Ferran Adrià

Blast from the past

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 April, 2004, 12:00am

Old-timers might be able to identify a soda siphon, but most people won't have any idea what it is. Bartenders once used them to make the bubbles in carbonated water, but more memorably they were also used by the Marx Brothers in their sketches of well dressed, snooty matrons who quickly settled arguments by blasting their opponents with water from a siphon.

Thanks to innovative Michelin three-star chef, Ferran Adria in the town of Roses, north of Barcelona in Spain, this old-fashioned item has a new lease on life. The Catalan chef, whose restaurant, El Bulli, is consistently named one of the best in the world, has been using the siphon to make espumas - ethereal foams that dissipate on the tongue. Chefs started copying the foam phenomenon, and now, even home cooks are using siphons. At a recent Mid-Levels dinner party the hostess served an astonishingly light chocolate mousse - a texture she attained by using a siphon.

These are sometimes marketed as whipped cream makers but the concept is the same - they work by forcing pressurised air (from small concentrated gas cartridges, sold separately) through the mixture in the canister. A large siphon costs $480; $440 for smaller ones. A box of 10 gas cartridges costs $60. They're sold at Kwong Wing Food, 312 Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei, tel: 2332 2463.