*Ok, ok, y’all hate reading white text on black background. This site redesign is for you because I love you, but I want you to know how deeply this cuts. You see, it’s the story of my life. Little known fact: I’m half-black, but I’m packaged in this damn white skin. My mom is all brown and beautiful with a great rack (I can say that, right?) and perfect tone. I always wished I looked more like her, but no. And now it’s the same with my blog. You feel better with it lighter because that’s how you know it, it’s easier to drink in. When I switched it to black, it was like when I brought a boyfriend home for the first time who had never met my mom- a bit of a shock. Fine. It’s back. But at least in atonement maybe you’ll think about casting a vote my way for Project Food Blog Challenge #2. Voting ends Sept. 30th, thanks, rant over.
Did you know (or care) that the creator of this dish, Grant Achatz’ name rhymes with Scant Hatchets? I’m always good for a piece of useful trivia, right? I’m going to try and abate my girlish crush on this man’s food, because inevitably you will tire of listening to me wax on like Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid about his culinary prowess, but allow me this post, please. I’ll make it worth your while.
I haven’t gone all gooey over someone like this since the sixth grade. I was in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin and the sun was setting over the bursting amphitheater. He took to the stage and had me with the first “Oh” of his resoundingly poetic “Oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh.” By the time he got around to crooning “the right stuff,” my knees were jelly and my heart was throbbing through my freshly-silkscreened concert tee. Yes, folks, Joey McIntyre clutched the gilt-edged key to my young heart, and no amount of harsh reality could keep me from swooning for his ticklish tenor and amorous moves. At this point in my life I am simply mortified that I made a New Kid on the Block the object of my amour. I hope my affection for a certain ginger chef makes up for my transgression.
Incidentally, I took that Joey Joe crush so far as to fake a fainting spell in order to get back stage. My plan was foiled when they unceremoniously carted me to the infirmary like a sack of shallots with no regard to the fact that my prepubescent panties were peeking out from under my disheveled skirt for all to sneeringly see. When I “came to,” I did not find myself breathing in the sweet smell of my paramour clutching at my breastbone to see if he could rouse me. Instead, malodorous vomit tinged with peppermint schnapps assaulted my olfactory senses wafting over from the careening concertgoer next to me, and I realized the infirmary was segregated from backstage, likely, for this very reason.
Being that I was not yet adolescent I did not have much in the way of bazoombas (still don’t- damn boob fairy missed my house!) to flash at the bouncers in order to obtain a backstage pass. Therefore I reluctantly accepted a lollipop from the jaded nurse and sheepishly made my way out of the arena with nary a look back at the lover who so clearly jilted me in front of 15,000 witnesses. Fast forward 20- odd years. What if I walked into Alinea and Grant Achatz did not so much as pity me with a glance? I would still have his food to warm my heart, which, I have a sneaking suspicion will probably give me more long-term joy than the fleeting crooning of NKOTB.
There is a vocal minority of respectable foodfolk out there who loathe molecular gastronomy on principle. To any who find themselves in that faction, I present a standing invitation to dinner chez moi. I have heard a plethora of reasons why you hate it, but I’d like to give you a few reasons to love it, and I know I could with this dish. Yes, it involves froth, foam, gel, spheres and ice. I know many of those words are not traditionally associated with food, but, as with young love, close your eyes and let your tongue to the exploring. If you don’t like what you taste, I’ll buy you a hamburger.
This dish involves a process of reverse spherification to make the beets. It is called reverse spherification because the sodium alginate composes the bath that seals the beet juice into spheres rather than being added to the juice directly and then soaking in a bath of calcium lactate (or chloride) as with traditional spherification. The beet spheres are nestled on a bed of ice made from sweetened verjus, which is sold in the vinegar section of specialty stores and is an acidic juice made from unripened grapes. It’s revelatory, and totally worth hunting around to locate a bottle. In addition to the verjus ice, a foam and a froth accompany the beet spheres, both made from different distillations of lemon thyme. I made enough beet spheres to feed a small army (who would then end up with red pee- how do you like that visual?) so I served them over several days. Ultimately I decided this dish works best as an amuse bouche, perhaps even before wine, as the verjus is such a refreshing pique to the palate.