2018 in review

I have a lot of thoughts about 2018, but since this is a food blog, I’ll keep it to food related things only.

Here are my highlights:

1. Eating bugs with the Nordic Food Lab!


2.  Curry biscuit sandwich.  I’m still trying to figure out the right recipe for home re-creation.


3.  Ok, this one isn’t food related but it was definitely a highlight – a workshop with Dr. Jacob Harden.


4.  This Bon Appétit salad recipe:


5.  Finally making Kenji Lopez Alt’s vegan ramen recipe.


6.  Meeting Yvette Van Boven.


7.  And Kakawa Chocolate House finally opened their MA location in Salem.


What were your favorite food memories of 2018?

Acid Trip with Gabriel and Michael (crosspost)

Acid Trip author Michael Harlan Turkell and La Bodega chef Gabriel Bremer recently visited Harvard SEAS for an off-season lecture.

I was really hoping we’d get a chance to sample some Japanese sweet potato vinegar, but alas!  It was not meant to be.  The bottle meant for the public lecture broke in transit.

On the bright side, I was introduced to and got to sample Gegenbauer vinegar.  Gosh!  That was pretty good.  It’s meant to be a drinking vinegar/finishing vinegar.  I had a lot of trouble tasting the apple cider vinegar sample.  The agrodolce vinegar sample (I forget the brand) fell somewhere in between in terms of flavor and sharpness.

But we did get a couple of Gabriel’s recipes and a cooking demo.

The suggestions given for experimenting with vinegars was to 1) reduce the amount of salt and add vinegar, and 2) experiment with a favorite recipe and see what happens when you add vinegar.

No lie, I’m a little inspired to try cooking beef tongue.


Havard SEAS lecture, 11/7/16, Sister Noella/Ben Wolfe/Mateo Kehler

More specifically:
“Delicious Decomposition: Tales from the Cheese Caves of France”
Sister Noella Marcellino, Ph.D., Abbey of Regina Laudis, artisanal cheesemaker and microbiologist who studied the biodiversity of cheese-ripening fungi in France; featured in Netflix documentary series “Cooked,” based on Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation”
Mateo Kehler, co-founder and manager of Jaseper Hill Farm and Caves, Greensboro, Vt.

Or in the words of Sister Noella, the presentation could be renamed to “cavemen I have known and loved.”

I’m not going to go into super detail.  It was just a fun lecture.  I wanted to attend because I remembered her from Pollan’s Cooked.  I got there early (doors opened at 6pm even though the lecture didn’t start until 7pm), and took my old spot in the audience.

We got cheese samples!

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Cheese sampler

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Sister Noella’s presentation was really informative, but I think Mateo’s and Ben’s presentations were a bit more of interest to me.  She mostly talked about how the Bethlehem cheese came to be, certain microbes (like the geotrichum candidum, which I think smells a bit like daikon), and how she won a Fullbright scholarship that allowed her to study cheesemaking in France.

Mateo’s presentation was almost half-advert, but was really about the structure of Jasper Hill Farms as it relates to cheesemaking.

He also made a comment about grass-fed cheeses.  Basically a cheese made from the milk of cows with a 100% grass-fed diet doesn’t taste all that great.  He said that dairy production requires a lot of energy, and lactating cows need to be fed a little bit of grain.  (Grains provide more energy than just grass.)  If I recall correctly, he also mentioned that the Jasper Hill cows are fed dry hay, which promotes good microbes and none of the bad ones like lysteria.

Anyway, Jasper HIll has prospered enough and worked with scientists often enough that they’ve actually built their own lab on the property to study their cheese microbes.

Toward the end, there was a surprise mini-presentation with everyone’s favorite microbiologist, Ben Wolfe, Tufts University.  Ben quickly chatted about DNA sequencing and patterns of microbes.

And that was the lecture.

The end.

Or not, because let’s go back to that cheese sampler!

Seven cheeses were listed on the sponsor thank you slide, but the audience only got five cheese samples per plate.  The very top cheese in the photo (at 12 o’clock) is the Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam.  I definitely liked this one.  It was like brie, but creamier and maybe saltier.  I found the overall flavor to be clean and fresh.

The cheese to the bottom right of the Mt Tam is probably the Bethlehem cheese.  Maybe, probably.  I thought it had some citrus overtones to it.  Overall texture was dry and brittle.  Flavor was mild.  I liked it enough.

The bottom right cheese (at 5 o’clock), I’m fairly confident, is the Kaltbach Gruyere.  It was hands down my favorite.  I liked the scent and the flavor of it better than all the others.  It was strong but nothing offensive.

We only had one blue cheese, and that was the Jasper Hill Bailey Hazen Blue.  I really thought I was going to hate this as I normally find blue cheeses to be too stinky and too boldly flavored for me.  Not this one.  Having said that, it was still my least favorite on the plate.  It reminded me of a stack of papers.  Probably old papers.  But it was very salty and metallic tasting on my tongue.  So, metallic old papers?

The last sample on the top left is probably the Jasper Hill Winnimere cheese.  My first impression of it was that it was sharp in scent and flavor.  It also smelled salty.  The texture was soft, but not as soft as the Mt Tam.  The flavor of the Winnimere reminded me of beer.  It’s a good cheese, but not one of my favorites.

So yeah.  I want to stock my fridge with Mt Tam and Kaltbach Gruyere right now!  (^_^)

Science and Cooking 2013, Harvard University

Here’s the schedule for this year’s Science and Cooking lectures at the School for Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Monday, September 9, 2013

“Science and Cooking”

Dave Arnold, Cooking Issues
Harold McGee, Curious Cook

Monday, September 16, 2013

“Sous vide: savory and pastry applications”

Jordi Roca, El Celler de Can Roca

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

“Elasticity: Dessert = Flavor + Texture”

Bill Yosses, White House Pastry Chef

Monday, September 30, 2013

Diffusion & Spherification”

José Andrés, ThinkFood Group, minibar, Jaleo

Monday, October 7, 2013

“Playing with Taste through Browning”

Carme Ruscadella, Sant Pau, Sant Pau de Tòquio

Monday, October 14, 2013

“Viscosity & Polymers”

Carles Tejedor, Via Veneto

Monday, October 21, 2013


Enric Rovira, Master Chocolatier
Ruben Alvarez, Master Chocolatier

Monday, October 28, 2013

“Emulsions: Concepts of Stabilizing Oil & Water”

Nandu Jubany, Can Jubany

Monday, November 4, 2013

“The Science of Sweets”

Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery

Monday, November 11, 2013

“Catalytic Conversion: Enzymes in the Kithcen”

Wylie Dufresne, wd~50
Ted Russin, The Culinary Institute of America

November 18, 2013

“Fermentation: When Rotten Goes Right”

David Chang, momofuku

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO; co-founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures; and author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking

Monday, December 2, 2013

“Evolution culinary theory”

Ferran Adrià, elBulli Foundation

**Tickets will be available on Tuesday, November 26th at the Harvard Box Office, located in the Holyoke Center**

Monday, December 9, 2013

“The Accidental Chemist”

America’s Test Kitchen

Jack Bishop, Editorial Director at Cook’s Illustrated and an Editor on The Science of Good Cooking
Dan Souza, Senior Editor of Cook’s Illustrated

The bad news?  I’m not sure if I’ll make it to many, if any, of the lectures.  I’m taking a continuing education class that meets on the same night.  We’ll see.

Momofuku’s pork bushi aka butabushi

Did you know that David Chang and the Momufuku gang had published a science article on their pork bushi? Yeah, I hadn’t either.

But I found it while researching homemade miso (I’m giving serious consideration to making my own peanut miso).

Here’s the link to the article. It has the outline/recipe, more or less, on how its done.

Harvard SEAS lecture, 11/12/12, Jack Bishop and Dan Souza

Tonight, Jack Bishop and Dan Souza came to visit Harvard from America’s Test Kitchen. The general topic was the “Science of Good Cooking” (which is also the title of their latest cookbook).

Jack started off talking about the pitfalls of home cooking. Just looking at the recipe for Toll House chocolate chip cookies, there are 40 different variables that will determine your results. Variables like the amount of protein in the flour, the brand of vanilla, the oven rack position, and what tool you use to cream butter and sugar. The variables can be categorized as 1) ingredient variables, 2) equipment variables, and 3) technique variables.

Continue reading

Harvard SEAS lecture 10/15/12, José Andrés

The night started off with chocolate samples as we walked through the door!  They were spiced and crunchy, perhaps there was puffed rice in them?  I suspect that the chocolates were a gift from Taza chocolate, one of the SEAS cooking lecture sponsors.  Not a bad way to start, yeah?

The students in the class are busy with their mid-term (which is like a mini booklet – Professor Brenner even showed us the table of contents for the mid-term which is so crazy to me… none of my science mid-terms had a table of contents, back in the day).  So, tonight’s lecture didn’t exactly have a topic.  Basically, José Andrés was allowed to talk about whatever he wanted.  And for fun, Prof. Brenner tried to explain how difficult it is to cook the perfect steak with a super-simplistic video he made.

José patiently waited.  On the bright side, Prof. Brenner is usually short and to the point, so he was done in less than 15 minutes.

During the lecture, the videos José showed us were of:

  1. Spanish clementines with caramelized pumpkin seeds
  2. almond cups with blue cheese
  3. Chihuly garden salad
  4. and a video of the new Minibar that will be opening. Continue reading

Harvard SEAS lecture, 10/8/12, Raul Balam Ruscalleda and Jordi

This entry is going to be on the short side because the lecture ended a little later than usual, which meant that I got home later than usual.

Tonight’s lecture was Heat Transfer (for the science portion), and The Science of Paella! Only it kind of wasn’t. haha. Paella would take too long to demonstrate in a lecture so Raul Balam Ruscalleda (son of Carme Ruscalleda) of the restaurant Moments and his service manager Jordi gave us a run through of “soupy rice with lobster.” If we were in Barcelona, it would have been soupy rice with prawns. But we’re in New England, so you gotta make like the locals… especially since the Ruscalleda motto is to use local ingredients.

Continue reading

Things to ponder

:: I saw this on the Bon Appetit site: a cocktail infused with smoky flavor by soaking natural hardwood lump charcoal in the booze over several days.
I wonder if  smoky bourbon would work as a substitute for liquid smoke.

:: The SEAS Science and Cooking lecture schedule has been released for Fall 2012!
This year Joanne Chang of Flour and Jack Bishop of America’s Test Kitchen have been added to the calendar. I won’t lie though – I think it’s Dave Arnold I want to see most. I hope they do a cocktail lecture again. I missed last year’s.

Harvard SEAS lecture 12/4/11 – Ferran Adrià

I don’t have a ton of things to say about the lecture.  So, here’s a quick summary:

  • Translator? José Andrés .
  • Other guests spotted in the audience? Carles Tejedor, David Chang, Najat Kaanache, Harold McGee, and I think Pere Planagumà.
  • José Andrés is the most awesome Spanish translator. Even though he’s translating for his good friend, he can’t stop himself from putting his own spin on the dialogue. Early on, Ferran caught him for adding his own words to the translation, and Jose’s reaction was “I’m going to be fired.”
  • The lecture was about El Bulli as a restaurant, and the reinvention of El Bulli as a foundation. I think he said that the new building will start construction in 2014. There will be research materials, and it sounded like the 1,845 recipes in the El Bulli archives will be made available. At the moment, the foundation will be in three buildings. The research library, the meeting/conference/presentation room, and the kitchen. All the buildings will be environmentally friendly.
  • We saw videos of 1) making a hollow coconut milk ball with the aid of a balloon and some liquid nitrogen, 2) spaghetti where the it’s made from cheese instead of wheat, 3) spun threads of caramel, and 4) pressed flowers in not paper but cotton candy paper.
  • Ferran spent some time talking about the book “Natura” by Albert Adrià. It’s a book on desserts, but the food presentation is very organic and inspired by nature.

And that’s it! The semester of lectures is over.  (^_^)