Citizen Cane

The holidays are, above all, a time for nostalgia. What the Woodinville-based candy company Elegant Gourmet offers in that department is handmade peppermint goodness: candy canes created by actual humans, not machines. Better still: The company is offering free 30-minute tours during the first three weekends in December so that average Joes and Janes can watch cooked corn syrup and sugar turn into pretty little canes—a process that's been around since the 1800s, yet has been largely abandoned by commercial candy makers. According to owner Louisa Davis, Elegant Gourmet is one of two companies nationwide that continue to employ the traditional method, which includes cooking the ingredients—all two of them—at 300 degrees in ovens called firemixers, shaping the mixture on cooling tables, and jacketing small, taffylike poles of the stuff with red and white stripes. A Food Network special on the process, filmed in part at Elegant Gourmet, aired last Friday at 7:30 p.m. and will air several more times throughout the month. Individuals interested in a tour should call 425-814-2500 to make an appointment; tours happen between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. the first three Fridays and Saturdays in December. More space for Stace Stacie Jacob, one of the mainstays of the Washington Wine Commission during its rapid growth years under Steve Burns, is on her way south to California to stake out new professional territory. She's going to head up the wine promo organization in the mid-coast Paso Robles appellation. There have been grapes in Paso Robles as long as there have been European settlers, but the area's has only recently begun to get its act together to aspire to high-quality status. Jacob was approached in October to take over the office, which, with four employees, isn't much smaller than the core staff at WWC ("They think big in California," says Jacob), but kept a low profile while WWC was launching its ambitious new "A Climate for Wine" branding campaign for Washington wine. Fish among the Pork In a 3,000-page federal appropriations bill crammed with special-interest legislation, a few items slipped by that actually might benefit the general public. One such: Despite repeated attempts to yank it out, C.O.O.L. stayed in the bill. Multinational food-industry lobbyists hate C.O.O.L. (short for "Country of Origin Labeling") because it requires importers to disclose that those appetizing shrimp in the cooler originated from a Southeast Asian factory farm on the site of a former mangrove swamp, while the "fresh salmon" stems from a polluted inlet far up the British Columbia coastline. The grocery industry, along with its mega-meat suppliers, have already gotten C.O.O.L rules for beef, etc., delayed until 2006, and there will probably be an attempt in the next Congress to roll back C.O.O.L. for fish, as well. But for the moment, the public's right to know where what it's eating comes from has made a tiny step forward. Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at

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