Video: World’s Priciest Chocolate Displayed in Portugal

The world’s most expensive chocolate went on display at a chocolate fair in Obidos in Portugal on March 16, 2018.

Priced at 7,728 euros ($9,489) and covered in edible gold, the chocolate is part of a limited edition of 1,000 bonbons. It has a filling of saffron threads, white truffle, vanilla from Madagascar and gold flakes.

It was guarded by two uniformed men.

Its creator, Portuguese chocolatier Daniel Gomes, said the diamond-shaped chocolate was certified as the world’s most expensive by the Guinness Book of Records, which in 2017 listed $250 La Madeline au Truffe made by Danish artisan chocolate-maker Fritz Knipschildt’s as the record holder.

Its crown-shaped box is decorated with 5,500 Swarovksi crystals and also carries personalised pincers.

Watch video at You Tube (3:57 minutes) . . . . .


Japanese Soba Noodles with Vegan Bolognese Sauce


8 oz package tempeh
2 tsp grapeseed oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups chopped crimini or shiitake mushrooms
2 cups chopped eggplant
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup red wine
2-1/2 cups salt-free tomato sauce
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
10 oz soba noodles
1/2 cup sliced fresh basil


  1. Using the large holes of box grater, crumble tempeh, or finely chop with knife.
  2. In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and salt. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add tempeh to pan and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Place mushrooms, eggplant, and garlic in pan. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in oregano, coriander, chili flakes, and black pepper. Cook for 30 seconds.
  6. Place wine in pan and heat for 3 minutes, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Stir in tomato sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Stir in balsamic vinegar.
  8. In a pot of salted water, prepare soba noodles according to package directions. Stir noodles often during the first couple minutes of cooking to prevent clumping. Drain noodles in colander and rinse with cold water. Drain thoroughly and then press down lightly on noodles to remove any excess liquid.
  9. Divide noodles among 4 serving plates and top with Bolognese sauce. Sprinkle on basil before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Alive magazine

Haagen-Dazs’s First Japanese Sweets Specialty Store

The Pop-up Store will be opened between April 18th and May 6th in Ginza, Japan.

The logo of the store – Haagen-Dazs Tea Room

Eight menu items based on Japanese ingredients such as dorayaki (銅鑼焼き), shiratama zenzai (白玉ぜんざい), sweet soup with sake kasu (酒糟), etc. using six Haagen Dazs ice creams will be offered.

The following pictures show some of the menu items.

Researchers Develop Model to Show How Bacteria Grow in Plumbing Systems

Lois Yoksoulian wrote . . . . . . .

Bacteria in tap water can multiply when a faucet isn’t used for a few days, such as when a house is vacant over a week’s vacation, a new study from University of Illinois engineers found. The study suggests a new method to show how microbial communities, including those responsible for illnesses like Legionnaires’ disease, may assemble inside the plumbing systems of homes and public buildings.

The findings are published in Nature’s ISME Journal: Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology.

Fresh tap water is teeming with harmless microbial life, and water that sits for a few days inside pipes can contain millions of bacteria. Although incidents of waterborne infections resulting from indoor plumbing are rare, the new model may help public health authorities assess drinking-water quality.

“Previous studies have relied on reproducing the conditions of a stagnant plumbing system within a lab setting,” said co-author and civil and environmental engineering professor Wen-Tso Liu. “We were able to collect samples in a real-life situation.”

It is critical to pinpoint where in the plumbing network water samples have come from in order to determine the source of microbes. Since it is impossible to sample water directly from plumbing without ripping up pipes and knocking down walls, the researchers came up with another way to determine sample locations.

The team collected tap water samples from three closely monitored U. of I. dormitory buildings while closed during a school break. Taking steps to prevent outside contamination from plumbing fixtures or sampling equipment, they sampled from sink taps before building closure; while the water was fresh from the city supply; and again after the water sat in contact with the interior plumbing for a week.

“We performed a variety of analyses, including tests to determine the concentration of bacteria present in the before- and after-building-closure samples,” Liu said.

The lab results indicated the post-stagnation samples closest to the taps contained the highest concentrations of bacteria. The team also found that bacteria concentrations decreased significantly as the distance between the tap and pipe location increased. None of the samples in the study contained microbial species or cells concentrations that present a public health risk.

“Our results suggest that the increase in bacteria in the post-stagnation samples is a result of something occurring in the interior plumbing, not the outside city source, and in pipe segments closest to the taps,” Liu said.

Bacteria that live in tap water exist in two communities – those that float freely in the water and those that live in the films that line the sides of pipes, called biofilms. Biofilms are much like the films that we see growing on the glass in fish tanks, Liu said. The team believes that the bacteria they see in the post-stagnation samples came from interactions between the water and biofilms that exist inside the pipes closest to the taps.

The researchers determined the city water biofilm composition by sampling the interior parts of water meters that are routinely collected during the water utility’s replacement program. Liu worked with the municipal water company to collect almost four years’ worth of discarded water meters, giving the team a large set of city biofilm data.

By combining the before- and after-stagnation data, the city biofilm “control” data and information from building blueprints, the team developed a model to test water quality inside almost any building.

“We only need two samples – one before stagnation and one after – and we can determine how extensive the microbe growth is inside in-premise pipes, and we can now do so without destroying property,” Liu said.

The study also found that bacterial concentrations are highest in the first 100 milliliters of tap flow. Liu recommends that people run taps for a few moments before using the water after being away from home for a few days, and discussed the advice with U. of I. Facilities and Services and others at a campus workshop in October 2017.

“It is contrary to what we have learned about conserving water, but I like to think of it as just another basic hygiene step,” Liu said. “We have made a habit out of washing our hands; I think we can make a habit out of running the tap for few moments before use as well.”

Although the microbial communities in this study did not present a health risk, this method can be used in such cases, the researchers said.

“Communities have been and will continue to invest in green infrastructure that stresses water conservation,” Liu said. “If interior plumbing were to become contaminated with harmful bacteria, that could lead to unforeseen public health problems when buildings are left vacant for more than a few days.”

The desire to reuse and recycle water is unlikely to go away anytime soon, Liu said. “How are we going to deal with the problem when combined with water-conservation practices? If we want to head toward green practices, our engineers, public health organizations, scientists and municipal water suppliers will need to work cooperatively.”

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Eating Out Increases Levels of Harmful Phthalate Chemicals in Body

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . .

People who like to dine out may unwittingly order a side of potentially harmful chemicals, new research suggests.

The study, involving more than 10,000 Americans, found that those who’d dined out the day before generally had higher urine levels of chemicals called phthalates, versus people who’d had all their meals at home.

The findings suggest that old-fashioned home-cooked meals could be one way for people to reduce their intake of phthalates — which have been linked to certain health risks.

Phthalates are added to plastics to make them more flexible and difficult to break. Lab studies have shown the chemicals to be “endocrine disruptors” — which means they can interfere with how hormones work in the body.

In humans, studies have found correlations between phthalate exposure and reproductive issues — including preterm birth and fertility problems, said lead researcher Ami Zota. She is an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C

Still, other studies have found links to health problems like asthma, obesity and behavioral issues in kids.

Several phthalates have been banned from children’s toys and certain child-care products, such as teething rings, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

However, phthalates remain in a huge range of products, from electrical cables and medical supplies to detergents and cosmetics.

For most people, diet is the primary route of exposure, said Zota.

That’s because phthalates can get into food during processing, or possibly during transportation, through packaging or even via the gloves used for food handling, Zota explained.

So it’s not surprising, she said, that people who eat out can be exposed to more phthalates. In fact, her team found in an earlier study that fast-food fans generally had higher phthalate levels than people who rarely ate those foods.

The new study, published online March 28 in the journal Environment International, suggests fast food is not the only culprit.

On average, the study found, people who’d dined out — at any type of restaurant or cafeteria — had a phthalate intake that was 35 percent higher than people who’d eaten only home-prepared meals.

When the researchers looked at particular types of food, they found that hamburgers and other meat sandwiches stood out: People who’d eaten those sandwiches the day before tended to have higher phthalate levels — but only if they’d gotten them from a restaurant or cafeteria.

The evidence was weaker when it came to fries and pizza.

According to Zota, that is in line with research suggesting that animal proteins might be a stronger “vehicle” for phthalates. It’s not clear why, but the fat content might be a factor, she said.

Sarah Evans is an instructor in environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, in New York City.

Eating more home-cooked meals could help limit phthalate exposure, Evans said — but people need to be mindful of the foods they choose.

That’s because phthalates can lurk in the processed, packaged foods sold at grocery stores, too.

“The best way to reduce exposure is to eat whole, fresh foods at home as often as possible,” said Evans, who was not involved in the study. “Phthalates have been shown to accumulate in high-fat foods, so limiting consumption of those items may be effective at reducing exposure.”

Zota called that a “win-win” scenario. Diets rich in whole foods are also more nutritious, and lower in sugar and salt, she pointed out.

Evans also suggested using glass or stainless steel containers for food preparation and storage, and avoiding microwaving plastic — since heat may cause phthalates to “seep out.”

However, there is only so much consumers can do to avoid phthalates, both Evans and Zota noted.

“Increased oversight and regulation of food packaging and the food manufacturing process is necessary to protect the population from the harmful effects of phthalate exposure,” Evans said.

Source: HealthDay

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