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Molecular Gastronomy in Boston Area?

  • fr1p Dec 9, 2009 10:33 AM
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Fellow Hounds,

I'm interested to try some examples of molecular gastronomy here in the Boston area. I've tried some very interesting creations overseas, but never sampled any US experiments in the science.

Are there any restaurants or eateries in the Cambridge or Boston area that have good examples of dishes founded on the principles of molecular gastronomy? I would love to know.

-Fr1p

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  1. try the tasting menu at Clio...not as radical as say Alinea or Moto but it dabbles a toe in molecular waters, so to speak...

    1. I was at Tryst last night and had a starter of sweet pumpkin fritters.
      These were garnished with green apple foam and powdered brown butter.
      Quite molecular and very good.

      -----
      Tryst Restaurant
      282A Cabot St, Beverly, MA 01915

      1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/489318

        1. One new development since the discussion I included in that old post that ScubaSteve cites is a stronger if occasional use of molecular cooking at L'Espalier since it moved to its new home in the Mandarin Oriental a little over a year ago. I presume this is because they now have much bigger, better-equipped kitchen facilities than they ever had in the old townhouse.

          Chef McClelland shows off a few flourishes, but it's more evident in the desserts of pastry chef Jiho Kim, a really creative talent. He's doing things like vacuum-compressing fruit and using natural colloids (like agar agar) to solidify liquid ingredients like milk without cooking them. It's one of the few things that has gotten better and more interesting about the place since the move to that dull, flavorless new dining room with the sweatsuit-draped patrons.

          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            If you walk down the hallway behind the windowed L'E kitchen you can see both their chemical ingredients (lining the shelves) and how they use them. If you catch them at the right moment it's a good show.

          2. I've seen it more in desserts than in mains here in Boston. The pastry chef at Gargoyle's definitely dabbles, as does the aforementioned desserts at Clio and L'Espalier.

            There's nothing like an Alinea or WD-50 here, though.

            1. On a related (and belated) note, does anyone know where one might buy supplies to experiment with at home? I'm thinking of soy lecithin, sodium alginate, crap like that.

              I saw MC Slim point out that molecular gastronomy at its worst is gimmickry designed to cover up crap cooking skills, and I thought yes! Yes, that's exactly what I'd like to do! You're an inspiration, MC Slim.

              12 Replies
              1. re: AlCracka

                Le Sanctuaire has the highest quality - order online: You'll also need a gram scale. Avoid Willpowders - they aren't worth the price.

                http://www.le-sanctuaire.com/

                1. re: AlCracka

                  I dabble in molecular gastronomy at home (and haven't blown the house up yet), but I'm not sure where the supplies came from, as it was a gift. I'll try to find out--really interesting stuff, by the way. I made fruit caviar a little while ago. :-b

                  1. re: hiddenboston

                    lots of good resources on eGullet, which I can't look up at the moment.

                    also google "willpowder."

                  2. re: AlCracka

                    For products to use at home, check out http://www.tienda.com quite pricey though. For what it's worth, I buy from this sight on a regular basis (at least once a month)

                    1. re: AlCracka

                      I second Willpowder.

                      1. re: lipoff

                        oh, and if you know the names of the chemicals you're seeking, ebay can do you. Seriously. I got ultra-tex 3 and 8.

                        1. re: enhF94

                          Particularly cool tip, EnhF94. Thanks!

                      2. re: AlCracka

                        Thanks, fellas! I also found this "MG Starter Kit" from Thinkgeek; doubt I'll buy it, as I don't need many of the things included, but thought someone else might be interested.

                        http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/k...

                        We have two yays for Willpowder and one nay. Almansa, care to elaborate on "not worth the price"? Shall we don our Mexican wrestling masks?

                        My scale goes to the half gram; is that close enough, or am I gonna have to drop a ton more money on an upgrade? Ugh, stupid expensive geek hobbies.

                        1. re: AlCracka

                          I have to admit that in my memory, Willpowders were much more expensive by volume. I buy in bulk, but the ability to purchase a small amount is a definite benefit. If you want to be really safe for just starting out, Bob's Red Mill Xanthan gum from Whole Foods is a good starting point. And you can get soy lecithin there as well. You can also substitue fine dextrose for tapioca maltodextrin. But when it comes to algins and citrates, you'll prpbably have to go online.

                          1. re: almansa

                            What Almansa said. Wasn't sure about the expensive, but I vaguely remember this.

                            AC: You bet!

                          2. re: AlCracka

                            Just google the ingredients once you figure out what you want to know.

                            Thing is, some of the chemicals expire rather quick, ( i.e. meatglue/activa, to me the worst offender) and I found the techniques very time intensive and hard to integrate into normal cooking.

                            Only thing that stuck so far is basil caviar in asian beef and tuna tatar to retain the smooth texture all the way through .

                            I would give the thinkgeek thing a shot to be honest if you just want to play. There is also a similar package available under Adrias Textura Line, check amazon.

                          3. re: AlCracka

                            "I saw MC Slim point out that molecular gastronomy at its worst is gimmickry designed to cover up crap cooking skills, and I thought yes! Yes, that's exactly what I'd like to do! You're an inspiration, MC Slim."

                            This made me laugh out loud at work - well done, sir.

                          4. The people behind the Ideas in Food website have been teaching some molecular gastronomy classes at Craigie on Main. Check out their website - it's a great read. I went to one of their joint dinners with the gentleman behind StudioKitchen (based here in Philly) and enjoyed it immensely.

                            http://ideasinfood.typepad.com/

                            -----
                            Craigie on Main
                            853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: malkazanie

                              Oh hey, that's really cool. Thanks for the link.