February 22, 2012


Make & Taste is a concept I came up with a couple years ago. It’s a casual lunch making experience with colleagues and friends. At one point, I held this event every other Friday at Autofuss. It’s a nice break that forces you to step away from your work, focus your mind on simple tasks like peeling carrots or mixing ingredients. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to learn, teach, collaborate, and share experiences with others.

Today’s Make & Taste is with my dear friend, Zilia. The menu is a fairly simple, and traditional Japanese meal. While most non-Japanese people would pinch their nose and run if they were presented with natto (fermented soybean), not Zilia. She spent part of her youth in Japan and has grown fond of foods like natto, seaweed, and pickled plum.

Zilia and I met in middle school at the Fukuoka International School in Japan. Here we are 15 years later, sharing a meal
from our culture and speaking Japanglish.
This dessert mochi is made from potato starch and rolled in kinako, a powder made from grinding roasted soybeans.
The dark kuromitsu sauce is a simple syrup made of black sugar.

 { All recipes below serves 2 }   *Note: Special ingredients can be found at your local Japanese grocery store


Lightly pickled cucumber with sesame

1 Japanese cucumber
sesame seeds
sesame oil

Peel half of the skin off of the cucumber, and cut into thirds. Cut each third into quarters, length-wise. Generously salt and rub it in. Set aside for 10 minutes. Lightly rinse the cucumbers and drain well. Sprinkle with ground sesame seeds and drizzle with sesame oil.

Somen with seaweed, mountain potato, pickled plum, natto, and kaiware sprouts

2 servings of dried somen noodles
1 small stick of mountain potato, peeled and grated
2 packs of natto
4 pickled plums, pitted and mashed into paste
a handful of dried seaweed, soaked in hot water
a small bunch of kaiware sprouts
a bottle of konbu tsuyu

Boil a medium pot of water and cook the somen noodles for 1.5 - 2 minutes. Immediately drain and set aside in ice water. To assemble, place the well drained somen into two big bowls and top with grated mountain potato, natto, plum paste, well drained seaweed, and kaiware sprouts. Drizzle with konbu tsuyu when serving.

Miso soup with tofu and shimeji

2 cups water
1 teaspoon konbu dashi granules
2 inch cube of tofu, diced
a handful of shimeji mushrooms
1-2 tablespoons miso paste
1 green onion, chopped

In a small pot, boil water and konbu dashi. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the tofu and shimeji mushrooms. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the miso paste, and serve topped with chopped green onion.

Matcha warabi mochi with kinako and kuromitsu 

for the kuromitsu: 40 grams black sugar, 20 grams white sugar, 50 ml water
for the mochi: 40 grams potato starch, 20 grams sugar, ½ teaspoon matcha, 180 ml water, ½ cup kinako

To make the kuromitsu, add both sugars and water into a small pot and boil until the sugars have dissolved. Set aside and let cool. In a medium pot, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Slowly whisk in the water and stir until smooth. Set the pot on medium heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon. The mixture will start to clump together. Continue stirring until it becomes translucent and sticky. Remove from heat and store in a small container. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Cut the mochi into bite size and roll in kinako. Drizzle kuromitsu when serving.

February 14, 2012


I have an obsession. If you’ve been in my kitchen you would have noticed a collection of honey on my shelf. Like wine and whiskey, it is complex, yet subtle, and oh, so delicious. My favorite honey store is L’abeille in Japan. They have an international collection of over 130+ types of honey.

Did you know that a single bee creates one teaspoon of honey in it’s lifetime? When I learned this, I couldn’t help but count in bees instead of spoonfuls...
Honey, as we all know, has various meanings. With Valentines Day coming up, I thought about combining the ingredient honey, with the concept of honey (a loved one). Valentines Day screams chocolate, but I did not want to go that route. Instead, I asked, what pairs well with honey?

 I settled on honey + cheese + nuts. And what to make out of this? A box of truffles. No, not your standard chocolate truffles, but a savory one. Truffles Hors d’oeuvre. After some research on pairing the right cheeses with the right honeys with the right nuts, I concocted three flavors:

Out of the three, my favorite was the triple cream with honey comb and almond. It has a nice balance of salty, sweet, and nuttiness. The blue cheese tasted better on a cracker, and the goat cheese was a bit too mild. The key to making these is to use soft cheeses that can be molded. 

It would make a great Valentines gift for someone who prefers savory over sweet. Or, it would be a perfect way to start the evening with a glass of wine with your honey. :)

Happy Valentines Day!

February 13, 2012


Welcome! I am very excited to finally launch this site and I hope you will enjoy it, maybe drool a little, and be hungry for more. I’d like to start off by briefly explaining what Eating Experience Design is. There are similar terms out there, like “food design” or “eating design.” I am calling it Eating Experience Design (EXD) because I believe the experience is ultimately what is being created. It is about designing ways to interact with our food, and using it as a method to communicate an idea, tell a story, or bring people together. The diagram below shows how this is broken down:

Some of you may be familiar with the work I’ve done through Thought For Food. As a recap, I thought it would be nice to share and use them as examples of EXD. For those who are new, Thought For Food is a collective, focusing on conceptual dinner events and food installations. There are three of us: Yvonne Mouser - furniture designer; Randall Stowell - principle of Autofuss; and myself. The following 4 projects are our creations since late 2010.

24 Frames per Second { An 8 second loop }
Photography by Galen Oakes, Adam Reineck, and Lisa Mishima
The Concept:
A dessert installation about film and time based media for Autofuss’s 3rd anniversary party.

The Meal:
192 crab apples dipped in caramel, which drizzled onto a bed of popcorn and peanuts.

The Mood:
Dramatic lighting with hanging screens
Long and narrow custom built furniture
Apples hanging on skewers at different heights, creating a flow
Crowds of people surrounding the installation
A performance, where each apple is dipped in caramel one by one
The installation changes over time - the caramel drips, the apples & popcorn are consumed
Handwritten time code is revealed when popcorn is lifted from the table

The Experience:
At first glance, the apples seem suspended in time. But as time flows, things inevitably change. The audience become an essential part of this dessert installation by consuming and changing the artwork.

White On White
Photography by Randall Stowell, Kristina Lewis, Lisa Mishima
The Concept:
To attend Le Dîner à San Francisco (a pop up picnic where everyone dresses in white) and create an all white meal.

The Meal:
A picnic in nine courses.
FOAM - egg white, pico, bitters, lemon, sugar
MILK - mitica, gouda, honey chevre, bijou
LIGHT - endive, shaved pear, gorgonzola, vinaigrette
CREAM - corn, créme fraiche, onion, white truffle oil, cream, white pepper
SALT - halibut, scallop, lime, grapefruit, aji amarillo, jicama, onion, chip
FROST - pear, riesling, sugar
SMOKE - chicken, mushroom, bacon, corona bean, leek, onion, creamy broth
SNOW - meringue, coconut mochi ice cream, white truffle
STEAM- white tea

The Mood:
A warm, Indian summer evening at the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park
6 custom designed storage benches that we carried in pairs
A long table with 11 friends; 2000+ attendees surrounding us
Low lighting; a DJ in the distance
A leisurely 3 hour meal

The Experience:
A ritual where we celebrated the color and symbols of white.

Sam’s Movie Night
Photography by Lisa Mishima, Adam Reineck, Yvonne Mouser, Aaron Fiske
The Concept:
A concession stand with a unique menu, based on the film being shown.

The Meal:
for Black Narcissus -
Sister Superior - honey, vanilla bean soda
Mr. Dean - cucumber, mint, basil soda
Kanchi - goji berry, rose, cream soda
Sister Ruth - cinnamon, chili, rose popcorn
Ayah - Himalayan salt, chives popcorn
The General - curry popcorn

for Piranha 3D-
Body Shot - vodka, black cherry, watermelon chunks
Flesh Wound - lime soda with mangled black cherries
Spring Break - cayenne, paprika, lime zest popcorn
Lake Victoria - dried seaweed and bonito popcorn

for Repo Man-
The Freshener - homemade mint sugar cookies
Smokin’ Boots - homemade lemon lime soda
Cosmic Unconsciousness - midori sour, vodka, peach schnapps
Default - butter & salt popcorn
Junk In The Trunk - cheesy cheddar popcorn

for Total Recall-
Melina Martian Bars - cocoa nougat, roasted peanuts, caramel, peanut butter, rice puff, fleur de sel
Terbinium Ore - homemade strawberry, balsamic soda
Mind F*ck - espresso, vanilla ice cream, amaretto
Pyramid Mine - smoky salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, beet root
Planet Earth - butter & salt popcorn

The Mood:
A big screen and a projector in Autofuss’s large, concrete studio
Bring your own lawn chairs
A small concession cart with a popcorn maker
Oversize popcorn cones
Servers wearing white shirts and striped bowties

The Experience:
Enhancing the movie watching experience by building connections with taste.

Hands On
Photography by Jess Bianchi
The Concept:
A dinner event where participants create a meal using only their hands.
All ingredients are within arms reach, and all measurements are made with the hands.

The Meal:
A 3 course Italian dinner - caesar salad, homemade pasta with pesto sauce, tiramisu

The Mood:
20 participants around a long, custom built butcher block table on the mezzanine at Autofuss
Screen printed tea towels and menus with cooking guidelines
Fresh ingredients piled high along the center of the table
Upbeat music, pounding and kneeding, boiling water, laughter

The Experience:
A fun exploration where participants have a more direct relationship to food.