Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ummm....molecular gastronomy in Sydney!

Foie gras

This has been a long time coming. But the experience was too great to pass up. It’s the beautiful Four Seasons hotel in Sydney overlooking the lovely Sydney Harbour bridge and the stunning pearly white Opera House. And the restaurant is Kables, their signature restaurant. It was my first introduction to ‘molecular gastronomy.’ For me molecular gastronomy conjured up images of Anthony Bourdain’s show ‘No Reservations’ and it was an episode, I think, on Ferran Adria (of El Bulli fame) and carrot foam. (His famous words: “For the first time in my life, I am inhaling my food,” or something to that effect, but I chortled). Back to Kables. The meal lasted more than three hours. Course after course (don’t ask me what they were: each was so good to look at and to eat, and I was going ‘Ummm’ to many times that I promptly forgot their names) arrived at the table, was admired and quickly imbibed.


But some things really stick out in memory. Like the pasta made of chicken stock, champagne sorbet and light as rain foie gras. I can go ‘ummmm’ all over again. I can’t remember dessert, but the pre-dessert thingy sticks out: served on a little ceramic tile, it looked like a perfect bulls’ eye, but was in fact a clever assemblage of beaten yogurt and mango pulp. Oh yes, ummm.


But the highlight: the chef coming over to the table and demonstrating cooking with liquid nitrogen – it turned bread pieces crumbly, and they just melted on the tongue. The things chefs do !!
Cooking with liquid nitrogen !

Saturday, March 22, 2008

When a restaurant runs out of gas......

This has got to be the most hilarious restaurant story, though at that time, it was anything but hilarious. I am a big Chinese food fan and I recently dragged hubby to a place that I insisted was fantastic. For some reason, perhaps because it was a weekday, the restaurant was deserted. And we were glad to have it to ourselves. A smiling waiter took our order: a starter and main course and left us alone in an already deserted restaurant. Meanwhile, we drank thirstily from the mineral water bottle he had supplied. For almost 15-20 minutes, there was no sign of anybody. And then the waiter came back, a very sheepish look on his face. “Sorry, but we can give you only the starter,” he said. We were confused. “The main course we ordered is not available?” we asked. “It’s not that: there’s enough gas to cook only the starter,” he supplied. For a moment, the two of us resembled gold fish in an aquarium: mouths opening and closing in stupefaction. While anger and amazement fought to overpower each other, we decided to just leave and asked for a bill for the water. And we got it: a Rs 50 bill for a Rs 12 bottle of water ! Hungry and furious, we offered to pay only the price on the bottle. Finally, a hassled manager decided to put in an appearance and offered to waive the bill; we did better and just left behind the half-full bottle. A few weeks later, I happened to go back to the restaurant, having ascertained that it had all the supplies. Sadly, both food and service have gone down the tube. And no, my previous experience did not colour my views!