Thursday, March 20, 2008

Molecular Gastronomy Is Cooler Than You!

So I was on the treadmill at the gym 10:30pm watching Top Chef(like you do) and the guest judge was Wylie Dufresne--a very famous chef and molecular gastronimist!

He inspired me to tell you all about my secret fantasies of cooking with pacojets, cryovac machines, and paint stripping heat guns--word.

Really my experience with this food is purely in the form of eating it AND that experience is limited to one freakishly expensive meal at an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G restaurant here in Chicago called ALINEA.

What is this Molecular Gastronomy I speak of?--Well, it's basically the chemistry and science of food flipped upside down to create a plethora of artistic, unique, and delish cooking techniques. The dishes are beautiful and usually have an innovative way to go about eating them.

Wiki says...

Example areas of Molecular Gastronomy investigation:
~How ingredients are changed by different cooking methods
~How all the senses play their own roles in our appreciation of food.
~The mechanisms of aroma release and the perception of taste and flavor
~How and why we evolved our particular taste and flavor sense organs and our general food likes and dislikes
~How cooking methods affect the eventual flavor and texture of food ingredients
~How new cooking methods might produce improved results of texture and flavor
~How our brains interpret the signals from all our senses to tell us the "flavor" of food
~How our enjoyment of food is affected by other influences, our environment, our mood, how it is presented, who prepares it, etc.

Hopefully you'll get a better idea when I tell you of my experience.

After knowing my new friend Rachel in Chicago for about 5 minutes-- Brit and I agreed to go with her to Alinea for her 25th Birthday!

I was just off a raw food cleanse--so real food was most welcome.

Best decision ever? I really do believe this was and probably will be the most amazing dining experience of my entire life. Now, the question remains is this exciting? or depressing?... because I'm only 23. Mmmph?

We also decided to do the petite wine paring. With each course we received a new little glass of wine. It really blows your mind how each wine can really enhance an entire dish.

Did I mention there were 12 courses? We did the 'tasting.' See how it curves? The meal progresses based on our taste palate--salty-sweet-savory--then back to sweet. Notice ingredients like : vegetable ash, toasted hay, and smoke. Mmm and sweetbreads!--yikes. Google it people.

And here is the 'tour'. 25 COURSES!!! Ah. Maybe someday I will get to taste the amazing dishes I missed out on...chicken skin and liquefied caramel corn.

And because we LOVE us some carbs we were very excited that each course also had its own unique bread with a different spread or infused butter. Sigh...

So this was my favorite dish 'Beans.'

I can't really tell you much. Except it was life changing. We ate it clockwise. Using the puree in the middle to mix with each of the little blobs around the edge.

This also came on a pillow of nutmeg air. The plate went on the pillow so as you were eating you smelled the air as it enhanced the eating experience.

Yeah, I know.

Here was another memorable one.
There were very specific instructions about eating this.
1. MUST eat it like a shot. One bite.
2 MUST have our mouth closed completely when we bite down. No space for the food to squirt out!
It was like a cold refreshing apple cider explosion in your mouth!

I could go through and talk about each course--but I won't. You should save your pennies and get up here to Chicago to try it out yourself. And visit me, duh.
They also can do vegetarian. Still awesome I'm sure. And it's seasonal so the menu changes. We were on the cusp of fall to winter. Oh I wonder what spring will be!
Dinner anyone?
Coming soon: I just invited the best Masaman curry for Brit--it's the only ethnic food she eats. Well that and Pho. She also eats Pho. But that's it. The curry is mind blowingly good.


Brittany said...

LIES! I will be reading this "blog" for other future lies. I love Indian food and I love Chinese food and Mexican food and Italian food and there is more, but I think you get the point that I have a very ethnically wide pallet! I just happen to really love Masaman curry.

Dani said...


I stand by my post. You are in denial about your limited palate.

It's OK we're working on it.