Harvard SEAS lecture, 9/10/2012, with Joan Roca, Jordi Roca, and Salvador Brugues

You’ll be so proud of me… I have pictures from the lecture for the first time ever!


(Jordi Roca on the left; Joan Roca on the right; demonstration for sous-vide sole)

I didn’t see Joan Roca last year because I saw him during the Year 1 lecture.  This year, Joan brought his younger brother with him.  I couldn’t resist going since Jordi is the pastry/dessert chef at El Celler de Can Roca (the restaurant that the two brothers own with their third brother).

Opening remarks were from David, and the theme of the week was “Energy, Temperature, Heat”.  In the opening remarks, David demonstrated the effectiveness of whisky rocks… which is to say that he took rocks from Harvard Yard, stuck them in a freezer, and then dumped them into water with a thermometer. The water never got below 17C.  Then, he demonstrated the cooling effectiveness of ice in liquid.  Yes, ice melts and dilutes your liquid, but the this phase change is what makes ice so effective in cooling your liquid.  Measured temperatures were about -2C.

Long story short – whisky rocks don’t work that well.

Anyway, on to the Roca brothers, Joan started off the demonstrations with some videos of appetizers (the around the world tapas dish, the caramel olives, Roman style calamari, and fake truffles) typically made at the restaurant.  The videos were followed up with a demonstration of sole meunière by Joan and explained by Salvador Brugues.  Salvador did the brunt of sous-vide explanation, emphasizing that food cook at less than 65C cannot be stored and must be served immediately, while food cooked above 65C can be store and reheated for later use.  Joan’s sole meunière was cooked at 55C, browned in a pan, and then plated with caper puree, fish skin, lemon rind, browned butter, and a sauce made from fish bones.

Joan’s second dish was an example of meat cooked at both 65C and 55C.  A piece of lamb flank was cooked in a water bath at 65C for 24 hours.  A piece of lamb loin (which is the most tender part) was cooked in a water bath with a stick of licorice at 55C for about 20 min.   They were plated together with some roasted eggplant.

The third live demonstration came from Jordi, and it was also our tasting item of the night – cocoa sorbet.  Jordi pre-made a concentrated solution of cocoa flavor using the rotary evaporator.  To his cocoa base, he cooled it quickly with liquid nitrogen, all the while stirring.  The final product was a delicate white ice was lots of cocoa flavor.  It was interesting to eat.  The texture is cleaner than traditional sorbet or ice cream, and the flavor is more floral than I expected.  But it was interesting, and who can resist playing with liquid nitrogen?  Certainly not the chefs who come to the SEAS lectures!

(Salvador on the left; Jordi in the middle with the liquid nitrogen; Joan on the right)

Next week is Bill Yosses, the White House pastry chef, but I’ll be missing out on that lecture.  However, I plan to attend the lecture after that with Enric Rovira who makes his return to Harvard.

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