My Cute Engineer, a not-so closet chef, got a quaint Christmas gift of a “Molecular Gastronomy” kit. This is apparently a new thing, which weds trendiness and haute cuisine with a faintly Jekyll-and-Hyde attack upon the kitchen and its contents. We deployed it on New Year’s Eve, since the accompanying leaflet seemed devoted to the kind of culinary bagatelles you eat mainly to prevent the champagne from going to your head.
We took a crack at the Balsamic Vinegar Pearls, which were purveyed as a sort of faux caviare. Being vegetarianly averse to fish roe, I was intrigued with this. First you have to open a packet of agar-agar from the kit
which is a little preciously engrossed with pseudo periodic-table emblems, and heat it with balsamic vinegar until it reaches a vigorous simmer.
Then you get a pipette from the kit and start dripping the resulting solution into a carafe of olive oil. Most of the drops drift to the bottom; a few defy you and hang out at the top of the carafe.
Eventually, the solution congeals, suggesting that you needed to be much quicker with the pipette. No matter. Plenty of little phony-roe perlettes emerged from the carafe.
(Yes, he is wearing a formal chef’s jacket.)
In the end it was a spiffy New Year’s feast. The ersatz caviare went into little pastry shells. There were stuffed mushrooms, Saint-Andre, wasabi deviled eggs,and some rose brut.
Das Rheingold, which (on DVD; the new Met production) was the after-dinner entertainment, concluded exactly at midnight. I am not sure how we managed that. Strictly speaking, we should try the lemon foam or something with Walkure, and so on, but I am not sure how ambitiously I can take this.