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    Published on April 3rd, 2012 | by Greg

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    Science Kits For Gastronomers And Mixologists: Molecule-R

    One of the most in­ter­est­ing books that we’ve seen, that some­how is still avoid­ing a place on our shelves, is Mod­ernist Cui­sine: The Art and Sci­ence of Cook­ing. It’s large­ly the price tag that has kept us away, de­spite the re­flex­ive sali­va­tion that oc­curs any­time we’re near a copy. The pho­tog­ra­phy is as­tound­ing, and though you might not be able to make many of the items with­out some spe­cial­ty equip­ment or in­gre­di­ents, it’s still a lot of fun to think about.

    That’s where Molecule-R’s new kits come in handy. We saw them at a show ear­li­er this year, and have been ex­cit­ed to try out their prod­ucts. Clev­er­ly pack­aged, they make in­cred­i­bly gifts for any adult who is grow­ing bored of the same old recipes and prod­ucts, and will en­cour­age ex­per­i­men­ta­tion among even the most ac­com­plished bar­tender.

    The Cui­sine R-evo­lu­tion kit in­cludes a help­ful DVD that in­cludes around 50 recipes, a few uten­sils (pipettes, a slot­ted spoon, three sil­i­cone tubes, some mea­sur­ing spoons, and a sy­ringe), and fifty pack­ets of ad­di­tives. You’ll get ten each of agar agar, which is sim­i­lar to gela­tine for geli­fi­ca­tion, cal­ci­um lac­tate and sodi­um al­gi­nate (for spher­i­fi­ca­tion), xan­than gum which serves as a thick­en­er, and soy lecithin for emul­si­fy­ing (cre­at­ing foams). Of course, most of these items aren’t found in your ba­sic kitchen cab­i­net, so are handy- and are pret­ty flex­i­ble as well. We tried a few at­tempts- geli­fi­ca­tion is easy, since you can take dif­fer­ent liq­uids and play around. But foams were com­plex, and re­quired an im­mer­sion blender, pa­tience, and a lit­tle prac­tice. Spher­i­fi­ca­tion was tough- cre­at­ing those nifty dumplings of, say, de­con­struct­ed olives, takes some re­al work and prep time, since you’re es­sen­tial­ly run­ning a tiny chem­i­cal lab and have to pay at­ten­tion to pro­por­tions, tim­ing, and very care­ful­ly han­dle the end prod­uct lest it ‘pop’. Fun, to be sure- though our re­sults don’t have us anx­ious to start a Fat Duck com­peti­tor any time soon.

    But it isn’t just food­ies who can ap­pre­ci­ate mod­ernist cui­sine- you, too, can cre­ate crazy cock­tails! We’re not talk­ing about bit­ters (though they did gel well, and work great in com­bi­na­tion). The Cock­tail R-evo­lu­tion kit in­cludes four of the same in­gre­di­ents- but swaps out agar agar for cold sol­u­ble gelatin in­stead, which is more flex­i­ble for use with chilly bev­er­ages. The DVD on­ly in­cludes 30 recipes, but are re­al­ly easy to mod­i­fy of course, and that’s a good part of the fun. Spheres and foams are… much less com­mon on drinks that in cui­sine in our ex­pe­ri­ence, and made us a bit nos­tal­gic for Or­b­itz. Our re­sults here were de­cid­ed­ly more mixed (pun in­tend­ed), per­haps be­cause these were more about ap­pear­ance and less about fla­vors- the tex­tures were of­ten an­noy­ing to our sip­pers, and we could rarely achieve the bright col­ors that are called for (per­haps some food col­or­ing would help).

    At $60 for each kit, they are per­fect­ly priced to be a sol­id birth­day or even wed­ding gift. We wished for an iPad app to help us, since we do en­joy us­ing the tablet in the kitchen. Al­so, don’t for­get dessert: we en­joyed one of the ex­tras that is avail­able for pur­chase- pop­ping sug­ar, car­bon­at­ed light brown crys­tals that are kind of like Pop Rocks with­out the fla­vor. Add to ice creams, dessert sauces, or on cakes for an ex­tra pizazz- it was a def­i­nite hit, and is avail­able for just un­der $30 (though you get more than a pound; small­er quan­ti­ties would be nice and def­i­nite­ly suf­fi­cient).

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    About the Author

    Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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