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A Meal of A Lifetime: My Dinner at Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine Laboratory

Wednesday, 3. September 2014 5:28

What would a Modernist Cuisine dinner be without a little liquid nitrogen action going on? Chef Naomi Pomeroy gets in on the fun.

What would a Modernist Cuisine dinner be without a little liquid nitrogen action going on? Chef Naomi Pomeroy gets in on the fun.

 

BELLVUE, WA — Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft chief technology officer turned maestro of modernist cuisine, has held less than a dozen invitation-only dinners at his Intellectual Ventures laboratory. The exclusive guests have included the likes of Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, David Chang and Jose Andres.

In June, I was lucky enough to join that illustrious list when I was invited to be part of a very special dinner. What made this dinner so epic was not only the fact that it was Myhrvold’s largest dinner party to date, but that all the guests were women.

The wizard-genius behind it all, Nathan Myhrvold, stops by each table to explain the dishes.

The wizard-genius behind it all, Nathan Myhrvold, stops by each table to explain the dishes.

The Modernist Cuisine team hard at work on the one-of-a-kind dinner.

The Modernist Cuisine team hard at work on the one-of-a-kind dinner.

Plating in action.

Plating in action.

A reminder that you are dining in an actual science laboratory.

A reminder that you are dining in an actual science laboratory.

Twenty-one female chefs and four female journalists sat down to a marathon 35-course dinner that lasted six hours. The guest list was as follows:

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Category:Chefs, Cool Cooking Techniques, Enticing Events, General, Google/Tech/Corporate Cafes, Great Finds, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, Travel Adventures | Comments (13) | Author:

Get Smitten With Smitten Ice Cream in Los Altos

Friday, 14. March 2014 5:25

Fresh Mint Chip made in seconds at Smitten Ice Cream.

Fresh Mint Chip made in seconds at Smitten Ice Cream.

 

If you haven’t yet heard, another delicious taste of San Francisco has made its way down to the Peninsula.

That would be Smitten Ice Cream, which opened its first location outside of San Francisco in late December 2013 in the Whole Foods in Los Altos.

Four years ago founder Robyn Sue Fisher gave up a life as a biotech consultant with a Stanford MBA no less to push a Radio Flyer wagon around the streets of San Francisco, pedaling her unique ice cream.

What makes it so unusual? It’s created to order right in front of your eyes in a patented machine using liquid nitrogen. The inert gas freezes the cream mixture in a flash at a super low temperature, resulting in smaller ice crystals, and therefore a smoother ice cream.

Smitten Ice Cream became such a sensation that Fisher opened an actual storefront, crafted out of an old shipping container, in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. Now, there are plans to expand even more with a Rockridge location in the works.

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Category:Cool Cooking Techniques, General, Great Finds, Restaurants | Comments (7) | Author:

Chicken Wings: Low, Slow, Let’s Go!

Friday, 21. February 2014 5:26

Steaming soy sauce chicken wings -- straight out of the oven after a long, gentle bake.

Steaming soy sauce chicken wings — straight out of the oven after a long, gentle bake.

 

When it comes to cooking, culinary teacher Andrew Schloss wants us to take it low and slow.

How slow?

Think meatloaf that takes up to eight honors in the oven or a Black-Bottom Banana Custard Pie that bakes for as long as six hours.

Before you scoff, though, consider that all of that is fairly unattended cooking. Slide it into the oven and go about your day. Meantime, all that extended time under gentle heat does its magic by rendering food soft, supple and suffused with flavor.

You’re essentially turning your oven into a giant slow cooker. But unlike a slow cooker, which has a tight-fitting lid, oven-cooking allows for more evaporation. That means flavors get much more concentrated, Schloss says.

I’d have to agree after receiving a review copy of his book, “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More” (Chronicle Books). Many of the recipes intrigued, but I decided to try one already familiar to me to get a real sense of what a difference this style of cooking might make.

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Category:Asian Recipes, Cool Cooking Techniques, General | Comments (8) | Author:

“Favorite Asian Dumplings From Scratch” and A Food Gal Giveaway

Monday, 2. December 2013 5:25

Learn how to make a bevy of Asian dumplings with instructor Andrea Nguyen. (Photo courtesy of Craftsy)

Learn how to make a bevy of Asian dumplings with instructor Andrea Nguyen. (Photo courtesy of Craftsy)

 

There is both an art and a skill to meticulously folding, shaping and cooking all manner of precious little Asian dumplings.

I can’t think of any better teacher to learn from than my good friend and Asian food authority bar none, Andrea Nguyen.

After all, she knows Asian food like nobody’s business. She teaches dumpling-making classes regularly at Love Apple Farms in Santa Cruz. And she wrote the book, “Asian Dumplings” (Ten Speed Press).

Now, no matter where you live, you can learn from her, thanks to Craftsy.

The site offers online classes on everything from cooking to knitting to photography. Started by former eBay executives, it allows you to learn in the privacy of your own home and at your own speed, as you can watch the videos over and over, and even with friends and family. You can even ask questions of the instructors in a virtual classroom.

Andrea’s “Favorite Asian Dumplings from Scratch” includes eight lessons, from “Introduction to Dumplings” to “Making Shrimp Wontons” to “Japanese Pot Stickers” to “Korean Dumplings.” The complete package is $19.99.

Yes, you can make this. (Photo courtesy of Craftsy)

Yes, you can make this. (Photo courtesy of Craftsy)

I had a chance to preview the class for free for this review. The videos have nice production values, like a cooking show you’d see on PBS. There are plenty of close-ups of the food, too, which not only get you hungry but help you follow along easily, especially when it comes to learning how to stuff and fold the dumplings. You’ll also learn where each of these dumplings originated and what makes each unique. Along the way, Andrea offers up stories of her love for dumplings and endless words of encouragement. Crafsy even allows you to share your new-found dumpling skills with your virtual classmates through the posting of your own photos and comments.

I’ve actually been lucky enough to stand alongside Andrea as she’s cooked in her own home kitchen. This video class is the next best thing to that.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win “Favorite Asian Dumplings from Scratch.” The best part about this contest is you can live anywhere in the world to enter.

How to win?

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Category:Cool Cooking Techniques, Enticing Events, General, Great Finds, New Products | Comments (3) | Author:

Cooking in Embers a la Michael Chiarello

Wednesday, 3. July 2013 5:25

Grilled potato salad with ember-roasted garlic dressing -- to put pizzazz in your Fourth of July.

Grilled potato salad with ember-roasted garlic dressing — to put pizzazz in your Fourth of July.

Men like to play with fire. And male chefs sure like cooking with it.

In fact, cooking in embers is all the rage now at places like Saison in San Francisco, and the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena.

What’s the appeal? First, the primal aspect of it all. Second, the technique makes use of the residual heat that would otherwise just dissipate and go to waste. Third, it adds a gentle yet deep smoky quality.

I thought I’d give it a try, particularly when a free copy of the new “Michael Chiarello’s Live Fire” (Chronicle Books) landed in my mailbox for reviewing. Chiarello is a major fan of live fire. Every Northern California he’s worked in or owned — Tra Vigne, Bottega and Coqueta — all feature grills with live fire.

MichaelChiarelloLiveFire

The book includes 125 recipes for cooking everything from seafood to pizza to desserts over a live fire. Of course, not many of us may have the space to cook a whole baby goat on a spitjack in our backyard, but there are plenty of recipes easily do-able even on a compact grill.

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Category:Chefs, Cool Cooking Techniques, General, Recipes (Savory), Restaurants | Comments (9) | Author: