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  1. <img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144897038/gallery_29805_2457_5544.jpg" hspace="5" align="left">It has often been said that the human activity that calls on the greatest number of senses is gastronomy. When we look at a painting or photograph, only the sense of sight is brought into play, just as when we listen to a symphony, the sense that transports the information to the brain is hearing. An opera or film calls for the joint participation of sight and hearing. When we are eating, four out of the five senses come into play, to a greater or lesser extent: sight, smell, touch and taste. Even hearing plays a small but interesting role in food with certain preparations, such as those with a crisp texture. <br><br> Sight is the first sense that transmits information to us when the dish arrives on the table. It enables us to identify the product, and appreciate its composition, presentation, colours and shapes. <br><br> The next to come into operation is smell, thanks to which we perceive aromas. All products have a specific odour which we appreciate when we smell them close up, and sometimes it can be very powerful (truffles, shellfish, certain fruits and vegetables). Stews and other products and preparations that are served hot can be smelled from further away. To appreciate wine, smell is essential.<br><br> The perceptions related to touch are two-fold: firstly the whole gamut of temperatures that the mouth can discern, as well as possible contrasts between different temperatures. Secondly, the various textures of products and preparations. <br><br> The sense of taste is the one that plays the major role when eating. Just as it is perfectly understood that the senses are the gateway for information to the brain, it goes without saying that taste is the sense that needs most attention when suggesting a dish to a diner. This is also true in our way of understanding cooking, although we are now aware of the fact that the right proportion of stimuli for each sense increases the pleasure.</p> <br> <hr noshade size="2" color="#666666"> <table border="0" bgcolor="#FFFFFF"> <tr> <td><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144897038/gallery_29805_2457_1700.jpg"></td> <td><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144883250/gallery_29805_2457_2702.jpg"></td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" align="right"> <hr size="1" noshade color="#333333"></td></tr> <tr> <td valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144883250/gallery_29805_2457_1803.jpg"></td> <td><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144883250/gallery_29805_2457_3169.jpg" hspace="5" align="left">When a diner goes to a gourmet restaurant, he will experience physical reactions that go beyond the need to feed himself, but also a series of sensations that his brain will process based on data collected by his senses. This process is usually taken for granted, and many chefs accept this as an undeniably important aspect, without warranting further consideration or thought. For example, they know that they have to choose a high quality product, cook it in its own style and ensure that the diner’s requirements are met. This does not necessarily mean that it is routine, or that disdain is shown for the options provided by the senses, even though they are not usually taken into account as a starting out point for the creating process. <br><br> For several years, this was more or less our attitude. We knew that the gateway to gastronomic sensations was the senses, but we never really asked ourselves how they functioned and how they could be influenced. Apart from one or two specific ideas prior to 1994, it was from that year onwards that a change of attitude began to be forged, directed at exploiting the entire potential of this relationship between the chef and the diner. Three years later, while we were writing Los secretos de El Bulli, our method of tackling this aspect had taken root, and in that book we explained what the senses meant for us. In all fields of human activity, knowing how a process functions helps one to work with it, by modifying it, being sparing with some factors or enhancing others, in order to obtain the desired result. This is equally true with cooking: if we analyse how cooking is perceived, how each sense influences the appreciation of a dish and the pleasure it provides, we can then offer the diner much more information, and thus increase the emotion. <br><br> Of course, this understanding meant that when creating, it was essential to bear in mind all the information that the diner received. In other words, because this information directly depended on the senses, we had to study the role of each one in the act of eating in order to use them as a creative method. For several years, this was more or less our attitude. We knew that the gateway to gastronomic sensations was the senses, but we never really asked ourselves how they functioned and how they could be influenced. Apart from one or two specific ideas prior to 1994, it was from that year onwards that a change of attitude began to be forged, directed at exploiting the entire potential of this relationship between the chef and the diner. Three years later, while we were writing Los secretos de El Bulli, our method of tackling this aspect had taken root, and in that book we explained what the senses meant for us. In all fields of human activity, knowing how a process functions helps one to work with it, by modifying it, being sparing with some factors or enhancing others, in order to obtain the desired result. This is equally true with cooking: if we analyse how cooking is perceived, how each sense influences the appreciation of a dish and the pleasure it provides, we can then offer the diner much more information, and thus increase the emotion. <br><br> </font> </td> </tr> <td colspan="2" align="right"> <hr size="1" noshade color="#333333"></td></tr> <tr> <tr> <td valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144897038/gallery_29805_2457_685.jpg"></td> <td><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144883250/gallery_29805_2457_9210.jpg" hspace="5" align="left"> We stated earlier that sight is the first sense to transmit information in the act of eating. The data can indicate various aspects, such as the amount served, the shapes and proportions of the products and preparations, colours or the layout of food on the plate. Thanks to sight, we can immediately identify, before trying it, what food we are going to eat, as well as the type of cuisine the dish belongs to. In creative cooking, it is often even possible to identify the chef that has created a dish, merely through what we might call its artistic style. In view of all the data that the diner receives using his sense of sight, the chef has various options. Firstly, the appearance of a dish is undeniably a motivation: playing with colours, shapes, proportions, layout and so on – in short, everything that gives rise to what we colloquially call “eating with one’s eyes”. But this appearance can also “tell” things, such as indicating how the dish should be eaten, in what order the ingredients are to be consumed. There are gourmets who are particularly good at “reading” a dish, people who know the right way to appreciate the chef’s idea. <br> <br> <tr> <td colspan="2" align="right"> <hr size="1" noshade color="#333333"></td></tr> <tr> <td valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144897038/gallery_29805_2457_79.jpg"></td> <td> <img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144897038/gallery_29805_2457_2795.jpg" hspace="5" align="left"> This is one of the senses that intervenes the most in the act of eating, and it plays various roles. Firstly, it has a physiological function which has nothing to do with culinary sensitivity: it is responsible for preparing the gastric juices for digestion. In the area of perception, thanks to smell we perceive the aromas of a dish. Furthermore, smell is a very important aid for the chef in order to judge the quality or condition of a product. <br><br> When creating, only the second of these functions, perceiving the aroma of a dish, is important. The aroma of a product or preparation is essential, to the extent that if we could not appreciate its smell, we would only be able to perceive a fraction of the basic flavours and refinements when tasting, but without the characteristic personality of these ingredients, since the two senses are very closely related. It is well known that a person whose sense of smell is neutralised (because of some product or a simple cold) does not experience the “savour” of food. <br><br> It was not until 1997 that we dealt with smell at a creative level in our cuisine, when we decided to concentrate an aroma to add flavour to a dessert. In 2000 we enhanced the aroma of a dish with rosemary in our Norway lobsters au naturel with rosemary or with a sprig of vanilla in our sweet vanilla potato purée. In 2001, with the creation of the aromas of elBulliolor, we invented three dishes in which smell played a crucial role: raw/sautéed St George’s mushrooms with elderflower and yoghurt and pine foam with a woodland scent, orange, pumpkin with yoghurt powder and bitter almond and oysters on a trip.<br><br></td></tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" align="right"> <hr size="1" noshade color="#333333"></td></tr> <tr> <td valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144897038/gallery_29805_2457_89.jpg"></td> <td> <img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144883250/gallery_29805_2457_8046.jpg" hspace="5" align="left">The first tactile sensation that our mouths experience when we introduce food is temperature. The human palate is capable of standing only a certain range of temperatures, and anything that exceeds the limits of -20 ºC and 70 ºC approximately (depending on a person’s sensitivity) should not be considered when cooking. Within this range of temperatures, the sense of touch acts by detecting whether a food is cold, warm or hot, and also by perceiving contrasts between various temperatures. <br><br> So temperature is a source of sensations that a chef should know how to exploit, so that, for example, contrasts between different temperatures may be appreciated. In addition, it is important, and not just in creative cuisine, that the temperature of each dish is right, a factor that is often ignored. A variation of 5 ºC in a preparation can mark the difference between success and failure. <br><br> When creating, it is also important to bear in mind which preparations lend themselves to different temperatures. Soups, sauces, custards, crèmes or purées can be cold, warm or hot. Since 1998, jellies and foams, which until then could only be cold, can also be hot. In other cases, temperature defines the physical state of certain preparations: the temperature of a sorbet will always be below 0 ºC; the same preparation at 5 ºC is no longer a sorbet. <br> <br> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" align="right"> <hr size="1" noshade color="#333333"></td></tr> <tr> <td align="right" valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144897038/gallery_29805_2457_1351.jpg" align="top"></td> <td valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144883250/gallery_29805_2457_7074.jpg" hspace="5" align="left"> After appreciating the temperature of a mouthful (or sometimes simultaneously), the sense of touch detects its texture. This factor is very important (borne out by the fact that many people do not like a product, not because of its taste but because of its texture), and in El Bulli it plays a vital role. The wealth of sensations provided by texture is only limited by the number of textures that actually exist. <br> <br> Firstly, one can play with the original textures of a product. It might be said that the appeal of certain products is based more on their texture than their flavour: pasta, rice, elvers, caviar, etc. The gelatinous texture of pigs’ trotters, frogs’ legs or cod plays a vital role in their gourmet value. Furthermore, by working on these textures, an infinite number of variations can be obtained: countless textures are provided by cutting and cooking asparagus in as many ways as possible. A large number of textures can also be obtained from a liquid or purée: whey, mousse, foam, water ice, sorbet, ice cream, custard, jelly, and so on. Then there are other preparations whose textures are not based on liquids or purées, such as caramels, croquants, pastry and all its variations (biscuits, sponges, tiles, millefeuilles), etc. <br><br> Creative playing revolves around offering contrasts in textures, and also modifying the usual texture of a product to provide a completely new perspective. Deciding which textures to provide in a product and combining them with others is one of the most complex, yet at the same time agreeable, aspects of creativity based on the senses. </td></tr> <td colspan="2" align="right"> <hr size="1" noshade color="#333333"></td></tr> <tr><td align="right" valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144897038/gallery_29805_2457_395.jpg" align="top"></td><td><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1138590929/gallery_29805_2457_2236.jpg" hspace="5" align="left">The world of prepared textures: the panaché, a distinctive dish. It is not often that we can say that a dish of ours has generated a whole line of evolution. Almost certainly, one of them would be our textured panaché, since it represents a veritable frontier between our way of tackling cold dishes up to 1994 and what we did afterwards. The panaché opened up a new world to us, the world of prepared textures, in which the transformation of products took on a new prominence in our cuisine. The origins of the panaché dish occurred more or less simultaneously. In 1994, concepts and techniques to obtain new textures were created: savoury ice creams, foams, or jellies which we had been experimenting with since 1991. All these factors were subsequently incorporated into our panaché, an ideal showcase displaying this complete range of different textures. <br><br> We usually say that the need to create this dish goes back to the time we tried Michel Bras’ gargouillou dish. From that moment, our dream was to create a vegetable dish that would offer the same response to a different attitude. With the panaché, we succeeded. Furthermore, it was probably one of the first dishes for which we used the deconstruction method, although at that time we had not even thought about it. For all these reasons, we consider this dish to be a symbol, a distinctive dish. </td></tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" align="right"> <hr size="1" noshade color="#333333"></td></tr> <tr> <td align="right" valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144897038/gallery_29805_2457_739.jpg" align="top"></td> <td><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144883250/gallery_29805_2457_5850.jpg" hspace="5" align="left">The sensations perceived by the sense of taste while one is eating may be categorised as follows: <br> <br> - Perception of the primary flavours: sweet, savoury, acid, bitter.<br> - Perception of refinements: sour, astringent, spicy, balsamic, iodised, smoked, aniseed, etc.<br> - Identification of the characteristic flavour of each food. <br><br> Through taste we also perceive the harmony between the elements of a dish, although it is not actually this sense that judges the success or otherwise of combinations. This is done afterwards by the brain taking into account the perceptions that arrive via taste. <br><br> When creating, we can play with this harmony by modifying the proportions of basic flavours, complementing it with refinements, etc. To understand the potential of this creative method related to taste, we had to think about it for a while. For a long time we had assumed that the savoury flavour should predominate in a savoury dish, and sweetness in a dessert. On that basis, the other primary flavours merely acted as points of contrast. The evolution of the symbiosis between the sweet and savoury worlds stimulated a new way of looking at things. Our intention when creating a dish based on flavours is to provide variety, in which the four flavours are balanced, so that different sensations may be experienced. An essential ingredient of this method is the chef’s sensitivity, which will enable him to attain balance and harmony between all the elements. <br><br> When we are asked to give an example of the importance of balance between the basic flavours, we usually say that if one adds too much salt (or too much sugar) to a savoury dish, it is out of proportion. Harmony is the objective. And multiplying sensations does not mean multiplying the ingredients in a dish. For example, if we put a pinch of Maldon salt on a grapefruit segment, we have a taste of something with the four basic flavours. To these are added the flavour refinements (spicy, astringent, sour, etc.) that are as important in gastronomy as the basic flavours, and a vital component for enhancing a dish; however they are sometimes relegated to second place when talking about the sense of taste. This search for balance between flavours and refinements has also been the driving force that has led us to use new products that are distinguished precisely because of some of these aspects. </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" align="right"> <hr size="1" noshade color="#333333"></td></tr> <tr><td align="right" valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144897038/gallery_29805_2457_1383.jpg" align="top"></td> <td><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1144883250/gallery_29805_2457_2923.jpg" hspace="5" align="left">The concept of sequence when eating a dish is one of the ideas that enabled us to enter into the world of the senses with a different attitude. The catalyst was our green asparagus wrapped in ceps, which we wanted to serve with a ceps jelly, macadamia nuts and a parmesan vinaigrette. After trying the dish several times we found that the balance was almost perfect, but there was something missing, something to set it off. At that time, we were also working on citrus fruit reductions, and it occurred to us that we might add an acid flavour by using a mandarin reduction. <br> <br> Now we just needed to know what part of the dish to apply it to, and we saw that the most suitable solution was to put it on the asparagus tip. This led us to set a sequence for eating it: the waiter told the diner that the dish was to be eaten in a certain order, and that the tip with the reduction had to be eaten last. This would produce an explosion of the acid flavour of the mandarin once the asparagus had been finished. In short, the dish consisted of three asparagus spears that had to be eaten in sequence. This was the catalyst of the analysis that led us to understand that there were two ways of eating: in the first way, the order in which the elements of a dish are eaten is not important; in the second way, it is essential so that its entire harmony can be appreciated. We also realised that the proportion of each element was extremely important, and that a lack of balance in this aspect could thoroughly upset the result. One only has to think of what happens if too much salt is added to a dish. If the harmony of a dish were to be expressed in an equation, order and proportion would be major elements. </td> </tr> <tr> <tr><td colspan="2"></font><hr size="1" noshade color="#333333"> <font size="-2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">Our thanks to Juli Soler for his invaluable assistance in this project. <br> Copyright Ferran Adria, Juli Soler, Albert Adria © 2006. Photographs by Francesc Guillamet. <br> Introduction by Pedro Espinosa.<br> El Bulli books may be purchased here.<br> </font></td></tr> </table>
  2. <img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1141577940/gallery_29805_2457_21200.jpg" width="324" height="285" hspace="5" align="left">Within the family of products with soul, we include in this analysis all products that have played a major role in El Bulli, those that have warranted special attention or have been important in our evolution. The N2O that we blow into siphons to obtain foams meets these criteria, except in one crucial aspect that might be debated for hours: is air a product? There are many preparations in which air plays an important role, even though it has never been treated as a cooking ingredient, but the creation of foams in 1994 certainly gave it star status. <br><br> What in fact characterises foams is their airy texture, their lightness, and the fact that they have more air than traditional mousses. The mission of the siphon is to blow air into the preparation with the help of N2O capsules that charge this utensil. Without the magic of the siphon, without the intervention of this gas that is not only harmless but also tasteless, foams would not be possible. Air is an essential element for obtaining these foams for which we feel a particular fondness, and for this reason we think that it deserves to be included in the family of products with soul. <br> <hr noshade size="2" color="#666666"> <table border="0" bgcolor="#FFFFFF"> <tr> <td><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1139674845/gallery_29805_2457_381.jpg"></td> <td><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1141577940/gallery_29805_2457_4833.jpg"></td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" align="right"> <hr size="1" noshade color="#333333"></td></tr> <tr> <td valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1141577940/gallery_29805_2457_1999.jpg"></td> <td><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1141577940/gallery_29805_2457_7110.jpg" hspace="5" align="left">Foams arrived in 1994, but they had undergone a lengthy germination phase. The only reason that this preparation did not come to fruition until then was because of technical problems, as we did not know how to achieve this texture that we dreamed about, and if we had the right tool, our dream would come true. Early experiments were carried out in 1991-1992 in Xavier Medina Campeny’s workshop, but after some amusing domestic disasters, the ony thing that we knew was that gas was essential to reap success in this aspect. The appearance of the siphon in our kitchen was to give us the solution, but even then it was not so simple. <br> <br> </td></tr> <td valign="top"> </td> <td> In 1993, our dear friend Antoni Escribà brought us back from Switzerland a gadget that we called “the phantom siphon” because it was always getting lost. After buying a set of CO2 capsules, we attempted to make our first foams, but we knew nothing about gases at that time, and the foams we obtained seemed fermented to us. Strangely enough, we went back to CO2 in 2001 for our mojito and carrot soda. In any case, these discouraging results caused the “phantom siphon” to be banished to the cupboard. <br> <br></td></tr> <td valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1141577940/gallery_29805_2457_829.jpg"></td> <td> <img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1141577940/gallery_29805_2457_6625.jpg" hspace="5" align="left"> In the winter of 1993-1994, while we were helping our friend Eduard Roigé to draw up the menu of the restaurant Bel-Air in Barcelona, a customer asked for a dessert with whipped cream. To our surprise, the cream was served in the kitchen with a gadget they took out of the fridge, from which whipped cream emerged by pressing a lever at the top. Suddenly we saw the light, and we reckoned that this siphon might solve the foams problem. So we borrowed the siphon, and in a matter of just a few days, our dream became a reality. <br> <br> Now, when we look back on that time, it is hard to believe how long we used this siphon "full stop," the name we gave it to distinguish it from the ISI siphon that came to El Bulli in 1997. The siphon “full stop” was charged from a bulky cylinder containing N2O, and it was a sizeable gadget which meant that ease of service from it left a lot to be desired. Even so, for three years we were inventing foams and serving them from that lovable monstrosity. The ridiculous thing was that when the ISI siphon arrived in 1997, we realised it was very similar to the "phantom siphon" that we used to charge with CO2, and that if we had used N2O instead, we would almost certainly have adopted it instead of our siphon "full stop".</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right" valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1141577940/gallery_29805_2457_1187.jpg" align="top"></td> <td valign="top"><img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1138590929/gallery_29805_2457_7783.jpg" hspace="5" align="left">At this stage of the game, so much has been written about foams in the gourmet media (and even the general press) that it only remains for us to mention the brief history of this preparation, which is a technique and a concept at the same time. Cold foams were hatched in the El Bulli kitchen on March 19th 1994, the year the development squad project started. <br> <br> Since 1990 we had been nurturing the idea of achieving a lighter mousse, in which the product’s flavour would be much more intense than in traditional mousses. The idea came to us while we were in a specialist fruit juice bar and we noticed the foam that formed in the top part of the glass. Between 1990 and 1993 we conducted a good many tests, some as crazy as the ones we did in Xavier Medina Campeny’s workshop (see elBulli1983-1993), but it was not until 1994 that we reached a satisfactory outcome. <br> <br> For this, the crucial moment was when the siphon came into our hands, the utensil that enabled us to turn our dream into a reality (see The siphon “full stop”, page 90). Our first test involved putting a consommé into the siphon; when it came out, it had maintained its consistency, and we thought that this was because of the natural gelatin contained in the consommé. Therefore, if any product did not gel naturally, we could always add gelatin leaves, something that had not occurred to us the year before during the tests with the “phantom siphon” our friend Antoni Escribà had brought us. <br> <br> And this is what we did with a white bean purée on that fateful 19th of March 1994. The first foam served at our tables was this one, accompanied by sea urchins. The same year we made foams out of beetroot, coriander and almonds. These preparations began life in the savoury world, but once we discovered their potential, their migration to sweet preparations was only a matter of time. In 1994, we only made coconut foam, the first in a long series that we began to prepare from the following year onwards. <br> <br> Foams were born with the intention of using only the juice or purée of the product in question, without the addition of cream, eggs or other fats that might diminish the flavour. As time went on, we began to realise that on the one hand there was the philosophy of foams, but on the other hand we had a marvellous gadget, the siphon, which provided us with innumerable possibilities: creams, meringues, extremely light mousses that were easy to prepare, and so on. Today we would probably call anything that comes from the use of the siphon, a “foam”. <br> <br> Of course, foams are very well known today, and hundreds of chefs serve them in their restaurants. It remains to be seen whether they will be so important in twenty or thirty years’ time. As for the controversy surrounding them, we still find it hard to understand why criticisms have been so harsh. Current results lead us to claim, without hesitation, that there are good foams and foams that are not so good, in the same way as there are mousses with varying degrees of success. </td> </tr> <tr> </tr> <tr> <tr><td colspan="2"></font><hr size="1" noshade color="#333333"> <font size="-2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">This is the second part in a multi-part series. Part one is here.<br> El Bulli books may be purchased here.<br><br> Our thanks to Juli Soler for his invaluable assistance in this project. <br> Copyright Ferran Adria, Juli Soler, Albert Adria ©2006. <br> Photographs by Francesc Guillamet. <br> Art by Dave Scantland, after a photograph by Francesc Guillamet.<br> Introduction to part one by Pedro Espinosa.<br> <br> </font></td></tr> </table> </body> </html>
  3. I have a question-Alinea or Moto? Having trouble deciding. Taking my dad to Chicago in June, he's open to anything foodwise.
  4. Rut roh...just saw this article on NYTimes.com about the NY health departments concerns over sous vide. I'm thinking more temporary setback/annoyance than real problem. Thoughts?
  5. I've noted your three recipes in the new book that utilize the sous vide technique. There is also a rather active sous vide topic on the cooking forum. Was sous vide evident when you wrote the first edition of your book? Is this technique gaining momentum in the Southwestern France region? Is method employed in home cooking in the region, or is it still primarily a restaurant technique? Do you often use sous vide at home?
  6. Hi everyone... So I missed Blais at Blais, and I guess I've missed Blais at Bazzaar. Anyone know what he's up to at the moment? Or is there anything else in Atlanta at the moment that is Not-to-be-missed? I have a night or two in Atlanta next week and I'd like to do some culinary exploration. I'm also interested in some inexpensive places for our other meals (2 lunches and a dinner), so any suggestions are appreciated. I think we may be staying in the Buckhead area, if that makes a difference. TIA, morda Edited because it's spelled Bazzaar and not Blazaar
  7. This summer I am bringing a Japanese friend (and her son) for a 2 week trip to the US, since there isn't a whole lot to see in Cleveland we have decided to drive to Niagara falls and spend 2 nights there. We will be traveling with 4 kids between the ages of 4 and 9 so we are are looking for some reasonably priced (yet decent ) restaurants that are fine for children and close to the falls.... It has been a very long time since I was last there, any recommendations for things to do with kids? We haven't decided yet exactly when to go but are thinking somtime between July 16 and July 22, are the weekends really crowded? Should we aim for a weekday?
  8. Yes, the vacuum blender, Luddites. http://www.gadgetreview.com/what-is-a-vacuum-blender I am waiting for the WiFi version, so I can turn my smoothie into soup from Mars.
  9. Hi, I've tried to make the spherical mussels recipe from the Modernist Cuisine books and it didn't work as I expected, so I would appreciate any advice that may help here. The recipe calls for calcium gluconate which I couldn't get hold of, so I replaced it with calcium lactate gluconate that I had at home. I used the same ration (2.5%) When I tried to create the spheres in the sodium alginate bath I encountered two main problems; 1. instead of spheres the mixture just stayed as uneven shape on the surface. The bath was 1Kg. water with 5gr. sodium alginate and I let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours before using it so I think the problem is not here. However, the mussels jus mixture (100gr. mussels jus, 0.5gr. xanthin gum and and 2.5gr. calcium lactate gluconate) had a lot of air bubbles in it. Can that be the issue? 2. In the book the spheres seem to be completely transparent whereas my mussels jus mixture was pretty white and opaque. Is it because I replaced calcium gluconate with calcium lactate gluconate? Or maybe it's because the jus itself should be clarified before it is used? Thanks in advance for your support, Tom.
  10. Hi :-) Bought 1.7Kg pork chunk, might be a bit of weird cutting, seems like a rack of pork chops caught between V shaped in bones. Would like to sous vide it whole without further cutting to single steaks and would be glad to get a direction for temp and time, from what i've seen 60-62C area might be great to keep it juicy but i'm lost with the time, as it is a big chunk and not single steaks.. Thanks !
  11. Wikipedia defines pork wings as: a pork product made from the fibula of a pig's shank - a single bone surrounded by lean, tender meat. Images from the internet look like a finger-size bit of meat around a bone. Mine, however, look more like the meat (lots) which surrounds a bone. My butcher called this cut pork wings. You can see on the right that there's a small amount of bone. My butcher said he regularly ate SEVERAL of these. But this one measures 15 oz (425g). He also said it had to be cooked slowly. So, if I cook these sous vide, what temp and for how long?
  12. The NY Times has a current article in the science section "A Universe of Bubbles in Every Champagne Bottle". The article asserts that it is better to serve Champagne at warmer than refrigerator temperatures so that the bubbles are larger and convey more flavor. Also to serve in a narrow glass. However Gerard Liger-Belair (who is referenced as an authority in the Times article) points out in his book Uncorked (forward by Herve This) that the colder the wine the more viscous and the more dissolved CO2. Liger-Belair also prefers a goblet to a flute. I bought Uncorked after reading about it in Liquid Intelligence from Dave Arnold. Discuss.
  13. I've just cooked two lamb shanks sous vide for 72 hours at 141F in separate bags. When I opened the first bag, the shank looked and smelled great. The second bag, however, smelled bad (to me). The shank was covered in gelatinous red stuff. My husband is less smell-impaired than I, so he ate that one. The two shanks were purchased from the meat market associated with the Department of Animal Sciences at the local university where the students will have butchered the animals. I'm wondering if what's possible is that one of the shanks did not have all the blood drained out. And that the smell which I've associated with "bad" is actually the smell of blood.
  14. I often sous vide 5 pounds of chicken thighs for 8 hours at 156F. There is a lot of chicken juice and fat left over in the bag. I plan to save all the juices and fat every time I sous vide until I get about 4 cups of chicken juice. Then I can make chicken soup and use the fat for frying veggies. This may take me a month of saving juices however. Is storing the juices and fat for a month or longer safe? If I empty all the juices and fat from the bags, and boil them, will this be safe to store for long periods in fridge or freezer? I am also concerned about Botulism Spores which I understand is heat resistant. Thanks!
  15. So I was having company for the opening Football season. One of the local food store had Hamburger patties on sale. So, I opted to use them 85/15 chuck. They were only probably 3/4 " thick. When I got them home.. that seemed like a wimpy thickness. So , Idea Lets fuse 2 patties using Activa -RM-- so I treated one side ( dusted like a chicken breast ) - put together, and place them in frig for about 2 hrs.. to meld Took them out about 45 min prior to cook. Then off to my flat top to cook.. usually these thick burgers 1 1/2 icnches, get a big blood bubble in the middle, even if you dent them prior to cooking. What I notice with the Activa-Rm barrier in the middle , this really didn't happen. thick the meat juice collected just under, that in-side half. So i flipped and cooked side two. Really was amazed how uniform they cook and how the juices real stayed inside. No pictures as the game was on. Just thought I would share. PB
  16. Josh71

    Sous vide abalone

    Anyone has done that? I did once in the past, using time and temperature from David Chang Momofuku, which was 82C for 3 hours. And it was still though. I didn't put anything in the bag, just abalone. The abalone was not fresh, but frozen raw abalone, about 10 cm lengthwise, and it was defrosted overnight in the fridge. Going to do this again soon, so I thought if anyone has done it please share your results. I am thinking to do at 82C for 6 hours, and put a little bit of olive oil in the bag. Note: I searched this forum for abalone, but it seems it's not that popular ingredients. Few posted about sous-vide, but without end result reports.
  17. daveb

    Sous Vide Demo

    At a local culinary store I have a hobby/job helping local Chef's do cooking demonstrations, prepping for catered events and all kinds of other things that let me play with new toys and other peoples food. I've been asked to prepare a Sous Vide Demo meal to stimulate interest in SV and modern technique - and hopefully sell some SV units. Menu to be Mi Cuit Salmon (104F from Chef Steps), Asparagus Salad w poached egg, 72 hr Short Ribs w Cauliflower puree and a Poached Pear desert.
  18. Sorry if i've missed this somewhere, but was wondering if anyone was going to this event? Store Event Where: Washington, DC Event: An evening with Thomas Keller Date: 11/17/04 Time: 7pm-9pm Cost: $35.00/person Contact: (202) 237-0375 Details: Join America's Top Chef, Thomas Keller, owner of The French Laundry in Yountville, Bouchon in Yountville, and Per Se in New York City for a reception and book signing to benefit the National Capitol Chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food. Thomas will be joined by Bouchon’s executive chef, Jeff Cerciello, to discuss classic bistro dishes from their new book, Bouchon. Chef Jeff Heineman of the Grapeseed American Bistro and Wine Bar will prepare the evening’s food; wine will be provided by Michel-Schlumberger. Book signings are limited to books purchased at Sur La Table. Please bring your receipt for books purchased prior to the event. Ticket sales will benefit the AIWF.
  19. It's been a pleasure and an honor to have Ferran Adrià with us answering the questions asked by eGullet Society members. From the beginning, we've found a warm welcome from everyone on the elBulli team regarding this initiative. In the afternoon of the most important day of the Q&A, at elBulli's Taller, chef Adrià was hosting a foreign film crew engaged in shooting some videos, This was followed by a large group of cooks from the UK who were visiting the premises, plus phone calls and the development of new dishes. Amidst this continuous flow of activities, Ferran locked himself for several hours in the conference room at the former chapel to answer the questions you submitted. In his own words, this is the room to which they retreat "when everything else has failed" and they need to figure out a solution. We weren't in that critical situation the other day but surely the quiet environment helped in the achievement of the final result. I'd like to thank also Albert Adrià, who dropped by while the Q&A was proceeding and spontaneously joined Ferra in contributing with his view on the question at hand. Aintzane, Ferran's assistant, asked me not to disclose her surname. I will respect her desire, but I must say here that all this wouldn't have existed without her help throughout the process. Some months have passed since we first talked, back in early August, but the result has definetely been worth the wait. Please join me in thanking Ferran Adrià for the time and effort he devoted to spend some time with us. We'll make sure your words reach his eyes.
  20. Well, there I was pushing my cart around the Mega Commercial in León and what should I spot but a bottle with Ferran Adria's photo on the label hanging round its neck. Or a series of bottles of flavored olive oil produced by the firm Borges. So seven bucks later, I am the proud owner of 200ml of chile and cardamom flavored oil. The web page suggests I try it over spinach. All in the interests of culinary research! I'll be curious to see how they sell, Rachel
  21. eG Forums Q&A with Ferran Adria, December 15-17, 2004 The Q&A forum officially opens on December 15th, but we will begin accepting questions on Monday, December 13th. Please read this before posting. Ferran Adria in the El Bulli Kitchen Photo: Francesc Guillamet © Most of the members of the eGullet Society will be familiar with the works of Ferran Adria. Considered by many the most influential chef in the world, the traces of his work at El Bulli can be found in menus and restaurants located thousands of miles away from his restaurant in a Mediterranean cove. His approach to cooking has changed the way we perceive contemporary gastronomy: from the conception of the individual dishes to establishing an independent creativity department; from the creation of sophisticated techniques which result in new and unique textures to the redefinition of what a tasting menu and dining is. The eG Forums are the leading independent repository of information about Ferran Adria, so we invite those who would like to get a better understanding of his works to take a look at: The Cabinet of Dr. Adria Eight at El Bulli Twenty-seven Small Courses of Ferran Adria El Bulli, Soler and Adria in Context (excerpt from the book Text and Pretext in Textures) El Bulli web site To view some video clips of the upcoming television program "Decoding Ferran Adria", starring eGullet Society member and food television personality Tony Bourdain, please be sure to visit the Zero Point Zero website: Decoding Ferran Adria El Bulli in Roses on the Mediterranean Photo: Francesc Guillamet © About Ferran Adria and El Bulli Adria's legendary El Bulli restaurant has been awarded three stars in the Michelin guide for the past nine years. It originally opened in 1967, as a casual eatery for divers, but was transformed into a temple of contemporary gastronomy thanks to Adria's driving force. In 1998, the great Joel Robuchon said, "There are chefs who characterize their era, but they are few and far between. There was of course Fredy Girardet, Alain Chapel and some others. Today, I have the feeling that Ferran Adria of the restaurant El Bulli at Roses in Spain has the makings of such a kind." In August 2003, Arthur Lubow wrote in the New York Times, "Ferran Adria's restaurant El Bulli in the Catalan seaside town of Roses, a two-hour drive north of Barcelona, is a gastronome's once-before-you-die mecca. It's not merely the three Michelin stars (although only three other Spanish restaurants boast that distinction) or the top rating in Spain's most influential food guide. The accolades from other cooks are amazing." Juli Soler and Ferran Adria Photo: Francesc Guillamet © Adria was born in 1962 in Santa Eulalia, a neighborhood in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, near Barcelona. Twenty years later, he took charge of a kitchen for the first time: while doing his military service, he was part of the kitchen staff of a high-ranking general. In 1983 he staged for one month at El Bulli, where he returned in 1984 as chef de partie. In 1986 he became the chef at El Bulli. He and his partner Juli Soler bought the restaurant in 1990. Today, El Bulli is probably the most difficult place in the world to get a table. The restaurant is open six months a year, serves only dinner, and has a capacity of sixty seats. The 8,000 seats available for the entire 2005 season are already sold out; half a million requests for reservations will go unfulfilled. Adria has produced several books, including the three volume series El Bulli 1983-2002, Los secretos de El Bulli, and El Bulli, El Sabor del Mediterraneo.
  22. Thomas Keller's Bouchon just arrived in the mail after 4 weeks delay from Jessica's Biscuits. I'll be cooking from it over the next couple of weeks. Anyone out there care to trade notes on successes and failures? Leek and Potato soup tonight.
  23. A great piece, by Pete Wells, appears in the March 2005 issue of Food & Wine: Brain Food | Grant Achatz =R=
  24. Sometime this week, at an undisclosed location in the city of Chicago, Chef Grant Achatz begins the next leg of his journey to open his new restaurant, Alinea. Grant will christen the 'food lab' where the menu for Alinea will be developed. eGullet will be trailing Grant and his team throughout the process -- not just in the food lab but through every facet of the launch. Over the next six months, we will follow the Alinea team as they discover, develop, design and execute their plan. We'll document behind-the-scenes communications, forwarded directly to us by the Alinea team. We will be on the scene, bringing regular updates to the eGullet community. And Grant will join us in this special Alinea forum to discuss the process of opening Alinea. eGullet members will have the opportunity to ask Grant, and several other members of the Alinea team, questions about the development of the restaurant. A Perfect Pairing? By the time he was 12 years old, Grant Achatz knew that he would someday run his own restaurant. The story of Alinea is the story of Grant's personal development as a chef and a leader. Grant was brought up in a restaurant family. He bypassed a college education in favor of culinary school, after which he ascended rapidly to the position of sous chef for Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Yountville, California. In 2001, Grant took the helm of Trio in Evanston, Illinois, which had previously turned out such noted chefs as Gale Gand, Rick Tramanto (Tru) and Shawn McClain (Spring, Green Zebra). In 2003 Grant won the James Beard Foundation's "Rising Star Chef" award, and other prestigious awards followed. By 2004, Grant was recognized as one of the most influential and unique voices on the international culinary scene. In January 2004, Grant met Nick Kokonas, a successful entrepreneur who was so obsessed with haute cuisine that he had traveled the world in search of it. After globe-trekking specifically to eat at such culinary meccas as Alfonso 1890, Taillevent, Arpège, Arzak, and the French Laundry, Nick was in near disbelief when he realized that the "best food in the world was 10 minutes from my house." Nick had not previously consideredbacking a restaurant, even though he has both relatives and friends in the industry. But in Grant, he saw an opportunity to help create something great. Through Grant's cuisine, a bond formed between the two men. So inspired was Nick by Grant's culinary ideas that he returned to Trio almost monthly. Finally, he challenged two of his friends, one from New York and the other from San Francisco, to fly to Chicago and experience Trio. He wanted to prove definitively to his skeptical, coastal buddies that Trio was the best and most important restaurant in the country, assuring them that "if the meal at Trio isn't the best meal you've ever had, I'll pay for your meals and your flights." Nick won his bet: his friends were blown away. Later that night, after service, Grant joined Nick and his guests at their table. The men chatted about a variety of topics and in the '14 wines' haze of the late evening, they discussed Blue Trout and Black Truffles: The Peregrinations of an Epicure, Joseph Wechsberg's gastronomic memoir. The next day, Grant emailed Nick to ask again about the title of the book they had discussed. Not only did Nick remind him, but, within a few days, sent Grant a copy of Wechsberg's book. A friendship was born. Shortly thereafter, Grant sentNick his business plan for Alinea, sending an email after evening service. By the following morning Nick had read it and replied with his own enthusiastic amendments. With a burgeoning friendship already in place, trust developing between the two men and proof they could work together crystallizing before their eyes, it became clear that they would become a team. Says Grant, "I think most people, in a lot of ways, look for themselves in other people in order to match with and I think to a large degree, the reason why we get along so well is that our personalities align very well." Nick felt the same way. "It's one of those situations where everything just lined up right. I had the interest, I'd started a number of different businesses and I felt like it would be an opportunity to work with someone who I'd get along with very well. I wouldn't want to build a restaurant just to build a restaurant and I doubt I'll ever develop some other restaurant. I think this is the right situation at the right time." Grant adds, "I think we're both very driven and passionate people. So for me, it was about finding someone I could trust, someone that I knew was going to think like me, be as motivated or more motivated than me. Those things were very, very important--and something I hadn't seen--or something I didn't believe in--that I saw in Nick." Nick continues, "I think a lot people come to a chef with their pre-existing vision of the restaurant they want to build. I didn't even want to build a restaurant before I saw his vision, so it wasn't like I was saying 'I'm building this restaurant and I want you to be my chef' -- it was more like 'I think you should build a restaurant, what can I do to help you build it?'" Grant would have the additional supportive backing he'd need and Nick would have another venture -- and one he solidly believed in -- in which to direct his business acumen. It's All About The Container Anyone who's eaten Grant's cuisine at Trio knows that he is intensely concerned with food and the optimal ways to prepare and serve it. His dishes innovate in flavor; they challenge, tease and delight the senses. But Grant is also driven to innovate in service and technique, constantly seeking new vehicles to deliver sensations to the diner. He works closely with a trusted collaborator, Martin Kastner of Crucial Detail in San Diego, CA to create original service pieces for many of his dishes. And as Grant has searched for additional ways to expand the continuity of the dining experience, it has become clear to him that it starts before the diner even gets to the restaurant's front door. According to Grant, "You can pull it back as far as you want. The experience is going to start before someone even picks up the phone to make a reservation to this restaurant. It's going to be about their perceptions; why are they picking up the phone to make a reservation? What did they see? What did they read? What's leading them up to that point? They call to make a reservation, that's another experience. The drive to get to this neighborhood is another experience. The minute they open their door and take one step out of their car, now they're surrounded by another experience." Advancing the functional elements of how food is served is an innate part of the cooking process for Grant, who seeks to render the traditional boundaries of dining obsolete. When asked what he will be able to accomplish at Alinea that he couldn't accomplish at Trio, Grant says, "the obvious is to create the container in which we create the experience. I think that's the very exciting thing for me that I've never been able to have a part in." For Grant, a restaurant's physical space represents the ultimate container and the ultimate personal challenge. The result should break new ground in the world of fine dining. Grant and Nick are intense and competitive. In both their minds, "crafting a complete experience" is the primary focus of Alinea. According to Nick, "the whole idea is to produce an experience where the food lines up with the décor, which lines up with the flow through the restaurant and from the moment you get, literally, to the front door of the place and you walk in, your experience should mirror in some respects--and complement in others--the whole process you're going to go through when you start eating." Grant takes it a step further. "It's about having a central beacon from which everything else emanates and therefore, it's seamless. The whole experience is crafted on one finite point and if everything emanates from that point, then there's no chance that the experience can be interrupted." The search for Alinea's space further reflects not only their shared philosophy but also their separate intensities. Says Nick, "One of the things we felt really strongly about, and we both came to it, was that we wanted it to be a 'stand alone' building because if you're in something else you can't help but take on some of that identity. And it's really difficult to find the right size building in the right kind of location, with the right kind of construction that was suitable for the identity of Alinea." Nick and Grant drove down every street within a chosen geographical band, armed with a giant map and a set of green, yellow and red markers. Once they had found a set of acceptable streets, they asked a realtor to show them every space available on them. "Once we did find the building," says Grant, "whichever space we would have chosen, we would have analyzed and considered each different aspect to provoke a certain emotion, a very controlled emotion depending on how we wanted it arranged. But I also think that we wanted the neighborhood to feel a certain way, the street to feel a certain way. Is it like Michigan Avenue where I have people 4-deep, walking straight down the sidewalk, non-stop, all day and all night or is it more of a tranquil environment outside? All those things were spinning around and once you identify the golden egg, then you have to go find it." While they would probably never admit it, each innovation, each step they take together in building their venture serves as yet another a opportunity for the Alinea team to challenge the restaurant's competitors. Their attention to all the details provides countless opportunities to distinguish Alinea from other restaurants. Here the two men can share in the creation, combining their diverse skills and experiences into a unified and shared vision. Alinea will be their baby. They want it to be the best --not just the best food -- but the best everything. They even want the experience of calling for a reservation to be a memorable one. The Path From Here In that spirit, the Alinea food lab opens this week. Grant refuses to promote even one of his legendary creations to 'signature dish' status. Instead of populating Alinea's menu with previous favorites from Trio or 'trial' dishes that have been only roughly tested, Grant and his team will take six months to devise, develop and perfect the dishes and delivery modes that will appear on Alinea's opening menu. When the idea of maintaining a kitchen staff for six months before the restaurant's opening was presented to its investors, in spite of the additional expense, "it seemed like a no-brainer" according to Nick. Grant is an equity partner--a true chef/owner--in the venture and there is a solid consensus among all the backers about the priority of his vision. * * * * * In addition to being one of today's foremost chefs and culinary innovators, Grant Achatz is a long-time member of eGullet, and a lively, provocative contributor to our discussion forums. Read his March, 2003 eGullet Q&A here. Photos courtesy Alinea eGullet member, yellow_truffle, also contributed to this report
  25. Salut to everyone in the France Forum. Long time reader, infrequent poster to eGullet, I am currently enrolled as a culinary student at le Ferrandi in Paris. Officially known as Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise - Ferrandi. Bux suggested I post about my experience as a student there. A quick summary. Le Ferrandi is a French Ecole, operated by the Paris Chamber of Commerce. The school itself is quite large and along with the culinary programs there are programs in patisserie, boulangerie, catering and hotel management. There are hundreds of French students attending the school and most of them are in their late teens or early twenties. They pay nominal fees, since like most education in France it is almost entirely subsidized by the government. In addition to the French programs there are a number of international programs. I am in a program that is designed for “english speakers.” There are a total of 20 of us, and we are divided into two groups of ten. Some classes are conducted in English, most in a combination of English and French. However in other situations, for example when we are working for the school restaurant, everything is in French. Some of the chefs speak English and the students in our group are meant to be learning French, if we don’t already speak it. Our program is almost identical to what the French culinary students are learning in the first year of their studies (after the first year, a small group of the best students are invited to attend a second year). The program is 1200 hours of classical french cuisine and includes sessions on regional variations, patisserie, boulangerie, charcuterie, and french language and culture. Our weeks generally alternate between pegagogie and production. My French dictionary defines pegagogie as “educational methods.” In pedagogie we tend to work individudally on a specific menu for that day. For example, two weeks ago we spent an entire week on various preparations for rack of lamb. The chef is there to give guidance and instruction, but each student has to prepare the dish alone and present the finished product for evaluation at the end of the session. During production weeks we work the lunch service (occasional dinners) for one of the schools public restaurants. For production we are paired up with one of the groups of French culinary students. Individuals are assigned to stations, garde-manger, viandes, etc. and we work with the French group as a team for service. We have one day of patisserie every week and every other Friday we prepare a special regional menu for ourselves. Last Friday the region was Savoie-Dauphine and there was a very hearty tripe en cocette on the menu. Interesting side note: I read somewhere during my research into culinary schools that the French Culinary Institute in NYC is modeled after le Ferrandi. We started in September and we finish in June, so I am about half-way through the year now. I will do my best to post regularly on what we are doing. a bientot, Lisa
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