Archive for the ‘websites’ Category

Nordic food lab

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Tables set and decorated for the best lunch at a scientific conference ever!

I mentioned in my blog post on “The Emerging Science of Gastrophysics” symposium held at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters in Copenhagen that we were treated with what was for me the best conference lunch ever. Later on the same day we even had a chance to visit the Nordic food lab, located on a house boat anchored up in Christianshavn, right next to restaurant noma. Here are some pictures and impressions from the lunch and the following visit to the Nordic food lab. (more…)

Recreational kitchen mathematics: Cookie tessellations

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Is there a way to avoid all that extra dough in between the cookies? (Photo: Christmas Tree Cookie Cutter from Bigstock)

It should come as no surprise that food, chemistry and mathematics meet in baking. For once I will leave the chemistry aside for a while and turn to the mathematical aspects of baking. More precisely I will delve into geometrical problems encountered in baking. When cutting cookies from a rolled out dough or placing cookies on a sheet for baking you actually attempt to solve a mathematical problem known as a packing problem. The purpose is to maximize the distance between the cookies and maximize the size of the cookies, paying attention that the cookies should not touch. Many will perhaps start with a square packing (see below), but soon figure out that a hexagonal packing will fit even more cookies onto the rolled out dough or onto the baking sheet (especially when the dough/sheet is large compared to the cookies). The optimum way of placing 2-17 circles in a square are shown below (and the solution for up to 10.000 circles is also available).

My challenge for you however is a different one as I’m interested in eliminating the leftover dough when cutting cookies. To achieve this the cookies cannot be circular. Using a square cookie cutter (or simply a knife) would be the easiest way to leave no gaps, but how cool are square cookies? What I’m really looking for are cookie tessallations which are aesthetically pleasing, and at the same time transferable to a baking sheet. Oh yeah: a tessallation “is the process of creating a two-dimensional plane using the repetition of a geometric shape with no overlaps and no gap” according to Wikipedia. So – no gaps – no leftover cookie dough! (more…)

Cooking science – condensed matter

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

The book Cooking science – Condensed matter by Adria Vicenc came out last year, but only recently did it appear on my radar. This 75 page preview suggests that it is part coffee table book and part documentation of modern Catalan cuisine combined with short essays on various topics such as food preservation and synaesthetic cooking. Add to that a dash of technology and large photos and descriptions of a sous vide water bath, a rotary evaporator, a freeze drier etc. It’s kind of like a light version of Modernist Cuisine. In his introduction Ferran Adria states that: (more…)

Book review: Ideas in food – Great recipes and why they work

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Readers well aquianted with the food blogosphere will likely be familiar with Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot’s blog Ideas in food. Since December 2004 they have generously shared pictures, ideas, insights and inspirations online. As chefs they have eagerly integrated modernist techniques and elements in their cooking, allowing technology to improve their cooking whenever possible. No wonder I’ve been a long time follower of their blog! And needless to say I was also exicted to receive a review copy of their recent book Ideas in food: Great recipes and why they work.

First and foremost the book is a great collection of ideas explored by the authors. The ideas are exemplified through recipes (about 100 in total) which showcase the creativity of the authors, from the simple (more…)

French book on flavor pairing of food and wine

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009


The Canadian sommerlier François Chartier (he has an extensive website featuring several blogs, including a section named Sommellerie moléculaire) is out with a new book on food and wine pairing. It’s not just another (superfluous) book on the subject. As the title Papilles et molécules (= Tastebuds and Molecules, unfortunately not available in English) suggests there is some science involved. It turns out in fact that he has applied the principles of flavor pairing to food and wine. With help from Richard Béliveau from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Martin Loignon from PerkinElmer he has analyzed wines and food and comes up with the following suggestions for lamb, as described in the article “Chemistry-set wine pairing”:

Achatz is blogging

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009


I just discovered that The Atlantic features a blog by Grant Achatz of Alinea. Under the title “Back of the house” we get a peek “Inside the restlessly creative mind and kitchen of Grant Achatz” according to The Atlantic. Grant has so far reported from the Madrid Fusion in January (four posts) and in the latest post he describes how a visit to Japan has inspired him to explore manipulation of the environment at Alinea. Comments are allowed and Grant is actively involved in the discussions. Recommended reading!

International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

The International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science (IJGFS) is planned for launch this year. Elsevir is mentioned as a publisher, but there is currently no further information on the Elsevir website. The journal is initiated by AZTI-tecnalia, a Spanish technology center specializing in marine and food research, in collaboration with ALICIA, a Catalan research centre focusing on technological innovation in kitchen science and the dissemination of agronourishment and gastronomic heritage. The restaurant Mugaritz and the websites aliment@tec and Ciencia y gastronomia also have their logos on the IJGFS website. The objective of the journal is to “fill the gap in the expanding fields of Gastronomy and Food Science, by adopting a scientific approach”.

New Hervé This website

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009


Hervé This has launched a new website: Travaux de Hervé This. As with his two blogs it’s difficult to follow unless you speak French. But at the same time it’s hard to get around Hervé since he’s a pioneer in the field! Machine translation of the French websites is available from Babelfish and Google, but the translations still leave a lot to be desired.

Dangerous names?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I recently stumbled across an interesting article on risk perception: If It’s Difficult to Pronounce, It Must Be Risky – Fluency, Familiarity and Risk perception. Researches from the University of Michigan had students read lists of fictious words and imagining that they were reading food lables and judge the hazard of each ingredient form very safe to very harmful. The words were divided in groups of easy-to-pronounce words (such as Magnalroxate) and difficult-to-pronounce words (i.e. Hnegripitrom). If I were to take the test I’d probably rank Magnalroxate as worse than Hnegripitrom – the “roxate” somehow reminds me of a pesticide or something like that. It turned out however (as expected) that substances with difficult-to-pronounce names were perceived as more harmful than substances with easy-to-pronounce names.

The Flemish Primitives: Glowing lollipops (part 4)

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Bruce Bryan demonstrated a glowing cocktail drink (top left), and tempted us with fluorescent cake frosting (top right). The chocolate surprise boxes included a lollipop (bottom left) and I was quite busy sucking the lollipop, listening to the translation of the Belgian/French/Spanish contributions, taking notes and photographing at the same time (bottom right).

The chocolate surprise box was one of the highlights at The Flemish Primitives that I’ve blogged about three times already. As I promised you in the last post I’d come back to the lollipop that was included in the box. Between chocolates number 2 and 3 Bruce Bryan entered the stage. The lights went off, we were instructed to suck intensely on the lollipos and then – when I took the lollipop out of my mouth it was glowing! (more…)