Tag Archive | food

Tomato Roses and Turnip Flowers: Discussing Food Artists

What comes to mind when the phrase “artistic medium” is uttered?

Oil paints, sketch pencils, pens, and clay need not be the only options. Have you considered Swiss cheese, red cabbage, strawberries, and green beans as potential candidates?

From dried beans to egg shells, food is the ultimate example of found art. Reflect for a moment on soft tomato skin, fluorescent orange rinds, or the smooth, buttery flesh of an avocado. Talented food artists use such products as a new artistic medium, embracing the natural beauty of cuisine. In this post, I will discuss two unique food artists and will also post short instructions on ways to create beautiful, simple food art at home.

If you have not seen the work of Carl Warner, a still-life photographer based out of London, England, I urge you to continue reading. Warner is known for his trademark foodscapes—landscapes made entirely of food with plenty to admire. From red cabbage oceans to garlic bulb air balloons, Warner’s food art will undoubtedly trick your vision. At first glance, Warner’s foodscapes may appear to be the sunny Italian countryside, turbulent waves on an angry sea, or a picturesque forest in early spring. A second look at the mountains, and you’ll realize you are actually examining the rough surface of a baguette. Is the image a golden sea beneath a setting sun, or the oily surface of a salmon fillet? Warner’s foodscapes use the natural qualities of each food product, paying attention to the smallest details so the landscapes seem completely natural. Be sure to view his website for more information at www.carlwarner.com.

Christel Assante, a food artist based in France, uses a very unique product to showcase her talent—eggshells. With ostrich, duck, pheasant, and quail shells, Assante uses dentist tools in a four-step process involving sketching, engraving, carving, and painting (“Light on Christel Assante: Egg Shell Carver” n.pag.).

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Photo Credit: Art et Artisanat du Monde

In an interview, Assante says that the porous quality of eggshells allows for a variety of carving techniques and she affirms that tools with the least amount of vibration are the best option for the delicate nature of eggshell carving (“Light on Christel Assante: Egg Shell Carver” n.pag.). Assante’s intricate designs include owls in mid-flight, dragons, violent ocean waves, and detailed portraiture.

The work of the two food artists I’ve discussed above is magnificent. But how accessible is it for the everyday cook? If you are looking for simple ways to incorporate artistic, sophisticated elements into your dishes, I can willingly offer a suggestion.

Tomato roses are a simple, beautiful option for garnishing. Using a sharp knife, tomato roses transform a spinach or Caprese salad into an impressive culinary delight.

Here is a very helpful tutorial:

Consider serving the roses on fresh mozzarella with basil and coarse salt for a summer appetizer. Watermelon roses, though beautiful, are more elaborate, requiring special carving tools for an appropriate result. Watermelon roses may be a good option once you have mastered tomato roses.

Article Sources

“Light on Christel Assante: Egg Shell Carver.” Art et Artisanant du Monde. N.p. N.d. Web. 6 June 2012.

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Art-Inspired Dining: Wonderfully Creative Restaurants

Back straight. Elbows off the table. Chew slowly.

Tired of stuffy dining rooms and strict etiquette?

We’ve all experienced it: boring people, boring atmosphere, and the food– anything but stimulating.

However, the three businesses I will be reviewing today are anything but conventional. Stunningly original and endlessly creative, these businesses invite you to open your mind, lose your inhibitions, and excite your palate in artistic ways.

Alinea, a restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, offers inventive dishes that are true works of art. Creating inspired dishes using such ingredients as hibiscus, thai banana, and daikon, Alinea is at the forefront of culinary innovation.

Grant Achatz is the head chef at Alinea and many of his dishes are created using molecular gastronomy (changing the food at the molecular level).

But how does he incorporate art into his cuisine?

Visually, the dishes are astonishing. Aesthetics and the organization of all elements of the meal are carefully planned out and executed.

In the embedded video, pay attention to the care Achatz takes when making the dessert.

The frozen chocolate mousse, once pulverized into a mass of light brown rubble, has the danger of looking messy. However, Achatz frames the mousse with a sprinkling of sweet cream dots and milk chocolate squares. A simple smear of blueberry sauce, expertly placed brown sugar crème brule, and blueberries poached in red wine help complete dessert. Once finished, the meal looks a great deal like abstract art.

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Dessert @ Alinea in Chicago, Illinois

Credit: yellow truffle @ lthforum.com

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Kandinsky’s Unbroken Line

Eating the dessert becomes a shared experience between the diners, and everyone can luxuriate in the aesthetic beauty of the dish. Visit www.alinea-restaurant.com for a detailed look at the menu, the restaurant, press, and more.

The next restaurant that I will be discussing focuses more on combining food and literature. Alice of Magic World, an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant based in Tokyo, Japan, combines dining with literature so it seems you may have slipped into a magical unreality. The restaurant uses elements from the novel by Lewis Carrol as inspiration for the décor and the menu. A heart-shaped table, booths hidden in a maze garden, playing card tables and chandeliers, and illustrations of Alice in her marvelous misadventures create a wonderfully psychedelic experience.

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Maze Garden Booths @ Alice of Magic World in Tokyo, Japan

Credit: Fantastic Designs

While absorbing the mind-bending atmosphere, devour some of the Alice-inspired dishes. For example, try the Cheshire cat tail pizza, if you feel so inclined.  Search through pictures of the restaurant, as well as pictures of other Fantastic Design projects, at www.f-fantastic.com.

Artiste, a company based in Los Olivos, California, produces lovely blends of wine from its very own sun drenched vineyards. Each blend, however, is created with inspiration from the Impressionist paintings that grace the label. For example, Cupid Takes Aim, a Bordeaux-style blend inspired by a painting by James-Paul Brown, is one wine out of virtually hundreds of which to choose.

Another fascinating detail- many of the bottles are sealed with a traditional coloured wax, making the experience all the more unique. Browse the website at www.artiste.com.

Exploring Food as Art: An Introduction

Turnip flowers. Chocolate handbags. Frozen butter figurines.

Food as art. Avant-garde dining. Exciting culinary escapades. Food can be treated as a material to be combined with visuals and music. It’s a trend that breaks away from traditional notions surrounding cuisine and dining. According to critic Glenn Kuehn, food blurs the distinction between high and low art, creating “an aesthetic interaction with the environment that becomes a part of a communal experience” (209).

Artistic innovations in dining, as I have mentioned, vary considerably from tradition. In the past, the dining area was the location in which good etiquette was tested and refined (Greenberg para 1). Manners, proper use of tableware, and appropriate menus and recipes distinguished high classes from the low, and were indicative of shifting social and economic values (Greenberg para 1). In short, good etiquette has historically been about class distinctions- not so much about cuisine. However, good etiquette does not always need to be the primary focus of dining. Modern restaurants may employ visuals and music in a movement away from apprehensions toward food and dining experimentation, creating unusual (yet wonderful) dining experiences.

Food as art is, in my mind, a completely natural union. Cuisine evokes aesthetic responses. A braided loaf of brioche or the syrupy thickness of balsamic vinegar can be appreciated in the same way that one admires a Van Gogh or a Matisse.

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Credit: Geekosystem via Inscrutables

Furthermore, the aesthetics of food are incorporated within a larger human experience in which cultural values are embedded. Artistic culinary innovations allow for food to transform our experience of living, offering a “unified aesthetic experience” (Kuehn 209).

Bom-Bane’s in Brighton, England is an excellent example of a restaurant that combines food with art to create a truly innovative dining experience. While feasting on lovely Belgian and European dishes, patrons have the opportunity to be entertained by musician Jane Bom-Bane, the owner of the restaurant, who is well known for her unique songs and moving, mechanical hats.

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Credit: http://www.janebombanes.co.uk

Jane Bom-Bane performs her own songs on a piano in the dining room of her restaurant; some of the songs include, “I’ve Got a Goldfish Bowl on My Head” and, “The Edinburgh Mermaid” (all songs copyright Jane Bom-Bane). In terms of incorporating food and art, diners at Bom-Bane’s have the chance to have their dinner literally sung to them so that they may become knowledgeable of the delicious intricacies of the dish. Sample dishes include Oxford Pork with Belgian Beer Gravy, Grilled Goat Cheese Salad, and Chocowafflettes– chocolate-coated dessert waffles (all dishes copyright Bom-Bane’s). Please take time to visit the website at www.bom-banes.co.uk.

I hope this brief introduction to innovations with food and art has been interesting. Subsequent posts will be more specific (think chocolate and sugar art, food artists, etc.). In the meantime, try to experiment with food. Enjoy the art and beauty of it. Always explore. Happy dining!

Article Sources:

Greenberg, Carol A. “Etiquette Books.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Ed. Gordon Campbell. Oxford University Press, 2003.  University of Windsor. 20 May 2012 <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t170.e0289&gt;

Kuehn, Glenn. “Chapter 11: How Can Food Be Art?” The Aesthetics of Everyday Life. Oxford University Press, USA. 2007.