Molecular Gastronomy: noun
The scientific discipline concerned with the physical and chemical transformations that occur during cooking and the application of such knowledge to the creation of new dishes and culinary techniques.
There are a lot of fancy words up there. To simplify: it is taking foods and recipes we use all the time and changing the way food is prepared and eaten. Molecule-R started with two young entrepreneurs from Montreal, Canada who took an interest of the world of molecular gastronomy. Jonathan Coutu and Jérôme de Champlain found that in all of the kits they had seen, there were fundamental tools and food additives missing. They were essentially incomplete, making it difficult for a first time gastronomer to start their journey. So, they set out to make a better, more complete kit. Then Molecule-R was born in 2009.
With a team of four, they launched their business out of a suite in an office building. Their first and only kit that year was the Cuisine R-Evolution Kit. Sophie Boivin of Molecule-R says that the work environment has grown to 20 employees now but that it hasn’t changed the spirit. The whole environment is “very collaborative and creativity-fostering”.
I couldn’t help but imagine this crazy lab set up with Bunsen burners and loopy drip lines, bubbling pots and food everywhere. According to Sophie, it’s not the “mad scientist” type of place that I’d enthusiastically imagined.
With growing interest in this new way to enjoy food, Molecule-R’s audience has grown, and they listen to the people. In fact, Molecule-R is about to get a lot bigger. It’s about to become a three product line called MMTUM, consisting of Molecule-R (Molecular Gastronomy), Mortier Pilon (just recently launched with fermentation glassware), and the secret new line. There’s no info on that just yet. She says they love the flexibility that being an online business provider so there is no store or restaurant in the works right now. But who knows what the future will hold for this ever-growing company.
Price: Their sets sell anywhere from $50 to $200. You are getting the best deal for your money. It is still such a niche market that buying all the pieces individually could cost you twice as much.
I had a chance to check out Cuisine R-Evolution, The Molecular Gastronomy Cook Book, and the Cocktail R-Evolution. To be honest, it all looked a little intimidating. The sets are well stocked with all of the tools and food additives you would need to try some of the recipes for beginners. They come with DVDs that have 50 different recipes at varying difficulty levels, as well as tips and tricks to try so you can get comfortable with gastronomy.
Not wanting to get too big for my britches, I decided to do the Yogurt Raviolis, which is part of the reverse spherification section. (Don’t worry, all the terms are thoroughly explained in the sets and more in depth in the cook book.) Essentially I’d be making yogurt into a bubble that would burst with flavor. It sounded strange but looked do-able.
I started with all the ingredients:
- 2% Yogurt 1/2 cup
- Milk 1/3 cup
- Water 2 cups
- Calcium Lactate ½ tsp
- Sodium Alginate 1 sachet
There are literally five steps. Hence, the reason I chose this recipe. First, you dissolve the Sodium Alginate in the water for 15 minutes, to hopefully let the bubbles out of the mixture, and then you dissolve the Calcium Lactate into the yogurt and milk.
Simple enough, right? The bubbles were still present, but many had gone out. Then, I filled up one of the measuring spoons with the yogurt mixture and slowly poured it into the Sodium Alginate mixture.
That went well. At this point, I felt like a boss. I’d done everything it says and hadn’t screwed anything up. I made sure the spheres didn’t touch in the bath and then took them out.
It was actually easy. Like, shockingly easy. I did realize after I tasted the little sphere that I added too much Calcium Lactate. Like a whole sachet instead of ½ tsp, so it was tart. Rookie mistake due to excitement is how I’m writing it off.
All in all, it was fun and fast. I think this would be a fantastic gift for anyone who’s looking to try something different or a great treat for yourself. With the step-by-step instructions and the wide variety of recipes this is sure to make for some fun nights with friends or family. Think of all the fancy stuff you could display at your next get together! And there’s gotta be bragging right for chocolate caviar right?
Check out all of the amazing sets they have on their website at Molecule-R.