Great Food Blog Meme #1: TGRWT

As far as food blog meme's go, Khymos' "They Go Really Well Together (TGRWT)" contest. Martin Lersch (it's his blog), is one of those smart, sciencey food guys. He way more scientist than chef, but if you read me, then you clearly don't care about that. I like reading him because he doesn't dumb anything down. And when people don't dumb things down, it means you have to smarten up. You should be reading his blog in general, but what I really wanted to talk about was TGRWT.

Once a month, Martin announces two ingredients that well, go really well together. Some flavor-pairings are really counter-intuitive. Here is his description:
The name refers to flavour pairing of ingredients based on their content of volatile aroma compounds. The idea behind flavour pairing is that if two (or more) foods have one or more volatile compounds in common, chances are good that they might taste well together. Click for a list of other flavour pairings and to read previous blog posts on the topic. The molecule shown in the logo is of 2-methylfuran-3-thiol, a very potent aroma chemical found in coffee, chicken, meat, fish and popcorn - to mention a few.
Mmmm... 2-methylfuran-3-thiol!

Anyways, it is an excellent contest because it is collaborative and gets people's juices flowing. Does it actually further any flavor pairing theories based on volatile aroma compounds? Probably not. Does it get people to flex their minds? Definitely.

Martin asks blogger-chef-types a question. Sometimes the best way to learn is to answer a question you didn't know the answer to.

The latest question was:

Caraway and Chocolate/Cocoa?

And it was one of the questions that I had an answer to, but couldn't remember the name. But I knew I had experienced those flavors together. Then, while standing in the elevator, I had a bout of food-related tourettes:

"PUMPERNICKEL!", I blurted out.

Thankfully, there were no witnesses to this. As it happens, I-freakin-love pumpernickel bread, especially bagels. So, I break out the internets and I start looking to confirm, and holy caraway for chocolate, I get my confirmation.

Also, snopes tells me one thing about pumpernickel that I did not know. Apparently, there are at least two supposed origins of the word. The first is from the French "Pain Pour Nicol", which means Bread For Nicol, where Nicol is some random Frenchman's horse. Of course, this is widely disproven, and really just goes to show that the French have to somehow be involved in all culinary matters!

Even funnier is an alternate theory that states pumpernickel is derived from "Pumpern", which was New High German for "fart", and Nickel, which was a name often reserved for something evil, like the devil. See where they are going with this?

The Devil's Fart, my friends. The Devil's Fart.
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The Crosne: Tasty Starch Or Tuber Maggot

I have a fatal attraction to unusual product. Even worse, I recently bought the bizarre at the bazaar and promptly forget its name:

Crosne, a.k.a Chinese Artichokes a.k.a. Maggot Tubers

In attempts to do research, i typed "tuber that looks like a maggot". Instead I found this video:

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.1859815&w=425&h=350&fv=]
more about "Maggot Lives Inside Woman's Head", posted with vodpod


Then "tuber maggot".

The results were not promising.

I had a vague memory of the sign. Whatever these little nuggets were called, it began with the letter C. Let's refine our approach. This was a tuber. A tuber is a root vegetable. Let's zip on over Wikipedia, and look at my options.

Wikipedia tubers that begin with a C: Chufa and Crosne. A couple of google searches later and we are confirmed. They are Crosnes. The Internet also suggests simple preparations. Butter, salt and pepper. Boiled. Pickled (Chinese preparations). Raw (Crunchy in salads).

First attempt had them added to a salad. Slightly nutty, definitely crunchy, but raw is not for me. They are calling for some extra love.

My next attempt will be butter, salt, pepper, some fresh herbs and crosne @ 83C.
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Food Information Overload

I have been slowly transcribing notes from a number of food talks i've been to dating back about five months now. I have seen:
  1. Alex and Aki from Ideas In Food (Liquid Nitrogen)
  2. Wylie DuFresne and David Zuddas at the French Institute
  3. Ferran Adria at the NYPL
  4. Grant Achatz and Nathan Myhrvold also at the NYPL
  5. Thomas Keller and Michael Ruhlman promoting Under Pressure
Since I have already written about Liquid Nitrogen and Under Pressure, I suppose I only owe you Achatz, Myhrvold, Adria, DuFresne and Zuddas. I don't know if this is intentional or by accident, but all of the remaining talks really focused on food as art and/or the future of food.

That is a ridiculous amount of knowledge and culinary perspective to absorb.  While each one incrementally changed how I thought about food, getting such a high dose of foodthought in a short period of time has forever altered how I interact with food.  

Did I mention that, in one trip to Chicago, I experienced Moto, Alinea, Blackbird (twice) and Avec.

To make it worse:

I also have in my possession: "Under Pressure", "Alinea" and thanks to a co-worker who is clearly trying to kill any chance I have at being productive: "The Big Fat Duck Cookbook".   All combined that is over 1200 pages.

Head. Melting.
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Altered Tastes: Fresh Mushrooms

Everyone has experiences that change the way they perceive one of their five senses. Altered Tastes is an ongoing feature where I discuss culinary moments that rewire my sense of taste forever. Without further adieu...

I love mushrooms. Love them. I will judge any produce section by the variety and quality of their mushrooms. Usually, I am into the exotics. Mushrooms that can't be easily cultivated. You know, the good stuff. But I digress, because today, I discuss:

The White Button Mushroom

The garden-variety, white button mushroom.

The vanilla of fungus, found plastic-wrapped in produce aisles at every grocery store. Sliced raw atop all the most uninspired salads I have eaten. I've never given this mushroom much consideration. In fact, I am generally prejudiced against them.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a mushroom farm. Walking past a steaming pile of compost, and I mean steaming, we entered one of the pens.

A Mushroom Wonderland

Mushroom studded compost pallets extended as far as the eye can see. It was a cross between an alien landscape and a perverse marshmallow-mushroom nightmare.

"Can We Taste Them?"

"Sure." said our guide.

Whoa.

With a simple twist, the entire mushroom came out of the soil.

I do not like raw mushrooms. I do not like them.

Wiping off of the small amounts of dirt...

Don't mushrooms grow in poo?

I hesitantly took a bite.

It was incredible.

Meaty with a delicate, earthy flavor. Moist. None of that dry woodiness, or 'shroom slime. Another bite and the mushroom was gone.

What the hell have I been eating all of these years?

In a single bite, every white button mushroom I have ever eaten immediately became stale.
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The Picky Eater And The Irritated Waiter

Ruhlman wrote a piece on food allergies calling America A Nation Of Culinary Sissies. In his self described rant, he talks about the number of people who alert servers about food allergies vs. the number of people who actually have a food allergy. A comment-storm erupted, with people choosing sides and bickering. It is, after all, the Internet.

Eventually, it devolved but there was one salient point that I think merits further discussion:

Some patrons lie to get the chef to do what they want.

And, of course, that pisses a lot of servers, chefs and restauranteurs off. Because what they really want is to have their already difficult jobs not made more difficult, and of course, everyone involved wants to be able to continue to work and make a living. How is their life made easier when someone comes in and asks them to change the way they do things?

I used to be a vegetarian. I would start by telling a server that I was a vegetarian. Some knew what the term meant, others would say things like: "But they're just little clams" to "No sir, I assure you, all vegetarians eat fish." As I got more strict I started asking more specific questions (which would ultimately eliminate dishes I thought jived with my diet). Is there any shrimp paste, fish sauce, chicken stock. During this barrage of questions, some servers answered in a way that gave you a high degree of confidence, others would answer with "No... I don't think so..." followed with an uncomfortable silence before going and asking.

I never got to the point where I lied, but if I went back to being a vegetarian today, I probably would. Too many businesses don't really care if they serve you something you didn't want (especially since you probably won't notice). But the potential nightmare of having me convulse on their floor with someone slamming an adrenaline needle ala Pulp Fiction during the middle of service will get everyone's attention.

In other words, the people who complain about people who utilize allergies as their weapon, are complaining about a situation they created. And here is why they created it:

No restaurant wants to say no to money.

It is easier to not care or deceive a customer rather than accommodate the request or tell a customer that you simple can't or don't want to honor their request. The result is that restaurant workers are incented to keep you there, and if the kitchen can't accommodate you, the server can always lie, if they think it won't really cause any harm. I am not saying that all waiters and chefs lie, because it isn't true. What I am saying is, if you don't want to accommodate requests, but you don't want a party to leave because one doesn't like carrots, lying is a damned good option compared to watching money walk out of the restaurant.

At the end of the day, a meal at a restaurant is a business arrangement. Customers provide money, restaurant provide dining experiences. If either side thinks it's not going to get what it wants, they should walk away. Restaurants make less money if they say no. You can even put something on the menu saying, "We do not honor substitutions. Do not ask."


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Keller And Ruhlman: Under Pressure

I went to see Michael Ruhlman and Thomas Keller converse about sous vide at the Astor Center. I think it was worth going to if you didn't know much about the subject. I have become far more literate on the subject than I had thought.

The space and facilities at Astor Center continue to make for the best venue to attend food related events in New York City. Ruhlman and Keller were fun to watch, even if Ruhlman did occaisionally sound like the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer from Saturday Night Live:

"Mr. Keller, you mean to tell me that you seal food in plastic bags and put them in hot water? Won't we die of botulism or PVC poisoning? Your modern cooking techniques frighten and confuse me. Which demons did you sell your soul to in order to remove all of the oxygen from that bag."

Yes, I know, this was a softball so that Keller could hit a home run on the safety answer for a crowd that probably does think like The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. It was still entertaining.

Usually I think of sous vide as a temperature precise poach utilizing vaccuum sealed product. Keller's definition of sous-vide was broader than that, and slightly more focused on 'things you can do with vacuum sealing':
  1. Storage. Everyone is familiar with this. Vacuum sealing is common in food that we buy in grocery stores.
  2. Compression. Utilizing professional vacuum sealers to break down food by putting it under even amounts of pressure. You cannot achieve this with food savers/seal-a-meals.
  3. Marination. Utilizing a vacuum sealed environment to increase the effectiveness and reduce the amount of time of marination.
  4. Cooking. The classic sous-vide definition (see above, or see this post).
Keller is not a fan of seal a meal or foodsaver. Not enough of a seal and can't handle liquid. He doesn't recommend them. Of course, he is Thomas-fucking-Keller.

Keller did say that he thinks sous vide for the home will be available in applianceform within 5 years. Which is something I totally agree with. Of course, he has the advantage of having spoken to Kenmore and Viking about the subject.

The book is beautiful, and I am sure I am going to learn a lot when I read the whole thing. At first glance, it isn't particularly useful for the home chef, even the ones forward thinking enough to own an immersion circulator or a PID controller like Auberins or Fresh Meals Solutions products.

Why? Because the book also makes heavy use of compression, a technique that requires a chamber vacuum sealer, which costs about $2000 and also takes up a fair amount of space. Which is kind of weird, because I am going to guess that about 10% of the audience has a shot of using this cook book. I doubt you are going to see Carol start a 'Carol Under Pressure' blog... Drats.

The fact that Keller and Ruhlman wrote this book makes one thing abundantly clear:

Sous vide cookery is simply an idea whose time has come.
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Liquid Nitrogen or "I'm Going To Go Thaw This In The Freezer"

I have vague memories of the first time I saw liquid nitrogen in use. I think I was in my junior high school auditorium and there was some speaker they brought in to try and get us excited about science. He was a typical science pitch-man. His lab coat partially concealing a plaid shirt and cheap slacks, thick glasses elevated by a sense of humor that came in two forms: the pun and the science joke. His routine, somewhere between David Copperfield and a birthday clown, climaxes when he attempts to bounce a rubber ball that was frozen in liquid nitrogen. You could hear the ball shatter like glass.

I didn't really think much about liquid nitrogen again. Puberty happened, and then I had to get a job. Having finally recovered from the realization that I will not be getting any taller and that I will likely have to work until I die, I found myself at the Astor Center, attending "Cold Cooking with Liquid Nitrogen" with Ideas In Food chefs Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot.

They are talented chefs, writers and photographers, but they are also pretty darned good presenters.

The Experience

It was a great class. They gave us booze, did some lecture, performed a bunch of demonstrations. Alex and Aki are crazy smart, but totally approachable. As a teaching duo, they were very much themselves, and didn't try to be teaching robots. For example:


INT. ASTOR CENTER - EVENING



AKI and ALEX are giving a cooking demonstration. ALEX is demonstrating the use of acetate sheets to create cylinders out of egg yolks that have been cooked via sous-vide and then mixed with rendered prosciutto fat.


ALEX

Now, before you apply the egg yolk to the sheet make sure you use spray on some PAM release.



ALEX looks around, not seeing any PAM release.


ALEX (CONT'D)

Do you have the PAM release?



Without even waiting for the answer, Alex wisely leaves the room in search of PAM release.


AKI

So. While Alex gets that, I am going to continue with another demonstration. First, I'm going to have to refill the styrofoam chest with LNO.



AKI moves towards the LN dewar, carrying the styrofoam chest. It is on a tall table, making it a little awkward to refill the chest.


AKI

Alex hates it when I do this.



AKI completes the refill and proceeds with the demo. Alex enters victoriously with the PAM release.


ALEX

Found it!



ALEX furrows his brow.



ALEX (CONT'D)


Did you refill the LN?




What Can We Do With It

What follows are what I can recreate from my notes:

First and foremost, LN can be both a technique and an ingredient. It brings extreme cold to the party. Which in and of itself is pretty nifty because we don't really think about cold as much as we think about the use of heat in cooking. What can we use it for:
  1. Ice cream. There are two incredibly related reasons to use LN to make ice cream. The first reason is speed. LN is fucking cold. So cold it burns. So cold, you don't have to wait long for it to freeze things. Instant ice cream. Quicker you make it, the sooner it is enjoyed. Also, you are reducing the amountsize of ice crystals that form. Ice crystals are not your friend, just ask this guy. Nitro-Freezing ice cream creates a better mouth-feel.

  2. Shards. When you LN freeze vegetables, they become brittle. You can shatter them, like the aforementioned ball. For example, here is a picture of some shards of beet: (Credit: Josh Smith)

    Shards of Beet

  3. Powders. Powder the unpowderable. Also, powder without the application of heat. Flavors will be raw. Instead of dehydrating then grinding ingredients, we can nitrofreeze then grind. Caramel powder. Raw Shrimp Powder (They added it to grits). I also have a note about powdering frozen spice blends, but I don't remember the value [Because it preserves volatile oils --Ed.] because of:

  4. Clouds. a.k.a. Frozen foams. For many of the fooderati, foams have jumped the shark. But do not fear the mighty foam. Freeze it instead. Aki and Alex made a mezcal cocktail with a yuzu cloud. My notes said: "frozen yuzu foam is ridiculous." (in a good way)

  5. Cryo-Blanching Vegetables. Nitrofreeze and thaw. They made nitro blanched beets and carrots with a green olive powder. The result is a texture between cooked and raw, with bright and clean flavors. 
Tips and Tricks
  • LN tells you when it's done. Drop something into LN and it makes noise, like a bizarro-world fry-o-later. When it stops, it's frozen. Or for another analogy, it's like microwave popcorn. Speaking of fry-o-later, someone in the class suggested making a basket that could withstand the LN instead of having to fish out the food.

  • Food Grade. General consensus from the class is that food grade LN is bunk, and that all LN is food grade.

  • Powders. Make powders in smaller batches or you will get an inconsistent grind.

  • Respect the LN. LN isn't all that different than hot oil. It can burn you. So can the stuff you prepare in it. Be especially careful if you are freezing alcohols.

  • Allergies may apply. If you freeze an allergen in an LNO bath, you might want to be careful about reusing the bath. Even if not using allergens, it's a good idea to strain regularly.

  • It ain't cheap. There is a startup cost that will make it unpalatable to the home chef. A 35L dewar can cost 800$. The nozzle can cost an additional 400$. Then to fill it can cost $2 a liter.

  • Store and operate in a well ventilated space. Don't die.
The title of this blog post is a paraphrased quote from Alex. It melted my head.
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Raw vs. Molecular Gastronomy

Yah, I know. Two things wrong with the title. First, most people who fall under the category MG, hate the phrase. Second, isn't it oxymoronic? I mean, Raw Veganism is hippie rabbit food. A diet already restricted by veganism compounded with the inability to heat anything past 104 °F (40 °C) to 115 °F (46 °C). Salads and juices, oh my!

Grant AchatzJuliano


Contrast that with the Modernists, Molecular Chefs, Molecular Gastronomers, what ever they want to be called often cook with ingredients whose usage was pioneered in the industrial food industry. Kitchens like laboratories. Ingredients like Hydrocolloids, Transglutaminase, Tapioca Maltodextrin, and Xanthan Gum.

And first glance these forms of cuisine seem to have nothing in common. New Age Hippies vs. the Avante Garde. Let's dig into some similarities:
  1. Creativity. I think creativity comes from two places: constriction or freedom. Modernism frees you. New textures, new techniques, new, new new. Raw constricts you. Trying to consistently prepare interesting meals when you can't use meat, dairy, and, oh I dunno... your fucking oven, is hard. That constriction led to a lot of innovation. I could go on all day about them, but what you should really do is pick up a copy of Charlie Trotter's and Roxanne Klein's Raw, and have your mind twisted.

  2. Polarizing. Both styles of cooking took a lot of heat for being different and bucking mainstream traditions. Don't get me wrong, I do think that Modernism will absolutely have a bigger impact on the culinary world than raw will. But, people definitely try to throw the baby out with the bathwater on both.

  3. Equipment. Pop quiz time: Is this following a raw or modernist kitchen:
    The kitchen at _______ is filled with high-tech gadgets like dehydrators, carefully calibrated warming ovens, frothers, high-speed Vita-Mix blenders, finely honed slicers and $3,000 Pacojet frozen-food churners. There's an industrial hydraulic juicer that presses fruits and vegetables without breaking the cell walls, as juicers usually do; the extracted juices never separate.
    Turns out it's a raw kitchen. Coming from a vegetarian perspective, I had the strangest sense of deja vous when I was researching MG for the first time. Champion juicers, Excalibur Dehydrators, and Vita-Prep Vita-Mix high speed blenders are likely to be found in both kitchens.

  4. Hydrocolloids. This one will melt your head. Raw foods desserts occasionally contain Chia Seeds (Ch-ch-ch-chia!) or utilize the natural pectin in blueberries to gel desserts. Modernists obviously use hydrocolloids like Gellan, Xanthan Gum, Methyl Cellulose and Pectin.

  5. Patents! It is pretty well-known that Homaro Cantu has filed a number of patents.
    One Of Moto's Patent Pending Courses

    While researching this blog post I found a raw foods patent that covers:
    A method of agglutinating a raw food selected from the group consisting of fruits, vegetables, sprouted grains, unsprouted grains, sweet syrups, honey, and vegetable powders, said method being carried out in a preparation area with a predetermined relative humidity, which method
    comprises...
Obviously there are plenty of differences. But those aren't important to me today.

Don't forget to vote.
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Cheap Skate (i8P)

I generally shy away from fish that is on sale at any fishmonger. The only reason I can think of for reducing the price of something is because you want to get rid of it. And there are only two reasons you are trying to get rid of something. You have more than you want of it or there is something wrong with it.

But, you know, I was at Whole Foods. I figured that whatever I was purchasing couldn't be that bad. So, with that rationalization trumping my better judgement, I purchased two pounds of skate. Skates are bottom dwelling Chondrichthyes, similar to Rays, like a Sting Ray, Manta Ray or Sugar Ray (Well, at least the bottom dwelling part). Which you don't really think of as delicious. But it can be.

My issue with Skate is that it is alway prepared the same way. Brown butter, capers and a squeeze of lemon. Awesome the first time, horrifically boring the umpteenth time. However, I had an idea in my head (ideas that I have in my pancreas I don't usually act on) that I had to try. I've been wanting to do it forever. And because I am a fucking asshole, I'm not going to tell you what it is.

Instead, we are going to talk about shark pee.

Sharks convert ammonia into urea via the ornithine cycle. That pretty similar to us. But, sharks don't have bladders or pee holes. Since urea is not as toxic as ammonia, they can store it in their blood. Then they excrete it through their flesh via osmosis.

That's great when they are alive. When they die, the urea in their blood starts to deteriorate back into ammonia. Consider it the Chondrichthyes' Revenge on humanity.

Sharks are in the same family as Skates. Yup, I ate pee. Not only that, I served pee-ridden skatemeat to my girlfriend.

A Skate Getting Its Last Laugh

How is this prevented


The Internet didn't give me any great answers. The likely theories are:
  1. Evisceration immediately after being caught
  2. Iced immediately after being caught
  3. Brined immediately after being caught

How is this fixed

Two options.
  1. Discard. Simple. Easy. This is probably the smart thing to do. There are other reasons why fish can smell like ammonia, none of them good reasons.

  2. Neutralize. Ammonia is a base. Combine with an acid and they will neutralize each other. Soak in an acidulated water. That means lemon or vinegar combined in water. 

What Did We Learn?

  • I ate pee.
  • You don't have to.
  • Don't Buy Fish On Sale.
For more useful information, Beyond Salmon has a post about Skate that includes a lot of good cooking tips.
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Thoughts On At The Table

Last night I watched Bourdain's At The Table, which, according to comments on his blog, didn't go over well with his fanbase. The format of the show is simple enough. Take five food and journalist industry veterans, plop them down at wd~50, and ask them a bunch of questions, round-table style. It could work. It really really could. It is like John Favreau's Dinner For Five, only with debaucherous restauranteurs, authors and tv stars. I truly believe there is value in this show. But first:

Why it didn't work

  1. Bourdain is not a natural facilitator. This is a surprisingly difficult task, and not everyone is suited for it. Let's face it, he is typically in a role where he is central to his books or tv shows. The hardest part about this job is stepping out of the way. In his defense, he may not have been able to do this because:

  2. Most of the guests didn't do their job. Guests on this type of show are obligated to be interesting. It was pretty obvious that most of the guests were unable to really open up. I am sure it was in part a combination of the questions asked, being in front of a bunch of cameras and self-censoring so as to maintain their reputations, but ultimately, you need to find a way to be interesting. Even if they were able to be more candid, the combined lives of all of these guests are going to be less interesting than:

  3. The Fucking Food. You had five unbelievable palates dining on some of the most interesting food in New York. I know this isn't actually a food show in the traditional sense, but this is one place where we actually needed more lip service. And while we are at it, why didn't you:

  4. Include More Wylie. This is a guy who actually has something very important to say about food. And we got half an answer out of him. Also, like it or not, the average viewer would want to hear more from the chef than from:

  5. Too Many New Yorkers. Don't get me wrong. 212 in the house. But I think the average viewer can nt even relate to some of the subjects. Especially around the difficulties of getting tables, or whether there are guilty pleasures in being a VIP in a restaurant.

Why We Need It

Ok, that is a lot of complaints. You probably think I hated the show. I didn't. In fact, I think this has the ability to be an Important television show for the culinary world. That's right, capital-I motherfuckers. It is incredibly difficult to find an intelligent conversation about food. Sustenance is Important. Cuisine as Art is Important. The Economics of Food is Important. There is a lot to say, and there are smart people who are saying it. A forum where I can listen, learn, and find inspiration would kick ass.

Good luck finding all that on the Internet (Sorry Internet, but you suck for intelligent conversation). It certainly isn t going to be on the Food Network (The demographic excludes it). PBS could do it (but no one would watch it).

This could work. Bourdain could do it. If he chooses not to, I hope someone else does.
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Old and Busted v. New Hotness: Sous Vide Cookery

Old Me** Old-Me has joined the chat room "SousVide:TheNewNotTooHotness"
mario_galaxy_reduced.jpg** Future-Me has joined the chat room "SousVide:TheNewNotTooHotness"
Old MeHey... look who it is... Me... again. So glad that in the future the only person I talk to is myself. What the heck is Sous Vide?
mario_galaxy_reduced.jpgNo time for shenanigans. You need to know this. Sous-vide, French for totally delicious, or possibly under vacuum. It is a cooking technique where food is vacuum sealed in plastic bags and "poached" in a temperature controlled water bath. Originally developed in the 70s as a way of reducing the loss of weight in foie gras during traditional cooking techniques, sous-vide has had widespread applications ranging from industrial food preparation to use in some of the most highly regarded restaurants in the world.There are several benefits for cooking with sous-vide: 

1. Consistency. Sous-vide takes a lot of the guesswork out of knowing when a food is done cooking. Imagine a world where everytime you cook a steak it comes out exactly the way you want it, with zero chance of overcooking it. That world you are imagining... it's where I live.

2. Control. An egg is not made out of egg molecules. It is made up of a number of different compounds, including more than one protein. Since different proteins will denature at different temperatures, a chef can use sous-vide to prepare an egg with a unique texture. And a small change in cooking temperature, say a degree or two, can produce drastically different results. Sound delicious?
Old MeNo... it sounds like future-me doesn't have a girlfriend either... How does it work?
mario_galaxy_reduced.jpgBy placing vacuum sealed food into temperature controlled water, one can bring up the internal temperature of food to the exact temperature of the water. The result will be an evenly cooked piece of whatever-it-is. By perfect, I mean, the edge of the product will be the exact same consistency as the center of it.
Old MeReally? Vaccuum sealing? You actually own a vaccuum sealer? What on Earth for?
mario_galaxy_reduced.jpgMainly, the absence of air speeds up heat transfer. Also, it prevents the bag from floating. Finally, I think it decreases the amount of moisture loss in the final product.
Old MeWell, wait, if the food is cooked when the internal temperature of the food reaches the temperature of the water bath, why do some recipes require 36+ hours?
mario_galaxy_reduced.jpgGood catch! Glad you are paying attention. So, the concept of doneness is about raising the internal temperature to a given temperature. However, there is more to cooking than temperature. There are temperatures, that when maintained for an extended period of time, will break down certain fats. For example, collagen, which is found in less desirable cuts such as brisket or short rib, will dissolve into gelatin when it is heated to 55-60F for an extended period of time. In general, collagen is tough and bad, and gelatin is unctuous and delicious.Just be careful about what you put in the bag. It is going to be tempting to use wine to add some extra yumminess.
Old MeWhy can't I put wine or other alcohols into the SV bag?
mario_galaxy_reduced.jpgThe reason you don't want to pour alcohol directly into a SV bag is that you will marinate your food in alcohol. The temperature isn't high enough to cook off the alcohol, and even if it could, there is no where for it to go. You can use alcohol marinades by cooking off the alcohol on the range and then cooling it down.
Old MeWait a second! Anaerobic environments at temperatures in the danger zone... this sounds like salmon in botulism sauce. How on earth is this safe?
mario_galaxy_reduced.jpgIt isn't. Thomas Keller has secretly been attempting to kill his patrons for years using this technique. The truth is, there have been close to zero cases of botulism or food poisoning due to sous vide. That being said, there are definitely precautions you should take. For home chefs, you should really just cook and serve. There are also charts available that help you determine how long you should leave a given protein in the water bath to make sure it is cooked to the appropriate temperature. Generally speaking, you use the type of protein combined with its thickness to determine how long you would cook something for.For cook and hold situations, you will have to do a lot more research.
Old MeHrm, what about recipes that say to cook something for X period of time at Y temperature. For example, Wylie DuFresne has a 15 minute egg @ 70-C.
mario_galaxy_reduced.jpgYah, so that is sorta cheating. What he is really doing is more like a traditional poach where the temperature of the water is higher than you ever expect the internal temperature of the egg will be. However, since the variables (the egg and the temperature of the water) are generally pretty consistent, the results will also be consistent.Finally, don't trust Wylie. When your back is turned, he will turn you into a powder and sprinkle you on top of a cube of molten lava tempura, which is neither molten, lava, tempura nor a cube.
Old MeSo, I've been googling while you have been answering these questions, and I found an article that contradicts you. Future-Me, explain yourself!
mario_galaxy_reduced.jpgI really hate that you use google to fact check yourself. But did these writer use the information superhighway to collect their information? Did they use the same bits of technology that brought you 2girls1cup to source their information? Of course, a lot of my information also comes from people who actively research this and also have a vested interest in NOT KILLING THEIR CUSTOMERS.
Old MeWhat's 2girls1cup?
mario_galaxy_reduced.jpg** Future-ME signed off.
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Miracle (Dis)Connect

**UPDATE:** They refunded my money and sent me tablets. While a frustrating experience, they did ultimately make me whole.

On June 3rd, Grub Street published a blog post entitled “Miracle Fruit Dealers Will Take You ‘Flavor Tripping’”. In it, they talk about the Miracle Fruit, a berry of West African origin that will temporarily invert your taste of sour for somewhere between 30 minutes - two hours. Obviously, that makes people like me excited.

They also mention a New York based company, Miracle Connect, that would deliver the berries to you within a week. That makes people like me incredibly excited. Buying temperature sufficiently raised, I purchased the berries through the website.

On June 20th, I still did not have my berries. I sent in a status request. Here was the reply:

Hey,

We’re getting more berries in two weeks! Sorry for the delay, we sold out after the Times and NY Mag stories.

Best,

NS

> Dear Miracle Connect:
>
> Can I get a quick status on my order? My receipt number is:
>
> ZZZZ-AAAA-YYYY-XXXX



I am a really patient man. Also a busy one. So I promptly forgot about it. Then today, on August 8th, I received the following e-mail:


Hi Miracle Connect Customer,
First and foremost, we’d like to apologize for the delay. The deluge of orders we received after Miracle Berries were written up in the New York Times far outstripped our capacity to provide them. (Our growers in Florida literally sold out of berries and now have waiting lists in excess of three months; buying more trees became impossible since they take years to mature.)

Rather than drag this out any longer, we’ve come up with a solution: we will send you (via mail) 10 Miracle Berry tablets for every 6 Miracle Fruits you ordered. The tablets work the same way, and last the same amount of time, with the added bonus that they don’t need to be preserved in the fridge. (They’re good for up to a month.) Each tablet is made from three actual Miracle Berries and, of course, makes things taste sweet.

If you’d like the tablets, just email MiracleConnect@gmail.com with your current address. (You may have changed your address, so this makes things easier.) If instead you’d like a refund, simply email us with REFUND in the
subject line. To those of you who have already gotten your berries, or gotten a refund, sorry for the email.

Again, sorry for the long delay and the inconvenience. But we’re excited to have a great solution.

Best,

MC


The offer of tablets in exchange for the fruit is really over-priced compared to what other internet-based miracle fruit. For example, my 6 berries (and now 10 tablets) cost 24$. A quick Internet search shows I can get the same delivered to me for 17$. Of course, it’s not about 7$. It’s about the principle… and… my berries. Taste-bud altering, magnificent berries.

Also, this e-mail was cc:d (not bcc:d) to about 216 other people. So, of course, an e-mail storm immediately erupted. Gems like:


You should have sent this email over a month ago. You might be backed up for 3 months, but it wouldn’t have taken you more than 20 minutes to tell us this. This was horrible customer service! I ordered my berries on June 6th, and out of 5 emails, this is the first reply Ive ever heard from you. I was actually able to pick up my berries from the Garden of Eden a week ago! And after the horrendous service and communication Ive received from your company, I refuse to patronize your company anymore. I definitely want my money back!


Or how about this:


For those that remain, I contacted Neel Shah of Miracle Connect a few days ago and informed him that I had contacted my Attorney General, and was preparing to call the NYPD. Despite having sent multiple emails over the last few months, I very suddenly received a refund via PayPal, and an email from Shah alluding to some unfortunate personal circumstances. Ok, shit happens. But still.

Anyway. If you do not receive a refund promptly, let me know and I’ll be able to provide all contact information for the gentlemen involved in Miracle Connect. Don’t bother with the Better Business Bureau or PayPal. Call your state Attorney General, and the NYPD. Both have divisions specifically designed to handle this.


More confirmation that they are over-charging:

I wasn’t going to reply to the whole list. But I let them know I wasn’t happy with their offer. I ordered 6 fruits and paid $45 dollars or so with shipping. They are offering me 10 tablets in return. I can buy 10 tablets for $11.99 + $3.00 shipping on a ton of websites.


And let’s not forget about:

I felt the same frustration and after e-mailing Neel multiple times and finally threatening to take legal action he told me his mother had passed away and I had the tablets hand-delivered to my apartment the next day. I haven’t tried them yet though, so who knows…


Which got this response:


His mother died?!? Oh please! Even if she did,then that is something that needed to be conveyed. When you run a business, you dont allow your personal matters to get in the way of serving the hundreds of customers that are waiting for your product. He was certainly not too busy with his “mother’s death” to cease granting interviews. I read so many new articles of people interviewing him about the berries and who he gets his berries from, etc. etc. When I had a family member die, I was out of work for 3 days. I even understand as much as a week. But you dont roll into a ball and then just dismiss your entire business. None of us take off two months from work when we have a tradgedy in the family!!! And in his delayed response, I lost any ability to recoupe my money through PayPal at all.(They only have a 45 day complaint window.) Thankfully I used my AmEx card and was able to file a dispute through them. Personally I dont believe his mother passed away at all… at least not over the last two months. My now very cynical belief is that that is just an excuse to cover for his delayed response.

And I apologize to those that are now receiving all these extra emails, but I agree with Andrew. Everyone should know that they were not the only ones who experienced such bad customer service.

People are obviously angry and rightfully so. I’d still like to believe this is incompetence and not malice. If he lied about his mother dying that’s pretty terrible too.


Either way:

REFUND.
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Miracle (Dis)Connect

**UPDATE:** They refunded my money and sent me tablets. While a frustrating experience, they did ultimately make me whole.

On June 3rd, Grub Street published a blog post entitled “Miracle Fruit Dealers Will Take You ‘Flavor Tripping’”. In it, they talk about the Miracle Fruit, a berry of West African origin that will temporarily invert your taste of sour for somewhere between 30 minutes - two hours. Obviously, that makes people like me excited.

They also mention a New York based company, Miracle Connect, that would deliver the berries to you within a week. That makes people like me incredibly excited. Buying temperature sufficiently raised, I purchased the berries through the website.

On June 20th, I still did not have my berries. I sent in a status request. Here was the reply:

Hey,

We’re getting more berries in two weeks! Sorry for the delay, we sold out after the Times and NY Mag stories.

Best,

NS

> Dear Miracle Connect:
>
> Can I get a quick status on my order? My receipt number is:
>
> ZZZZ-AAAA-YYYY-XXXX

I am a really patient man. Also a busy one. So I promptly forgot about it. Then today, on August 8th, I received the following e-mail:

Hi Miracle Connect Customer,
First and foremost, we’d like to apologize for the delay. The deluge of orders we received after Miracle Berries were written up in the New York Times far outstripped our capacity to provide them. (Our growers in Florida literally sold out of berries and now have waiting lists in excess of three months; buying more trees became impossible since they take years to mature.)

Rather than drag this out any longer, we’ve come up with a solution: we will send you (via mail) 10 Miracle Berry tablets for every 6 Miracle Fruits you ordered. The tablets work the same way, and last the same amount of time, with the added bonus that they don’t need to be preserved in the fridge. (They’re good for up to a month.) Each tablet is made from three actual Miracle Berries and, of course, makes things taste sweet.

If you’d like the tablets, just email MiracleConnect@gmail.com with your current address. (You may have changed your address, so this makes things easier.) If instead you’d like a refund, simply email us with REFUND in the
subject line. To those of you who have already gotten your berries, or gotten a refund, sorry for the email.

Again, sorry for the long delay and the inconvenience. But we’re excited to have a great solution.

Best,

MC


The offer of tablets in exchange for the fruit is really over-priced compared to what other internet-based miracle fruit. For example, my 6 berries (and now 10 tablets) cost 24$. A quick Internet search shows I can get the same delivered to me for 17$. Of course, it’s not about 7$. It’s about the principle… and… my berries. Taste-bud altering, magnificent berries.

Also, this e-mail was cc:d (not bcc:d) to about 216 other people. So, of course, an e-mail storm immediately erupted. Gems like:

You should have sent this email over a month ago. You might be backed up for 3 months, but it wouldn’t have taken you more than 20 minutes to tell us this. This was horrible customer service! I ordered my berries on June 6th, and out of 5 emails, this is the first reply Ive ever heard from you. I was actually able to pick up my berries from the Garden of Eden a week ago! And after the horrendous service and communication Ive received from your company, I refuse to patronize your company anymore. I definitely want my money back!
Or how about this:

For those that remain, I contacted Neel Shah of Miracle Connect a few days ago and informed him that I had contacted my Attorney General, and was preparing to call the NYPD. Despite having sent multiple emails over the last few months, I very suddenly received a refund via PayPal, and an email from Shah alluding to some unfortunate personal circumstances. Ok, shit happens. But still.

Anyway. If you do not receive a refund promptly, let me know and I’ll be able to provide all contact information for the gentlemen involved in Miracle Connect. Don’t bother with the Better Business Bureau or PayPal. Call your state Attorney General, and the NYPD. Both have divisions specifically designed to handle this.
More confirmation that they are over-charging:

I wasn’t going to reply to the whole list. But I let them know I wasn’t happy with their offer. I ordered 6 fruits and paid $45 dollars or so with shipping. They are offering me 10 tablets in return. I can buy 10 tablets for $11.99 + $3.00 shipping on a ton of websites.
And let’s not forget about:
I felt the same frustration and after e-mailing Neel multiple times and finally threatening to take legal action he told me his mother had passed away and I had the tablets hand-delivered to my apartment the next day. I haven’t tried them yet though, so who knows…
Which got this response:
His mother died?!? Oh please! Even if she did,then that is something that needed to be conveyed. When you run a business, you dont allow your personal matters to get in the way of serving the hundreds of customers that are waiting for your product. He was certainly not too busy with his “mother’s death” to cease granting interviews. I read so many new articles of people interviewing him about the berries and who he gets his berries from, etc. etc. When I had a family member die, I was out of work for 3 days. I even understand as much as a week. But you dont roll into a ball and then just dismiss your entire business. None of us take off two months from work when we have a tradgedy in the family!!! And in his delayed response, I lost any ability to recoupe my money through PayPal at all.(They only have a 45 day complaint window.) Thankfully I used my AmEx card and was able to file a dispute through them. Personally I dont believe his mother passed away at all… at least not over the last two months. My now very cynical belief is that that is just an excuse to cover for his delayed response.

And I apologize to those that are now receiving all these extra emails, but I agree with Andrew. Everyone should know that they were not the only ones who experienced such bad customer service.

People are obviously angry and rightfully so. I’d still like to believe this is incompetence and not malice. If he lied about his mother dying that’s pretty terrible too.

Either way:

REFUND.
Pin It