Monday, April 21, 2008

Molecular Gastronomy


On Sunday, right after coming back to Paris from the Internet Festival of Romans, I had the opportunity of visiting Le Laboratoire, a place created by David Edwards and dedicated to experimental art and design creations... I went there to check the current exhibit by famous chef Thierry Marx and physicist Jérôme Bibette who teamed up to create new tastes in molecular gastronomy. For example, they invented a new technology that allows to embed tasty solutions in small salmon size "marbles". I did not get the chance to try this but I tried the "whif bar" where you "inhale" chocolate powder through a sort of plastic cigarette. If you're in Paris before July 2008, give it a try, but make sure you book ahead (see all info here).

49 comments:

  1. What was the result of the "whiff bar?" Please tell!

    Wow, what fun and a great shot!

    Mammie

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  2. I can't believe that I might be the first to respond today! The picture is startlingly scientific-looking, and the concept somewhat mind-boggling. Your post label "unusual" says it best!

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  3. I'm not sure about the practise of inhaling choc powder, but this photo is incredible. Minimalist and contemporary, i find it very soothing.

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  4. "What was the result of the "whiff bar?" Please tell!" You want to know the truth?!

    It made me cough like hell LOL!

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  5. Eric, looks like the tables are lit from underneath - a great visual effect.

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  6. Oooh, how very intriguing! Nothing is cooler to me then mixing art and science.

    I would personally advise against the whiff bar, you don't want to go irritating and/or cutting up your nasal passages. Snuff up some powder and next thing you know you'll be bleeding all over the chocolate!

    Fantastic photo, Eric!

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  7. I have been to a restaurant in Chicago - Alinea - that practices molecular gastronomy. The meal, in 14 courses, included bison on pine brach with candy canes, chamomile soup bathed in fresh camomile flowers, shrimp on a nutmeg pillow, and other delights. Quite a once-in-a-lifetime event - and no, we were not hungry afterwards.

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  8. I would be more than happy to feast on a molecular gastronomy banquet. Ingestible "marbles" and "pillows", as well as food that can be sniffed, all sound like delectable experiences to me. However - and with apologies to those who might be eating at the moment - if I were to be offered a course in the form of a suppository, I would have to decline.

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  9. PS: Mmm, I wonder if they serve that lychee wine you dab on either side of your neck like perfume?

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  10. Thnaks for your best wishes Eric - I hope we can say g'day face to face one day too!

    Unfortunately my next trip to France is confined to the south...but I'll be back :-)

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  11. Je t'aime! Or at least your blog... Fantastic pics, I've dreamed of Paris since I was a little girl!

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  12. Another great post. I especially enjoyed your April 18th post. So interesting. Thanks for all your work on our behalf. Have a great week.
    Judy

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  13. Very cool! I do love to try most new foods and experiences. Would that chocolate be calorie free?

    Anyway, it all sounds interesting...thanks for letting us live vicariously!!

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  14. Wow I didn't know my little English class stirred up such a debate in "Waiting [not on!] for who[m]?" That was mighty interesting!

    And I must apologise for my poor command of the English language...yes, it should have been 'for whoM' instead of 'for who'. :)

    That's the problem of me growing up in a country where 99% of people can't string proper sentences together in any language. And we're not even talking about grammar yet. And it's such a disgrace that English is the lingua franca of trade and commerce here....I shall learn from this lesson, guys.

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  15. An excellent photo, and an intriguing idea...I am afraid the whiff bar may be a bit too out there for me though. Thank you, Eric, for sharing this!

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  16. Exquisite, exquisite photo. I love the darkness, the light, the colors, the simple lines, the glow. And the reflection! Magnifique.

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  17. It is a great photo Eric. Were there no people around or was it in exhibit format? I need some help understanding the setting. I love the website link you gave for Le Laboratoire. Very creative and fun to navigate.

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  18. Great photo! I think I'll stay with my favorite dark chocolate bar however. Sniffing or whiffing I think I can do without.

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  19. Great photo, lovely. But I'll stick to my food in its original form, especially le chocolat...

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  20. What a mezmerizing photo and interesting to hear of something I've never heard of: Molecular gastronomy. Merci!

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  21. The taste senstaion filled marbles remeinds me of the famed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book. Tomato soup,roast beef, and blueberry pie were all savored while chewing a bit of gum! I don't think that I would mind inhaling chocolate. Chocolate in any form is worthwhile!

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  22. Hey, this goes right up there with the Ice Bar at the Kube Hotel. Another "to do" on my list. Great shot -- sort of looks like an up-scale sushi bar here in San Francisco. They do bizare things like that with food.

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  23. Molecular gastronomy was pioneered by Spanish chef Ferran Adrià. A few years ago, American chef Grant Achatz, who had spent some time at Adrià's restaurant El Bulli (on Spain's Costa Brava) did open Alinea in Chicago - that's the restaurant that Vicky Hugo mentions in her comment above. I have never been there, I am quite curious about it, though, but I bet that it's not a cheap evening.

    There is a whole chapter devoted to Grant Achatz in the book The Reach of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman.

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  24. Elisabeth
    Actually, Molecular Gastronomy was around a lot longer than Adria. A physicist, called Nicholas Kurti, who was a keen cook was giving talks about using Physics and Chemistry in the kitchen in the late 60's.
    Also, Adria himself prefers to be categorized as a deconstructivist. According to his philosophy and I quote "cooking is a language through which all the following properties may be expressed: harmony, creativity, happiness, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humour, provocation and culture."

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  25. Oooh Rose i love being educated thanks!

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  26. This photo looks like a painting Eric. It's brilliant in composition and framing. Gold star for you aujourd'hui!!

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  27. Eric, that's exactly the response I would suspect from the whiff bar. I remember as a child, eating a spoon of hot chocolate mix and practically choking to death from the fine powder! Don't think I'd try that again,lol.
    Great photo, just awesome!

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  29. The Alinea homepge has a visually pleasing image galley. A 'tasting' menu runs about 140 dollars as opposed to the 'tour' menu which costs a whopping 195. I was curious too!

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  30. Yeah Lynn..
    Like you were the uneducated one!
    Haha (can you hear the sarcasm?)

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  31. Ohhhh this photo really captures the mystery and science behind the sensory adventure ahead. This scene reminds me too of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory but much more sophisticated. Prof. Wonka for the big girls. ;) The whiff bar sounds intriguing! Hmmmmm, inhaling chocolate, takes some finesse and could be addictive, wonder if there is a ginger scent for balance?

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  32. When Eric writes and photographs food it makes me think of Hemingway.

    Wrote Hemingway, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

    "A Moveable Feast" memoire of Hemingway's poor but happy life as a young journalist turned novelist in 1920's Paris.

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  33. This is a great photo Eric...somewhat strange, almost surreal.

    A whiff of chocolate??? But how will I keep it in my pocket for that emergency craving?? "Excuse me please..but I have to go outside now to whiff my chocolate.."!! Hmmm...curious ehh??

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  34. Wow Eric, it´s an impressive photo. Although it has various elements in the picture it is such a clean shot.
    The event itself sounds very impressive too.

    The chocolate whif bar would be the only possible way to ever make me smoke. But then again, you said you coughed a lot so I´ll just stick to my regular choc bar.

    Lynn, how about some Cadburys?!

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  35. This IS a great blog. I feel like I can always rely on keeping myself up to date just by coming here!

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  36. I like the photo very much. It's kind of science fiction, like a meal in space.
    I think we have only one restaurant in all of Denmark where they do molecular gastronomy. I've never been there, but I've been told that they do most of the cooking by the table, and it's very expensive.
    You sure did have a busy Sunday Eric.

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  37. A good one, molecular restaurant, here in San Francisco is called "Coi" on Broadway and Montgomery.

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  38. he he ok Rose but i really do love to learn new things, don't you?

    Monica Cadbury's is good anytime isn't it. I've just had a mini bar of milk choc by them. Yum. As a novelty, i put it into my mouth instead of sniffing it up.

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  39. My guess is that one is supposed to "puff" the chocolate powder into the mouth rather than inhale it into the lungs. Like puffing a pipe, or perhaps something else...that I've only read about, of course...

    The photo is fabulous. Fantastic, as in fantasy-like.

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  40. Molecular gastronomy and "deconstructivist" who would have thought that all these words could be associated with haute cuisine?

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  41. Never Eric. I'd never thought of that, specially when it comes to french cuisine ;-)


    Alexandra let's see what we'll learn here tomorrow!

    Lynn what was it like, putting the choc bar into your mouth???!! Ok serious now, we have to find other ways of tasting chocolate (not sniffing it though) just to get some more excuses why we eat it so often..!

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  42. It was amazing, Monica you should try it. Left on the tongue, it slowly melts, filling your senses with the aroma of cacao and at the same time the texture becomes thick and velvet-like, oozing warm chocolate sauce around your mouth. LOL. Now you're just popping into the delicatessen area aren't you! Er... me too.

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  43. Hey, Rose - thanks for setting me straight on molecular gastronomy and Adrià. I really want to try this stuff out someday...

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  44. Lynn I'd be popping into the delicatessen for sure, your description is very tempting. But - I can't believe I'm about too say that - I've had too many sweets today at work. Oh my God I really think I'm gonna need that tent Lynn... I'm just helpless because all the pastry and chocs and macarons there are so irresistable... I am already known there for having a sweet tooth!

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