Get high to Sigur Rós thanks to Lord Jones’ Sigurberry Gumdrops

Sigur Rós and Lord Jones Sigurberry Gumdrops

Getting high and listening to Sigur Rós is an obvious combination and the group themselves seem to agree. Last week they released a new collaboration with Lord Jones, a boutique maker of cannabis infused products, creating the Sigurberry, a THC infused gumdrop made from natural ingredients.

Sigur Rós and Lord Jones come together to bring you cannabis-infused gumdrops inspired by the flavors of foraged Icelandic berries~wild blackberries, strawberries and blueberries, infused with the world’s finest cannabis blends. This limited edition product collaboration includes a proprietary terpene blend designed to provide a calming sense of well being inspired by the music of Sigur Rós.

The limited-edition offerings come as a box of nine pieces bearing a Sigur Rós crest created by london-based illustrator Andrew Rae. I love the beautiful blue color of the box, which offsets the illustration and gold leaf, as well as the gold lining of the inside of the packaging. It’s exciting seeing marijuana based products leaving the world of stoner culture and becoming more mainstream.

April 17, 2017 / By

Restaurant A.T, where chef Atsushi Tanaka melds eating with design

Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

The officially unofficial tagline of the site for the last ten years has been, “Eat. Drink. Design.” These are the elements that I’ve focused on to ensure a happy and healthy life. (Well, happy at the very least.) I enjoy the phrase because of it’s simplicity yet each word has a nearly endless depth of meaning. And, for me, these ideas are intertwined.

For example: I’ve had nights where a few glasses of whiskey late at night brought an epiphany on a branding project, which I imagine to be fueled by intoxication. Or, I’ve spent a night figuring out the right blends of alcohol, mixers, ice, etc. to create a fantastic cocktail, finding the right balance, designing a drink. These three functions are me at my simplest: designing what we consumed and consuming what is designed.

Often the “Eat” and “Design” are more abstractly related. How do they come together and what does designed eating manifest?

That’s what Atsushi Tanaka is doing with his menu at Restaurant A.T in Paris. Kyle surprised me with a visit, treating us to a 12 course tasting menu that blew my mind thanks to the chef’s ability to create visually stunning dishes with flavors that were unlike any I’d ever tasted before.

Here’s a breakdown of the dishes and the way I view food and design coming together.


Leek / Brown Butter

Image at top of post.

This was an optically stunning way to start the meal. Visually my mind reads this as “purple, flowers, pink dust, bite-size form factor… this must be something sweet.” To start, Chef Tanaka visually tricks your brain because this is a leek filled with oniony flavor made richer by a drizzle of brown butter sauce on top.

One other brilliant thing the restaurant does is hand out—or not hand out—cutlery for each course so you know exactly how you need to eat each dish. This dish came with nothing, implying that you grab it with your fingers and pop it in your mouth. Such a fun dish.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

White Asparagus/Oyster

Love this dish because of the simplicity, both in presentation and flavor. The white asparagus was dotted with an oyster sauce… and it could have been left that way. Instead you’re being presented an image of spring freshness thanks to the inclusion of the tiny yellow flower petals. The wax paper is also interesting because it adds some texture to the dish overall but probably also works functionally by keeping the asparagus in place as it’s carried to the table.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Beetroot

Well, sadly, this dish doesn’t win any visual awards, but where it did earn marks was with the way it smelled. The beets were served two ways: Pureed into a logo shape on a disc (top right corner of photo) which was a bit clumsy, and then roasted and smoked on a bed of juniper leaves. When the dishes were brought out the room began smelling of smokey juniper, making everyone’s heads lift in unison, sniffing at the air and trying to discern what was headed their direction.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Ceviche of Squid / Yuzu

This is what all dishes called “ceviche of squid” should look like: a spring inspired palette, fresh herbs, the yuzu coloring the broth a pale gold. It honestly reminded me of an Easter basket, which may have also been informed by the size of the vessel it was served in. It was just the right size to fit into the palm of your hand.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Pieurotes / Poultry / Spider Crab

I’m a sucker for mushrooms which is what a pieurote is. This soup instantly made my mouth water. This easily could have been a brown broth with brown and tan mushrooms and it wouldn’t have been visually appealing. Chef Tanaka perked it up a bit with some greens and a smart choice of a blue bowl.

From a taste perspective this was one of my favorites because the broth was made from a mix of chicken and crab which made for an intensely powerful flavor.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Camouflage: Arctic Char / Juniper / Parsley

Camouflage, from what Kyle told me, is something of the chef’s signature dish. The shards of green dusted with white are meant to conceal the dishes secret: there’s a delicious bed of arctic char hiding underneath waiting to be uncovered. I didn’t do a great job capturing the height of the camouflage but I thought it was so fun exploring this dish, uncovering more and more depth.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Beef / Jerusalem Artichoke / Hay

I don’t think I had equated beef tartare with love until I had this dish. When I saw this dish a lot of stereotypical imagery popped into my head, “red means love, leaves look like hearts, the white artichoke slivers look like meringue cupcake decorations.” Visually it read to me like a dish you would serve someone on Valentine’s Day, which in my brain is very sweet and heart-warming. There’s also a lot of warm reds, golds, and purples coming together to form a warm hued palette.

From a flavor perspective this was bonkers because the beef tartare was smoked with the hay. I now want all of my foods to be smoked, thanks.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Scallop / Celeriac / Dill

The chef has now taken us from Camouflage—which had a super green palette—to the tartare—which was warmer hued—and now to the scallop dish, which has a very light, creamy tone to it. If you go back to the first image and scroll back through, you’ll see that each dish is visually differentiated from the ones before and after it, which makes each feel like it’s own unique experience. Chef Tanaka is designing a visual story that your brain is tracking with each dish, and because the dishes come every 10 to 15 minutes or so, they each need to feel like they have their own identity.

As for this dish, scallops are the best so this was amazing.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Turbot / Spring Onion / Cockles

With the turbot dish (Turbot is the fish.) he’s now melded both the green and cream colored palettes which is nice to see. The fish is lightly dusted with the green which acts as a bridge between the colors, unifying the color story of the dish. I also think the darker toned but neutrally colored plate was a smart choice, it allows the turbot to really pop off the plate. It’s also funny to see the green dusting on the leaves which makes their greenness even more green.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Lamb from Quercy / Oca / Black Garlic

I didn’t feel like the presentation of this plate really hit the mark. Everything feels too brown, there isn’t enough contrast on the plate, and it’s a bit disjointed in the placement of objects. Maybe if the plate had been a light blue or even a pinkish hue it would have read better? And maybe if the food and been centered more tightly on the plate it would have read as a better union?

That said, my lamb was cooked to perfection: I couldn’t have asked for a better cut. It was especially nice mixing it in with the black garlic that dotted the plate. What was also nice was the slivers of ginger that sat on top of the oca halves which gave it a bit of tartness.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Hinoki / Pepper of Jamaique / Blackberry

I posted an image of this on my socials as a preview to this post because this dessert was so out there. I mean: it’s a grey, monochromatic dish! Yet I’m so captivated by it and honestly surprised that I wanted to eat it. If I told you “I had the most amazing grey stuff for dessert.” you’d think I was crazy. But, when you see it, you get sucked into its intrigue and mystery. My first impression is that it looked like the chef had scooped up a bit of the moon and placed it on my plate.

I also have to mention that the flavor of the ice cream was of hinoki wood and pepper. It was insane. Mixed together with the blackberry it was a truly phenomenal flavor profile.


Restaurant A.T, Paris - Chef Atsushi Tanaka

Sorrel / Lovbage / Avocado

Which takes us to our final dish, a dessert that smelled as green as it looked. Literally you could smell an earthy green enter the room as the dishes arrived. I like that Chef Tanaka ended with this for two reasons. First, it was the antithesis of the last dish. If the last dish was a scoop of the moon, this was a scoop of green, grassy earth. It helped finish his story with a breath of life. Second, it acted as a perfect palette cleanser. My mouth literally tasted like the idea of “fresh.”


I hope this helped illustrate how I see the relationship between food and design. Anything can be designed and the way food looks—the size and ergonomics of food, the plates you serve food on, the colored demarcations of what is and isn’t edible—is all a part of the way you experience food. All of those elements should be considered to make eating a truly enjoyable user experience. That’s exactly what Restaurant A.T did.

April 12, 2017 / By

Frenchie to Go campaign by Content Design Lab

One of my favorite places to grab a quick bite while I was in Paris was Frenchie to Go, a quick service cafe located in the 2nd arrondissement. The place is a bit quirky with a unique menu (a fantastic breakfast sandwich) so it makes sense to have that unique sense apply to advertising as well. The folks at Content Design Lab created some offbeat graphics and flyers that highlight the unique voice and style of FTG.

Frenchie to Go awareness campaign by Content Design Lab

Frenchie to Go awareness campaign by Content Design Lab

December 26, 2015 / By

Grand Cru Cold Brew by Stumptown

It feels like “artisanal coffee” has had it’s day in the sun but then another interesting innovation comes along and makes me feel like there’s still more there. This seems to be the case with Stumptown’s new Grand Cru Cold Brew, which is a batch of rare Gesha seeds from Honduras that have been cold brewed which brings out a “bright and clean, with notes of orange blossom, juice of papaya, and a sweet crème brûlée finish.”

Plus look at that bottle! It’s gorgeous! Does anyone know who created the graphics?

November 30, 2015 / By

Paul Eshelman Ceramic Tea Set

The American Museum of Ceramic Art has some great pieces in their collection (which you can see here) but this tea set by Paul Eshelman really caught me eye. Created in 1985 the slip cast red stoneware has a minimal Memphis vibe which I’m loving. How great would it be to bust this out after a nice dinner party?

Paul Eshelman Tea Set

November 10, 2015 / By

These Pour Souls pairs cocktails and creativity

Steering the site toward a food and drinks from a design angle, I set up a simple rule: don’t post restaurant reviews or recipes. I’m skirting close to my rules by writing about a site I recently came across called These Pour Souls. The Idaho based site shares drink recipes that are exemplified by some absolutely stunning photos, such as the Blue Moon you see above. Cocktails seem to be posted about a once a week so I’d recommend you follow them on Instagram to keep updated.

September 15, 2015 / By

Pablo & Rusty’s coffee branding by Manual

I love a good coffee branding project and the folks at Manual have continued to impress with their work for Sydney based coffee roasters, Pablo & Rusty’s. What I always find impressive is the breadth of the work as Manual has put their stamp on nearly aspect of the business, not just some business cards or a cup design.

We began by taking inspiration from the core of their business—the humble coffee sacks and stencil typography often found printed on them—and reinterpreted this as modern, sophisticated custom-drawn logotype. In our research we discovered that many of their customers and staff referred to them as ‘P&R’ for short, so we recommended building on that brand recognition and created a monogram that would work at small sizes. This duality in naming and branding provided the backbone for all print, packaging, and retail design elements.

September 8, 2015 / By

Inspiration from Jen Agg, owner of The Black Hoof, and thoughts on a future in food

In the next 10 years I plan on opening a restaurant somewhere in the world. I’ve had this thought in my head for a while but I know that right now isn’t the right time. I love being a creative director at Disney–I have an amazing team, a supportive boss, a crazy amount of exciting projects in the pipeline–and it would be dumb to walk away from such a transformative time. In the meantime though I’m planning what that next thing will be, my mid-life crisis/masterpiece.

I’m writing all of this because I’m feeling particularly inspired by a recent interview with Jen Agg, the owner of The Black Hoof, speaking with the Eater Upsell. I first came across Jen and the Black Hoof when she wrote one of my favorite essays, titled, Vodka Is Stupid, which is expensive, flavorless and not worth drinking.

Now what I love about Jen is her thoughts on being a restauranteur, especially being a person who’s not a chef, and the real challenges associated.

Yeah, it’s really interesting. I think it’s very hard to manage people. I was just talking to someone last night about this and what I do. And I mean, I can open restaurants and make restaurants with one arm tied behind my back. I find it very easy, which is why I was saying earlier that if I sort of am identified at my death as a restaurateur, I will have woefully fucked up my 40s. It’s not what I want to do forever. I mean, it’s fun, I enjoy it, I love it, and I know that it’s challenging, and I know that it’s hard for a lot of people. I’m not trying to be glib about it, but I get it. I’m good at it, and I want to do other things. But managing people is the most challenging thing in the world.

It’s so difficult, and if you’re already kind of in that zone of being a chef and being a cook and so focused on that, to add being a restaurateur on top of that…Maybe Danny Meyer has done some work to change this, but I think a lot of the time the art of the restaurateur, the craft of the restaurateur, it’s very ignored. If my restaurant, The Black Hoof, had opened with brighter lights and quiet music, which was certainly still the trend in Toronto at that time — The Hoof really did change that — it would be a completely different story. And a lot of people would argue that, and a lot of “friends of cooks” would say, “Well no, if the food is good, the food is good.” And that can be true in a certain kind of restaurant, but it’s not true in a casual fine-dining restaurant. The atmosphere is hugely important, it gets very downplayed and underplayed, the role of that.

Those two paragraphs did a lot to alleviate the fears I have of opening a restaurant but not being a chef. I do know how to manage people, I have a 20 person staff, and I think I have pretty good taste and a sense of curation, another aspect that Jen touches on. She also mentions how important hiring is, finding the right staff that truly gets it.

And I don’t hire them because they don’t make sense, they’re not a fit, they don’t — they’re not it-getters. I don’t know exactly how to put my finger on it, but I’m, like, really, really careful. And as a result, almost no one quits. We’re hiring someone at The Hoof, so if you know anyone good, that would be great! We’ll move you to Toronto. It’s been three years since I had to hire someone, and I’m dreading it. ’Cause I hate having to go through that process with someone.

Having a positive, like-minded culture is so critical to success, be it a design team or the staff of a restaurant. Without that glue nothing can possibly work, or it’ll work for a while but eventually things fall apart.

If you’ve made it this far you may have noticed a serious food slant to the site. This post is an insight into that shift because it’s where my head is at, and honestly, has been at for a while. I was reluctant to shift away from design and toward food but I can honestly say that the two are inextricably entwined together for me. I have no interest in posting recipes or restaurant reviews, that’s far too mundane. There’s a fascinating intersection between the world of design and food and drinks that I feel needs to be explored more fully, one that hasn’t quite been approached in the way my brain thinks. A big thanks to Jen for giving my a sign that this is the path I need to be exploring.

September 7, 2015 / By

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