When a delicious meal has been set before you have you ever stopped and wondered if the vessels it is being served in are enhancing the flavors, smells, and presentation ability? Most likely not, but if you’re an obsessive barista working for the most well-respected small coffee chain in America, finding that level of perfection might be an idea you dwell on.
That the story of the Lino cup, a creation between ex-Intelligentsia Director of Innovation Kyle Glanville (who now runs my favorite coffee place Go Get ‘Em Tiger) and LA design studio notNeutral. Together they experimented to figure out a more optimal cup for coffee drinking.
The entire R&D process took over a year. Triangular-shaped cups intended to capture precious aromas were nixed (turns out, a triangular canvas makes for terrible latte art). Handles were shaped and reshaped. The cup’s interior curvature, or slope, was meticulously calculated, with notNeutral printing one 3D prototype after another for Glanville and his team to test in Intelligentsia’s lab. There, they pulled shots and poured milk, videotaping the entire process so, like coaches watching tape, they could replay the footage in slow motion and catch flaws in play.
“Sometimes the latte art would break,” Glanville says. “The flow of the milk would go under and bubble up on the other side, breaking the pattern at the top.” The slope was corrected. More prototypes printed. More milk poured. More tape replayed.
Food Republic has the whole story which I found fascinating. These cups are only the beginning with more on the way, including these Gino cups, which are double-walled glass vessels which they released just last week.
The old chef’s saying is that you with your eyes, and artist Wei Li’s collection of Dangerous Popsicles puts this adage to the test. She’s created unique sets of ice pops, one based on assorted forms of cacti and one based on the shape of life-threatening diseases, each of which begs the question: Would you eat these?
Designer and artist Wei Li’s collection of cacti-inspired prickly popsicles are beautiful, yet dangerous. These popsicles intrigue people with their other-worldly looks while directly alluding to the unpleasant experience of being poked by a cactus. Imagine our tongues, one of our most sensitive organs, being “massaged” by these spiky surfaces. Will pain bring pleasure?
While trained in user experience design, the designer is less concerned with enhancing user-friendliness, and more interested in the aesthetics of user-unfriendliness, and even uselessness.
Building from the cacti collection, Li’s second suite of popsicles are inspired by life-threatening viruses. What might an HIV popsicle taste like? Or would you even taste one in the first place? By fusing repulsion and delight, Li’s work emphasizes that the eyes and mind can taste as well as the tongue. The popsicles are nothing but water and sugar, but ideas of deadly viruses and the spikiness of cacti stimulate a sensory reaction, even before the first taste.
What a fun concept for a project. I’m glad that there are people out there who choose to address peculiar ideas like this.
You know that underlying feeling of spontaneously running away from everything and living somewhere new and different? Those feelings have been stirring around for a while, particularly focused on the cities of Madrid and Barcelona. Through a little research and bit of Internet digging I stumbled upon the enticing Praktik Hotels, located in the Eixample district of Barcelona.
The Praktik Bakery, a hotel that has the fully operational Baluard Bakery at it’s heart, sounds like a dream come true to yours truly. You can imagine how enchanting it must be to wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through your window.
Complimenting the delicious aromas is a cleanly designed hotel that’s lined with white tile and rustic brick throughout. The tiles in the bathroom (as seen below) are phenomenal as well. How could you not take a selfie with those luscious blues as the backdrop?
If you’re one of those people prefer to drink your meals then perhaps you should check out the just opened Praktik Vinoteca who’s theme is centered around wine. A boutique hotel similar to the Praktik Bakery, here you’ll find an ambiance made up of warm woods decorating the space, a clear reference to the iconic wine barrel.
The conceit is simple: Bring seven second graders to Daniel, a two Michelin star New York restaurant (it recently lost a star) to enjoy a seven-course meal valued at $220 a person. The result is a charming, honest look at food, taste, and the pleasures of eating. You can;t help but smile as these children give their genuinely honest critiques of each meal, in a way that only a child can do.
I appreciate head chef Daniel Boulud’s take on the endeavor, and his commitment to serving the food as it is, saying, “Children crave food they can identify. The seasoning has to be mild in a way, and simple. Here, we did it the real way.”
Last week I came upon this lovely packaging for Suiyoubi no Neko beer which is crafted by the Yo-Ho Brewing. I think the patchwork cat on the can couldn’t be more charming with a striking color palette that’s sure to catch your eye. This is but one of a series of great looking beers Yo-Ho is brewing, Serious Eats has a great rundown from last year of their line-up, which shows their care of both flavor and design.
Also of note last week was Kirin’s announcement that it would be purchasing a 30%-plus stake in Yo-Ho Brewing, showing that craft brewing is clearly the way to a larger market share. Still, the major Japanese beer producers, Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo, Santori, make up 98% of the beer market in Japan. It will be interesting to see if more small breweries are snatched up by the big guys to earn more cultural cool points.
It might (currently) be weird to admit but I’m quite interested in eating bugs. That is, with climate change upon us and food sources starting to shift there’s a growing interest in insects as a more sustainable source of food, and this concept is interesting to me. It’s also of interest to Noma and their Nordic Food Lab, which I covered on the site recently. Scientific American has a great write-up on their descent into entomophagy, the consumption of insects as food, and trying to prove that bugs are worth eating, for taste and sustainability purposes.
The Nordic Food Lab has visited seven countries on five continents where entomophagy is practiced to learn more about traditional methods of preparation. Rather than importing an insect they’ve sampled, they seek edible equivalents that can be found in Denmark, such as members of the same genus or family that are prevalent in the region. Although they’re driven by deliciousness, they also emphasize sustainability. “We’re interested in sustainability in a more systemic way by focusing on how insects may fit into larger food systems,” Evans says.
From a creativity standpoint I find it pretty cool that a team of people is integrating locusts, ants, crickets moths, and bee larva into foods like beer, soup, and ceviche. There must be quite a lot of trial and error in a process like this though I’m sure it’s a part of the challenge. For me personally a larva ceviche sounds like it might be difficult to stomach but in the hands of a team like Noma can it really be so bad?
Named almost consecutively (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014) as the Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant magazine, Noma is something beyond a restaurant. They’re best known for using locally foraged foods as well as their experimentation with food, using science and research to create startling dishes unlike anything you’ve seen before. To this end, Noma now has a “science bunker”, a series of refrigerated shipping containers which allows them to conduct experiments to discover new flavors. Scientist and research manager at Noma Arielle Johnson sums up the objective of the space quite well.
“It’s at some midway point between a test kitchen and a ‘lab’ lab,” she says. “Hopefully [the Bunker is] more like a kitchen. But we’re not actually producing dishes, we’re producing knowledge. In that sense it’s like a lab, but it’s a different discipline than a chem lab would have, it’s very much informed by the test kitchen and the service kitchen.”
You can read the full feature over on Eater.
Historically champagne has been known as a symbol of wealth and opulence. In the 17th century the champagne coupe was invented, elevating the act of drinking champagne, which became in fashion in the 1930s. Cut to 2014 and the coupe is getting a titillating new form in the shape of Kate Moss’ left breast. Yes, you read that correctly. 34, a restaurant located in the Mayfair area of London, has teamed up with artist Jane McAdam Freud to create the coupe, which is decorated with an art-deco pattern, and of course, Kate Moss’ signature.
There’s something entirely ridiculous about this concept that I love. From a press angle view point I’ve seen the story told that the coupe was originally shaped from Marie Antoinette’s breast, though that’s entirely untrue. Still, the extravagance of drinking champagne from a super model’s breast is too funny not to share. Is this the start of a new trend in sex organ shaped drinking vessels?