Chef Iradh Herrera gave a silver mixing bowl filled with cream and sugar one last stir before adding a very special ingredient: liquid nitrogen.
The chemical produced waves of smoke flowing over the table. The contents of the mixing bowl froze into lavender and honey ice cream in less than a minute.
“We’ve been working on this at the restaurant for next summer,” said Herrera, a chef at Rosewood in Downtown Lodi.
Guests at the World of Wonders Science Museum’s Incredible Edible Science event enjoyed this and other tricked out eats on Saturday night.
At the next table, Ruben Larrazolo cooked up what he dubbed “edible cigars.” It was a small fried roll of meats and veggies served with a red sauce and a mix of loose spices that, when consumed, would puff like ashes.
Students from the San Joaquin Delta College Culinary Arts Schools served up several hors d'oeuvres with new twists. There was a deconstructed Caesar salad in bite size form, and a shrimp cocktail with the sauce in a tiny pipette. When guests bit down on the shrimp, they got a burst of flavor, too. For dessert, chefs dropped dollops of a mango sorbet into liquid nitrogen. When guests popped the morsel into their mouths, they couldn’t help but breathe out a puff of smoke.
The chefs at Crush Kitchen created the most unique dish at the event. They combined agar agar with 150 grams of Parmesan whey to create a clear gel. It solidified for a few minutes in an ice bath, then was sliced into a kind of synthetic pasta and combined with basil infused foam as garnish to make a mini pasta salad.
Chef Micheal Warren recommended focusing on the flavor of the food, not the texture.
“It’s science, it’s weird,” he said.
Brianna Van Diemen, of Lodi, agreed with the weirdness.
“It’s really strange, such a different texture. It’s pasta, but it looks like plastic,” she said.
Bakers from Frosted Flour relied on traditional cake science to bring their mini cupcakes to life. From leavening flour to whipping air into frosting, science is taken for granted at every step.
“We really wanted to be a part of it, but we told them, ‘You guys have to help us with the science,” said Christina Hernasen.
The guest enjoyed combining a mini-chemistry lesson with each bit of food.
“Whoever designed this party had great forsight to combine science with food,” said David Halverson of Modesto. “This is kind of fun, watching all this creativity.”
For a break from the more adventurous fare, a central table was laden with cheeses, crackers and croissant sandwiches. The event also included a raffle, silent auction, and several local wines.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.