By: Tamara Saslove, P.H.Ec.
Have you ever really stopped to think about what you are eating and how you perceive it according to the different senses - Taste, sight, touch, smell & hearing? It can be a fun activity to do and it really allows you to discover what you love about the foods you eat, or what you dislike. For an assignment last year I had to pick a new food to try and do a sensory evaluation. I encourage you all to do a sensory evaluation of your own next time you try a new food and write it down so you can reflect on it and if you would like to share please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post it on the blog. If you would like to read about my first sensory evaluation, read on below!
I had the pleasure of enjoying an incredible meal at Daishō – one of the fabulous Momofuku restaurants. Everything was spectacular from the architecture, the atmosphere, the staff, the view and of course the food! The menu changes daily with a good variety of options to choose from. They encourage sharing plates, which is my favourite kind of meal! This way you get to try a bit of everything, including some more exotic dishes that you might not be willing to try on your own. I tried two new things tonight including a Peach Beer and Crispy Rice Cakes along with several other more familiar dishes.
We started out the night with a peach ale – I had never had a fruity beer before so I was unsure of what to expect. Also, I usually don’t like beer to begin with. I find it too strong and bitter and I get full and bloated very quickly from it. When it arrived it looked just like any of light pale ale. When I first smelled this beer, my whole nose was filled with a sweet peachy aroma. I was so excited to taste the sweet sweet peach that I was smelling. The first sip was pretty peachy but then it became a little bitter after a few sips, and less and less peachy. It was still enjoyable, but had it tasted as sweet and flavorful as it smelled, I would have enjoyed it even more. My boyfriend who is a beer enthusiast loved the beer and in his opinion it was “a great balance of sweet peach and hoppy goodness”. It definitely wouldn’t be my first choice of beverage if I return there, however it is probably the best beer I have tried yet!
The first dish we shared was Roasted Rice Cakes with spicy pork sausage, chinese broccoli and tofu. This dish was really unique. I had only ever had quaker style rice cakes and certainly not in a savoury dish. We had no idea what to expect and honestly I was not very enthusiastic about ordering it at first, but we absolutely loved this dish. It looked kind of like mini scallops when it first arrived, and then the sausage aroma filled our noses. The first bite was a little confusing for me. The outside was crispy, the sausage had a spicy bite to it and the inside of the rice cake had a pillowy soft texture. There was a lot going on and it was hard to take it all in. After a few more bites I fell in love with this dish. It had so many different textures and flavors that every bite was better than the next.
I usually don’t like spicy foods and find them too strong for my palate but the spiciness mixed with the varying textures made it really enjoyable. I find sausage often is overly salted and this is something I am sensitive to, so I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of flavor and absence of salt. There was a rich umami quality to the dish that took over in a very good way. Needless to say, we all ate it up and considered ordering a second plate since we were so impressed by it. However, we decided to wait and try the rest of the dishes we ordered to see if something would top this one. (Nothing did).
I used to be a very picky eater, but have become pretty open minded when it comes to trying new foods over the past couple over years. So it was great to try some new foods out and really spend the time thinking about all of the different tastes as I was eating. I find sometimes I don’t pick up on all of the flavors if I am not paying attention to them and so this experience reminded me how important it is to really take a minute and taste the food!