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« Drool Britannia, Part II: fish and quips | Main | Miso horny: Nobu's black cod with miso »

April 26, 2007

What's black and white and read all over? el Bulli's cantaloupe caviar (and me!)


What can I say?  Word gets around.

First, Toronto Life asks me to do some writing for them.  I say sure.  Then, out of the blue, I get a request to participate in a Globe and Mail article by Beppi Crosariol on molecular gastronomy for the home cook after being referred by Clement of A La Cuisine.  It's all pretty damn cool, and I just can't refuse.

I even prepared some refreshing cantaloupe caviar to be photographed for the piece.  Seeing as I spend most of my mornings in a daze, I was oblivious to the fact that the article was in yesterday's paper until Rachel emailed me.   A quick sprint to the newsstand revealed that a photo of my cantaloupe caviar even made the front page of Canada's newspaper of record, right above the banner.  Sweet!

Welcome to those of you visiting for the first time after reading the Globe article.  If you'd like more information about molecular gastronomy in general, click here, and for a quick tour of my molecular gastronomy pantry check out this post.  I also encourage you to explore frozen chocolate air, Nutella powder, and the the dish that kick-started my interest in molecular gastronomy, white chocolate and caviar.  For a whiff of controversy, nothing beats el Bulli's deep fried rabbit ears.  If you'd like to experiment with molecular gastronomy at home and are looking for an easy to prepare, delicious, familiar flavour, look no further than Moto's donut soup.  For those whose interests veer towards liquid spheres (aka liquid ravioli), we've written about liquid pea ravioli, mango ravioli with coconut cream and ground rice, or you can just keep on reading this post about melon caviar.  We also write extensively about cooking and dining in Toronto, as well as a host of other food-related topics.  Molecular gastronomy is much, but not all of what we do.


These melon caviar are my third kick at the spherification can, so I'm beginning to feel like something of an old pro by now.  Even so, the caviar are, in many ways, easier to make than full-sized spheres, which have a nasty tendency to burst during the "cooking" process.  If anything, caviar are subject to the opposite problem: they need so little time in the calcium chloride solution that they sometimes completely solidify.

Dying to make them?  The melon caviar recipe is available here.  To make cantaloupe juice, simply dice a cantaloupe, drop it in your blender, and liquefy.  It's all very straightforward from there.  By the way, the photo of me hunched over that tiny bowl in the Globe article is partially for show.  Yes, I made perfectly good caviar that way, but it is easier -- assuming you're not making them as part of a photo shoot -- to use a bigger vessel.  Also, if playing with two syringes is not your cup of tea, there are devices made specifically for mass producing these caviar.  There's even an el Bulli demonstration video that comes with a recipe for apple caviar.

The final dish is garnished with passion fruit seeds and a sprig of mint.  Visually, these delicate pearls are stunning -- a light, vaguely translucent shade of coral (click here to view the el Bulli catalogue photo).  The taste is straightforward melon and, when "cooked" properly, that taste explodes onto the palate as each caviar bursts in the mouth.  Rachel and I had some leftover prosciutto, so we tried a molecular gastronomy version of an Italian staple, melon and prosciutto.  The combination loses nothing in translation, as long as the melon is sweet enough to contrast the ham's saltiness, though this is an issue with this dish whatever the preparation.

My plan to conquer all media is unfolding nicely.  Internet.  Check.  Magazines.  Check.  Newspapers.  Check.  I believe television is next. Food Network, make me an offer, and it better not involve Unwrapped.


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Congrats on being in the paper! I read the article at work yesterday and passed it around to my co-workers who think you are definitely cool and maybe a little crazy. I love the flavour of cantaloupe but I am not crazy about the texture so I think cantaloupe caviar might be an interesting option....


Well deserved, Rob! Well deserved.

I still can't believe you managed to make this. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing you talk about it last Friday night and to see it, well I'm impressed to the maximum.

And by the way, thank you so much to you and Rachel for meeting up with me. I had a wonderful time and can't wait to do it again!


Oh, man, you've arrived.
I'll say you've arrived when you show up at my house with some of that stuff.
Good goin'.


You're pushing me closer and closer to ordering the goods to make myself some liquid ravioli, excellent!


Yea! Excellent work.
And you just know I'm dying to top some of my sushi with fruit caviar...


Congrats! I love reading your blog. Hope the call of the paper media doesn't eventually rob us of a very good online read! :)


It's so exciting that so many good things are coming to you. Congratulations! And congratulations to the smart editors who nabbed you.

Ms. Glaze

cooooool!!!! Totally dig the caviar. I'll have to try it out and congrats on your newspaper article!!! btw, i just got one too – we've come a long way baby ;-)

Bisous, Ms. Glaze

Susan from Food "Blogga"

It's no surprise that all of these opportunities have presented themselves. You have a unique and though-provoking blog, Rob, that is a joy to read. Plus, you're pretty damn cool.


So exciting! Congratulations! I definitely vote for the show on the Food network!

Byunghoon Kim

Your blog has lots of good stuffs! :)
Thank you.
I really enjoyed it.

James Naquin

I am curious as to the consistency in the center? Does a sphere so small still stay liquid after the calcium chloride bath?
Sorry I haven't been back in touch, but school is almost over and I will have a little more time on my hands. Ping Island Strike is not my web site, but Cef Seann Brock of McCrady's.


You're a hero to all bleary-eyed food bloggers. Congratulations on all of the shiny, shiny things that have been happening for you lately!


How do you get them so round? Mine had tails so they were a bit oblong (oval).

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