Blanch and Shock at the illy pop up gallery

I met Blanch and Shock as they were packing up their workshop at the illy gallery when I visited. They made some of their liquid nitrogen frozen goodies just for me though.

The one on the left is Josh. If Blanch and Shock rings a bell, perhaps you read about them in icon magazine – they made an exploded cake for icon’s 100th issue birthday.

In lab coats and goggles, Mike and Josh froze ‘deconstructed cappucinos’- milk, coffee and I think something hazelnutty, I think they called it illy brioche… it was yummy anyway. I hadn’t seen liquid nitrogen before. This is what it looks like:

If you get it on your hands it will burn you. If you get it on your gloves, the gloves will stick to your hand and you’ll still get burnt so it’s safer to have bare hands.

It looks a bit like coral underwater doesn’t it?

Josh got me to feel the bottom of the little plate that the frozen liquids were put on when they came out of the nitrogen. It was so cold that my fingers almost stuck to it. It was fascinating, this box of what looked like steam, making something so cold – it goes against everyday perception.

Daringly, Josh ate a goodie very soon after he plucked it out of the box with a fork. He crunched it and it made a very loud popping sound – probably because of the fast temperature change. He said the trick was to swallow it fast, and not to let the metal fork touch your mouth because it’s dangerously cold. His friend tried to do it too and almost burnt his mouth because he didn’t swallow fast enough. If you burn your tongue with something that cold it could take a month to heal.

I was glad I got to meet these exciting people experimenting with food, and I got a daredevil show out of it too! I almost didn’t go to the pop up gallery that day, I meant to go to the V&A straight away – thank goodness for the flyer girl and my spontaneous mood.

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