New Year’s Eve 2010

Posted on January 3rd, 2011 by John Stewart

Susanna and I hosted another dinner party for NYE this year.

I’ve gotten into the tech side of cooking this year, and wanted to bring some of that new knowledge to bear, while still making sure everything was still just plain delicious, instead of gimmicky.

The evening began with a cocktail of prosecco with St. Germain and strawberries.

This was followed up with an amuse bouche I called The Sun and the Moon. Both portions of this dish were made possible only with new cooking technology, aka “modernist cuisine” (often called molecular gastronomy, but this is a name most chefs who practice the art now dislike).

The sun was a deep fried egg yolk, based on this recipe (I also built my immersion circulator based on his design and help). First, I cooked the eggs at 65.5C for one hour to cook … Read More »


Posted on March 22nd, 2010 by John Stewart

This blog post was written by both Susanna and John. In paragraphs where we speak in individual voices, we have preceded them with (John) or (Suz).

Two Christmases ago, right in the thick of our obsession with Top Chef, John was given the book Alinea, from the restaurant of the same name. Alinea (pronounced ah-LIN-ee-ah) is the brainchild of chef Grant Achatz, who is one of the best-known practicioners of what used to be called “molecular gastronomy” (though we’ve heard it’s no longer cool to call it that) — others are Wylie DuFresne and Ferran Adrià, whose restaurant El Bulli in Spain is open only eight months a year, with reservations made on a lottery system (8,000 spots for a reported 300,000 people who want to eat there).

Molecular gastronomy is really a misnomer because it only describes one aspect of the cuisine, which … Read More »

Miracle Fruit

Posted on August 12th, 2009 by John Stewart

I read about this stuff a while back, but finally picked up some (extract of it, actually). Weird, wild, fascinating shit. Miracle fruit.

Basically, you chew it up so it covers your tongue for a while, then for the next half hour to and hour or so, everything that was previously sour is now sweet!

Suz and I cut up a bunch of different fruit to try in this state. Of course, limes and lemons are the stars since their flavor is such a contrast from their initial state. Basically, they taste like super-sweet candy. Really!

Here’s a rundown of the things we tried and our impressions:

Lime – Like candy.

Lemon – Super sweet, but you can still feel the twinge of the acid sour on your tongue (with only the sweet flavor).

Grapefruit – Not much different. The main flavor component is bitterness, not … Read More »

Mmmm…. meat

Posted on January 8th, 2008 by John Stewart

Suz and I tried out a new restaurant in Madison recently, the Samba Brazilian Grill, based on a recent glowing review in the Isthmus. It was an expensive night out ($120 for two of us with a couple of drinks, dessert, and tip), but (in contrast to most of the time when I eat an expensive meal) worth every penny.

We started out impressed upon walking in; the remodel job on the old 1907 building is really well done, and we stayed impressed through the night.

Probably our least favorite part of the meal was our apertif of a caipirinha, which is sort of a mojito made with a Brazilian liquor instead of rum. Not bad, but nothing to write home about.

Dinner began with a visit (and for me, a revisit) to the "salad bar" which was a really nice spread … Read More »