Went into the city Friday for an FCI Recreational course. High Tech Cocktails with Dave Arnold, Director of Culinary Technology, and Nils Noren, VP of Culinary Arts. and all I can say is I. Am. In. Love.
The evening started with learning do-it-yourself carbonation with a pretty sweet dual rig. FCI's house seltzer is a blend of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. The carbon dioxide gives it huge frothy bubbles, and the nitrous mellows out the intensity and gives it a sweet finish. Delicious. I'm going to be investing in a rig of my own and playing with my own blend. No really.
After that we got down to business with the cocktails. Gin and juice, cold buttered rum, long island bubble tea, and Swedish Explosion. Nils favors STRONG drinks. So much so that Dave calls him a "boozy" man. It's a fair description, but not a bad one, since he favors strong drinks that taste delicious. To go with the cocktails, we were treated to pork rind cracker jacks made by Dave (he makes the pork rinds from scratch, talk about hardcore),vinegar infused french fries, and rum infused pineapple. Oh yeah, and they passed around samples of their infused liquors. My favorite was the dill vodka, but the habanero vodka was a close second.
Oh yeah, and in between laughing at the banter and drinking like fishes, we learned a lot too. For instance, I can now make lime acid. That's to say, how to replicate the flavor and acidity of lime juice, without limes. We also covered how to vacuum infuse fruit with booze from home, how to clarify grapefruit juice, and how to make a butter syrup that doesn't separate.
When the course was finished, those of us brave enough to try it, headed up to Dave's office to skål. Check out the description of the ritual at their blog http://cookingissues.wordpress.com/skoal/. I did it twice :)
Chatted with Nils, Dave, Angela (another instructor), and Christina (Director of Education) for a bit. When I told Angela that I hoped to work with Dave and Nils she exclaimed, "Oh! You want to be a Techie Tart! That's awesome." Best job title ever. They're incredible people, with even better ideas, and talking to all of them was one of the highlights in my life. Did I mention I. Am. In. Love?
The pros had to get back to work, so I headed out for Part II of the adventures in the city. I can only describe my night as, well, surreal.