A Side Of iPod Please...
The latest offering at The Fat Duck, a UK restaurant, is a seafood creation served with an iPod so that diners can listen to the sounds of the ocean as they eat. "I did a series of tests with Charles Spence at Oxford University three years ago, which revealed that sound can really enhance the sense of taste," said Heston Blumenthal, the restaurant's owner and chef.
When it comes to weird dining experiences, customers at Heston Blumenthal's restaurant, The Fat Duck, in England probably thought that snail porridge was the last word in outlandish eating.
However, even his most extraordinary dishes will seem dull and ordinary compared with his latest -- creation seafood served with an iPod.
No, diners will not be expected to eat the music player, but instead to listen to the noise of crashing waves as they eat.
The dish, entitled "Sound of the Sea," will be part of the tasting menu at the three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, from next month, along with such innovations as a silver rose bush with edible petals and afterdinner whiskey gums.
Blumenthal will also resurrect a 250-year-old British beef dish and send 3-D glasses and the address of a sweetshop Web site to customers when they book a table.
The seafood dish is presented on a glass-topped wooden box containing sand and seashells and consists of what looks like sand but is in fact a mixture of tapioca, fried breadcrumbs, crushed fried baby eels, cod liver oil and langoustine oil topped with abalone, razor clams, shrimps and oysters and three kinds of edible seaweed.
'A Massive Umami'
The final touch the culmination of Blumenthal's experiments exploring the relationship between sound and the experience of eating will be the iPod so that diners can listen to the sound of the sea while they eat.
Blumenthal told Square Meal magazine: "I did a series of tests with Charles Spence at Oxford University three years ago, which revealed that sound can really enhance the sense of taste.
"We ate an oyster while listening to the sea and it tasted stronger and saltier than when we ate it while listening to barnyard noises, for example."
Explaining the dish, he said: "We have the juices from the shellfish made into a foam and placed along one side of the tapioca dish, so it looks like the sea.
Alongside the dish we'll serve a glass of seaweed extraction and mirin (sweet rice wine), which will give diners a massive umami (taste sensation) hit."
Diners might feel that listening to the iPod will kill the art of conversation.
A 17-Course Journey
However, a spokesperson for Blumenthal said: "When you are having the tasting menu you are maybe having 17 courses.
"It is a journey, a whole experience. It is not that you are sitting there with an iPod all night like a teenager. It is a tiny component in a huge event." The rose bush is brought to the table with the coffee. "We've been working with parfumiers to develop crystallized petals, overlaid with scents of apple, litchi, coriander, raspberry and so on," said Blumenthal.
The whiskey gums are brought to the table in a framed map of Scotland, each one showing where each malt is made, but contain no alcohol.
As for the sweetshop Web site, from August diners will be able to use the 3-D glasses to see everything from jars of flying saucer sweets to bursting sherbet fountains, as well as crabs holding ice cream cones and boxes of snail porridge.
Blumenthal said: "When I discover something new, I feel like a kid in a sweetshop, so that's the emotion I want to generate for diners."
The Fat Duck
+44 (0) 1628 580 333
The Fat Duck can take reservations as far as two calendar months in advance.