I often wish I’d been better at Chemistry when I was in school. It was that combination of me not finding it easy to grasp, and a teacher who was so knowledgeable in his cherished field that he found it hard to descend to my level. This all led to me viewing the subject with the same profound joy I’d feel when opening a Red Hot Chilli Peppers lyric book on Christmas Day (sample: “Music, the great communicator/Use two sticks to make it in the nature.” I rest my case, m’lud.)
Now, of course, I’m fascinated by it, but purely at a common or garden ignoramus level. If I had clicked with the subject the way I did with history or French or Latin, then who knows? I could have a job making fantastic desserts too, instead of eking out this meagre existence re-tuning Patagonian nose flutes.
Which is where Carly Karran comes in. Not content with a degree in pharmacology and a background in genetics research, she has brought Blumenthal-style molecular gastronomy to Cardiff.
Obviously, no-one ever told her about not showing off.
Now this is the Science bit, which even I can understand. Pay attention.
Liquid nitrogen is so cold that it freezes the ice cream mixture rapidly, resulting in the formation of only minuscule ice crystals, far far smaller than in traditional methods. This is because the hydrogen bonds don’t get a chance to form large crystalline structures. The size of the crystals is crucial- the smaller they are, the silkier the mouth ‘feel’ of the food. The nitrogen (-196c) quickly boils off after contact with the ice cream base, meaning that there’s no trace of it left by the time you tuck in. This means it’s also completely safe to eat.
The ice cream itself? One chocolate with marshmallow, one ‘breakfast cereal’ with peanut . You make your choice, you place your order; then right before your eyes, your ice cream takes shape. Lab flasks containing lurid colours and the lab coats of the staff complete the picture: and I might well have been watching too many late-night reruns of ancient TOTP episodes (yes, music really was better back then) on BBC4, but for readers of a certain vintage, it put me in mind of Landscape’s Einstein A Go-Go.
This is ice cream of rare smoothness. It’s dense, thick stuff, this. It’s luxurious and more than a little decadent. It’s ivory silk easing off caramel skin. It’s something to be savoured, to be lingered over.
You half-expect an ‘ALAKAZAM!’ as it emerges from the billowing smoke.
Hot chocolate (we were using my stepson’s Christmas voucher- two ice creams, two drinks) came topped with a sizeable blob of blowtorch-toasted marshmallow and was almost ridiculously comforting on a leaden-skied Cardiff day.
I love Science Cream. It does only a few things, but it does them beautifully well, rather than lose its way trying to be all things to all men. It’s not cheap, but the superiority of this ice cream- and its freshness- means it’s an indulgence worth the expense. And it’s another business founded by young people which trumps the competition, and that makes it pretty damn special in my book.
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.