The magic of Irish mince pies

After a warm-up in Co. Durham before Christmas with my short pastry and a friend’s filling, I have now made 36 mince pies of my own this season. My Irish pies have Powers single pot whiskey in them rather than the brandy many English pies contain. I also use Irish butter (Kerry Gold Unsalted) notContinue reading “The magic of Irish mince pies”


Consider Smell: Arctic Edition (Behind the Scenes Sneak Preview)

Join #considersmell this Friday in Fairbanks Alaska for an Arctic Edition of a travelling series of events that explore smelling, and other senses, through time and space. Come to the Ursa Major Distillery on Parks Highway from 5-8 for a multi-sensory experience! Some tools to get us started: the smoking gun! We use this to createContinue reading “Consider Smell: Arctic Edition (Behind the Scenes Sneak Preview)”

The chirality of smell

As I prepare the first half of my Science of Smell online class, I am having fun looking for various examples of all things biomolecular, biochemical, and genetic related to olfaction. If I were a taste and flavour chemist or a molecular gastronomist, I’d probably be interested in somehow exploiting the chirality of biomolecules in foodContinue reading “The chirality of smell”

Black diamonds

The genome for the Périgord truffle was published in 2010. Considering that these special truffles go for 1000-2000 ($1300-2700) an ounce, the genome has been under-exploited by culinary scientists and molecular gastronomists…until recently when specialists in bioinformatics and proteomics got together to mine the secrets of Brillat-Savarin‘s “diamond of the kitchen”. The resulting paper, released today in the JournalContinue reading “Black diamonds”

Is there a connection between dietary repetition and food preferences?

A Science News Post (brought to my attention earlier in the summer by @elizabethjrowe) presents research trends in food science: the pairing of retronasal olfaction and taste reception in studying flavour and the knowledge pairing of culinary experts and scientists within a relatively new journal Flavour. I am glad that food sensation (for lack of a betterContinue reading “Is there a connection between dietary repetition and food preferences?”

The piggy smell of Eurasian genetic landscapes

Between 6000-4000 years ago (according to study published in Nature Communications), indigenous Mesolithic hunter-gatherers acquired pigs from Neolithic farmers immigrating to Europe. I have been interested in Pleistocene pigs for a while (and their continued association with humans into the Holocene). The reason for my interest is that pigs produce a lot of androstenone (aContinue reading “The piggy smell of Eurasian genetic landscapes”

The taste of meat and myoglobin

Myoglobin is an oxygen binding protein found in vertebrate muscle tissues that imparts a pink color to fresh meats (though this can be produced through a controversial treatment using carbon monoxide). The pinkness or darkness of meat is associated with muscles involved in sustained activity (e.g, legs)–these muscles require more oxygen to fuel activity and,Continue reading “The taste of meat and myoglobin”

Smell of the week: Garlic

One of my favorite appetite stimulators is the scent of cooking garlic in EVOO (which I blogged about previously). The putative ancestor of modern garlic plants originated in Asia. The commonly used ones today, Allium sativum and Allium ophioscorodon, are widespread in cultivation. Much of the headspace of garlic volatiles consists of sulfurs. Allicin is a key chemical compoundContinue reading “Smell of the week: Garlic”

Smell of the Week: Olive Oil

Van Gogh’s Olive Trees Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil is one my essential foods. The extra virgin designation refers to the lack of refinery (chemical or heat) in preparation of the oil. This results in a lack of sensory defects and higher polyphenol content (antioxidants). The cold pressed designation refers to a one-time crushing withoutContinue reading “Smell of the Week: Olive Oil”

Smell of the week: basil

Late summer is a great time for basil (this pic from Conscious Kitchen) since there is an abundance of ripe heirloom tomatoes, evening sunshine, and outdoor dining. Basil is one of my favorite herbs and odors–especially when co-mingled with a good strong first cold-pressed EVOO and old balsamic vinegar! Containing roughly 82 aroma chemicals andContinue reading “Smell of the week: basil”