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Gift Lab: Molecular Gastronomy Dinner Party

June 21, 2012

Background Research
Wikipedia says that “Molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate, explain and make practical use of the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur while cooking, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in general.”

Huh?

I have heard of this food science. I have heard of different restaurants in metropolitan areas around the world, maybe even in not-so-metropolitan areas. I have seen it done on one of those cooking shows. Many friends have gone to wd-50 in NYC and said it was interesting. My friend Stephanie had a 12 course meal of different foods reconstructed at a resort in Mexico. The pictures were awesome. I mean a lemon meringue pie that looks like a SOS Sponge awesome!

Walking at the NY Trade Show I see some fun pictures of crazy foods and then a kit. I can do this at home? Yes please! I couldn’t wait to try out this new product.

Hypothesis
I will be the new Wylie Dufresne, with the help of some friends, and make a meal that will impress the masses. This will all be accomplished in 1 night without a culinary class and with little cooking skills. My most impressive meal is chicken and rice.

Experiment
Materials Needed:
1 Molecular Gastronomy Kit with all its contents
Blender
Roomy Fridge and Freezer
Hand Blender
Lots of Bowls
Stove
Lots of Pots
Friends
Wine (just in case it all goes wrong)
Ingredients for all recipes (frozen chocolate wind, arugula spaghetti, balsamic vinegar pearls, goat cheese raviolis, raspberry raviolis).
Extra ingredients to pair with the yummy food
TV
DVD player
Timer
Scale if you want to be exact

Step 1: I watched the DVD to pick the recipes I wanted to cook and get all the instructions.

Step 2: I Gathered friends and all materials.

Step 3: Watch DVD of all recipes with friends and decide what recipe has the longest cooling time and do that one first. (FYI: Chocolate wind had to cool down in the fridge and then sit in the freezer for about an hour.)

Step 4: Start cooking/ being a scientist.

Goat Cheese Raviolis

Chocolate Frozen Wind

Arugula Spaghetti

Balsamic Vinegar Pearls

Step 5: Make everything look pretty for the cameras.

Goat Cheese Raviolis with tomatoes and basil / Arugula Spaghetti and Balsamic Vinegar Pearls with Tomato / Frozen Chocolate Wind with Raspberry Raviolis

Step 6: Enjoy!

Thanks for your help Nate and Stefanie and Morgan and Sorayah!

Conclusion
The kit has very thorough instructions that walk you through each step by showing you and some great music to keep cooks dancing. It makes the process easy and super fun! And the balsamic pearls and arugula spaghetti looked the best! But maybe I need some more snacks when things are cooling in case guests have not had a snack before the party. I think I just need one more party and a little less wine, and I can open my own restaurant! So fun!

The Uncommon Life

How to Style Agate Centerpieces

June 11, 2012

Whether you are throwing a backyard dinner party or planning a wedding, centerpiece ideas are sometimes a daunting task. They are the focal point of your sit-down meal and can really bring a room together if they are styled right. Although the Agate Cheese Platters are great for serving up snack, they are also versatile and could fit into a number of decor schemes. On the bottom of each platter are three rubber bumpers which creates a nice platform. The jewel-tone platters also have a natural shiny finish so they will glow in the dim light of a party.

I was interested in seeing how the Agate Cheese Platters would work in a centerpiece design, I took them home, put my decorating hands to work and came up with three different ways to style them.

CRAFTY
Some of the cutest centerpiece ideas out there are composed of found items. Make your centerpieces personal with a craft touch. Create a small penant banner with washi tape and neon twine and string it between two tall sticks. I used wooden knitting needles but another great option are painted twigs. Personalize a mason jar by wrapping it in colored yarn or twine. Lastly, I pulled some guitar picks and a harmonica from our collection to add some personality to this table decoration.

CHIC
These eggplant platter just scream glamour to me so I wanted to see a sleeker look. I pulled out some crystal and glass candle holders that would reflect nicely when the lights get low. Around the platter, I sprinkled some white flower petals to soften the entire look. I only wish it was dark enough to test the glow of the platter in candlelight but was pleased to see the reflection of the crystal on the platter.

RUSTIC
I thought it would be an interesting contrast to add some rustic charm to the polished platters so I started with an old honey jar of white flowers tied with natural twine. I set the jar in a bed of dried moss from the craft store and scattered small twigs and stones. I was so happy with the little enchanted forest I created.

Design

Summer Picnic Design Challenge

February 29, 2012


It might be cold outside but we have summertime on the brain at UncommonGoods! We are dreaming of backyard cookouts, sandy beach blankets, frisbee in the park, driving with the windows down and picnics with friends. We can almost smell the barbecue sauce.

Why are we so summer crazy? We are very excited for our first design challenge of 2012. We have teamed up with SustyParty and Recyclebank to search for the cutest, funnest, most delicious graphic that will be stamped onto sustainable plates and cups to furnish your summertime meals. Designs will be selected by UncommonGoods merchants, our Voting Tool community and an impressive panel of guest judges, including Diana Yen, of The Jewels of NY.

The winning designer will receive $500. Find out contest rules and how to enter here.

The Uncommon Life

Marie Antoinette, Grace Kelly and the History of the New Year’s Toast

December 30, 2011

(source ChampagnePascal Vuylsteker)

In a couple days we will gather with and count down the New Year. Whether you are watching the ball drop from your television or in the center of Times Square, there most likely will be a glass of champagne in your hand. I was curious as to why we choose champagne for toasts on momentous occasions like weddings, birthdays and holidays and found out some pretty interesting knowledge.

(source NotCot)

For the longest time, champagne was mostly drunk by men who were attracted by the unofficial endorsement of royal and noble men. Men of all classes and statures flocked to the bubbly on a regular basis, but in the early 19th Century champagne manufacturers thought it was time to start appealing to women. In order to get the attention of ladies, bottles were designed with labels depicting beautiful scenes that like romantic dates, weddings and christenings (not as romantic but very important to women as a special event). The tactic worked but also influenced drinkers to save champagne for more special occasions instead of daily happy hour.

Most drinkers reach for a champagne flute, a tall thin glass that connoisseurs recommend for a better drinking experience. A flute will not over-expose the drink to oxygen and directs the nose toward the wine allowing for optimal flavor. However, coupe glasses are known to come in and out of style for their chic shape although they may weaken the flavor of champagne. They are rumored to have been made from a mold of Marie Antoinette’s left breast as a birthday present to her husband Louis XVI. They were meant to signify the drinks coming from the kindness of her heart. I prefer these shallow, bowl-like glasses because they make me feel like Grace Kelly.

(source Anatomy of a Classic)

However you choose to drink your champagne this New Year’s Eve, please do so safely. When combined with carbonated water, alcohol is consumed more rapidly and champagne’s bubbles work the same way. They aren’t lying when they say champagne goes right to your head!

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