what (free stuff) i got out of tedxcambridge

[by john]

as naveen alluded to, tedx was such a phenomenal event that it has so far eluded my attempts at summary or theme-threading. i learned so many things, from academic, communication, and even emotional standpoints, but i shouldn't write them all down, lest i use my budget of run-on sentences for the year.

instead, i'll look back via the very grad student lens of the freebies i got.


i'm so glad i stumbled into a volunteer position that let me meet every speaker. mike and i were running the floor - mike the slides, me the stage - so we got to chat with and advise each speaker during their practice slots.

all this small talk and handshaking helped de-deify food gods like kenji alt and wylie dufresne, while also putting faces on some remarkable ideas and accomplishments, such as david waters' community servings.


the presentations all ran off of my computer, which means that i now have gigabytes of food porn (dufresne had a 14 minute slide deck) and great stock images like this from john gertsen:

see those wigs? those guys are colonizing, not thinking about what's in the bowl.


francisco migoya supplied the audience with free chocolate-maple-brioche-bacon bars, delicious examples of his pursuit of non-traditional food pairings. my pimenton-cantelope combination last night seems downright pedestrian compared to that. which is good; it gives me license to explore.


besides defending the thesis that the company you keep at a bar matters more than the drinks you drink there, john gertsen (and ted, of no. 9 park) presented an à la minute pousse-café. this strange collection of french words was made by raising two straws - one filled with bitters, one with cassis - up out of a glass of soda. the bitters floated, the cassis sank, et voila, layers!

the two barmen came well equipped with lots of straws, and i offhandedly mentioned i might steal some. (note: i have been lusting after such black straws for a while now - they're way more elegant for testing a drink than shaw's brand bendy straws.) when john gave the go-ahead, the cocktail geek in me sprang into action, stuffing these black straws into a gallon freezer bag.

well, john and i had been talking earlier that, despite his talk's message, it is alright to geek out every now and then. (phew!) so i just laughed after my kleptomania subsided, knowing that straws are cool, but the friends sipping through them will take precedence.

inside jokes

when you charge a chef's ipod on your computer, you find out what they name it:



TEDx Afterglow

[by Naveen]

Classes are over and I'm riding on a wave of inspiration and adrenaline after a TEDxCambridge event that left me nearly speechless. I feel honored to have been the equivalent of a line cook with the amazing team of various designers and other graduate students who put the event together.

There are probably other, far more comprehensive summaries of the event on the internet, so I'll offer a brief synposis of a few of my own take-away lessons:
I'm ready for summer.


hot jupiter

[by john]

a few weeks back, elisabeth, one of my friends, defended her thesis on transiting exoplanets. the after-after-party was at our place, and i had been hemming and hawing for days on whether or not to make a special drink for the occasion. i ended up on the hawing (?) end, opting for the easy champagne route, when, with no more than an hour to spare before the first guests showed up, my roommate (a very good friend of elisabeth's) decreed that a special drink be made. being a good physicist, he prescribed well defined boundary conditions:
  • the drink shall be named the hot jupiter,
  • the said drink shall contain rum,
  • thai chili tincture shall be used,
  • and it shall require an orange and (transiting) maraschino cherry garnish.
well constrained, indeed, but there was still a lot of parameter space to explore! i first tried the boozy route...spirits-based...several rums...maybe vermouth...then turned to herbal...chartreuse, benedictine, becherovka...yet all with limited success. stressing out, with only half an hour left, i took a step back.

this drink needs to appeal to a wide audience, i figured. not just cocktail junkies with a taste for the herbal edge. what about citrusy and sweet? a classic 4:2:1?! a classic 4:2:1 turned out just great, in fact. satisfied, i measured out a large batch, making a large dent in a bottle of cuban rum for the 4, splitting the 2 between grapefruit and lime juice, then syrup for the 1. damn palatable. and just in time to start a round of congratulations and toasts to ephemerides.
hot jupiter

4 parts rum (havana club reserva)
2 parts citrus (2:1 grapefruit:lime)
1 part syrup
few drops of thai chili tincture per glass

shake and strain. garnish with a central star (orange slice) and transiting planet (maraschino cherry).
the spicy tincture was obviously just for novelty, but it added a curious afterthought to each sip. the hot jupiter proved versatile, as it also worked with dashes of bitters or a champagne float.

i don't have any pictures of the drink, but it looked something like this:


irish-catholic guilt (hmmm, that should be a drink name...)

[by john]

as much as i don't want to be that (millionth) blogger penitent for inactivity, i can't help myself. we're all still alive!

believe it or not, we've had a couple nights of cocktail brainstorming, some out of town travels to talk about, trips to new restaurants, and there's even a phenomenal event this weekend called tedxcambridge (a local, organic version of ted) which we would be remiss not to document.

in recent news, i saw john gertsen at the wine and cheese cask tonight. omg! i only recognized him as he was getting his receipt, though, so there was no time for him to sign my bottle of plymouth...