27 Feb 2011

Norwegian Barista Championships: Cup Taster competitions is opened up for amateur participants

This year, the Norwegian barista championships is held in Ulsteinvik on the western coast. In addition to lectures, exhibitions etc., several competitions are held. Among the most interesting things is that the cup taster championship is now open for non-professionals. Also, I talked to the host for this year's competition: Kaffikari.

Last week, I went over to Ulsteinvik to have a chat with Kari Janne Andersen, proprietor of Kaffikari coffee bar & kitchen and got some excellent coffee/espresso as well (her espresso is among the very best I've had). I wanted to know a bit about this years Norwegian barista championships which are held in Kaffikari's hometown, Ulsteinvik. More about the other competitions below, but first a few thoughts by Kari on the upcoming competitions and what makes this year's event different.

fooducation: What are your thoughts about reaching a larger audience through this year's competitions. Is that a goal? Why?

Kari: Previous years, the competition has been held in rather secluded places; the offices of a producer in an industrial area, inside the Norwegian gastronomic institute and such places. One of the unique features about this year's competition is that it is held in an open venue which invites a non-specialist public in a whole new way.

fooducation: Was this your idea, or...?

Kari: The initiative is thanks to the Norwegian branch of SCAE, Speciality Coffee Association of Europe. SCAE is responsible for the competitions, we are the hosts and were fortunate to attract the interest from SCAE and that way were able to get the championships here.

fooducation: What's special about the place Ulsteinvik?

Kari: There are some practical/logistic benefits because it's easy to get here by plane. Also, there's just a short walk between the coffee bar and the hotel (venue for the competitions and lectures). It's got both the benefits of being somewhat rural but at the same time being urban.

4 Feb 2011

The 6X °C egg, or "opposite-boiled eggs" revisited

Some years ago I experimented and wrote about what happens if you cook an egg not in boiling water but at, say, 64 °C. I met upon some surprising results ("The opposite boiled egg"), but could not give good reasons for why. But now, at last, the answer to why has appeared in the scientific literature!

According to Harold McGee the "[...] egg white begins to thicken at 63 °C and becomes a tender solid when it reaches 65 degrees". Furthermore, "The yolk proteins begin to thicken at 65 °C and set at 70 °C [...]". (McGee, pp. 85) The molecular gastronomer Hervé This also writes about this in a similar manner in e.g. "Molecular gastronomy - Exploring the Science of Flavor".

So, for the perfect egg, keep it in a water bath at 65 °C for a long time, and you get an egg with a solid white and soft yolk. I tried cooking times between 1 and 26 hours, and at various temperatures, mostly between 62 and 68 °C.

This is of course inspired by methods used for meat where you can keep the temperature at, say, 58 °C and the meat will stay red still after a day in the water bath (low temperature and sous vide methods). It's not unnatural to think that the same applies to eggs, since both meat and eggs are mostly proteins and water.

The picture to the right shows 68 °C egg creation by Finnish chef Arto Rastas, taken from Anu Hopia's blog molekyyligastronomia. See the bottom for recipe/procedure.

The surprising result
In my experiments the eggs at 62-65 °C turned out "opposite boiled": a solidified (but not entirely solid) yolk came rolling out through a runny white! And on top of it, the time did seem to make a difference. Were my experiments poorly conducted, or was the suggested theory wrong?