For Halloween, Modernist Cuisine's Johnny Zhu and his young son teamed up to make olive-oil-flavored worm-shaped candies that wriggle in mounds of chocolate dirt. The gummy worms are formed of sugar, gelatin, and gum, and shaped in molds made for fishing lures.
The 2011 StarChefs chefs' congress was a three-day whirl of culinary innovations, but one of the particular treats was getting to watch Andoni Luis Aduriz do his thing. The chef of Spain's Mugaritz restaurant has melded technology and cuisine in an unceasingly playful way, garnering stars and prizes that I won't bother to enumerate. At the congress, he walked a rapt audience through several of his clever preparations -- in particular, his use of silicone molds to create trompe-l'oeil dishes.
Last week, I visited Solingen, Germany's "city of blades," where knives, swords, and the like have been made for centuries. In between sipping beers and munching wursts, I paid a visit to the factory of Zwilling J.A. Henckels, at their kind invitation, to peer at the semi-roboticized lines where they produce their knives.
Earlier this week, we rejoiced at some promising news about the future of creating tasty meat without killing animals. Today, New Scientist is reporting from a workshop in Göteborg, Sweden, where Maastricht University meat scientist Mark Post relates his intention to grill up an in-vitro hamburger within a year.
Before Nathan Myhrvold published his six-volume culinary bombshell Modernist Cuisine, he got a doctorate in physics. Which he applies to the details of heat transfer in the book at great length, including the suggestion that the classic Weber kettle grill is very inefficient, as both its black interior and its rounded shape are non-optimal for reflecting heat from the coals to the food.
As we head into a summery long weekend, here's some additional advice on grilling (and a lovely iconic cutaway photo) from Modernist Cuisine.
As we approach Memorial Day, I can think of few things sadder in the summertime than overdone meat. There are a number of tools and methods to combat such tragedies, but perhaps most novel among these lately is the iGrill--a dual-probe meat thermometer that pairs with a companion iPhone or iPad app via Bluetooth. With an accurate temperature readout in your pocket, you're free to go about your business, checking the temperature occasionally and getting a buzz when your meat reaches a set temperature of your choosing. That's the idea, anyway.
Handmade according to an exacting process, Kramer chef's knives sell for $10,000 or more. They're beloved by chefs and collectors for their keen edges, thoughtful design, and beautiful finish, and demand is such (a New Yorkerprofile never hurts) that anyone who wants to buy one must now sign up for a lottery in which you can win a spot on the years-long waiting list for a knife.
But Kramer fans are about to have an easier time of it: Bob was in New York this month to announce a new partnership. I took advantage of the visit to pull him into the PopSci video chamber so he could demonstrate dramatically just how effective his knives are.
This week, if you've been watching television, you may have seen Dr. Nathan Myhrvold dipping his hand in liquid nitrogen on the Colbert Report or making a striped omelet on the Today show. We also saw the Modernist team at the New York Academy of Sciences, where everyone in the standing-room audience got a bowl of modernist pistachio gelato, which is made of nothing but pure pistachios ultra-homogenized into a cream.
As I may have mentioned, I have lately developed a bit of a thing for pea butter. Not some sort of pea-infused dairy butter, but the real deal, the pure green fat of tender garden peas laboriously isolated and concentrated, and spread on toast. I first had it when I was visiting the Modernist Cuisine laboratory/kitchen in Seattle last month, and now I very much want more.
In 2008, Dr. Nathan Myhrvold began to carve out a portion of the 20,000-square-foot warehouse outside Seattle that houses the research lab of Intellectual Ventures. The former Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft had an idea for a cookbook he wanted to write, and he needed some kitchen space.
Maxime Bilet, the kitchen's head chef of R&D and a co-author (with Myhrvold and Chris Young) of the ambitious cookbook, led me through the kitchen, where four full-time staffers were in the process of making me lunch using a variety of outre apparatus. The usual kitchen accoutrements were on display -- stove, sink, cutting boards, refrigerators -- but Bilet's tour started with the ultrasonic bath.