Nitrous oxide is delicious — at least many of today’s chefs seem to think so. Inspired by the acclaimed Ferran Adria and his El Bulli restaurant (www.elbulli.com) in Spain, chefs from Paris to Singapore are sticking pureed foodstuffs into nitrous-oxide canisters and spraying out creations like potato-and-lobster foam. Yum?
Recently, a small group started taking Adria’s scientific approach to food deconstruction even further. To wit: Wylie Dufresne’s fried mayonnaise. Now, mayonnaise should not fry. But at wd-50 (www.wd-50.com) in New York, they split the milk-and-oil emulsion, add some gellan to stabilize it, and, well, it fries. Diners can get involved in that kind of cooking chemistry at Alinea in Chicago (www .alinearestaurant.com) with chef Grant Achatz’s instant tropical pudding. A waiter adds hot coconut water and rum to a flaky pile of dehydrated fruit purees, and customers stir. Bam! It’s pudding. Thirsty? How about a deconstructed glass of wine? As part of its 30-course menus, José Andrés’s minibar (www.joseandres.com) in Washington, D.C., serves fermented grape in gelatin studded with lemon peel, nutmeg, and other flavors associated with wine. When you decide it’s time for dessert, head across the pond. Heston Blumenthal’s the Fat Duck (www.fatduck.co.uk) in Berkshire, England, serves moked-bacon-and-egg ice cream. The dish requires controlling tightly coiled proteins and — well, who cares? High-tech or not, this just tastes good. — J.G.