viernes, 7 de diciembre de 2007

Dinner Tasting

I had a dinner tasting last night to select the menu for an event next week. The menus were:


Smoked Potato Soup, Cured Salmon

Sweet Potato Soup, Ginger Cream


Mushroom filled Chicken
Cauliflower Puree
Chevre-creamed corn
Cream Sherry Sauce

Olive filled Chicken
Spinach-Jocoque Spaetzle
Sauteed Mushrooms
Lemon Butter Sauce


Roasted Pinapple, Coconut Financier

Chai Panna Cotta, Pear Coulis

martes, 4 de diciembre de 2007

Balsamic with Cacao

While shopping for a big dinner, I found this vinegar. I was curious so I bought it thinking that it could be added to dessert. Upon opening it I tasted it. It bears no resemblance to the good stuff, but it's not as awful as the supermarket balsamic (just a tad short of it). It does, however present a nice hint of cocoa and just a touch of figs. I ended up reducing it into a nice sauce.

It's in no way a fancy product, but a nice, useful ingredient.

sábado, 1 de diciembre de 2007

December 1st.

Dinner Menu:

Red Beet
Passionfruit Jocoque

SRF Kurobuta Pork
Red Onion Puree
"Vino de Piedra" Sauce

Chocolate Coulant
Blue Cheese Ice Cream
Cider Tapioca
Cacao Balsamic Reduction

viernes, 30 de noviembre de 2007

TGRWT 8 - Roadblock

I'm a bit upset that I haven't found Caviar, the real deal, in this town... There's got to be a bit somewhere.

As for ideas, I had been thinking of making something like a white chocolate "beurre blanc". It's still on the drawing board...

martes, 27 de noviembre de 2007

In Memoriam: Sean Taylor

(Don Wright Photo)

Not having grown up in a place with an NFL franchise, I had usually been unstable in my support for teams. However I do tend to favor teams from cities I feel connections with or have lived in. And after a time in the DC Metro, it was very hard not to let the Skins grow on to me.

Today I was saddened to hear that young Sean Taylor passed away. He was one of the defensive leaders in the team and he was only on his 4th year in the NFL. It's sad to see him leave us, and it's even sadder when one thinks that he was only 24.

viernes, 23 de noviembre de 2007

That's DOCTOR Adrià for you

Universitat de Barcelona is naming Ferrán Adrià Doctor Honoris Causa. This notion was put forward by the School of Chemistry and seconded by pretty much all the rest. It's the first time a cook receives such a naming from the University.

Naming ceremony will be December the 17th.

From: Directo al Paladar

jueves, 22 de noviembre de 2007

Big Bake

Old school baking!

I got to admit, when I was making the mornay sauce for the gougeres I couldn't help thinking about setting it with xanthan gum instead of roux. I did end up with a texture somewhat similar to a xanthan thickened cream... I guess I'll have to scourge town for some gum.

miércoles, 21 de noviembre de 2007

The sound of Khymos

Food, the "improvisational electroacoustic jazz band" has released their fifth album called: Molecular Gastronomy. Amongst track names as "Heston", "texturas" and "spherification" there's a track named after Martin's website: Khymos.

Kudos to Martin for "making" it into fame, now in the world of music.

Volatile Compounds for TGRWT #8

M. pointed out that there's a third component in the TGRWT pairing: trimethyl amine. A quick google search showed that it's a compound associated with some utterly nasty smells:

"Trimethylamine is a product of decomposition of plants and animals. It is the substance mainly responsible for the fishy odor often associated with fouling fish, bacterial vagina infections, and bad breath." (From wikipedia)

According to our trusted Good Scents Company trimethyl amine occurs naturaly in cocoa and caviar. As do the previously mentioned substances. As for other ingredients that share the components, the list has been drastically reduced to five other foodstuffs: beer, cheese, fish, cofee and whiskey.

Just in case anyone was wondering about the previous list, it included: apple, arctic bramble, banana, beans, beef, beer, bilberry, brandy, bread, cabbage, carrot, caviar, cheeses, chicken, cider, clary sage, coffee, cranberry, currant, eucalyptus, fish, grape, guava, honey, hop oil, milk, peanut, peas, pecan, pork, potato, potato chip, soya bean, tea, tomato, turkey, whiskey and wine.

lunes, 19 de noviembre de 2007


Next round is up!

Chadzilla brings us the next challenge, and it is well... challenging (duh!). The ingredients for number 8 are caviar and white chocolate. It's been done before, notably by Marc Veyrat and Heston Blumenthal.

As for the train of thought that might go into the making of this, I think I'm taking a very complicated route. So far I started by applying Martin's technique for searching for common volatile aroma compounds in food. I got two components from the search: valeraldehyde and butyraldehyde. Curiously, I had already found these two components for another dessert idea.

Anyway, I took the list of natural occurrences for each compound and cross referenced it. In all, I have 39 matches for the compounds (caviar and chocolate included). While it does present an interesting challenge for a multi-ingredient dish, there's also the risk of overdoing it. So far two choices are my top ones:

1. White Chocolate, Caviar, fish (or not), potato, vanilla (from the Used in part of the search).
2. Simply white chocolate and caviar.

Again, more on this as I get hands on.

Update: Tokyo is Michelin Capital

Michelin keeps going at expanding it's comercial universe... At least that's the impression some people have been getting from the Guide's exhaustive attempts at covering big cities outside their usual market. First it was NY, now Tokyo.

However, it seems that the japanese weren't too thrilled at having a bunch of gaijin coming and rating their food. So how do you solve this? Throw a bunch of stars around. Tokyo is now the city with the city with the most stars in the world.

The breakdown:
8 Three-Star Restaurants:
Hamadaya, Classic Japanese
Joel Robuchon, French
Kanda, Japanese
Koju, Japanese
L'Osier, French
Quintessence, French
Sushi Mizutani, Sushi
Sukiyabashi Jiro, Sushi

25 Two-Star restaurants (RyuGin amongst them)

117 One-Star restaurants.

From: Directo al Paladar

domingo, 18 de noviembre de 2007

Interesting Gadgets

Directo al Paladar has presented two curious gadgets.

First is a wine decanter that's attached to the bottle. You fill a little sphere on one end then pour your glass. It's selling for 31 Euros, but the real value of it will have to be determined by each user so if anyone tries it, let us know!

The second cool gadget (and probably even better than the first) is a silicone spatula designed for chocolate work. Built into the spatula is a thermometer and drawn on it's sides it has temperature indicators for the adecuate range for each chocolate. This one can come in handy for the beginning chocolate worker... or those without a thermomix.

viernes, 16 de noviembre de 2007

Germany is #2

Michelin released today its Red Guide for Germany and it holds an interesting surprise. The number of German restaurants with 3 Michelin Stars are now 9. This puts it in second place after France as the countries with the most top rated restaurants.

This change might just be temporary though, as the guides for Spain, Italy and Portugal are still unreleased.

From: Directo al Paladar

miércoles, 14 de noviembre de 2007

MY truffles

Just as it was done in Italy a while back, a company in the UK with a oak plantation in Gascogne is putting trees up for adoption. All truffles harvested from the adopted tree will be property of the investor. The company then offers two choices: having them mailed to you or having the company sell them for you.

Finantial times called this: "Definitely risky, potentially fun".

See the website.

lunes, 12 de noviembre de 2007

TGRWT #7 Belated Posting

I finally have time to post what went on with the TGRWT #7 experiment. I have to confess that I am guilty of not devoting as much time and energy to this as I would have wanted. But other projects are gobbling up time.

So after the previously announced failure of the macaron, I decided to see what happened to the batter if I stuck it in the oven longer. Out came the silicone mini muffin mold. In went the batter and it turned out to be a sticky, sort of financier.

As for the cauliflower. I decided to roast it in the oven with a little Olive Oil. I did want a bit of brown on it, but I ended up covering it later to let it cook it it's own steam. I pureed this with some heavy cream and sweetened with condensed milk. The puree wasn't bad, but I feel that the cauliflower taste was lost in the sugar. My wife simply avoided tasting it on the basis of knowing it was cauliflower.

In the end, I just tried to take a semi-nice picture to feel the experiment wasn't such a failure.

I think I need to find a better balance for this combination of flavors. Cocoa was too overpowering and reduced to taste of cauliflower to simply feeling something sweet and creamy. I would like to keep this idea on the warmer also for a savory application.

miércoles, 7 de noviembre de 2007

Buy this book

Nope, no catchy title there...

If you're into food, and the internet, it's almost certain that you've run into Ideas in Food. The extremely interesting blog by chefs Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot. I'm not sure how many readers they have, but I am sure that there's many of us that avidly read their posts. It's kind of sad, but I actually prefer seeing that they posted than getting e-mail.

Anyway, Aki and Alex have contributed an essay to this book. So go out and get it. Read it, digest it, think about it and all...

martes, 6 de noviembre de 2007


I love bread. Baking is a truly amazing art and of those, I'd say brioche and puff pastry are amongst the best in the viennoiserie catalog (and the most challenging when in hot weather).

Today we made this Brioche in school using a sourdough method. the original recipe called for orange blossom water, but since we're going to use it for some canapés. I just skipped it.

I took a loaf home and gave my wife a taste. It was creamy and rich. It was her idea to make a couple sandwiches with it. A bit of mayo, tomato pesto, olives and parmesan with some turkey went into it and it was good.

I have to give a huge thank you to Christian Hackl who helped me rediscover bread and particularly, the sourdoughs.

lunes, 5 de noviembre de 2007

Wide right...

One of my favorite rock groups, Héroes del Silencio say in one of their songs (ca): "I've never rejected a lost cause, I'll never deny they're my favorites". I took this "approach" when tackling the dessert project for TGRWT #7. I went for the bolder, riskier option: Macarons.

I don't know if anyone has had this happened to them, but the one class where you missed something that was said or made, is the one thing that will come back to haunt you. I remember sometime in school we made macarons, but I'm totally oblivious to the way they were done.

The difficulty of macarons is almost of mythical proportions, it's the do or die test for pastry. A chef once told the that there are some fool-proof recipes for them but, alas, I didn't have them at hand. I ended up going for one very respected source: The Alain Ducasse book.

The batter I resulted with was dense as hell. So it's no surprise that I ended up with something that in no way resembles a macaron. Honestly, I don't really know if it resembles anything. It's kind of frustrating, but I'm not giving up.

sábado, 3 de noviembre de 2007

Electric Emulsions...

If you've read Food for Design, you might have stumbled upon this report. Research has shown that due to water's properties, it is possible to form stable emulsions of water and an oily medium just from electrostatics.

In the conclusions, the researchers state that "Their practical power for manipulating certain systems is not only of interest for (self-) assembly, but also for processes like emulsion production and encapsulation". So I'm guessing it won't be long before someone finds a way to put this into use in kitchens.

"Electrostatic" olive oil caramel, anyone?

Full Article here

miércoles, 31 de octubre de 2007


So, I have had a lot of time to think, but none to execute. This leads to more thinking and thus, more ideas. One of those inspired by the fact that I lack an Ice-cream maker here...

The original idea was to make a cauliflower crème brulée and serve it with a bitter cocoa sorbet. The fact that I don't have my machine here has led me to think that I could do a "cremeux" in it's place.

More Ideas have come along so far. Some of them are:

  • Cauliflower Gnocci, cocoa sauce: Just a thought really.
  • Cocoa macaron with cauliflower cream: Now I'm really getting in deep... I've never even made macarons.

Anyhoo, more to come when I actually get in the kitchen.

lunes, 29 de octubre de 2007

Molecular Gastronomy... no bull

I'f you've stopped at Khymos, you probably already know about TGRWT (They go really well together). The event consists of creating recipes using a couple (or more) ingredients that "marry" really well according to their volatile aroma compounds.

Martin came up with a clever, albeit not perfect way to come up with the aromatic compounds of a certain ingredient, as was explained here. It involves searching for matches of those compounds between a number of ingredients, usually, some that wouldn't often show up together in menus.

If you ask me, that is REAL molecular gastronomy.

I'm going to make a "late entry" for TGRWT #7. The ingredients are caramelized cauliflower and cocoa so I'm thinking cauliflower creme brulée and bitter cocoa sorbet. I'll probably end up throwing a tuile in there just for kicks.

viernes, 26 de octubre de 2007

Eggless Mayo.

Yup, that's right. It sounds as weird as Fat-free mayo but this one actually delivers what it promises. Apparently Reology investigators from the Universidad de Sevilla, have developped a new emulsified sauce, very similar to mayonnaise in texture, flavor and odor yet free of egg and stabilizing additives.

There is little information on the process of making this "mayo" itself, my guess is that it's mainly due to the fact that the University is applying for a patent on the technique and formula. They do say that the main ingredient is a highly-nutritional dairy product derived from the production of butter.

I'm thinking this might give us a new option for those watching out for their cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, it might end up facing the lactose intolerant market... Time will tell.

Original Note (In Spanish)

jueves, 25 de octubre de 2007

50 Best Restaurants

The list is out for 2007. If anyone in the whole 100 restaurant list is reading... I could use a job!

My samples part 1.

My Activa came in today. I got 200g of two different products: Activa GS and Activa RM. I was told by the people at Ajinomoto that GS can be used the same, but it has a much faster binding.

I hope to get some pics up soon.

miércoles, 24 de octubre de 2007

The Project: Caldo Tlalpeño

I love Caldo Tlalpeño (foto from For those of you who might not know it, it's quite simple. Chicken broth with shredded chicken meat, vegetables and chickpeas. Some add rice to it. It also has one of my favorite ingredients in Mexico: chilpotles. It's usually served with garnishes that include avocado and fresh cheese, among other things that may vary from house to house.

In my book, it's one of the ultimate in mexican comfort foods. Thus, I've always been obsessed with tumbling it around. In the "early days" of my involvement with the scientific techniques (a.k.a. I knew nothing except lecithin). I had come up with a Dry version of the soup. It involved making the chicken into some sort of ballotine, a panisse of sorts, broth "aire", avocado in a mousse or cream and some other elements I can't recall right now (I have them written down somewhere at home). It was a very "simple" version of the dish.

Yesterday, armed with a bit more knowledge of what can be done, and drawing inspiration from a lot of places (mainly Alex Stupak, Wylie Dufresne, Sean Brock and Aki and Alex). I am determined to make a newer version of it. I have been thinking of using Activa with the chicken and turn it into some different shape. I might try using tapioca maltodextrin in order to turn the avocado into dust. As for the rest of the ingredients, I still have to think about them.

A sad twist of events

Today, the Mexican postal system made me proud. It turns out Winston Industries, who was present at the Starchefs ICC, sent me a card so I could visit their booth and win a chance to get a CVap. I did see the booth, and I saw the equipment. However, the card didn't arrive until today...

There went my CVap. Then again, considering my current budget, I think I'll settle for the smoke gun.

martes, 23 de octubre de 2007

Sources for inspiration

It has always been alluring to delve into the depths of the newest techniques in cooking. Yet actually starting to experiment with these has taken a relatively long way.

My first encounter with the trends was probably still in school, when one of our buddies started schooling us into the techniques of Ferran Adria. Some of us actually went and bought our ISI canisters. Another thing we met at school was sous-vide cooking. It was such a matter of fact technique for the french, that I wasn't expecting it to be such a big issue when I went Stateside. We did use it in every restaurant I was in. Briffard was a master in it, but having worked for long with Robuchon, it's not surprising.

Briffard also introduced me to "aires". We didn't call it like that and we used no lecithin or any other soy additives. Just emulsions. The same guy who used to lecture us on Adria during school told us about use of "aires" in the restaurant he was working in The Plaza Athenée. I was a bit surprised by how much we used "aires" in Maestro. Both Garde Manger and Entremetier used to have at least two or three every night.

Maestro also introduced me to agar (I had heard about it, but never used it) and my first hot gel. After that, it has been mostly reading that has kept me informed. Then came the Starchefs ICC. Watching so many amazing chefs showcase their techniques really got me into track, so as soon as my samples come through... I expect to start turning things upside down.