Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Modern Cafe - The Missing Photos, Part 1

As it happens with many cook books, often there are not the same amount of photos as there are actual items in the book. For this reason I decided to personally photograph all of the items that did not make it to the book but that there are actual recipes for in it, as a way to give those who actually consult the book a broader experience (or more bang for their buck if you will). So the next 5 to 6 postings will all be cakes (or entremets if you want to get fancy) that did not get photographed for the book.

The cake below is the "Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Ganache and Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Tiles".

Friday, January 22, 2010

The "toys" at Alicia - final posting on Spain... for now

I have been trying to upload the videos below through "Blogger" but there must be some glitch on their end because it has been impossible to do it, so I gave up and they are now on YouTube (links are below) and you can also see them on my facebook page (link is to the right of this column).
The following videos are just a sample of the equipment they have available at Alicia to play with. I have only seen them in photos and have always wanted to use them. The one machine I had not seen or heard of is the oil spherifier they are currently perfecting with a Swiss manufacturer. It basically is a precision machine, were one tube carries the olive oil and the other the sodium alginate; it has to be able to trap a droplet of oil with the sodium alginate before it drops it into a calcium chloride bath; easier said than done. See the results below:

What truly surprised me is that they have been using it al El Bulli for the last two seasons and I had not heard of it at all. Not that I know everything, but still...

This other video is the Rotaval and the Gastrovac (both of which you can get the specs for here: ); the rotaval is a cooking specific distiller; in this case, you will never guess what is being distilled... watch the video:

It was dirt. Dirt from the grounds around Alicia. We tasted it, and it tasted exactly like dirt. Was it good? No, not by any extent of the imagination. But the possibilities are endless (Albert Adria makes a leather ice cream). Currently it will set you back around 10k, but they are working on a more inexpensive model. The other machine in the video is the Gastrovac... I still have no idea how it works, but I want one.

Last but not least, I was taken aback that Albert Adria is not at el Bulli anymore. Did anyone know this? He has his hand on the online business ( and he owns a terrific tapas bar (which I visited and was very good: Inopia). Wonder if his second in command is now in full command?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Enric Rovira - Chocolatero / Barcelona

Enric Rovira must have special chocolate super-powers. Go to his website to see what I mean: ; his chocolate showpieces are unlike anything I have ever seen. In fact, they are probably the best I have ever seen. It completely detaches itself from the norm of chocolate showpieces which I have grown to not like so much.
I was able to visit his shop in Barcelona. Here are the images.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Perfect pastry cream recipe

One of the most admirable things that Alicia does is that all of their information and research (and therefore recipes) are available for all to see on their website. Since the recent posting on Perfect Pastry Cream has been hands down the most viewed and commented on posting since the inception of this blog, I thought I would share with you the actual recipe (see the original post here: ; the recipe is slightly tweaked... I am neurotic about being extremely explicit in recipes, and I feel that this one covers all of the information you may need). Please use this recipe and share it. Make sure that you always remember where it came from.
Please follow this link to the recipe:

This recipe is the smallest quantity you can make for the method to work.
Once you pour the boiling milk with the sugar into the bowl with the smaller amount of milk, yolks and cornstarch, it won't thicken on contact! It will take a few seconds of stirring before you see the magic unravel before your eyes.
I included a column with percentages for each amount so that you can make the recipe in the quantities that suit you.

You're welcome.