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The United States banned beluga caviar imports from Caspian Sea nations after they failed to provide evidence of improved conservation plans for beluga sturgeon, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared a threatened species last year. The ban comes as scientists have grown increasingly concerned about the beluga and other Caspian sturgeon. Dr. Ellen Pikitch, professor and director of the University of Miami's Pew Institute for Ocean Science, said, "The beluga sturgeon, one of the most valuable and most threatened fishes in the world, greatly deserves this chance for survival, but it will be a long road to recovery."
Caviar Emptor - a coalition of Sea Web, Natural Resources Defense Council and the University of Miami's Pew Institute for Ocean Science - said the ban will provide much-needed relief for the fish and applauded the government's action. The United States has been the largest importer of beluga caviar (60%) for the past several years. The most recent survey of the Caspian sturgeon population shows "sturgeon stocks are down 20% to 30% from last year," according to Mohammad Pourkazemi, director of the International Sturgeon Research Institute in Iran.The ban, effective September 30, 2005, affects The Russian Federation, Iran, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, which produce most of the world's beluga caviar. For a copy of the Fish and Fisheries' article on global sturgeon declines, please see

The 2005-06 stone crab season is set to open Saturday, October 15, throughout Florida. One of the Keys' tastiest and most unique gastronomic treats, the sweet tasting, large and meaty claws brought to shore fresh daily from the waters surrounding the Florida Keys, soon will be dripping mustard dip on the chins of hungry locals and visitors.
The waters off the Florida Keys are Florida's top source of stone crab claws. About 40 percent of the state's average annual harvest of more than 3.1 million pounds comes from Keys waters, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Stone crab claws are usually cooked immediately after being brought to the dock, usually by placing the claws in boiling water then bringing the water back to a boil. Total cooking time is seven to eight minutes. Running cold water over the cooked claws tends to keep the meat from sticking to the shell.
As well as being flavorful to eat, stone crab claws are a renewable resource because the crabs can re-grow harvested claws. When its claws are removed correctly, the crab will regenerate legal-size claws in about three years, according to the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission. A very large crab can regenerate a legal-size claw in about one year. Legal-size claws may be harvested from female stone crabs unless the crab is carrying eggs.Both claws of a stone crab may be taken if each is of legal size, defined as a 2.75-inch propodus. The propodus is the larger, immovable part of the claw's pincer and measurement is taken from the base of the joint between the "elbow" and propodus to the tip of the propodus. For more information on stone crabs and stone crab harvesting, visit the FWC Web site at To find out about area accommodations and restaurants serving the delicacy during stone crab season, visit the Florida Keys & Key West Web site at

Sometimes it's missing a "D" and it reads Allen's Rugs, an "R," or another letter falls off the neon sign of Allen's Drugs, a fixture for more than 60 years on the corner of Bird Road and Red Road. And lately, the traditional 1950's diner had even closed. But the space formerly occupied by Picnic has re-opened as Gio's and is now run by Giovanni Palazzotta and his family. Palazzotta who ownerd Cigars and Things next door for nine years has spruced up the diner, and is planning to open a cigar room on the second floor of the pharmacy. The menu is basically the same, except that you can now have empanadas and pastelitos as well as great café con leche and cafecito. Open for breakfast, lunch and early dinner from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Breakfast is served all day on weekends. Gio' s Diner at Allen's Drugs. 4000 SW 57th Ave., South Miami/Coral Gables. 305-666-9101
Addenda from J. Karetnick: Picnics at Allen's Drugstore didn't close -- it moved into its own free-standing location at 6500 Bird Rd. (coincidentally I stopped in there last time I was a guest on your program :-) Just thought you'd want to know.

Parrilla Argentina the Argentine Steakhouse on Bird Road and 92nd St., has opened a second location: Graziano, in Coral Gables where Giacosa and lately Yuca used to be. The 200-seat indoor restaurant features a menu similar to its mother location: pastas, steaks and a wine list with over 1,000 selections says owner Leo Graziano. Graziano is open seven days; Monday through Saturday for lunch 11:30 a.m. till 3 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 10:30 a.m. on weekdays and till 11:30 p.m. on week ends. On Sunday it is open from 12 to 10 p.m. Graziano's, 394 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables, 305-774-3599.

Six years ago in Fort Greene (Brooklyn) Jenny and Mark Henegan opened Madiba - a South African restaurant. Madiba has opened a second in Miami Beach at. Madiba pays homage to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela with a menu of South African specialties such as bobotie (a curried mince bake) frikkadels (meatballs and poached eggs), boerewors roll (herbed sausage), yebo burger (choice of plain cheese, monkey gland or mushroom sauce) and chips; or chicken livers per-peri as well as better-known fare such as lemon & herb chicken or char-grilled meats and fish with side orders. Madiba is open for brunch, lunch and dinner. 1766 Bay Road Miami Beach. 305-695-1566.

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