This Sh*t's Delicious

Exploring the world through cocktails, shit hole restaurants, and UrbanAg

Tag Archives: sous-vide

Beakerhead: Engineered Eats

What’s this? A new blog post? No, your eyes are not deceiving you – after having the privilege attending the Beakerhead Engineered Eats sneak-peek on Monday, I felt obligated to dust off the keyboard and give it a plug. After all, a food-based event for a grassroots festival in Calgary based on art and science pretty much pushes all of my buttons!

What better symbolizes food + science than sous-vide?

Of the seven Calgary restaurants who are participating in the 5-day-long Engineered Eats program, five of them were present at the sneak-peek – Mango Shiva, Charcut, Taste, Raw Bar/Yellow Door and Muse (the last of whom hosted the event). Each had brought a special concoction or two featuring science-y “molecular gastronomy” techniques – be it gels, foams, sous-vide, caviar, etc. – and in keeping with the Beakerhead theme, most of the dishes and cocktails were assembled in a creative and artful manner.

Looks like a lot more than "just 3 ingredients" to me ;) (Muse's description says it's just tomato/basil/watermelon)

To start off, I hit up Muse’s table for their “tomato and watermelon inversion” (my description, not theirs). It was a daintily put-together mini-salad, featuring tomato, watermelon and basil in numerous combinations meant to f*ck with your mind 😉 Indeed, what appeared to be a scooped watermelon ball had the vegetably-tartness of a tomato, and the meticulously-crafted watermelon slice was of course an intensely-flavoured tomato bomb (the cucumber rind was a perfect choice!). Even the watery sauce with sprinklings of dehydrated buckwheat modelled the innards of a tomato remarkably well. Muse also offered a cocktail of sorts, a Tequila Sunrise push-pop. Utilizing a dollop of sous-vided fruit gel and topped with slushy ice, their cocktail was also an inversion of sorts (this time a thermal one!) – the mix of cold and hot sensations is a fascinating one, though the leakiness of the push-pop device proved a little problematic.

Modernizing an ancient cuisine

The strong aroma of Indian spices was difficult to miss, as Mango Shiva’s chef doled out portions of delectable chicken tikka and gol gappa on demand. There always seemed to be a bit of a lineup by the Mango Shiva table throughout the night, but it was worth the wait – the succulent, yoghurt-tenderized chicken tikka was well complemented by the balsamic caviar, mango puree and mint-yoghurt chutney. The deconstructed gol gappa/panipuri featured artfully transformed chutneys in the form of yoghurt balls and tamarind spaghetti, and the traditional flavoured water (or in this case, a less-traditional herbs-and-vodka mix) was to be taken as a shot rather than poured into the shell. All of the components are reconstructed in your mouth for a complex mosaic of flavours.

More than meets the eye

Taste offered what was likely the most humble-looking offering, with their “gazpacho-on-a-stick”. But the appearance of the minimalistic beige rectangles simply increases the shock value of the explosive flavours that arise upon putting the jelly into your mouth – it’s a full-spectrum savoury sensation. My one criticism of the gazpacho was the size of the serving – it basically filled my mouth to bursting. Who eats soup by the bulging mouthful? Kent tried to bite his and ended up dropping the rest of it on the floor (though admittedly they were kind of melting due to it being really hot in the restaurant). I think a portion half to one-third of the size would make it the ideal amuse-bouche.

All it needs is a fat straw!Hollow ice spheres for cocktails should become a new thing

Perhaps one of the more delightfully-themed dishes at the event was the Tom Yum Bubble Tea, by Raw Bar – presented in a shot glass, the tom yum soup was jazzed up with “pearls” made up of tomato caviar and currant tomatoes (which Muse also used in their dish). The floating cilantro and flower petal just added to the tropical feel. Raw Bar’s cocktail was also a smashing hit – literally! An aromatic kaffir-lime based drink featuring Vietnamese cinnamon spray and jalapeno bitters (if I’m remembering correctly), the presentation of the cocktail left many impressed – the cocktail was injected into a hollow ice sphere, which is subsequently smashed with a hammer and pin. Too cool!

Foie and brioche - just a touch of sorrel to round out the fresh lightness

Last, but definitely not least, the venerable folks at Charcut put some modernist twists on classic favourites – foie gras and brioche. Both are normally extremely rich foods, but with a little magic foaming action they were transformed into a light, airy, yet flavourful bite. The brioche was apparently foamed before it was cooked, then microwaved – sounds like something even an engineer could cook 😉 Served with the light sweetness of cognac-soaked peach and apple jelly, the foie and brioche could almost double as a dessert. Charcut’s “Autumn in Cognac” cocktail was demure but delicious – cognac plus one other fortified wine whose name escapes me, topped with a little vanilla-apple foam. Not as flashy as the other cocktails perhaps, but I think I liked the flavor of this one best.

You can check out all of the above and more from today through Sunday – in addition to the five restaurants at the sneak-peek, downtownfood and Candela are also offering science specials. Be sure to check out the other Beakerhead events as well! Many thanks to Wendy for setting this all up and extending us an invite 🙂



Model Milk Review: Victoria’s Secret? Try Calgary’s

That's some high-fashion signage right there

New restaurants are nothing new to Calgary, and while sometimes I get around to checking them out I haven’t been the best at keeping up at writing about them.  I’ve seemed to finally get around to just sitting down and writing for a few hours, so what better chance to catch up!

The menu has changed every 2 weeks since opening!Model Milk (not "Modern Milk," as many people – including myself – have mistakenly assumed is the name) is located on 17th Ave at the edge of Victoria Park, and was started by the former executive chef at Rush.  My food enthusiast friend Matt was back in town for a visit, so it seemed like a promising choice for dinner.  We went at ~8, but one nice thing about Model Milk is that it stays open until 1AM every day of the week!  Their night menu starts around 10PM, and features a number of American classics such as fried chicken and grits.

Food and drink and bricksThe venue itself was a pretty cool mix of brick/industrial/farm elements, and also much bigger and louder than I expected (though I’m sure the lofted ceiling contributes significantly to the spacious feel).  The menu was fairly simple, with the starters and mains all fitting on a single side of paper.  There have probably been a few new iterations of the menu since I’ve visited (glancing at the menu it appears they are on #5 as of writing this sentence), however they seem to keep most of the base meats  (eg. pork, steak, chicken, duck) and mostly change the sides and preparation of the dishes for each iteration.  As you can see by the picture above, vegetarians don’t appear to be a key constituent for this establishment – the heirloom tomato salad was the only dish lacking meat or seafood.

Looking back at the picture it isn't as huge as I thought, but it probably seats 60+

At first the place seemed kind of pricey to me, but really it is pretty competitive with other "casual gourmet" restaurants – however there is relatively little variation in prices, with cocktails spanning $11-13, appetizers ranging $13-16, and mains from $25-29 (except for the $18 burger).   It isn’t too hard to spend $40-50 per person here.  Their cocktails, if a little expensive, are super-cool (I mean, a cocktail named "A’B’lliteration" with ‘B’ themed ingredients is clever on so many levels!) – they use a giant ice cube similar to what I’ve seen at Momofuku (though it doesn’t melt quite as evenly as the NYC based ones it seems), and the Black Manhattan that Matt ordered was terrific.

To solve the problem of drinks warming up, we dropped an ice cube into it, thus solving the problem once and for all!The rabbit appetizer was so cute! And clever! And delicious!



And the food!  Inventive, superbly finished, and with high-quality local ingredients – while I wasn’t the biggest fan of some of the recipes, it was hard to argue with the quality of the dishes.  We started with the rabbit and dumplings – or as I liked to refer to it, "Rabbit with Rabbit Food."  The rabbit was served in the form of cakes (similar to crab cakes), while the gnocchi-like dumplings and assorted vegetables (carrots, celery, radish – rabbit food, see? Winking smile) were scattered around in the sauce.  This dish somehow succeeded into bringing together a bunch of flavours that I don’t normally care much for and left me wanting more.  It also came out blazingly fast, probably less than 2 minutes after the waitress left with our order – fast as a hare!

Duck like it's meant to be doneNext up were the mains – pork-lovers will rejoice to hear that Model Milk offers a sausage-wrapped tenderloin, which is itself wrapped in bacon – which Matt couldn’t resist.  I only tried a slice of it, but it seriously gave me a porkgasm – the tenderloin was done medium all the way through, and the sausage and bacon were done to perfection.  I have never tasted a tenderloin half so juicy in my life!  I ordered the duck breast, which at the time was served on a bed of brown lentils – the duck breast was a superb medium-rare, though it had some gristly bits (weirdly, right in the middle of the meat) and the lentils were my least favourite part of the night.  I suspect that this restaurant abuses the hell out of sous-vide, as their meats are just a little too perfect for any other style of cooking I would guess.

We finished off with a couple of desserts, with Matt again selecting the superior one – he picked the Pot de Creme primarily because he is a self-confessed "slut for raspberries" – but the addition of mint, thyme and lemon made it a very interesting, and in fact rather refreshing dessert.  I had the pecan-bourbon pie, which was thick with molasses and quite nice (though with so many pecans that the sides of my tongue were wincing, which normally happens more often to me due to walnuts rather than pecans).

Striped like a bee, tee hee!

Ovoid-shaped ice-cream is all the rage these days








We shall meet again!

Model Milk is almost a supermodel of restaurants – professional, cutting edge, and damn sexy.  For a restaurant that was only open for five weeks when I visited, that’s a pretty impressive accomplishment.  Hopefully it keeps it up in the future, as I am sure to be back soon!



Ambiance 5.5/6
Service 5/6
Plating 6/6
Taste 5.5/6
Originality 6/6
Value 5/6
Overall 33/36 = 92%

Model Milk on UrbanspoonThat'll do, pig, that'll do