Thursday, 20 February 2014

Food that tastes of what it is made of

After yesterday's culinary heights, today turned out to be a bit more tricky. For lunch I had a chickpea and red lentil strudel on butter bean puree. This sounds quite exotic but, like much of the food we've eaten this week it was beige. Certainly the food here seems to lack visual impact. In terms of flavour the strudel and puree did indeed taste of what they were made of. This was OK initially but I soon found that you can have too much butter bean puree. I think this would have been improved with some chilli infused olive oil or something of the sort.

The strudel and puree. The excuse for the sticky toffee pudding and sauce was the 4.30 start and consequent missing of breakfast as I slept from 7 to 11 (see below)
Dinner was gnocci gratin. This turned out to be underlain by a tomato-based sauce with onions and peppers. The gnocci were fairly inoffensive and could have been forgiven much if they had been accompanied by a good sauce. Alas, they weren't. The tomato sauce was the generic Diamond tomato sauce and not great in my opinion; on top of that the slices of onion were rather on the large side. I tried to pep things up with a slice of pork pie loaf which tasted fine. In addition it stimulated much discussion regarding the preference amongst European member states for cold vs hot pies and savoury vs. sweet. I remain sure that the UK can't be the only civilised country to eat cold meat pies, what about pate en croute in France for example? Perhaps it is only Germany (Liane and Steffi) and Spain (Beatriz) that don't  have a pork pie equivalent?

The gnocci gratin

On the work front it has been a mixed day. After Beatriz arrived she busied herself in the labs making some amorphous calcium carbonate (quickly washed with isopropanol to wash away the water and therefore stabilise the ACC), some ACC stabilised by incorporation of magnesium and some calcite.

Beatriz in the lab. making standards

We had hoped to use these standards to confirm our identification of ACC in the FTIR maps of our granules. Unfortunately the ACC managed to crystalise a bit and investigation showed that the Mg stabilised ACC showed peak shifts that meant we couldn't use them as standards. The calcite standard also had shifted peaks compared to our samples, we're not sure why, possibly something to do with the synthesis. The long and short of it is that we can 't use the standards. Shame, good try.

Last night we set up a map that we estimated would finish at 4.30 this morning. Liane and I left the beamline at about 11.30 in the evening and arrived back at 4.30. Unfortunately for reasons we don't fully understand the map didn't finish until 7ish despite our calculations and those of the computer. This means we could have stayed in bed until 6.30 (which in synchrotron terms is almost civilised). So that was quite annoying, however the map was good and we were then able to measure the standards (sadly unusable) and a final detailed granule map. This finished around about lunch time and we then switched to Steffi's snow algae.

I have spent the rest of the day processing data and will try and get some more processing done now.

No comments:

Post a Comment