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thebartrainer

Molecular Cocktails

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I have been reading with interest about Heston Blumenthal's adventures in the field of Molecular Gastronamy.

It seems fascinating that all types of ingredients are compatable even though they may seem to have absolutely no 'traditional' links. The use of garnish to embelish a drink, even though the scent provided is not present in the drink, is not a new idea (Mai Tai's & Sprigs of mint come to mind). But has anyone taken it to its logical conclusion and placed all of the modifying agents to a base spirit in the garnish? I heard of a mintless Julep which had a veritable forest of sprigs as a garnish for example.

The other part of the top class molecular gastronomics which intregues me is the apparent depth of scientific analysis that goes into the creation of dishes. Is this information easily accessed or do you have to have a friendly molecular biologist handy?

Could Molecular Mixology be a success?

Cheers

Ian


Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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Is this "molecular gastromy" a book, or an article?

Anyway, do you mean like having a Margarita made without orange liqueur, then squeezing a fat twist of orange peel over the drink, to add the orange zest element?

I hope I am getting this idea correctly.

Or using flavoured vodkas, then omitting the relevent other flavour? cranberry-vodka with grapefruit being a Seabreeze, instead of/ as well as a traditional vodka/ cranberry/ grapefruit mix?

I have never been a fan of putting triple sec/ orange liqueur into a strawberry margarita. So maybe simply adding an orange twist at the end, as a garnish, would be "molecular"?

George :blink:

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Is this "molecular gastromy" a book, or an article?

Anyway, do you mean like having a Margarita made without orange liqueur, then squeezing a fat twist of orange peel over the drink, to add the orange zest element?

I hope I am getting this idea correctly.

Exactly... however when you read the articles on the concept of Molecular Gastronomy the examples quoted are a bit more off the wall.

For example; Snails in white chocolate, egg and bacon ice cream on french toast with jam (can't remembaer what type!!) and pipe tobacco infused chocolate. :wacko:

These range from interesting to down right silly sounding but the guy (Heston Blumenthal) has 3 Michelin stars so there must be something in it!!

A group of us recently got invited to a preview of a new vodka flavour and were given a bar with all the usual ingredients to play with. I found some cheese in the fridge and tried to incorperate it on the basis of the creamy vs. the berry flavours of the spirit. It was disgusting in a way in which I had never thought imaginable, but the idea was not necessarily a bad one.

There are a few sites that can explain this concept better than I can if you do a search. Not seen any books but I'm sure that one exists.

Cheers


Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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For a little background on "Molecular Gastronomy" you can refer to this: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-mol4.htm and for a little more reading, you can refer to this article http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0218/p11s02-lifo.html

In short, it is about looking at food preparation from a scientific angle. Somewhat similar to the "Food Scientist" approach of Harold McGee ("On Food And Cooking", "The Curious Cook") and Alton Brown ("Good Eats" on the Food Network), but perhaps taking things even a little further. One aspect of testing the boundaries, is what Heston Blumenthal does at his Fat Duck restaurant, and pairing foods together because "chemically" they have an affinity for one another, even though on the face of it they might not sound terribly appetizing. Caviar and White Chocolate apparently is one of the more noteable examples, although I have not yet tried this out myself.

So I read into this sort of two different methods of thinking. One is to question "traditional" methods and wonder what the scientific rationale is behind it, the other is to challenge convention, and discover new ways of doing things.

For example: Cocktails are traditionally served in a conical glass... is that really the best shape to use?

and: Would a garnish of a cube of medium-rare steak work better then an olive in a Martini?

(not that I have an answer to either of the above questions :-)

To return back to part of the initial question/observation and something like a Mint Julep...

Assuming that part of the intent with a Mint Julep is to impress a mint flavor to it... what is actually the best way to do this and get the best possible flavor result? Do you use just the mint leaves, muddling them hard into a little sugar syrup, and then add the ingredients... or do you use the mint, stems and all, and not muddle them at all, instead simply shaking everything together? Or perhaps there is a chemical compound in the mint that can't help but turn slightly bitter when combined with whiskey, and therefore the best way to get the mint "essence" without the bitterness is to festoon the top of the glass with a "veritable forest of sprigs"... That, would be Molecular Mixology.

While we are also on the topic of flavor combinations, I might take a moment to recommend "Culinary Artistry" by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. Nothing really Mixology related about it, but I think it is a facinating look into cuisine, flavor pairings, and insights into how a number of renowned chefs "think" about the cuisine they create. Conceptually there is some cross-over into Mixology as well.

-Robert

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Fascinating stuff isn't it...

After reading the suggested sites (thank you Robert :smile: ) I'm starting to think that the specifics of the production process could fundamentally affect the end result. I'm not talking about the obvious shaken or stirred choices but of more scientific options.

A tasting plate of 6 glasses each with the same (for the sake of arguement) Malt Whisky in them. The only difference between them would be that the liquids were heated or chilled to different temperatures in order to release different specific aromas. You could present a small piece of food beside each glass to be eaten before or after the drink which would also compliment the specific aroma released.

Unfortunately you would either have to have the most amazing palate or a friend with a laboratory in order to pull it off. Back to the original post but does anyone know if there is an independent source of this type of information?

Reidle already do specific glasses for all grape varieties on the premise that the way in which the liquid hits your mouth is fundamental to the taste (aroma release) you experience. Don't think they have done a cocktail glass yet...

Cheers

Ian


Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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For a little background on "Molecular Gastronomy" you can refer to this: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-mol4.htm and for a little more reading, you can refer to this article http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0218/p11s02-lifo.html

In short, it is about looking at food preparation from a scientific angle. Somewhat similar to the "Food Scientist" approach of Harold McGee ("On Food And Cooking", "The Curious Cook") and Alton Brown ("Good Eats" on the Food Network), but perhaps taking things even a little further. One aspect of testing the boundaries, is what Heston Blumenthal does at his Fat Duck restaurant, and pairing foods together because "chemically" they have an affinity for one another, even though on the face of it they might not sound terribly appetizing. Caviar and White Chocolate apparently is one of the more noteable examples, although I have not yet tried this out myself.

So I read into this sort of two different methods of thinking. One is to question "traditional" methods and wonder what the scientific rationale is behind it, the other is to challenge convention, and discover new ways of doing things.

For example: Cocktails are traditionally served in a conical glass... is that really the best shape to use?

and: Would a garnish of a cube of medium-rare steak work better then an olive in a Martini?

(not that I have an answer to either of the above questions :-)

To return back to part of the initial question/observation and something like a Mint Julep...

Assuming that part of the intent with a Mint Julep is to impress a mint flavor to it... what is actually the best way to do this and get the best possible flavor result? Do you use just the mint leaves, muddling them hard into a little sugar syrup, and then add the ingredients... or do you use the mint, stems and all, and not muddle them at all, instead simply shaking everything together? Or perhaps there is a chemical compound in the mint that can't help but turn slightly bitter when combined with whiskey, and therefore the best way to get the mint "essence" without the bitterness is to festoon the top of the glass with a "veritable forest of sprigs"... That, would be Molecular Mixology.

-Robert

This might be a good time to note that Harold McGee is coming out with a vastly revised edition of (two thirds larger, we more subjects and subject matter) of On Food and Cooking and will doing an eGullet Q&A starting November 8. That might be the time and place to ask some of your questions.

Harold is one of the pioneers of the Molecular Gastronomy movement and an active participant in its workshops along with Heston Blumenthal, Hervé This and the others. We'll have more information posted about him soon. Much of what Molecular Gastronomy is about, is understanding the scientific principles behind what happens when you cook and eat. With a greater understanding of the science behind cooking and tasting (cooking can be the preparation of raw foods and the mixing of cold liquids for these purposes) you have more knowledge than just tradition to use when creating.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Very interesting idea, Ian.

Another thought on your temperature thought: You could do a flight of three 1 ounce portions of tequilla-cointreau-lime, one room temp, one shaken & "up" and one frozen & slushy.


--

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Reidle already do specific glasses for all grape varieties on the premise that the way in which the liquid hits your mouth is fundamental to the taste (aroma release) you experience.  Don't think they have done a cocktail glass yet...

Actually, Riedel does make a cocktail glass, which looks like a pretty traditional one. Unsurprising, after all, when one considers the variety of cocktails one could put in such a glass -- how do you make a glass that's a match for such disparate beverages as a manhattan or a martini (to name but two) -- so why mess with tradition?

One of the other fairly recent (i.e. the past couple years) glasses they developed was a scotch glass, which sort of looks like a shorter, stouter Irish Coffee mug without the handle and with a wider flare to the lip. I think it works quite well with all manner of whiskeys.

All that said, I have a fair degree of skepticism about the vast array of choices in wine glasses they offer. I'd hoped on a recent trip to Salzburg to spend some quality time in the Riedel wine bar in the heart of the city -- they had a substantial list of wines by the glass, and presumably served each in it's "most appropriate" glassware -- but the lousy service and atmosphere had me out the door after one glass. And so, I continue to be a skeptic, but do very much appreciate the two styles of wine glass I have -- a "bordeaux" and a "sauvignon blanc".

I realize this is all fairly tangential to the topic at hand, but still relevant in its way.... Are there other more learned palates with light to shed on their own Riedel experiences?

Christopher

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Fascinating stuff isn't it...

After reading the suggested sites (thank you Robert :smile: ) I'm starting to think that the specifics of the production process could fundamentally affect the end result.  I'm not talking about the obvious shaken or stirred choices but of more scientific options.

A tasting plate of 6 glasses each with the same (for the sake of arguement) Malt Whisky in them.  The only difference between them would be that the liquids were heated or chilled to different temperatures in order to release different specific aromas.  You could present a small piece of food beside each glass to be eaten before or after the drink which would also compliment the specific aroma released.

I wouldn't discount the effect of the small piece of food. A simillar experiment could be made with the same whisky at the same temperature served just after different small bites of food. Then there's the experiment of the same food food served in small bites after each of several different spirits, or even after each of several different malt whiskies.

Granted that no two bottles of wine are exactly the same, but I've had wildly different opinions of the same wine after having it with two very different foods. I suspect the food is the reason.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Could there be other methods to add to the list of, shaken, stirred etc...

"How would you like your Martini"

"Plymouth gin, slightly wet, flash chilled with nitrogen please"

Could thermometers and spectrometers be the next pieces of must have bar kit?

Cheers

Ian


Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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One of the other fairly recent (i.e. the past couple years) glasses they developed was a scotch glass, which sort of looks like a shorter, stouter Irish Coffee mug without the handle and with a wider flare to the lip. I think it works quite well with all manner of whiskeys.

The Riedel Single Malt Glass is a lovely vessel. It does seem to concentrate the spirit right onto the mid-section of one's tongue when sipping. I purchased a pair of these and a very nice bottle of Woodford Reserve bourbon for a friend's 40th birthday gift. He really loves them.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Just a note to say that a restaurant-within-a-restaurant in Washington, DC -- the Minibar at Cafe Atlantico -- is run by a protege of El Bulli's chef, and provides a window into the world of molecular gastronomy. Part of the menu is a mojito served in a tiny spray bottle, sprayed directly into the mouth. I believe there are a couple of other cocktail-esque menu items. See the extensive discussion of Minibar on the DC-DelMarVa board.


Save Pale Male <--- GO HERE!

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Admin: threads merged.

Two Parts Vodka, a Twist of Science

AT David Burke's Primehouse, a weeks-old steakhouse in Chicago, the house vodka martini is garnished with a lollipop — a lollipop made from "reduced olive brine, olive flavoring and salt crystallized in isomalt" that is stuffed with blue cheese, according to its creator, Eben Klemm. The restaurant's house manhattan is made with leather-infused bourbon, sweet vermouth and a bitters-spiked maraschino purée, dropped into the drink as a liquid that coalesces into a "gumdrop" when it hits the side of the glass.

...

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/10/dining/1...=rssnyt&emc=rss

I've had the two minibar cocktails mentioned in the article, both are outstanding. Unfortunately I did a wine pairing at Moto--sounds like cocktails were a better bet.

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Very cool! :cool:

Not sure how that would work in a really busy commercial context, but the idea is quite intriguing. I might need to ask chef friends how to pull that off. :hmmm:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Very cool!  :cool:

Not sure how that would work in a really busy commercial context, but the idea is quite intriguing.  I might need to ask chef friends how to pull that off.  :hmmm:

As stated in the article, foams are easy. Keep a charged whipped cream canister filled with the proper ingredients, top off drinks as necessary. The "paper" at WD-50 is floated on top of the liquid ingredients. There's a lot of prep work involved, but then the preparations can be kept at the ready.

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Interesting article in today's NY Times about molecular mixology by Peter Meehan, entitled "Two Parts Vodka, a Twist of Science"

As usual, Dave Wondrich had something interesting and illuminating to say:

When I brought up the topic of these contemporary cocktails with David Wondrich, who writes about drinking for Esquire, he noted that practical — if not precisely molecular or scientific — knowledge of how the ingredients behind a bar interact was once part of the bartender's stock and trade.

A talented bartender would have a handle on the specific gravities of different liquors so he could layer them one on top of another to make a rainbow-striped pousse-café, or would know when to add a spoonful of superfine sugar while mixing a tall drink to really get the drink to fizz.

Mr. Wondrich is skeptically optimistic about the new trend. "Look, if we keep making the same five drinks over and over and putting a "tini" suffix on them, we're not going to get any new deliciousness out of the process," he said. "But I think it needs time to filter into what is doable, what is satisfying and what is just for show."

The article highlights the work of several mixologists who are puching the envelope. Eben Klemm has designed a Manhattan made with leather-infused bourbon and a puréed maraschino and bitters "cherry," and a vodka Martini with an olive essence lollipop garnish, both for Primehouse in Chicago. Eben Freeman, formerly of wd-50, created many unique takes on the cocktail there, including things like "rum and Coke" made of rum powder and soda-flavored Pop Rocks -- he'll be doing gelled spheres of Cape Codder at tonight's Taste of the Nation event. Homaro Cantu of Moto, José Andrés of Minibar and, of course, Ferran Adrià are all doing interesting things.

Unsurprisingly, I fond myself in Dave's camp. Some of these things sound interesting and there are clearly some ideas to explore there. Already certain techniques, such as foams, have filtered down to some level of commonality. But it's not entirely clear to me how far the cocktail can be to transmuted and reinterpreted before it starts to lose it's "cocktail-ness." That said, some of the stuff sounds pretty cool. Homaro Cantu is doing a drink called a "Fizzing & Foaming Hurricane" injected with a substance that provides the effects described in its name. Sounds pretty cool. I'm not sure I think a Hurricane is such an interesting cocktail to be expending that kind of effort on, though, and I often find it to be the case that the cocktails chefs try to "molecularize" are not particularly interesting ones to start with.


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Unsurprisingly, I fond myself in Dave's camp.  Some of these things sound interesting and there are clearly some ideas to explore there.  Already certain techniques, such as foams, have filtered down to some level of commonality.  But it's not entirely clear to me how far the cocktail can be to transmuted and reinterpreted before it starts to lose it's "cocktail-ness."  That said, some of the stuff sounds pretty cool.  Homaro Cantu is doing a drink called a "Fizzing & Foaming Hurricane" injected with a substance that provides the effects described in its name.  Sounds pretty cool.  I'm not sure I think a Hurricane is such an interesting cocktail to be expending that kind of effort on, though, and I often find it to be the case that the cocktails chefs try to "molecularize" are not particularly interesting ones to start with.

I see molecular mixology as a pretty good thing: using modern technology (it's much more technology than science, by the way) to play with texture, temperature, and presentation. It's the natural extension of adding an egg white to a drink to give it body.

I'm also interested in "deconstructing" classic cocktails (or adding new garnishes that nonetheless fit the mythology of a classic perfectly (leather-infused bourbon sounds brilliant, although I haven't tasted any)). Maybe serve a martini that's a glass of gin with an assortment of fresh herbs found in vermouth filling the glass? A foam Ramos Gin Fizz? The mixologist can almost force the drinker to think about the cocktail, rather than just consuming it.

Of course we'll also be faced with a foamed daquiri from TGIF's, but it's a small price to pay.

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Of course we'll also be faced with a foamed daquiri from TGIF's, but it's a small price to pay.

Like any bad example of food or drink, just because it exists doesn't mean we have to partake in it.

I'm more afraid of chemicals of all sorts being let loose into the hands of the untrained and fearless. Lord only knows what havoc could ensue from that. Remember, these are the same people that came up with the really bad drinks without the chemicals to make them gel, fizz, smoke, foam up, etc.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I've been asked to represent the future era of cocktails in a '200th aniversery of the cocktail' event in the UK. There are several teams representing notable eras in cocktail history (Tiki, Prohibition... etc...) and I have had to come up with two futuristic drinks.

The challenge was really to come up with a couple of interesting ideas that could be cranked out at good speed as we are being asked to make 300 drinks in 30 minutes (3 of us!).

Being a lover of all things Molecular I have decided to be as off the wall as possible. Given that the general public has not really heard of Molecular Gastronomy, I figured using two of the best known cocktails, and messing with them a bit, was the best approach.

I have decided on:

#1 A Bloody mary consisting of a semi frozen layer (churned in an ice cream maker until liquid sorbet consistency) and a hot foam layer, garnished with worcester and tabasco merangue shards. This was going to be a shot glass with frozen vodka at the bottom, room temperature clear tomato juice in the middle and hot foam on the top but the clear tomato juice has proven hard to source.

#2 A trio of cosmos... A martini glass of warm water with a garnish of three gel cubes of Citron Vodka Cosmo, Kurrant Vodka Cosmo and Apeach Vodka Cosmo (three guesses who the sponsors are!!) on a cocktail stick. We are going to have to issue instructions El Bulli style as the idea is to pop a cube in the mouth followed by a sip of warm water to melt the jelly.

I have no idea how these will turn out and whether or not they will be accepted by the guests as valid, quaffable drinks but what the hell.

The event is on the 17th so any advice/comments would be welcome. It is meant to be a competition of sorts so any bright ideas may win me a trip to France!!

Cheers

Ian


Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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[...]

This was going to be a shot glass with frozen vodka at the bottom, room temperature clear tomato juice in the middle and hot foam on the top but the clear tomato juice has proven hard to source.

[...]

It's just as well. According to the Food and Wine Magazine's "Cocktails 2006", Tomato Water is totally 2005.

:raz:

Cheers, sounds fun! Good luck.

PS. The coolest and most effective way I've seen to freeze high proof sorbet is to use liquid nitrogen.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Thank goodness I shelved that idea... How embarrassing would that have been!!

When I went back to the forum index having posted my ideas I saw the Jello Shots thread and had a bit of a crisis of confidence in the #2 idea aswell.

Never mind...

Where can one buy liquid nitrogen? I'm in Scotland so specific retailers are not going to be an option but types of suppliers would be a help if anyone knows.

Cheers

Ian


Edited by thebartrainer (log)

Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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Interesting article in today's NY Times about molecular mixology by Peter Meehan, entitled "Two Parts Vodka, a Twist of Science"

As usual, Dave Wondrich had something interesting and illuminating to say. . .

I prefer Wylie's quote...

"It's my job to cook," he said. "It's your job to come up with names for it."

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I took my mom out to mother's day brunch (with my brother who lent me Duffy, if you're following that thread) at Cafe Atlantico and we had the margarita with lime air (mentioned in the NYTimes article) and a cotton-candy mojito. The mojito was purely for effect (pour the liquid over cotton candy for the sweetness--it dissolved immediately), but the lime air had salt and lime zest in it, and it transformed the drink. Really nice.

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      The moment that Ferran Adria strode towards Thomas Keller on the stage at the CIA/Greystone’s World of Flavors’ “Spain and the World Table” Conference was electric -- as if a giant Van de Graf generator had been turned on. The feeling didn’t subside when Adria took the stage from Keller; it only became more pronounced as the packed crowd rose to its feet, raining applause, admiration and love on the Spanish master. Adria accepted the response with aplomb, and gave it right back to the audience -- and to his fellow Spanish cocineros, who were standing off to the side. He brought each one up to join him on the stage for a rousing thank-you to the conference organizers, sponsors and participants. Once this emotional release subsided, Adria got down to what everyone had been waiting for -- his discussion and demonstration.

      Ferran Adria, with eyes sparkling like the finest cava, began speaking Spanish in a voice as gravelly as the beaches of the Costa Brava, while Conference Chairman Jose Andres translated. The crowd, hushed and straining for every word, moved forward in their seats as Adria explained El Bulli and himself, with a lesson in recent culinary history thrown in. Ferran explained that El Bulli is not a business. While offshoots of El Bulli are operated on a for-profit basis, the restaurant runs without profit as a primary motivation. For example, he said, the greatest difficulty they have is distributing reservations. Given the extraordinary demand and the severely limited supply, he explained that they could simply raise the price of a meal to the point where the supply and demand met. Indeed, the price of a meal at El Bulli is in itself quite reasonable given the stature of the restaurant and well within means of most motivated diners should they be able to get there, and this is how Adria prefers it. He stated that he was not interested in cooking solely for those with the most money. He prefers to work for people with a true interest in exploring the limits of cooking with him. To this end he showed a short film depicting “A Day in the Life . . .” of El Bulli set to the Beatles’ song of the same name. The film showed a couple’s response to the experience.

      Ferran’s voyage into creativity began with a visit to Jacques Maxima at Le Chanticleer Restaurant in Nice, France. He learned from Maxima that to be creative is not to copy. This idea changed his entire approach to cooking -- from making classic cuisine to making his own. Aware of elaborate books of French cuisine, Adria resolved to catalogue his work, the results of which are the richly detailed El Bulli books, published by period. These books, as wonderful as they are, are huge and extremely expensive. During his presentation, Adria announced -- and demonstrated -- that the individual dishes photographed and described in a chronology within each book are all now available online at elbulli.com.

      He finished the philosophical discussion by talking about the general style of haute cuisine that he and others are engaged in. While others have coined the term “molecular gastronomy” to highlight the scientific component of the creativity involved, Adria rejected it, saying that all cooking is molecular: most of his techniques are in fact rather simple and don’t employ radical new technology. Most of the technology that they do use has been around for some time; they have simply adapted it to their own purposes. Nevertheless, he applauds contributions to gastronomy from Harold McGee and other food scientists, and welcomes their collaboration in the kitchen. He has yet to find a term that describes the movement: as of now, he feels that there really is no good name for this style of cooking.

      More than any other single thing, Ferran Adria is known for the use of “foams” in cooking. While he is proud of his achievements with foams, he stressed that while appropriate in some circumstances, the real utility of foams is limited. He bemoans their ubiquity -- and wishes to not be blamed for others’ poor deployment of the concept. In the course of describing this and other techniques, Adria made a point of stating that using them should not be inferred as copying. Techniques and concepts are to be used and shared. He invited everyone to learn and harness whatever they found interesting, and to employ it in to their own pursuits.

      Another set of techniques discussed and demonstrated by the master and his assistant, Rafa Morales from Hacienda Benazuza, included three types of spherification. These included the use of calcium chloride (CaCl) and sodium alginate as well as the converse, and exploration of a new agent, gluconodeltalactone. The original combinations of alginate into CaCl for “caviar” production, and CaCl into alginate for larger “spheres” have chemistry-related limits as to what can be sphericized. In private correspondence, Harold McGee explained to me that Adria described encapsulating a mussel in its own juice. While this would make the dish technically an aspic, unlike conventional aspics it remains a liquid. Adria said that though gluconodeltalactone is very new, and they are just beginning to get a handle on it, he is very excited by it. He also demonstrated a machine for spherification on a larger scale than they had originally been able to do, as well as liquid nitrogen and freeze-drying (lyophilization) techniques. At the conclusion of his demonstration -- and thus the Conference -- the audience once again awarded him a standing ovation.

      While Adria’s appearance was the culmination of the conference, the energy it produced was not just because of his stature in the world of gastronomy -- it was also due to the excitement generated by the conference that preceded it. If there had previously been any doubt, Thomas Keller’s welcome of Adria was a clarion: Spanish cuisine has landed on North American shores and is finding a niche in the North American psyche. Spanish cuisine -- in its multifaceted, delicious entirety -- lives here, too.

      + + + + +

      John M. Sconzo, M.D., aka docsconz, is an anesthesiologist practicing in upstate New York. He grew up in Brooklyn in an Italian-American home, in which food was an important component of family life. It still is. His passions include good food, wine and travel. John's gastronomic interests in upstate northeastern New York involve finding top-notch local producers of ingredients and those who use them well. A dedicated amateur, John has no plans to ditch his current career for one in the food industry. Host, New York.
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