May 5, 2009

Truly Inspiring!

I was in Chicago this past weekend and made a point to go to Moto. In fact, you could say that I accepted an invitation to go to Chicago so that I could go to Moto...

As I discuss in my book, instead of using traditional cooking techniques, a handful of chefs are experimenting with “molecular gastronomy,” which involves stretching the limits of cooking in all sorts of creative and unusual directions. These restaurants use equipment and materials straight out of a laboratory and play with your senses in wild ways. At Moto, the kitchen is stocked with balloons, syringes, and dry ice, and the goal is to create food that is shocking yet tasty. They have a “tasting menu,” where you actually eat the menu, which might, for example, taste like an Italian panini sandwich. Moto strives to break the rules with each dish they serve, from “delivering” food that looks like packing peanuts to the table in FedEx boxes to making a dessert that looks like nachos but is really made up of chocolate, frozen shredded mango, and cheesecake. Each dish is designed to push the boundary of how you imagine food should look and taste as they “transmogrify” your food into surprising shapes and forms. One of their chefs, Ben Roche, says their goal is to create a circus for your senses. They question every assumption about food preparation and presentation, develop brand-new cooking techniques, and even design custom utensils that are used to consume the food.

The experience was NOT disappointing. In fact, I was blown away. The 20 course meal was remarkably inventive! My favorite concoction looked just like a big, smoking Cuban cigar in a metal ash tray. Despite my instinct to push it away, I bit into it... It was delicious! The filling was duck confit, wrapped in steamed chard, and the ashes were finely ground black and white sesame seeds. It looked exactly like a smoking cigar!

The courses kept on coming and I literally begged them to stop since I was so full... until they started on the dessert. My favorite was the Tiramiso Ice Cream Panini with Biscotti Soup. We normally dip our biscotti in coffee. But, with this dessert, you dip the coffee in the biscotti! They served a grilled ice cream sandwich with delicious pound cake filled with frozen espresso ice cream and marscapone cheese. You dipped it into an amazing biscotti flavored soup. Wow! Here is a snapshot:

I urge you to take a look at some video clips of their chefs in action.

No comments: