Sunday, May 08, 2005

The new era of FOOD

Imagine arriving to a restaurant, picking up the menu and finding the following dishes:

1. Snail porridge.
2. Salmon poached with licorice jelly.
3. Smoked bacon and egg ice cream.

Are you disgusted already? Well, don’t be because this is part of the menu of “The Fat Duck” recently considered to be the best restaurant in the world (according to restaurant magazine).

The chef, Heston Blumenthal that started out to be a photo-copier salesman 10 years ago, is now at the age of 39, one of the youngest chefs in history to receive 3 Michelin stars.

Heston Blumenthal

Blumenthal is also one of the leading lights of MOLECULAR GASTRONOMY, an emerging school of cooking that emphasizes the science of cuisine (like understanding why meat is best slow cooked at 58°C since higher temperatures cause the proteins to tighten and to release their juices into the pan).

Collaboration with a vast circle of chemists and physicists exposed him to common lab-equipment and his friendship with a vice-president of Firmenich (a Swiss fragrance and flavor company) made him discover the existence of thousands of flavored molecules and extracts isolated in little jars.

By sampling molecules and learning the chemical connections between them, Blumenthal started to create its famous “flavor pairings”: white chocolate and caviar, foie gras and jasmine, asparagus and licorice all have molecular commonalities that keep their flavors from clashing; in fact they may sometimes lead to electric new flavors.

So if you happen to be in the neighborhood just give it a try.

The restaurant:

To read the full article on Heston Blumenthal check "Time magazine" (May 2, 2005)

If you are interested in knowing more about molecular gastronomy: Webpage of “Hervé This” (French leasing scientist):

"The late Nicholas Kurti, a physicist in an elite field called molecular gastronomy, argued that the best way to cook a perfect three-minute egg is to cook it for one hour at 60°C." [Toronto Star, 7 Apr. 2004]


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