When I was in San Francisco, I managed to score a seat at Benu, the two star Michelin restaurant in the SOMA district. It is headed up by Corey Lee, whose career has seen action in seven 3-star Michelin restaurants in England, France and the U.S. He was also the chef de cuisine at The French Laundry. The Real Deal. And, my first Michilen starred restaurant (Next doesn’t count, right?).
I had the opportunity to try out some of the fine dining establishments of San Francisco while I was there. My first stop after my flight was a burrito in the Mission district. It put a sudden end to that day’s culinary explorations, however; I was so stuffed I couldn’t think of taking a bite of anything at all.
The next day, I didn’t know where to eat, so I checked out the 26 new places to go at SFGate.com and SF Eater 38 and determined a couple of places to go. That evening, I found myself at Commonwealth at 18th and Mission (whose address is 2224 Mission Street – what’s up with that, San Francisco?).
What do you need to do this? Use vodka or better yet, everclear. Depending on what you choose you can simply weigh it all out, can it cold, and place in the refrigerator for a few days then strain and you got yourself a nice bit of extract for sauces, marinating, baking, or whatever. Some lend themselves better to going sous vide for about three to four hours. So get to work, there are tons of crazy extracts for you to make!
Flavors I made today:
Saffron, Orange Zest, Candied Ginger (slice ginger thin, make some simple syrup and as it’s cooling down throw in the ginger then place in refrigerator for a day, take out ginger, dehydrate for 5 hours then toss in sugar with a little malic acid), Cocoa Nib, Adobo, Chili Flake, Coffee, and Licorice Root.
The possibilities are endless!
I dropped down to San Francisco to spend the weekend and got an opportunity to visit the private showroom of LeSanctuaire. LeSanctuaire is a provider of very high end tools, plateware and ingredients online. It’s a great online site, offering everything from Tapioca Pearls for $2 to GastroVacs for almost $6000. I was met by their Sales Manager, Fany, and she let me basically lose my mind as I was able to be in the presence of some very cool kitchen stuff. They have many things that are sold exclusively through them, so it was amazing to see it in person. It was like a museum of fine kitchenware.
We’ve hit a new milestone here at Jet City Gastrophysics: we’ve gone public. When we received an invite to serve a dish at a company party for The Institute of Systems Biology in Seattle, we couldn’t pass it up. We put together a nice little dessert of Cryopoached Coconut Meringue with Powdered Strawberry. We brought our siphons and strawberry dust. They, being scientists and all, provided the liquid nitrogen. A perfect match.
Jethro and I were asked to create a dish with “wow factor” for a group of scientists for an upcoming event. We wanted to craft a bite that’s first and foremost delicious, but also illustrates some of the hallmarks of modernist cooking: textural transformation, surprise, and use of unconventional techniques to refine and reinterpret something traditional. It also had to be practical and economical, since we’ll be serving nearly 200 people in two hours. This meant quick plating time, low portion cost, and minimal prep. After some brainstorming, we decided that a cryopoached (liquid nitrogen-frozen) puff would fit the bill. Jethro had already made the Fat Duck’s Cryopoached Green Tea Sour (which I recognized from Modernist Cuisine), but we wanted to make a version that was our own, and frankly, one that was simpler and cheaper.
A while back I got this email in my inbox:
From: Scott Heimendinger
Date: Wed, Jul 6, 2011 at 12:47 PM
To: Eric Rivera, Jeth Rollins Odom
Coming in a week or two for testing. I should have it for 2 weeks. Set phasers to KILL.
The chance to play around with the Polyscience SonicPrep? Nice! It took a little while longer to get the thing to Seattle (apparently Ideas In Food had it before us – how cool is that?), but it finally made it and Scott and I descended upon it to see what this new fangled contraption could do (Eric, alas, had already moved to Chicago by the time it arrived).