Molecular Cooking in Montreal
Molecular gastronomy doesn't necessarily mean a whole different cuisine. While there might not be a Ferran Adria, a Heston Blumenthal, a Grant Achatz or a Willie dufresne here in Montreal, ie. a chef or restaurant whose cuisine is entirely devoted to innovation, new techniques and surprising dishes for the sake of it, there are however many chefs who experiment, add a playful touch here and there, or who use a new technology for a desired effect without necessarily announcing it on their menu. Some chefs like to say sous-vide or foam or hydrocolloid on their menu, others decide to just let the melting texture of the chicken or that extra layer of flavour punch or the surprising presentation speak for themselves. Look in any of the top kitchens here (Bronte, Toqué, Laloux, others mentioned above) and they are dabbling somewhat, but few want to define themselves by it. I'm sure newbies will arrive on the scene and do it outright, but in the meantime if you want to blow your mind with edible utensils and meat glue and 'everything that is strange and new', then you have to go to New York or Chicago or something. Maybe we have too much tradition here, so we're slow in jumping on the bandwagon. In any case, it doesn't mean that there still isn't alot of it going on here under your nose. If a cook uses an induction element as apposed to a gas oven, or lightens his/her froth with lecithin instead of eggwhite or applies flavour in an untraditional way, he/she doesn't necessarily feel the need to alert the media. In my mind, that's when it's done best. Otherwise, I want to go to the temples for the full experience, as in chez the leaders mentioned above.. Then it's theatre, as apposed to dinner. So go there, or eat happily at any of Montreal's top restaurants and try to spot the molecular gastronomy.
We did an event at Apollo where he did a molecular cooking presentation. I am not sure if I buy everything Giovanni Apollo presented, but it was entertaining nonetheless. The meal served was very good, with exception of the main course.
The presentation included:
Flourless pasta, which was a tomato reduction with Agar agar used to gel the liquid.
Chlorophyll oil -
Lemon infused olive oil
The extraction of 'Pineapple Enzyme' to be used as a tenderizer.
And I can't remember the rest of them.
The meal started with a melon juice topped with a prosciutto foam
mousse de Foie gras
I forget the next couple courses,
a Veal tenderloin tenderized with the 'pineapple enzyme' topped with a gremolatta.
and the dessert was an absolutely fabulous porcini ice cream with a mushroom creme brule.
Believe it or not, the Porcini Ice cream was soo good I had dreams of bathing in it...
The veal was over cooked and dry, but the gremolatta was made with gritty parsley. When I told Giovanni Apollo about the grit, he told me that I was clearly mistaken, that the grit was crystalization formed in the veal by the pineapple enzyme... Small problem, The grit was there when I tried the gremolatta without any veal.
Aside from the grit, all was enjoyable.