Scott and I dropped into Chris’ place to just get together and cook. To try things out and see what came up. The agenda was loose, the wine was open, and the kitchen was ready. So we went for it.
I had quite a bit of BBQ sauce from the barbeque I went to last week. I even brought it to another barbeque, but still had leftovers. What to do? A quick look in the book and I found a recipe that uses the sauces: pulled mushrooms. It’s like spaghetti marinara except they’re mushroom noodles in BBQ sauce. Why of course it’s like that. Plus the recipe was inspired by Ideas In Food. Since I had recently met Alex over at Scott’s a few weeks back, it seemed fortuitous. Time to head to the Asian grocery store.
I was going to a summer BBQ and thought it would be nice to bring a variety of sauces for people to pick and choose. Nathan Myhrvold has a special passion for BBQ, having won first place in the barbeque world championships in Memphis, Tennessee. There are eight recipes in the book (not to mention a two page regional map of the different varieties throughout the American south). I chose to do half of them: Kansas City, Memphis, North Carolina (Eastern Region), and North Carolina (Lexington Style).
I had half of a flank steak left from my foray into microwaved beef jerky, so I needed to use it up. Luckily, just 15 pages later in the The Work, there was a recipe for Kalbi Flank Steak. This is interesting because in Korean, Kalbi means “rib”, and the marinade is applied mostly to beef and pork ribs. But hey, we’re Modernists, right? Let’s see what a different technique applied to the same product can create.
Concerning kitchen design, I ended up at a party last weekend and saw quite a home kitchen setup. As you can see, they built a custom space for their Rational combi oven. Also notice their Sous Vide Supreme, Pacojet, and Vitamix. Both extreme and extremely cool.
I’ve found that once you really get into cooking, your available space gets sucked up quick. With new gadgets, ingredients and serviceware, there’s barely enough room left to actually prepare the food you want to cook. With chamber vacuum sealers, centrifuges and the like, it’s even more so for a cook pursuing Modernist cooking. So what’s a home cook to do? I figured I’d take a look at what the big guys are up to: the Nordic Food Lab, the Noma Food Lab, and The Cooking Lab of Modernist Cuisine.
I threw a big dinner party last weekend. Well, six people total (including our culinary teammate Scott), but seven courses. I totally brought it. But then I was brought down: three of the courses totally sucked. The pea consommé? At the last moment I overdid it with the cinnamon oil – it tasted like a bad scented candle. The Thai beef curry broth was watery and the beef over-tender. The sous vide vegetables were mushy and lifeless. Man, was I embarrassed. But one of the courses did come through: my deep fried chicken feet. Good thing, too – they took the longest to prepare. I don’t know if I was redeemed, but at least I wasn’t damned. In the end, fowl became friend.
You can’t make a reservation, and you can’t pay.
– Nathan Myrvold on having dinner at the Cooking Lab
Last night I had the rare privilege of attending one of the dinners at the Modernist Cuisine Cooking Lab. The phrase ‘rare privilege’ can be overused, but in this case, it is completely warranted. The purity and concentration of their flavors is off the charts. Twenty-nine courses of it. Needless to say, but it needs to be said: it was amazing.