On Molecular Gastronomy and Trying New Things (Win a Dinner for Two at Portland’s Racion!)



Portland Dining Month began to really blossom my first year in Stumptown. I remember scrolling through that original list of restaurants on my computer screen, only recognizing one or two from long line of participants. Everything was a new experience back then, yet I still frequent many of the restaurants I tried that year. Portland Dining Month was one of my first windows into the city’s expansive dining scene, actually offering a roadmap of where to eat, with their offer of three-course meals for $29. It was a great way to get to know a restaurant’s personality without breaking the bank.

When the list was released for this year’s dining month, I was excited to hit a few of my favorites— namely Accanto, Riffle NW, and Firehouse — but was also intrigued to try new places – and restaurants that I can’t usually afford. And in the light of trying new things, comes the subject of Ración, a relatively new, Spanish tapas spot utilizing molecular gastronomy techniques. The restaurant has a focused area of chef’s counter seating, so you are up close and personal with both chef Anthony Cafiero and his brilliant sous chef, Roscoe Roberson. Every small plate – the “ración”, or portion – is meticulously prepared using sous vide techniques (think of it as an intensely scientific version of poaching) and a flat top. The plates are at once shockingly beautiful and strange; eggs are no longer in just one form, foams are aplenty, and sauces are vibrant and artistic.

This style of cooking, made famous by chefs like Ferran Adrià, José Andrés, and Heston Blumenthal, always seems to drum up wildly strong opinions on both sides: some are fascinated by it, loving the meticulous, scientific quality of the dishes, while others prefer their food “without gimmicks”. What’s your take on the whole molecular gastronomy scene? Are you dying to try it – or done with the hype?

Here’s your chance to voice your opinion – and win yourself dinner for two at Portland’s Ración (a $60 value), thanks to the folks at Portland Dining Month. Why not start your summer with a little culinary exploration?

Leave a comment below – or send us a tweet – on why you think molecular gastronomy should stay or go! A winner will be picked this Friday, June 28!

**UPDATE (6/28): And the winner is…. Nico Galoppo! Thanks to all who commented/tweeted!**


~Kat Vetrano

*Photo credit: Racion


  • licorous says:

    I think variety is the spice of life especially in the culinary field and MG is just a part of the wonderful spectrum of choices.

  • mike says:

    I’m all for it if it offers up new flavors and textures to enhance my meal.

  • Mike says:

    I think MG should definitely be supported as any other medium or form of art. The ability to look at the same things in a completely different way and transform it using unconventional methods and tools, as well as introducing science (which is commonly linked to technology or medicine) into food shows how big a part science influences our culture and society. The best part is you get to eat it!

  • Amreen says:

    I think anything that allows people to be more creative with food is great! I love the science, art and experience of molecular gastronomy, and I’d urge more people to give it a chance.

  • Nico says:

    Molecular gastronomy should not be a goal in itself – but if it can be used to showcase the ingredients of the meal and let you discover known products in a different way, then it is totally acceptable and recommended. This is in fact the approach the people at Racion are trying to take, I think.

  • Peter says:

    Molecules are for fools.
    Gastronomy for ghouls.
    Just cook me good food,
    none of that swampy gruel.

    The tricks are just tools
    for breaking the rules.
    I wonder if Escoffier would
    have dreamt foam would be cool?

  • Karen says:

    I love when two of my favorite things are combined, in this case art and food. I think the creativity and textural experience that MG brings to the diner is reason enough for it to stay.

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