Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Wanna Eat This Cigar

Doesn't it just look mouth watering?! Ok not really more like ewww who would eat that. First of all, I want to clarify I hate cigarettes and cigars aren't any different but this is completely edible and is made to look like a cigar (thank god or else people would have thought I was a complete wacko for wanting to eat tobacco). Just look at it doesn't the ashes look realistic or what. Chef Homaro Cantu revels in making food look like one thing but taste like another. Here is an example which is Cantu's interpretation of the traditional Cuban sandwich. It is made from pulled pork, pickled cucumber, onion, white bread, and a collard green wrap. Complete with edible paper band and "lit" (red bell pepper puree) and served "ashes" (toasted black and white sesame seeds) in an ash tray. Doesn't sound like the typical ingredients for a Cuban cigar now does it.

Chef Cantu owns Moto, situated in Chicago's Fulton Market neighborhood, one of the restaurants most linked with molecular gastronomy. What does molecular gastronomy even mean? Well I didn't know so had to google it. Here is the definition from the Wikipedia. "Molecular gastronomy is a scientific discipline that studies the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking. Molecular gastronomy seeks to investigate and explain the chemical reasons behind the transformation of ingredients, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in general." The only thing I got from reading all that was it has to do with science and that is definitely not my area of interest; however, food is.

Each night, Moto offers up a 10-course tasting menu for $115, or the 20-course GTM (Grand Tasting Menu) for $175. Pretty pricey but I think anything to do with science is expensive anyways. Question is will it be worth paying for.

Moto's signature item is edible photographs of food--flavored to taste like the real deal. With the aid of a modified Canon i560 inkjet printer, it prints flavoured images onto edible paper. The print cartridges are filled with food-based "inks", including juiced carrots, tomatoes and purple potatoes, and the paper tray contains sheets of soybean and potato starch. The printouts are coated with picture-matching flavoring by dipping them in a powder of dehydrated soy sauce, squash, sugar, vegetables or sour cream, and then they are frozen, baked or fried. Here is a picture of Moto's take on sushi even though it contains no actual fish and cotton candy flavored paper.

The philosophy of the restaurant is to push the boundaries of known taste, texture and technique and to change the way that people perceive and eat food. This is definitely on my list of "Restaurants to Try" if I ever travel to the windy city.

For now, the only molecular cuisine nearby for me to test out is Colborne Lane. But first let me save up for it because it definitely won't be light on my wallet.


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