Are you a fan of Heston Blumenthal? Did you ever fancy playing God in the kitchen and completely change the chemistry and physics of well known foods to transcend them to a different level?
I have never tried olive oil caviar or transparent ravioli, they look like things from a futuristic film - something Star Trek characters might be eating. When I was asked to test and review a Molecular Gastronomy Spherification Kit from CreamChargers, I was intrigued and fascinated.
I haven't dabbled into molecular gastronomy before, and didn't quite know what to expect. Would it be too complicated? More important, will it be edible? This experiment appealed to my arty side, but a pragmatic in me was almost reluctant to "subject" food to a chemical transformation.
The kit is quite straightforward, you receive an instructions list, two sachets - with sodium alginate and calcium lactate, and a few droppers and syringes.
There are two possible recipes to play with: a) to make a melon caviar; b) to create minted pea puree eggs.
What exactly is spherification? It's a process, by which small quantities of liquid are encased in gelled skin.
So, had did it go with my minted pea puree eggs?
First, as instructions suggested, I put the peas and mint in a bowl and whizzed them together with a hand blender. I later added boiled water, blended the mix together again and passed through a mesh strainer.
One third of the puree liquid is mixed with sodium alginate. The mix immediately starts to gelify, and looks like a mini-Blob. At which stage I started asking myself whether I would really want to eat it.
Next calcium lactate is dissolved in water.
Using a spoon, drop little blobs of mint puree mix in the calcium chloride bath. After two minutes pea globules are ready to be removed with a slotted spoon.
All the droplets were falling in irregular tear-shaped globules, some with rather long-ish tails.
After sitting in the cold water bath, they eventually became more rounded, yet still not perfect balls.
They looked quite cute actually, and would make a talking point at any table indeed.
I imagine a fruit puree, shaped like that, would be a lovely novelty decoration for frosted cakes and bakes.
But what about the taste? It was like eating droplets of pea soup, encased in gel. Very odd consistency, which I didn't like.
I am in two minds about this product. On one hand, it is a funky entertaining project, which will appeal to kitchen geeks and children of all ages. On the other, it has a weird taste (I did follow the instructions) and an odd texture. It was a fantastic opportunity to play with molecular gastronomy, but the taste didn't live up to my expectations.
I am still not convinced if this kit is a work of genius or pure madness, or a bit of both indeed.
Disclosure: I received a Molecular gastronomy kit for the purposes of testing and reviewing. All opinions are mine.