Dream Christmas Cake

by Guillemette Barthouil Dreams are in season. Days blur into nights, the northern darkness plays with our minds. We awake with cake: our dreamed christmas cake – a midwinter feast to celebrate the light. Longer days – a taste of what has and is to come. We have had one of our whiteboards emblazoned for months with the phrase “DREAM CHRISTMAS CAKE” and filled upwith all sorts of related brainstorms. Then, in late fall, the Sustainable Food Trust asked us to make a dessert for a conference they were organising in London entitled ‘True Cost Accounting: Food and Farming’ – a key issue in our current food system. The event was to be held in early December. It was close enough to Christmas: time to actually make the cake we had been dreaming up for months. Traditionally, much of the food eaten at Christmas is preserved in one way or another … Read more

Roasting Koji

by Josh Evans Finished koji smells amazing. It is fruity and floral, with an underlying hint of fresh mushrooms. And it changes depending on the substrate: rice and quinoa give a nuttier aroma, sunflower seeds and buckwheat are more earthy, and beans give a smell that is entirely savoury. At the beginning of this year, we began thinking of how we could broaden this flavour spectrum even further. Maybe it was the zeitgeist in our little family at the time – Rosio in the noma test kitchen began to roast the koji and it gained an entirely different flavour profile. When we began doing the same on the boat, our first method was to roast the loose grains at 160˚C for 30-40 minutes. The koji became deep and rich, with aromas reminiscent of chocolate, coffee, caramel, and toast. Some of our trials retained hints of their original fruity and floral … Read more

Hop into it

by Justine de Valicourt Overview We did a lot of different things to hops. Some worked, some didn’t. An exploration of the life of Humulus lupulus beyond beer. When people ask, we say the lab is funded by independent foundations, private businesses, and government sources. This is true; though really, we should start saying producers, passion, and the sheer generosity of people. We recently asked a hops supplier from Germany to send us 2 kg of two kinds of fresh hops to experiment on the curing process and the effects on beer taste. Our aim was to investigate flavours in other ways of preparing hops than the conventional quick-drying method. Yet instead of 2kg, we received 12 kg of each variety. 24 kg of fresh hops is a lot. A – lot. We don’t think this was a mistake, because we received even more a few days after. Beyond the fact that … Read more