ארכיון הנושא 'English'

Feb 15 2009

…and now, for something completely different

Today we shall explore the darker side of the the food and drink business. The twilight zone of molecular gastronomy and mixology, where people take our common conceptions of what is regarded as “food” and deconstruct it, creating deliberate disassociation between ingredients and flavors, or between appearance and taste, or just using unexpected materials for unexpected results.

First, some before-dinner drinks courtesy of Tony Conigliaro of The Drink Factory, a cocktail blog that has the csmokedOldFashionedhemical periodic table and the alchemical philosopher’s stone both mentioned in recent posts, so that should give you a hint of what we’re dealing with. The drink we’ll mention here is the Smoked Old Fashioned. It’s a variant of the classic Old Fashioned which tries to recapture the feel of sitting in a leather armchair, sipping the drink and smoking a cigar. This it does by using extracted essences tobacco and leather, purified to be edible, and layering them with the rest of the drink, thus conjuring up the bartender’s fireside vision. Is it any good? I don’t know. But it certainly goes above anmolecular_cuisine_olivesd beyond what I expect a cocktail to be.

For the main course, we can bring some dishes from the chef José Andrés, with some Olive Spherifications: you take olives, puree them, mix them with lime and seaweed extracts for flavor and consistency, and roll them back up into olive-shaped spheres. molecular_cuisine_martini

One thing you can do with these deconstructed, reconstructed olives is to use them in a deconstructed, reconstructed cocktail. In this case, a “Dirty Martini” consiting of a dry martini with one of these faux-olives and a foam made of sea-salt for a briny feel whenever you drink it. The used the same salt-foam for a margarita, as a replacement for the salt-encrusted glass commonly used.

Another thing that molecular chefs seem particularly enamored of is liquid nitrogen – omolecular_cuisine_nitrosushine of the basic tenets is that it isn’t the duration of cooking that is important, but the temperatures achieved, both hot and cold. Butane burners and liquid nitrogen, then, help achieve extreme temperatures without extensive cooling or heating. In one case, a fish tartare was accompanied by nitro-frozen smoking-cold pellets of sesame oil as garnish.

And for dessert – chocolate. But no mere hazelnut pralimolecular_cuisine_peachocolatenes here. No-siree. We have Dominique Persoone, a self-styled Shock-o-latier (groan) making everything from a tomato/basil/olive marzipan to a wasabi-and-white-chocolate green-pea ganache, and up to inhalable cocoa powders and smoked cocoa beans. Another dessert, quaintly named “Peanut Butter and Jelly”, is actually “grape juice that has been altered using sodium alginate and then dropped into a calcium cloride bath.” Add to that "peanut butter that has been combines with maltodextrin” and you get a very simple, but very chemical, molecular desert:

molecular_cuisine_pbj

 

Thank you for joining me in my slightly-appalled, often-surprised and mostly-tempted excursion into unfamiliar gastronomic territory, one that I doubt I will have much chance to explore in person.

תגובה אחת

Feb 03 2009

שיר מיתון

Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, 1987:

‘But the silliest feature of all was that if you wanted your company accounts represented as a piece of music, it could do that as well. Well, I thought it was silly. The corporate world went bananas over it.’

. . .

‘You see, any aspect of a piece of music can be expressed as a sequence or pattern of numbers,’  enthused Richard. ‘Numbers can express the pitch of notes, the length of notes, patterns of pitches and lengths.’

. . .

The yearly accounts of most British companies emerged sounding like the Dead March from Saul, but in Japan they went for it like a pack of rats. It produced lots of cheery company anthems that started well, but if you were going to criticise you’d probably say that they tended to get a bit loud and squeaky at the end.

Microsoft Songsmith fed Stock Chart data, on YouTube, 2009:

אין תגובות

Jan 12 2009

פינת האירוניה

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2002, as Religious Freedom Day. I urge all Americans to observe this day by asking for the blessing and protection of Almighty God for our Nation, and to engage in appropriate ceremonies and activities in their homes, schools, and places of worship as a sign of our resolve to protect and preserve our religious freedom. (emphases mine, AK)

No, seriously.

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Dec 31 2008

DNS Shakeup! Expect interruptions

I’ve getting my DNS in order, so the blog might be in- or partly-accessible for the next couple of hours. Possibly a day. But we shall overcome!

Edit: DNS realigned. Blog back up, with RSS auto-detect, and with proper links to articles working. 

Existing links MIGHT have been broken.

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Nov 24 2008

State of Anxiety

There are many bridges and tunnels leading out of the familiar landmarks of Manhattan, the symbol of America that everyone knows. They lead out to the Bronx, or to New Jersey, and from there on out to Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, down to Florida or all the way to far-off Idaho or California. There are maps to all those places, Pictures. Tour guides. There are no surprises.

But if you leave New York at dawn or at dusk, when the night and day are too busy to notice your passing, you may end up somewhere else. If you don’t leave through the big, visible bridges or the well-monitored tunnels, you can find your way out to an entirely different America. An America of the almost-was and the might-have-been.

Go up north to the Republic of Madawaska, where the inhabitants refused the terms of the Treaty of Paris which put them in Canadian New Brunswick, preferring to be a US State adjacent to Maine. Nearby, between Vermont and New Hampshire, the Republic of Indian Stream had an organized, independent government in the late-1700’s, elected by a constituency of 300. Go down through Westsylvania, which was eventually admitted to the union as West Virginia, and further down south to Alabama and Tennessee where the Union-loyalist states of Winston and Nickajack seceded from the Confederate Secession and joined the Union army, declaring themselves free states deep in the slave-owning south.

Then kick it up a notch. Go up to Lake Michigan, where the Strangist Mormons split off the main branch and established the Kingdom of Beaver Isle. Between Montana and Wyoming cowboys opposed to Roosevelt’s New Deal established the State of Absaroka to preserve economic independence. Drive down through Nevada to the Cimarron Territory, where miners declared independence in their mountains, to the State of Deseret, built on rigorous Mormon beliefs. Down to the Long Republic, which can’t decide whether it secedes from Mexico or the US, and the State of Sequoya, a Native American state between Oklahoma and Kansas.

Many more states fill this shadowy Union. The states of Jefferson, Franklin and Lincoln all vie for existence. West Florida and North Virginia consider their own secession, while Comancheria, Lenapehoking and Aztlan would split from the US along ethnic lines. And above all, the Confederate States of America still loom large above the old South, perpetuating its myths and legends and the dream of a twin empire to the United States.

Each of these offers a vision of a different America. An America of a small US surrounded by sovereign Indian countries, or of independent Jeffersonian states sick of the Federalist government, or of a Mormon monarchy of religious fanatics. All these islands of relative stability in the chaos of cultures, races and religions that is the United States of America, both real and imagined. Each of these visions could spawn stories, songs, alternate histories and variations on American themes through different glasses. Could we have had a Mormon Indiana Jones? A slave-owning Batman? Everything is possible.

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