaurants. Now he's out to conquer the home-cooking world with hand-chosen tools, ovens, knives and tableware from France. The Parmesan grater ($106) and "Dinnerware Fruits" plates ($330 for six, each with a botanical image) are prime picks (at Bergdorf Goodman; 800-218-4918).
You can put away your mortar and pestle: several new grinders are on the market. Wagner Gourmet Foods is importing South African spice and herb combinations--with unexpected herbs like Saint-John's-wort--in jars with built-in grinders. Gemco Ware's grinders fit right onto McCormick's glass spice jars. And Catalina Salt's device has a noncorrodible ceramic mechanism to grind its Brittany salts. (Wagner Gourmet Foods, 800/832-9017; Gemco Ware, 800/735-4362; Catalina Salts, 530/872-6708)
For 41 years Chuck Williams of Williams- Sonoma has been helping us stock up on kitchen equipment. But we may be tempted not to use it: he's just produced a catalog full of prepared delectables from the four corners of the earth (800-699-2297).
the wheel thing
Teatime isn't limited to scones and cucumber sandwiches now that Bulgari's tea-infused scent "Black" has rolled into town. The fragrance is extracted from a single variety of black tea, and it appeals to both men and women ($60 for 2 1/2 ounces; 800-BULGARI).