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Food as Art

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Eat Your Art — Priceless Pork Belly at the Asian Art Museum

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 1:30 PM

  • Asian Art Museum
Chef Tim Luym’s grandmother, now 94, worries — as grandmothers do — about him getting enough to eat. When he visited her in the Philippines during summer break from Santa Clara University, she insisted (several times) on showing him how to make a dish that she’d made while he was growing up — made with pork trotters, shitake mushrooms or chestnuts when in season, either over rice or in a sandwich.

So when officials at the Asian Art Museum asked Luym to participate in the event, PORK, a tribute to the “meat-shaped stone,” a piece of jasper carved to resemble pork belly in the current Emperors’ Treasures exhibition, he immediately thought of his grandma’s dish. That dish meant comfort to him, and it’s basically what he’s making for the event, he says, presented with a little more finesse.

“It’s a Chinese sauce with tangerine peel and cloves,” he says. “Then I’m using Carolina rice to sort of make it both America and Chinese. There’s scallions and ginger and quail eggs and the shitake mushrooms. They really soak up the sauce. Then there’s Chinese chives to finish it off.”

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Who Wants an Erotic Dinner Party With Naked Sushi?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 11:00 AM

If Fellini’s Satyricon is your idea of a good movie to watch while eating, RavishSF’s Erotic Underground Dinner Series might be a good alternative to going out for tacos. The sensuous (and gluten-free) supper returns to Soma’s Drake Lounge Saturday, May 9 for a seven-course meal centered on Nyotaimori, the art of “naked sushi,” where a human being lying perfectly still serves as the platter.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

See Mistress Play, an Amazing BDSM Food Blog

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 10:30 AM

  • Quadshock/Shutterstock

BDSM play parties at dungeons tend to be alcohol-free events, but there’s almost always a snack table. I dimly recall one time after I’d been on the receiving end of a sound flogging, and I stood there, my back smarting, as I unwrapped and ate one Babybel cheese after another while floating away on the endorphins.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Run Away to the Circus-Themed Lunch at SFMOMA Tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Blue Bottle's cotton candy trio inspired by Paul Klee's "Lion Man." - SFMOMA
  • Blue Bottle's cotton candy trio inspired by Paul Klee's "Lion Man."

It's a well-established fact that Blue Bottle at SFMOMA makes awesome food in conjunction with the museum's special exhibits, like the recent edible glitter-adorned ice cream float for the Cindy Sherman show. The pastry wizards are at it again, making a trip-colored cotton candy (flavored with orange blossom, honey, and black sea salt) based on the "Lion Man" painting in the new Paul Klee Circus show. But that's not all! Tomorrow at lunch, there will be a special pop-up from Straw, the circus-themed restaurant in Hayes Valley.

See also:

- Drink in Art: Blue Bottle's Glittery Ice Cream Float at SFMOMA

- At SFMOMA, These Works of Art Can Give You a Sugar Rush

- "Craft of Coffee": Checking Out Blue Bottle's New Book

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Friday, October 26, 2012

See Eerie Renditions of San Francisco in Jell-O

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Palace of Fine Arts. - LIZ HICKOK

Talk about playing with your food: San Francisco-based artist Liz Hickok has created eerie, beautiful cityscapes of our fair metropolis using a medium known to most of us as dessert: Jell-O. Her photographs will be on display this weekend during San Francisco Open Studios, where you can also take a peek at her next work-in-progress: Jelly NYC.

See also:

- It's Better With Jell-O

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Friday, February 17, 2012

The Alinea Project's Allen Hemberger on Mastering Maltodextrin and Mocking Up an Anti-Griddle

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM

"Bubblegum, long pepper, crème fraîche, hibiscus" from the Alinea Project. - ALLEN HEMBERGER
  • Allen Hemberger
  • "Bubblegum, long pepper, crème fraîche, hibiscus" from the Alinea Project.

Allen Hemberger, a visual-effects artist at Pixar with no culinary training whatsoever, had a conversion experience the first time he went to Alinea, arguably the tabernacle of modernist cooking in the United States. "I was really floored by the whole thing," he says. "It was my first exposure to presenting food as art -- so beautiful and poetic."

In 2008, Hemberger's girlfriend bought him the Alinea Book for Christmas, and he flipped through its pages, simultaneously marveling over the pictures and scoffing at the idea that anyone could make the recipes at home. "I was amused and irritated. It almost seemed like a bluff. I thought, 'I'm just going to try one of these,'" he says. The recipe was caramel powder. It took him six tries to get it right, making a caramel and then mixing it with tapioca maltodextrin. The results, he says, were "magic." The Alinea Project, Hemberger's primary hobby and beautifully photographed blog, was born.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Candy Heart Valentine's Day Graffiti Might Make Lonely Folks Feel Better

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 12:39 PM

You know how candy corn tastes like sugary candles, and Peeps taste like sugary foam, and candy hearts are pretty much just sugary chalk? Over on our sister blog The Exhibitionist, our funny, talented, and entirely un-housebroken writer Angela Lutz has put the hearts-are-just-chalk theory to the test ... and managed to let us know just how she feels about Valentine's Day:


First, she decorated the stairs outside her apartment.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Our Dinner with the Dead at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

Posted By on Mon, Jun 6, 2011 at 9:28 AM

It's a dead man's party, who could ask for food? - SARAH KERMENSKY
  • Sarah Kermensky
  • It's a dead man's party, who could ask for food?

We had no idea what to expect with this weekend's dead-artist dinner party at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Would it be a goofy farce, or dreary and overserious? Would it be participatory, or would we be merely spectators? And how about the food?

Opening prelude: a table of small bites from Bar Bambino, including deviled eggs, leek and mushroom frittata, and buffalo mozzarella and tapenade on crostini. Promising!

Leek and mushroom frittata. - SARAH KERMENSKY
  • Sarah Kermensky
  • Leek and mushroom frittata.

These snacks, as well as jugs of lavender water and wild huckleberry and mint tea, bore subtle meanings within the event's highly literary framework. The conceit was that 12 dead celebrities, through an elaborate metaphysical contrivance/wormhole, had ended up at a dinner salon hosted by Virginia Woolf. Over the course of two hours, McSweeney's editor and poet Jesse Nathan held forth with imagined dialogue and dramatic interplay between the guests, told with a coffeehouse spoken-word flow. The words were interspersed with the freeform jazz of musician Chris Janzen.

Lest you think "How dreary," rest assured this was an accomplished piece of artistry. Janzen and Nathan have honed the piece over two years of intense collaboration, improved with the recent addition of a live band. Janzen's prose was sharp, diabolical, accessible, and obtuse, and the result was a moody melodrama for the intelligentsia (Billie Holiday's date is in the kitchen getting frisky with Virginia Woolf: quel scandale!) Though perhaps better suited for a smaller, more dimly lit venue, the piece nonetheless managed to draw you into its bizarro universe, not letting go for the duration.

But it wasn't really a dinner party. SFoodie is no stranger to the arts, and this was primarily an event for the mind, not the stomach. Don't get us wrong: The small bites, savory at the beginning and sweet at intermission, were totally fine. It's just that the actual food was secondary to the playacting, and we were hungry by show's end. Oh, the price of art ...

A vinyl version of the event can be purchased on Chris Janzen's website.

New York refugee Jesse Hirsch tweets at @Jesse_Hirsch. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

No. 9: Pistachio-Chocolate Landscape at Atelier Crenn

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2011 at 8:05 AM

Juan Contreras's pistachio-chocolate landscape at Atelier Crenn. - BRIAN SMEETS/BRIAN SMEETS PHOTOGRAPHY

SFoodie's countdown of our 92 favorite things to eat and drink in San Francisco, 2011 edition.

Much of the food at Atelier Crenn, Dominique Crenn's laboratory/gallery/restaurant, is designed to be contemplated, a visual interpretation of the season. Baby vegetables are arranged to look like they are growing out of snow-covered "soil"; potato chips are perched on tree branches. Sometimes the gustatory dimension of the dish slips too far behind the visual, but with Juan Contreras's desserts ― like this landscape wrought in chocolate and pistachio that SFoodie ate a few months ago ― are fully realized.

Not only did the dessert resemble penjing, Chinese "tray landscapes," eating it was like scrambling up a steep forest path, encountering new sights at every turn: Cracking a craggy slab of flash-frozen chocolate mousse, a vine of salted pistachio puree might appear. A fork, stabbed into a tuft of airy pistachio cake ― that's the stuff that looks like moss ― might pick up a hunk of poached pear hidden beneath it, too.

When Contreras, a cook on the savory side of the kitchen, announced that he wanted to try his hand at pastry, Crenn sent him to Alinea in Chicago to intern, and you can sense some of Grant Achatz's improvisational, stream-of-consciousness style in the way Contreras brings many complementary flavors together, so that each bite reveals a different facet of the whole. Of course, this pistachio-chocolate dessert was a winter one, and Crenn and Contreras have moved on to new landscapes. But SFoodie continues to marvel over the memory, the true sign of a great dish.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tonight: Final Meatpaper Event at SFMOMA

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Ryan Ostler and Katharine Zacher. - MEATPAPER/FLICKR
  • Meatpaper/Flickr
  • Ryan Ostler and Katharine Zacher.
Tonight: Final Meatpaper Event at SFMOMA Where: Rooftop Garden at SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000 When: Thurs., April 21, 6-8 p.m. Cost: Free with half-price museum entry; Tasting plates $5 (3 for $12)

The rundown: It only started last spring, but we couldn't really picture it ending. Meatpaper's Thursday night art-and-eat affairs at SFMOMA are always a ball, intersecting live performance and innovative food without a hint of bourgie pretense. Museum admission is half-price, beer and wine is free, and you always meet some fascinating glitterati. Tonight's cooks will again play with edible flowers, including Leah Rosenberg from Blue Bottle, Morgan Maki and Linh Phu of Bi-Rite, Josey Baker of Josey Baker Bread, and Ryan Ostler and Katharine Zacher of Gypsy Kitchen and Catering. There will also be screenings of Allen Ginsberg home movies and Ginsberg-inspired performance art throughout the evening. Skip your sitcoms and get a sitter for the weans; tonight's your last chance.

Check out other upcoming events on SFoodie.
New York refugee Jesse Hirsch tweets at @Jesse_Hirsch. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.
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