Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tasting menu 102

Not a lot to talk about this week, things are pretty quit around here. I am just sitting back and watching the homemade kid driven space balloons fly over the hotel. The world is definitely coming to a end.

Garlic grilled New Zealand mussels
Fried dynamite, pickled vegetables, lemon grass air

Smoked Buffalo sausage
Guinness gelee, porcini, red wine glass

Sous-vide ½ lobster
Yuzu, caramel carrots, fried avocado

Smore spring roll with smoked sea salt ice cream
Served table side with liquid nitrogen

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What I have learned about liquid nitrogen

1. This stuff can really burn you. I have had 3 serious burns with this -320 liquid. The worst one happen about 3 months ago when I did a demo at whole foods with my wife. I filled my sorbet bowl with strawberry puree to accommodate all the people watching. I had to much product and not enough spoon. The nitrogen will freeze your nerve endings so quickly that you don't react to the pain like you would a heat burn. My thumb was in the liquid for over 10 seconds. My thumb blistered to about 3 times it's normal size and it was pretty jacked up for about 6 weeks. Nitrogen burns take twice as long to heal as a heat burn would. I would compare the pain to frostbite if you have ever had the pleasure of experiencing it
2. When filling your dewar you need to make sure that the container is cold. Liquid nitrogen is expensive and you loose a lot of it when you are filling a warm container. I will leave our 25 L dewar in the freezer overnight before I fill it the next day. We do this so it takes less nitrogen to bring the dewar to a temperature that will hold the nitrogen.
3. Don't trust anyone to handle it. Especially look out for drunk people and small children. It is the chefs responsibility to make the demonstration safe and lets face it kids don't know and drunk people don't care.
4.Make sure the liquid nitrogen is completely evaporated before giving it to someone. The space foam is a favorite technique here. The structure of the foam will allow small pockets of nitrogen to form. I have burned my tongue pretty bad because I did not wait long enough for the nitrogen to burn off. We also like to do marshmallows in LN for the kids. Kids have very sensitive tongues so it is important to make sure that it is safe
5. Where protective glasses, not protective gloves. My first thought was to wear latex but that was a very bad idea. I have also tried to wear welding gloves but I actually had some spill inside and they are not very sanitary. My advice is to get a very long spoon. The nitrogen will splash out of the bowl so it is important to wear glasses and make sure you are far enough away from the guest so you don't splash them
6. It is a great show. Remember table side when it was fun. Ceaser salad, banana foster, you just do not see it anymore. This gives us the opportunity to say hello to the guest and make them a unforgettable course at the same time. Again I will point out that it sucks making sorbet for drunk people, everything is a joke
7. This is not science fiction. This is the best way to make ice cream and sorbet. As a chef I am always looking for the best technique to make the best product. If I could throw a steak in the microwave and it would be the best steak I ever had I would repeat it again and again. Yea its a fucking microwave but it made the perfect steak. Yea it's nitrogen, a very cold mysterious liquid, but it makes the best product. I will take a tank of the cold stuff against your hand crank any day.
8. By a new dewar and not a used one. Even a small crack in the tank or the plastic top will allow the nitrogen to escape. A 4 liter dewar will loose it's contents in less then 2 hours.
9. Have fun, this is the most amazing medium that I have ever played around with. Next I am on to liquid helium and super flows

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tailgating with liquid nitrogen

I do a lot of charity work for http://www.projectpave.org/, a local organization that helps at risk youth. Joe Hubbard (pictured here on the right) asked Greg from the Broadmore(pictured on the left) and myself to cook a tailgating party to help raise some money. I can honestly say we had one of the best spreads ever in that parking lot. Roasted tenderloin, seared scallops, lamb chops, smoked sausages and liquid nitrogen ice cream were just a few of the items we put out.

Tatsing menu 101

Thank you to everyone who came in to help us celebrate number 100, the support for our tasting menu has been incredible over the past couple of years. The unbelievable part to me is not how many tasting menus we have done but more so where we are. If I can pull this off in Westminster Colorado, it can be done anywhere, it is all in the approach. My advice, make people comfortable with the food, they will be more open to trying news things. Simple is the best- not to many ingredients or flavors. Use the best tool to come up with the best product. Don't make it about a label, let the food speak for itself

House made pancetta
Green beans, compressed heirloom tomato, honey-dijon jel

Dashi broth
Chinese mushrooms, lump crab, sriracha caviar

Sous-vide duck breast in hoison and orange
Celery root puree, tempura grapes, foie wonton

Sweet potato and maple ice cream with streusel
Made tableside with liquid nitrogen