March 22, 2010

Future Food and Moto

Ironically, just hours after my post about April Fools Day food, I found myself eating at Moto to celebrate the premiere of Homaro Cantu and Ben Roche's new Planet Green TV series, Future Food. Moto is on the cutting edge, or rather the liquid nitrogen-fueled extremely cold edge of the innovative molecular gastronomy food movement.

We nibbled Cuban sandwiches that looked like Cuban cigars, cupcakes covered in foie gras with pistachio flake sprinkles, and s'mores bombs. Take a look below at some of the delightful eats at the event.
More check-ins at Moto Restaurant
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Molecular gastronomy goes beyond simply cooking and focuses on the chemical reactions that happen when food is modified and when it hits our taste buds. It's an art form that aims to transform ingredients and combine cuisine with splashes of aesthetic and technical flair to impress the senses.

I watched one episode of Future Food at the event and another one at home. The show is full of foodie + geeky fun, which in my world is a very good thing.

Another aspect I like about Future Food is the creativity and the enthusiasm of Moto's kitchen staff. Having met them, it seems very genuine. They are a very playful and energetic bunch, to put it mildly.

There was talk about the staff at Moto from Cantu and Roche on down (this from Roche, himself) as kind of outliers or more bluntly, sort of a ragtag group of misfits who have come together to create something wonderful and exceptional. This adds an endearing aspect to the show.

I like that Cantu and Roche take their food to the streets of Chicago to test out some of their dishes. That adds a fun element and a chance to highlight the city.

So I'm cheering for the Moto staff and the future of Future Foods, however, the environmental theme is a bit specious. I'm not sure the wacky set-ups which lead to a tenuous "green" connection are necessary because what the team does with their food is really cool and I sense some big personalities just waiting to unfold. From idea to plate, the food is unique and exciting; I think the food and the staff could hold their own without such contrived plot structures.

Along those lines, the team shares some of the science behind their work, but I would have liked to have learned more. Cooking is all about chemistry and these guys take it to the extreme with their liquid nitrogen and beakers (I see a whole new cooking line based on this show), surely they have a thing or two to teach us.

I think my boys ages, 9 and 11, will get a kick out of this show, but I'd like to see some precautions taken, or at least advised, i.e. don't stick your hand in the -370 degree F liquid nitrogen.

Cantu has been taking risks ever since he opened up Moto (long before, no doubt) and and I'd love to see this one pay off. We'll definitely be tuning in to future episodes of Future Food, and I hope the show gets renewed for a second season, so it has a chance to come into its own.

Edited to add: See what my friends at Gaper's Block had to say about this extravaganza.

Food for April Fools Day

There's always room for foodie fun on April Fools Day!

One year, I took salad plates and covered them in vanilla yogurt and topped each one with a half of a bright yellow-orange canned peach and told the boys I was serving up giant eggs. They totally fell for the surprise, much to my delight--and theirs.

Another time, we made faux sushi with Froot by the Foot to substitute for the nori (seaweed wrapper) and coconut flakes instead of rice. We didn't fool anyone, but we did have a lot of fun making it.

Last year, my boys created a lot of fun/disgusting treats with the Spatulatta girls. Click through to the videos to learn how to make a Moldy Sandwich and Kitty Litter Cake, among other delights. Did I say delights? Ewwww!

And I just received a fun new suggestion for April Fools Day "Bacon and Eggs" from the folks at Family Fun magazine

For the eggs:
• 3 tablespoons white chocolate chips
• 12 yellow M&MS

For the bacon:
• 1 square caramel
• 1 Tootsie Roll Midgee

Instructions
1. For the eggs: Melt the white chocolate chips according to the package directions. Transfer the melted chocolate to a ziplock bag and snip off a corner.
2. Squeeze nickel-size portions of the chocolate onto a sheet of waxed paper, then gently press a yellow M&M, letter side down, into the center of each. Let the candies cool. Makes 12 eggs.
3. For the bacon: Remove the wrapping from a square caramel and a Tootsie Roll Midgee. Microwave the candies for 4 seconds to make them soft. Use your thumb and forefinger to slightly flatten each candy piece, then press them together.
4. Halve the candy, then stack and press the pieces into alternating layers.
5. Slice a 1/4-inch-wide piece from the stack. Pinch and stretch the piece lengthwise into a flat bacon strip, then cut it in half. Add ripples to each half by gently bending the edges. Makes 3 strips (6 pieces).

Check out Family Fun for more cute and harmless April Fools tips and treats.

I did not receive any compensation for this piece. I'm just sharing it for the fun of it.

March 16, 2010

The Housewares Show

I feel like I walked many of the reported 13 miles of aisles at the International Housewares Show earlier this week, but I only saw a fraction of the latest and greatest gizmos and gadget.

I went to the Housewares Show looking for items that were new and different. Here's a quick summary of what I saw. I will share a few product demos and more fully describe a handful of intriguing items in the coming weeks.

Here is the second of my Whrrl stories, look for the first on Hormone-colored Days.

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