Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pretty Little Mango Pearls

Last Saturday, I discovered a cute little place called Le Labo, where artists and scientists meet. The result is unconventional exhibits: until the end of July, the Labo is hosting a Thierry Marx / Jérôme Bibette exhibit, where cooking meets science.

Thierry Marx is a world-renowned chef, famous for his "cuisine moléculaire". Jérôme Bibette, on the other hand, is a famous chemist. The exhibit is based on this new way of cooking, where chefs attempt to discover original food forms without modifying the taste of their dishes.

The exhibit was made up of a small machine that creates "food pearls", video art by Mathilde de l'Ecotais, and design propositions for a new take on bento boxes.

The main part of this sensorial exhibit, though, was the food-tasting. I had gotten a reservation for two for the "Degustation Gourmande": Grapefruit mousse, Mango pearls, and a citrus pudding. I had always wanted to try something invented by Thierry Marx, and was really expecting a totally different culinary experience. 
After having a glass of champagne, we got our little bento box-inspired tray, "filled" with our snack. 

Overall, the food was good, but we both agreed that there wasn't anything crazy about it.
The grapefruit mousse was alright, but what's so special about a grapefruit mousse?
The mango pearls were funny to eat, and knowing they were made with the cool machine changed everything. I guess that was the best part.
The citrus pudding with a berry gelée was really good, I'll admit that. But... it was just a pudding! Molecular cuisine?!? 

The funny part came after that. I had read so much online about the Whif, this apparently great invention that allows you to inhale chocolate through an aerosol. We were--once again--expecting craziness, a futuristic system resembling some kind of oxygen machine, but got nothing like it.

When you were little (or even now), did you ever make yourself toast with butter and cocoa powder on top? If you did, you probably remember inhaling while you bit into your toast, and getting a bunch of cocoa powder down your throat. Not so fun!
Well, the Whif was exactly like doing this, without the good taste of bread and butter. You're supposed to smoke it like a cigar, but this whole fake-seeming invention just felt useless.

My final thought about Le Labo? It's a great place, and the idea behind it is truly wonderful. Making it possible for artists and scientists to interact is a terrific idea, I just wish this particular exhibit had been a tad more surprising.

The next day, I went to the Valentino exhibit--no food, but that was a truly delectable experience.
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