I didn’t want those taste buds…

Last night Shannon and I got to head down into Soho to the French Culinary Institute {FCI} to watch a demonstration by their head of school and a world leading food scientist, then Shannon and I split ways to sit in on a pastry and culinary course, and then were ushered down to dinner in their restaurant.  It was an extremely interesting night!

The Demonstration was incredible.  We sat in there auditorium while two of the head chefs blew our minds.  We first were given a cup of a crushed up herb, shady I know, and told to swish it around our mouths.  As it turns out the herb contained a chemical in it that temporarily blocks off the taste of any sugars on the tongue!  We were them given a plate of various items to taste and explore how taking away sugar from something would effect it.  On the plate were things like: a strawberry, skittle, packet of sugar, cookie, marshmallow, blackberry, chocolate, etc.  It was one of the most bizarre things I have ever experienced.  The marshmallow felt like chewing on foam, and was absolutely flavorless.  There was just no flavor in my mouth.  The strawberry and blackberry alike were super sour.  The chocolate was just that creamy texture in my mouth without any flavor present at all.  The packet of sugar might as well have been sand.  It was truly bizarre.  Luckily over time the presentation moved on, and our taste buds revived themselves.  Throughout the rest of the presentation we covered new sciences and their applications in the cooking world.  For example: Meat Glue.  A compound that has the ability to bond ANY two proteins together on a molecular level.  It actually makes them into the same item.  You could bond soy beans to buffalo meat if you wanted.  We used it in the demo to bond prosciutto around hamachi tuna, for the purpose if it not coming undone during cooking and ease of cutting.  We created liquid nitrogen ice cream.  Used vacuum chambers to pickle onions in 30 seconds.  Played with various mushroom cooking methods for the best results.  Everything.  It was all extremely fascinating, and delicious.

The class was incredible.  I spent 2 hours in class with some of the lower levels students who were learning to create: rice puddings, risottos, gnocci, and ravioli from scratch.  It was actually extremely impressive.  The head chef was on everyone, blasting technique and method into all of them.  I saw a little bit of talent in that kitchen and whole lot of sweating and frantic people who were in way over their heads.  I am not sure they are going to like where they find themselves when they pop out of that class, it was obvious that none of them had been near a restaurant kitchen before.  It was really reassuring for me to see this in action, mainly because I feel like I must have a head start on most of these cooks.

Dinner was great considering the price!  We had a 5 course prix fixe menu.  1: Smoked Salmon with fennel puree  2: striped sea bass over artichoke hearts and buckwheat crepes  3: Lamb over mushroom ragu with garlic mashed potatoes  4: Digestive salad of iced ricotta with lemon, frisee, balsamic, and crushed pistachios  5: a trio of pot de cremes (carmel with sea salt, chocolate with candied orange peal, dark chocolate with hazelnut and coffee)  and a cheese board.  All accompanied by a bottle of French Malbec.  It was all pretty good!  The students from the upper two levels of the culinary classes prepare the food for the restaurant, and everything came out great!

After gorging ourselves, we strolled the mile walk home, and chatted about what is coming up next.  Result:  No idea.  We both are so conflicted about what to do right now.  If anyone has any ideas, we could use some input.  Anyways, that’s our culinary adventure up until this point!  Here are some pictures from the demo:

At The Bitter End.

Which is a bar in Soho where Bob Dylan made it big.  They have a famous brick wall that plays backdrop to all of the singer/songwriters who pass through.  We had a friend come through town from Seattle to play there and it turned out to be amazing.  The event was low key, but amazing.  Quite a few individuals got up for about 3-4 songs each, and most of them were actually pretty good!  Our new friend Vicci Martinez got up and played with a friend, Mike Miz, for an incredible hour.  Here are some photos from the event, and if I can add them, some vids as well.

Vicci Martinez, The Bitter End

Mike Miz @ The Bitter End