Walter Mencken 9:21 p.m., Oct. 20
Fiji Yogurt and Ferran Adria
Finding molecular gastronomy at a Hillcrest fro-yo parlor.
I remember watching videos of Ferran Adria explaining spherification and how elBulli’s kitchen could make any kind of liquid into a kind of caviar. The reaction between sodium alginate and calcium compounds, naturally occurring in the food or otherwise, would cause the liquids to form a thin, spherical membrane filled with the original liquid. Needless to say, I was stunned and amazed by such culinary magic, knowing full well I’d never get to eat at elBulli.
Now, imagine my surprise when I walked into Fiji Yogurt and saw spherified passion fruit juice sitting there, next to the lychee jelly and strawberries, ready to go on top of my taro yogurt.
In yet another example of the Great Chain of Gastronomy, something that started out on the absolute culinary fringe is now at the last stop on the line to ubiquity. Last summer, I saw the same thing happen with bacon-flavored desserts, when they finally reached full expression in the Burger King bacon sundae. Now, spheres have run out of places to go. They’re fully assimilated and anybody with a $5 bill can get some.
Of course, Fiji’s sphere’s probably come out of a factory somewhere and their skins are thicker than the legendary colloids at elBulli, which were supposed to have had skins so thin as to be almost imperceptible. There is a natural erosion and as trends make their way outwards to the periphery, but the spheres at Fiji still burst with juice and mime the unique “pop” of caviar.
I recommend them to anybody who ever wanted to make that trip to Spain and didn’t stand a chance of going.