Appetites: Molecular gastronomy in the Twin Cities

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Spherification
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?

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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