5 types of apples, once thought extinct, are rediscovered

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Courtesy photo
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David Benscoter, who located the trees, stands by a century-old apple tree on an abandoned homestead near Steptoe Butte, in this 2014 file photo. (Courtesy photo)
Updated 06 March 2018
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5 types of apples, once thought extinct, are rediscovered

LEWISTON, Idaho: Five types of apples, once thought to be extinct, have been rediscovered in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.
The Lewiston Tribune newspaper reported Monday that “apple detective” David Benscoter located the trees growing near a butte in the rolling hills of the vast Palouse agricultural area.
Benscoter worked with apple experts at the Temperate Orchard Conservancy in Oregon and Fedco Seeds in Maine to positively identify the apple types. They were compared to written descriptions from old books and antique watercolor paintings.
The newly rediscovered apples include the Shackleford, Saxon Priest, Kittageskee, Ewalt and McAffee varietals. An estimated 17,000 named apple varieties are thought to have originated in North America, but Benscoter says only about 4,000 still exist today.
“I just love the history of these old apples and what they meant to the first homesteaders that arrived here in eastern Washington and northern Idaho,” Benscoter said. “The apple was the most important fruit you could have, and it could be used in so many ways.”
He first became interested in hunting down the almost-gone and nearly forgotten fruit when he helped a neighbor with chores on her property. He found an old apple tree and began to search the Internet to try to figure out what variety it bore.
By checking old county fair records in Whitman County, Washington, he discovered several apple types that were listed as extinct.
Since that time, he has discovered more than 20 varieties of apples that were once considered lost. He’s hoping area residents will let him know if they have old apple trees in neglected orchards or growing in back fields that he can examine.
“Those apples have been forgotten about in the back of someone’s field or an old orchard nobody has taken care of in a hundred years,” Benscoter said. “I’m hopeful, and obviously the search has been somewhat successful, and so I think there are still many apples out there that can be found.”
Apples have as many 50 different identifiers, including stem length, shape, size, color and structure.
Benscoter thinks he’s found an additional seven apples in the region that were also thought to be extinct or extremely rare, but they have yet to be confirmed.
Those include the Autumn Gray, Surprise No. 1, Flushing Spitzenburg, Republican Pippin, Bogdanoff Glass, Flory and Early Colton.
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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com


Comptoir Libanais brings the Levant to London

Comptoir Libanais has outlets across the UK. (All images supplied)
Updated 19 September 2018
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Comptoir Libanais brings the Levant to London

  • Comptoir Libanais has 22 branches around the UK
  • The restaurant is known for its colorful interior and delicious food

LONDON: For years, London has been known for embracing culinary tastes from all over the world, served up by establishments ranging from snazzy and glitzy new restaurants to venues that are more than 100 years old and have been handed down from one generation to the next.
Comptoir Libanais (Lebanese Canteen), which was founded in 2008, stands out among the more recent arrivals for bringing a true, authentic taste of the Levant to London and beyond, with almost two dozen restaurants in the English capital and other cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford and Liverpool.

For years when he was a child growing up in Algeria, Tony Kitous, the restaurant’s founder and owner, watched his mother create tasty meals for his family. This was something he carried with him when he moved to England at the age of 18.
“I came to London with a dream but it wasn’t until I scrubbed dishes and slept in friends’ houses that I realized what I wanted my dream to be: To bring a taste of home to London, a city I grew to enjoy and love,” he said.
Kitous’s passion for Middle Eastern food and what it symbolizes, the culture and hospitality, is clear in his colorfully decorated restaurants, which resemble traditional Beirut canteens or souks. The menu offers a mix of hearty and light dishes, including mezzes, wraps, grills, salads and traditional side dishes.
“I want all visitors to feel right at home, even if they’re on the go,” said Kitous. “The patrons that try the restaurant for the first time can see how we choose the freshest ingredients from our partners and can truly feel as if they’re in the Levant region.
“Lebanese food is universal. It has a bit of everything in it without having the ingredients over powering one another — all dishes complement one another.”
Every dish, every ingredient and even the plates on which they are served are personally selected by Kitous. “Nothing but fresh is allowed here,” he said.
It all sounds great but does the food live up to the expectations? I dined at the Oxford Street branch and found that the fatoush, hummus and cheese sambousak were great starters. The fresh halloumi manousha had just the right amount of crispiness around the edge, with a soft middle complementing the cheese.
The lamb and prune tagine, served with a side of couscous, swept us to the streets of Morocco. The lamb was soft and melted in the mouth, complemented by the sweetness of the prunes. As a vegetarian option, the aubergine tagine was balanced and tasty.
For Arab diners the menu is filled with the tastes of home and it is hard to imagine how anyone could limit themselves to ordering just one dish. Every option was perfectly seasoned and the table was a beautiful, tasty mess — truly a canteen experience.
The interior design of all Comptoir Libanais venues is similar, offering a burst of color and eccentricity through mismatched tiles, colorful furniture and walls adorned with old Arabic movie posters, including one of legendary actress Sirine Jamal Al-Dine with her signature smile. Thanks to an open kitchen in the back, the restaurant is always bustling with activity and the sounds of patrons enjoying their meals. You could really sense the hints of Kitous’s childhood memories imprinted in the decor. Whether you are in the mood for a hearty breakfast, a quick lunch or a good, delicious dinner to end your day, Comptoir Libanais will not disappoint.