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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:

Build A Better Banh Mi

Monday, 1. September 2014 5:28

Banh mi fixiings: Sri Lankan Black Curry Chicken (foreground) and Citrusy Red Cabbage Pickles (back).

Banh mi fixiings: Sri Lankan Black Curry Chicken (foreground) and Citrusy Red Cabbage Pickles (back).

 

Banh Mi has been a touchstone in my life.

It all started years ago when I was part of a team of reporters at the San Jose Mercury News covering race and demographics. As part of our — ahem — research of various cultures and communities, we naturally tried to hit up as many ethnic restaurants at lunch time as possible. After all, what better way to learn about a culture than to immerse one’s self in its cuisine?

The first time I encountered the ubiquitous Vietnamese sandwich otherwise known as banh mi, I admit I was dubious. A fresh, satisfying sandwich for under $4? How could that be?

My low expectations matched the low price.

Of course, one bite was all it took to prove me wrong.

The sandwich was miraculous. A fresh baguette filled with lemongrass chicken, smooth pate, hot chiles, fresh herbs and the most deliriously wonderful slivers of pickled carrots and daikon. It was savory, fragrant, tangy and bright. It wasn’t a ginormous sandwich by American standards, but it was full of so much flavor and texture that it left you completely satiated.

What a bargain, too. In fact, my colleagues and I were so amazed at the bang for the buck that we jokingly started using the banh mi as our own personal form of currency.

The cost for the city of San Jose to add resources to its gang prevention efforts? That would be $3 million. Or as we liked to think of it: nearly 1 million Viet sandwiches.

Building the BART extension to San Jose? Politicians might call it $3.2 billion. We likened it to about 1 billion Viet shredded pork sammies.

Yeah, that’s how we rolled.

BanhiMiHandbook

My friend Andrea Nguyen’s newest cookbook, “The Banh Mi Handbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a copy, brought back all those zany and delicious memories.

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Category:Asian Recipes, General, Great Finds, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (9) | Author:

The Man You Should Thank For Your Love of Sugar Snap Peas

Friday, 29. August 2014 5:25

Calvin Lamborn's over-sized pea 52s that are as sweet as candy.

Calvin Lamborn’s over-sized pea 52s that are as sweet as candy.

 

TWIN FALLS, IDAHO — You may not be familiar with Calvin Lamborn’s name. But you know his delicious life’s work. He is the plant breeder responsible for creating the first commercially viable sugar snap pea in 1979.

It’s hard to imagine a time without those sweet, crunchy pea pods. But before Lamborn worked his magic, you couldn’t find sugar snap peas regularly at farmers markets or supermarkets. Oh, and those stringless sugar snap peas we all adore because they don’t have to be peeled? Yup, he created those, too.

Calvin Lamborn and his wife, Bonnie, who had a sugar snap pea variety name for her.

Calvin Lamborn and his wife, Bonnie, who had a sugar snap pea variety name for her.

At 80 years of age now, Lamborn is not thinking about slowing down anytime soon. And top chefs in New York are sure thankful for that. Lincoln Ristorante, Union Square Cafe, The Breslin, wd-50 and more clamor to use his handiwork in their dishes — over-sized pea 52s that taste as sweet as candy, snap peas the bold color of a red chile pepper, and frilly pea leaves the likes of which no one had ever seen before.

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Category:General, Great Finds, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, New Products, Travel Adventures | Comments (2) | Author:

Blueberry Bliss — Ice Cream-Style

Wednesday, 30. July 2014 5:25

My new favorite ice cream.

My new favorite ice cream.

Not only is the color vivid, so is the taste.

“Blueberry Ice Cream” sounds so matter of fact. But it’s quite special.

This is an ice cream in which the berry flavor soars spectacularly.

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Category:Fruit, General, Great Finds, Recipes (Sweet) | Comments (11) | Author:

Palo Alto Welcomes Belcampo Meat Co.

Friday, 25. July 2014 5:28

Pulled pork bun (front) and braised lamb belly bun (back) at Belcampo in Palo Alto.

Pulled pork bun (front) and braised lamb belly bun (back) at Belcampo in Palo Alto.

 

After opening its first restaurant-retail meat shop last spring in Larkspur, Belcampo Meat Co. has been on a rapid roll.

Since then, it has opened in speedy succession in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and just four weeks ago in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village.

Shortly, Santa Monica will get the largest outpost of the farm-to-table meat company with a butcher shop plus a restaurant that will boast a full bar, as well as 90 seats. A lease also has been signed for a location in West Hollywood.

Belcampo is on a fast-track mission to prove that sustainable not only can be profitable, but feasible on a large-scale.

A butcher packs away the meat just before closing.

A butcher packs away the meat just before closing.

Note the whiteness of the fat on the meat -- a sign of pasture-fed animals.

Note the whiteness of the fat on the meat — a sign of pasture-fed animals.

It is the brainchild of Todd Robinson, a Wall Street veteran with deep pockets; and Anya Fernald, a California-native and long-time locavore entrepreneur. She may look familiar from her previous appearances as a judge on “Iron Chef America” and as the founder of the Eat Real Festival in Oakland.

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Category:General, Going Green and Sustainable, Great Finds, Meat, New Products, Restaurants | Comments (4) | Author: