Appetites: Molecular gastronomy in the Twin Cities

This Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 photo shows flavor spheres created by Modernist Pantry co-owners Christopher Anderson and Janie Wang using their spherification products, at home in Eliot, ME.
Cheryl Senter/AP, file

Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine's Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl joined MPR News' Tom Crann to offer a quick guide to molecular gastronomy in the Twin Cities.

What is molecular gastronomy?

Molecular gastronomy has been bubbling through the world's most ambitious kitchens over the last twenty years. It's a way of cooking which uses very avant-garde techniques, extreme low or high temperatures, novel chemical ingredients, ways of making food that look and seem very new.

Who's doing this locally?

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Borough, Coup d'Etat, and Piccolo (all in Minneapolis) use these techniques regularly. Also, most high-end restaurants now use a technique called "sous vide," which involves vacuum-sealing food in a plastic bag and cooking it in a water bath.

The newly reopened Travail in Robbinsdale brings an element of tableside performance to their molecular gastronomy routines. They'll use the anti-griddle, a flat surface super-cooled to temperatures below zero, to freeze a vinaigrette and then place that on a piece of grilled meat in front of you, which then magically turns into a sauce in front of your eyes.

What kinds of chemicals are used?

A couple used are carrageenan, which is a seaweed extract used as a thickening agent, and sodium alginate, another seaweed extract used in a technique called spherification.

For more on molecular gastronomy, listen to the interview above.

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