My dearest readers, I have some frightening exciting news to share with you.
For the next four months or so, I will be embarking on a foray deep into the world of modernist cuisine AKA molecular gastronomy.
My best description goes something like this: modernist cuisine and molecular gastronomy sit squarely, and comfortably, at the crossroads of food, science, and art.
This weak explanation is strengthened by examples; the most highly sought-after and rated restaurants in the world, e.g. the late El Bulli, the Fat Duck, Alinea, wd-50, etc., are based in molecular gastronomy. These chefs are the best in the world, and they utilize precise techniques and unique flavor pairings to create transcendental dining experiences.
“But why,” say you?
This is a school assignment, that’s why.
A very unorthodox school assignment.
I am a second-semester senior in WISE English, a course which allows seniors to conduct sixteen weeks of independent study and research, in a field of their choosing.
Obviously, I chose dessert above all else.
Thus, I find myself making spreadsheets of costs of compounds like hydroxypropyl methylcellulose and calcium lactate gluconate, poring over endless lists of strange flavor combinations, and freezing and re-freezing my ice cream maker’s bowl.
There are many so-called “molecular gastronomy” techniques, but modernist cuisine is not all about tricks and chemicals. Much comes from the presentation of the food. Not every dish has to contain manipulated foodstuffs, but every plate has to be aesthetic.
Not to mention taste good!
I’m beyond excited. And terrified.
I currently have around 10 pounds of food-grade chemicals being shipped to my house. I have hemispherical molds and glucose and carbonated sugar and a .01 gram accuracy scale.
I think I’m ready; I’ve done my best to prepare myself.
I know that not everything will go the way I want it to, or the way it’s supposed to (see: my pitiful quenelles in these pictures. What is that strange pointy thing on the end?!? I haven’t the faintest.)
My goal is to have created many a fanciful and delicious composed dessert: not just a slice of cake or hunk of chocolate thrown on a plate with a schmear of sauce. I want to make high-quality restaurant desserts.
I want to push myself to try out as many techniques as I can: spherification, gelation, dehydration, carbonation, smoking, foams, making powders, etc. etc.
Sixteen weeks isn’t as much time as one would think; I’ll have to work quickly and in a timely manner.
So what does this mean for La Pêche Fraîche? Why am I even telling you this?
Because once a week, I will be sharing my thoughts, failures, and endeavors on this here blog, using it as part of my project journal.
This is not to say that my regular sweets won’t stick around; I’ll still post cookies and cakes and more pedestrian fare, but don’t be shocked when you click through and see something that doesn’t even look like food.
Whatever panic you might feel at that moment, rest assured that I’m feeling 10 times more.
I’m so glad to be sharing this with y’all. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Without any further ado, here’s my first shot at a composed dessert.
espresso, chocolate, meyer lemon
(components, from base layer upwards)
bittersweet chocolate ganache
meyer lemon curd
firm chocolate and coffee grind “ganache” cubes
dark chocolate butter cookies
crumbled meyer lemon meringues
espresso ice cream with whipped cream “clouds” frozen in
fried meyer lemon zest
In the future, recipes will accompany. Right now, I’m just about ready to close this introductory post up, and that is just what I shall do.