Jump to content

Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the society.


Sweet Meets Savory...

  • Please log in to reply
70 replies to this topic

#61 PastryLady

  • participating member
  • 204 posts
  • Location:Shelby Township, MI

Posted 18 September 2003 - 12:30 PM

I, like probably many others have kind of watched this thread take flight and see where it would end up. Part of me thought, "well, this is just out of my league" and then another part of me though of some ideas... How do you make this appetizing? My big question is: "How is this going to be presented?"

I have seen and not been to one of these type of chef events. I wish I could cut and paste all of the things said that I have agreed with, but here are a few:

What wasn't gelling for me...
It just seemed very random, a lot of the ideas being floated, if random is the right word.
A bit thrown out there. In the earlier part of the thread, things just seemed, unappetizing.
I'm down for the whole savoury/sweet thing. I see and read a lot of material, and you know me, my interest is alway's piqued (?), especially if the idea rings true and it seems that the tastes are there.
I asked myself, more then a few times while looking this thread over, if I was missing something. Why wasn't I getting excited about the ideas being floated around, why wasn't I getting jazzed about them. And I guess it seemed to me like a mish mash that wasn't getting real focused or something. And it wasn't until yesterday when I read the post by you that it really started coming together for me.

Ted’s post

my question then is what is next for grant and michael. your major players have been selected; how do you now approach them as ingredients and as part of a menu?

Twodogs’ post

Michael, I have not truly gone to the ends of the earth myself on the savory/sweet palate, so you could call me a newbie to this, but I actually love your roe/egg plan. To me I have to branch outside of the "box" or my mind to concentrate on flavors of potential. Agreeing with F.G. that Cheese with the Roe would be wonderful, even if only mascarpone. I now understand that there is this whole world out there of potential. From your post on what you are "restricted" to

Trout Roe

For each course, does each of the above items need to have then two different items (one from each chef?)? Just trying to get a feel for the event. I am going to keep reading and get a feel for this, but wanted to let you know there are probably many out there getting ideas and reading, but may be just lurking since it seemed "out there" at first, but is narrowing its focus some. BTW I can see your Zinfandel sauce with crab easily.

When is this event? Just looking at your deadline here. I thought you had mentioned something in October, but unsure if this was a seperate occasion.

I was writing this over a period of time and forgot to put this question in for you..

Are you only going to be presenting the menu as being the 5 ingredients or are you going to give descriptions of the items as presented? I imagine some explanation is going to take place, but wondered how far you would go in presenting the item. Also, what is the atmosphere? How many people will you be serving? I am not trying to tie down anything, just getting a better grasp.

Edited by PastryLady, 18 September 2003 - 12:37 PM.

Debra Diller
"Sweet dreams are made of this" - Eurithmics

#62 chocophile

  • participating member
  • 173 posts
  • Location:Westchester County, New York

Posted 18 September 2003 - 02:21 PM


For inspiration if you haven't already looked there, Albert Adria simply blew me away when I sat in on his talk at the World Pastry Forum. Most importantly, I think, was his ability to articulate his taste impressions. While few people have the impetus to push the edge of the envelope as he does at el Bulli, his inventiveness is inspiring. Another important point I took away from his talk was the importance of acknowledging sources for technique.

One other place where I was recently inspired was the opening party for the new Vosges chocolate shop in NY. Katrina Markoff opened Vosges in Chicago after studying at le Cordon Bleu and working in Europe, SE Asia, and Australia. Her flavor combinations in chocolate are fun e.g., wasabi/ginger/dark chocolate; coconut/curry/milk chocolate.

At the opening, however, she served items from a salt+sweet tasting menu. One of the combinations was warm chocolate pudding with maple syrup and bacon. Another was white chocolate cups filled with a savory coconut espuma, edamame, fresh lemon julienne, and grey sea salt. (This was amazing.) Interesting but less successful was granny smith apple cups whose bases were dipped in dark chocolate then filled with foir gras foam and topped with crushed corn nuts. Mine had a big Frito in it, which may have been why it didn't work salt/crunch was too compact for the rest of the piece and was out of sync.

One piece I did not try because I had dinner reservations at Balthazar (darn!) was gianduja, cumin, and dried carrot "crostini" topped with vanilla oil rubbed langoustines and cilantro.

Some of these seem spiritually akin to what you are looking to produce. I for one, am looking forward to learning the final menu, and I've love permission to post it on my web site (assuming, of course, at least one item has chocolate in it) to get people thinking about chocolate in out of the box ways.

Thanks for the start of a fascinating conversation,
Clay Gordon
president, pureorigin
editor/publisher www.chocophile.com
founder, New World Chocolate Society

#63 tan319

  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,074 posts
  • Location:southwest usa

Posted 18 September 2003 - 04:57 PM

Clay (chocophile)
Nice to hear from you.
If you get a chance, perhaps you could start a thread about your attendence at the WPF , specifically, the Adria talk you mentioned.
I'm sure a lot of us here would be psyched to read about it!

  Most importantly, I think, was his ability to articulate his taste impressions.

This would be extremely interesting.

  Another important point I took away from his talk was the importance of acknowledging sources for technique.

I'm curious as to what he meant by that?
Was he talking about being inspired by, say, Bras, to create a dessert? Or borrowing a technique of his? I would love to hear about this!
Thanks in advance :biggrin:

#64 Michael Laiskonis

Michael Laiskonis
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 672 posts

Posted 19 September 2003 - 08:15 AM

I appreciate that some of you, like Ted and Debra, might have had initial reservations or skepticism in wrapping their heads around this idea. And I'm glad that we may be encouraging others to think about things in new ways, where they might not have before. I have countless thoughts and ideas, in my head and on paper, that may never be put to practical use, and I find myself thinking more about how to express 'concepts' through food. This event/exercise is the realization of some of those ideas, those that may not always find a place on our day to day menus. There are surely risks involved, but that makes it all the more exciting.

To recap how this menu began...

G suggested a menu whereby we select five ingredients, and with that ingredient, we each prepare one course. So, the menu will consist of ten courses altogether. We are each generally approaching each ingredient, each dish, from the perspective of our individual area of 'expertise', mine from 'sweet', and G's from 'savory'. But that does not necessarily mean that there will be five savory courses followed by five desserts, in the traditional sense. We're lifting the restrictions of what sweet and savory might typically imply, not only in the execution of each dish, but also in the placement of each dish in the context of an entire menu. Remember the idea of 'rolling hills'- the general idea that an extended menu need not necessarily conform to a gradual progression of savory to sweet, with the peak, as it were, being the entree, or 'main dish'. G began working on this idea months ago, of punctuating every few courses of his 'tour de force' with a dose of 'sweet'. This is an extension of that initial discussion and experimentation. How the menu will be presented, not only with regard to the actual flow of courses, but also, the menu descriptions, whether a dish will be initially fully described or credited to either chef (perhaps adding an element of surprise and suspense)- these are all issues still open for discussion. Right now, we're both coming up with our first drafts. The next step will be how to integrate them into a whole, likely followed by the logistical challenges...

So you see, we are playing out a few different ideas simultaneously. The coolest part for me is simply the fact that I'll be spending a day with a bunch of awesome, like-minded cooks...

Clay, interesting to read your report on the Vosges opening. I can actually taste a lot of that stuff in my head. And I haven't as yet heard any other first hand reports from Albert's class this last time around. I've been thinking not only of Albert and Ferran Adria throughout this process, but I've also looked at the work of several others, to see what might inspire my own impulses. As I've mentioned before, with all the possibilities, my five courses suddenly seems so limiting!
Michael Laiskonis
Pastry Chef
New York

#65 chefg

  • participating member
  • 243 posts

Posted 19 September 2003 - 11:27 PM

As I've mentioned before, with all the possibilities, my five courses suddenly seems so limiting!

I agree...make it 12? 14 ?
Grant Achatz

#66 twodogs

  • participating member
  • 217 posts

Posted 21 September 2003 - 02:55 PM

what defines a course?

white asparagus with five flavors is it one or five courses in one?

i am reminded of rodney dangerfields final exam in back to school where the literature professor had only one question...in twenty seven different parts

your it

h. alexander talbot
chef and author
Levittown, PA

#67 Michael Laiskonis

Michael Laiskonis
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 672 posts

Posted 28 September 2003 - 08:32 PM

With sadness, I have to break the news that a few of the special events at Trio, celebrating that restaurant's tenth anniversary, had to be cancelled. However, I look forward to continuing the dialogue and eventually revisiting the collaboration sometime in the future.

Though cut short, the project raised a great number of questions, and I found many of the contributions here inspiring and even entertaining. I certainly made some discoveries throughout this process, and I'd like to share some of my initial ideas.

For a peek behind the scenes, this is an edited excerpt of an earlier email to G, laying out my "first draft" of dishes...

As I mentioned earlier, these are but guidelines that may be tweaked/reworked as I taste and nail them down. I fear I'm thinking too conservatively, only because of the logistics involved. With the number of courses we're doing, I'm also trying to determine appropriate portion sizes; I love the scale of the dishes you incorporate into the 'Tour de Force,' but I wonder how much you might typically boost the amount of 'substance' in your dishes for a 10 course menu. I've also tried to balance the  overt "dessert-ness" of some of these ideas, but I don't think we can make any meaningful judgments about course placement until everything is out in the open... your ideas may in turn inspire me to go in a direction I haven't yet considered.

Working Concept: Is it sweet or is it savory?

I posted my initial motivation with this dish on that eGullet discussion. I think the balance of flavors, as I taste them in my mind, work well on that ambiguous level, and could go most anywhere, either early in the progression, as a transitional course, or toward the end, as a more conventional 'pre-dessert'. The balance will be the key. To recap, if you haven't seen it... A very lightly sweetened dashi flavored custard set into an eggshell (held at room temp.), followed by a slightly warmed citrus-ginger 'coulis' (thickened with pectin), topped by a cold caramel foam (a caramel 'anglaise' dispensed from an iSi canister), topped with the roe, and a few drops of maple syrup. I like the simplicity and the compact nature of serving it in the eggshell, even though that feels kind of outdated.

Degree of difficulty: Fairly easy to prep and pick up. Virtually all the components can be done ahead...

Service: We'd need a liner of some sort, an egg cup, a demitasse spoon... We'd have to offer "instruction'' as to completely immerse the spoon into the egg in order to properly blend the flavors.

Working Concept: Hot and cold.

I hope to source the little sawagani crabs I mentioned before. They're about an inch or so in diameter, and entirely edible. The various Asian crackers, chips and snacks weighed heavily on mind: I'd like to fry these, pretty much in a light tempura style, and incorporate a blend of some sweet spices like cinnamon, or even pain d'epice or gingersnap crumbs, but perhaps as a 'pile' to 'dip' into, as opposed to an additive in the batter itself. And that leads me toward a hint of perhaps a smoked salt as well- maybe playing on the idea of the diner deciding how to experience the crab, salty in one bite, then sweet in another. As a foil, or rather an accompanient, I like the idea of a hot and cold shot of pineapple juice (tightened slightly, and some depth added by honey, spice/herb, or blended with another fruit, say pear or quince) and a crab-infused foam- either could play the hot/cold role. I see the potential for a third component to complete a 'trio,' such as a sorbet/ice cream, but again, I think the simplicity and interplay between the two keeps things nice and clean. If the crabs I want are unavailable or of poor quality, I can retool this idea, or fall back on a couple of others that also play on the concept of hot/cold or liquid/solid.

Degree of difficulty: Fairly easy. The crabs themselves will be mid to low maintenance ahead of time. Obviously, a la minute batter preparation and frying. The crab component of the shot can be done ahead, but I might  like to juice and prepare the pineapple the day of.

Service: I imagine a square or rectangular plate, with the crabs and 'dips' lined up, and either the shot glass delivered on the plate (if long and rectangular) or served on the side... Perhaps chopsticks would be the best way to handle the whole crabs?

Working Concept: Hidden surprise

Kind of a "truffle" within a truffle. The engineering of this could go in many directions. I'd create a bitter chocolate truffle (perhaps truffle flavored) within a rich celery root or parsnip fondant, with a black truffle purée and either a fluid or granulated praline, or a caramel powder (perhaps coffee or chicory). The result  I'd like to acheive would be for the truffle to have just begun to soften or liquefy as it hits the table. I'll have to figure out how to construct/plate this to see what works best. I'd like to do this in some sort of small dish that would enable me to cover/hide the whole with a thin chesnut wafer, which the guest would have to break through, and thus adding that as a textural element. Aroma would be another concept to tackle with this dish- I'll see if I can work in an interesting angle over the next couple of days. What do you think our truffle availability will be? I see black when I envision this. This dish could perhaps stand up to a 'meaty' component, but again, the straightforward simplicity feels good. I've also given thought to inverting the whole composition- encasing the 'savory' elements within a bittersweet chocolate shell, but the engineering concerns then multiply, as would the last minute prep.

Degree of difficulty: Moderate, depending upon how I decide to plate/heat everything at pick up. Prep, again, can be partially completed, with finishing that day.

Service: A small dish or bowl, maybe three to four inches in diameter at its top, with a liner. Kitchen-to-table time will be critical to preserve the nature of all the components, like the crispness of the wafer, etc.

Working Concept: Textures

This one, perhaps a more 'overt' dessert course, has proven most difficult to completely flesh out, if you can believe that! For some reason, I'm fixated on creating some sort of sophisticated, adult "Twinkie," though for the purpose and logistics of this exercise, scaled back and deconstructed a bit. I see a strong, linear presentation comprised of a neutral (I also like brown butter, or even corn, here) biscuit or sponge, though 'filled' with a coconut cream. Sicilian pistachio, a cider caramel (liquid), a tart gelée, and a vanilla-sweet potato sorbet would round out the dish. A coconut or alternatively flavored caramel or 'crocant liquido' may or may not come into play- I also like a buttery, caramel-like 'tuile' that I simply call 'tuile craquante’.

Degree of difficulty: Moderate to time-consuming. A lot of the nuts and bolts will have to be completed onsite: the biscuit and the crunchy textural element, be it from a  caramel powder or bake-able batter. We'll need to utilize that Taylor (too bad, this sorbet is beatiful in a Paco!). A bit more fussy on the final assembly, too.

Service: A big, simple plate, my preference might lean towards rectangular or square.

Working Concept:??

I'm most eager to hear your approach with malt, since it's a fairly easy one for me, unless I take it into uncharted territory. The "classical" pastry chef in me wants to maybe go 100% conventional, as a reward of sorts, thanking the diner for being such a great sport through all of this! And thus I'd play on the chilhood concept of a candy bar, or (less exciting to me) a milkshake of sorts. But then with a chocolate element in the truffle dish, I also like the notion of playing off of the beer/grain connotation, and thereby removing it from the pastry realm just a bit.

Degree of Difficulty: By going conventional, I'd likely need to do some chocolate work onsite, but I recall you mentioning a nice slab of marble (would I need to be concerned about ambient temperature in your kitchen?). It would otherwise be a matter of delicate, a la minute assembly.

Service: I guess we'll wait and see in what direction we'll eventually go.

Working Concept: Setting a tone/reinforcing the theme

You've probably noticed I've so far omitted these from the discussion. I guess I'm being greedy and unwilling to part with one of our five ingredients! Were you serious about extending the length of this menu by a couple of courses? Should we unify the first and last bites with a common ingredient/concept? If so, do we pick another, or chose from the existing five? Could the amuse/mignardise be successfully inverted? Or, should we play off of our appointed "roles" of savory and sweet, but feel free to work without any restrictions... For example, I could do some "inventive" chocolates, pate de fruit, marshmallow, etc.

Degree of difficulty: If I go "familiar forms with unfamiliar flavors," potentially high. Some things travel well, some don't. I wouldn't mind doing three individual components per guest, but I'd also be game for doing a more complex, composed piece.

Service: The possibilities expand with our ambitions...

So, considering the fact that these ideas remain in their infancy, how did I do? Did I remain true to the original concept of blurring savory and sweet? As you "taste" these combinations in your mind, do they work? Did I not go far enough?
Michael Laiskonis
Pastry Chef
New York

#68 Patrice

  • participating member
  • 289 posts

Posted 30 September 2003 - 06:34 AM

Thanks Michael for sharing this ''first draft'' of ideas you had for that special event. I would have love to taste both of your creations. I'm really thinking about your trout roe idea and at the same time I can taste it in my mind and I'm sure it would have been perfect.
Are you going to go futher with some of these ideas? Is it possible for you to serve some of these ''desserts'' at Tribute?
Patrice Demers

#69 Michael Laiskonis

Michael Laiskonis
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 672 posts

Posted 01 October 2003 - 02:11 AM

Thanks for the kind words, Patrice. The trout roe was a sure thing from the beginning; it was the first dish to fully come to me, and it did in a flash. You might remember tasting my 'signature egg' at the NY Chocolate Show last year. My immediate thought was to twist that into a savory mode. The funny thing is, I wasn't thinking at the time that the 'dessert egg' was first inspired as a direct reponse to Alain Passard's 'savory egg,' the now standard amuse at Arpege!

I had confessed my feelings that I had played it rather conservatively on a technical level, but only due to the fact that this dinner would be an 'away game.' In my own environment, I'm confident I could spend the time to explore more interesting techniques. The crab idea was not overtly dessert-like, though I see the mechanics of the dish working with, say, liquid chocolate beignets, with both salty and sweet elements, and a contrasting/complimentary 'shot' to match. The coconut/'Twinkie' idea will likely appear in some form, though I was looking to incorporate my sweet potato sorbet elsewhere in the menu. The beer/malt flavors will also emerge with some of the autumn flavors coming our way. I had first started to think about celery root and chestnut after seeing the combo in a Japanese pastry magazine last winter, and if we do a 'truffle menu' at the restaurant, I can see myself working this idea into shape also.

For the most part, we have to consider not only our style of food as a whole, but also our audience. What I might have served in the context of Trio and G's style, would not necessarily be welcome back home in Detroit. On the other hand, one of the projects I'm working on currently is to expand on the idea of a spontaneous 'dessert degustation,' which I already offer in an informal way, to that of a more progressive, experimental option, thus perhaps utilizing combinations and techniques that might prove too daunting to those looking to order a more conventional plated dessert. This tasting would be tailored to that 20-30% of our guests that want fun and excitement, that want to be surprised and challenged, that might see dessert not as the 'end' of the meal, but perhaps just the beginning of the 'second half' of the meal. This would also serve to push myself in more creative ways. We'll see how that develops...
Michael Laiskonis
Pastry Chef
New York

#70 mags

  • participating member
  • 794 posts

Posted 04 October 2003 - 09:44 PM

How about lobster or crab in a dessert? Just because I can't think of a way to make it work, doesn't mean you can't :wink:  :smile:

<dubiously> Well, there is that place in Bar Harbor that makes lobster ice cream. But it's extremely disgusting. The ice cream, I mean.

#71 duckduck

  • participating member
  • 946 posts
  • Location:portland, oregon

Posted 08 October 2003 - 12:36 PM

I just have to say...God, I love this place!!!! Where else can we find discussions like this? I am not a freak here and I'm not alone in the universe. Dyin' to go play with some new ideas and flavors now.... :wub:
Pamela Wilkinson
Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."