Did you ever dream of being like Charlie when he won a golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? I certainly did. The thought of eating a three course dinner bubble gum and marshmallows that taste of violets had always intrigued me. It is therefore little wonder I said yes to be one of a fortunate few to savour an innovative collaboration between flavour maestros Gelato Messina and global scent wizards Air Wick to create an Edible Life Scents experience.
The night’s proceedings took place at the Edible Life Scents Lab within the creative heart of Gelato Messina HQ – a cross between factory and shopfront in Rosebery (Sydney). A mad scientist lab (test tubey contraptions, stainless steel vats and benches) bathed in a mystical blue light, a warm welcome, and a glass of Chandon met us once we had stepped through a billowy white curtain. At the tinking of a wine glass our hosts, Donato Toce and Declan Lee (Gelato Messina), and Matteo Piovan (Air Wick) launched us into a night of magical molecular gastronomy.
Donato and Matteo explained the inspiration behind the collaboration – a chance for Messina and Air Wick to capture with flavours the technology and fragrances of Air Wick’s new Life Scents range. In short, Life Scents products deliver fragrances that change in three stages.
First up Donato demonstrated how to experience Winter Moments – a dessert of baked pear, pie crust, and vanilla flavours designed to evoke winter nights of a crackling fire and a cosy sofa. We all looked on in wonder as he cracked through brittle candy shaped as a pear to reveal a mass of crumble topping and then proceeded to pour over a pear consommé and grated some dry ice over the top. It was then our turn to dive into the creations. The crumble topping replicated pie crust, the consommé exuded intense pear and vanilla flavours with a slightly fizzy sensation. Each bite took our taste buds in different directions.
A palate cleanser came next and even that was a scientific marvel. Compressed and sous-vided melon (rock melon and honeydew) served with a ball of Archie Rose gin and lime flavoured gelato was so refreshing and prepared us for the next Edible Life Scents creation.
Mystical Garden followed and took us even further into the mad scientist world. The inspiration for this treat was a Singapore garden. Our sense of smell was activated with an empty glass filled with the aroma of a garden in bloom. A blow torch was then given to us, as well as safety glasses and gloves. We each fired a small white marshmallow (we stabbed the marshmallow with a hard piece of fondant shaped like a rose twig and blow torched the marshmallow) to a toasty colour so we could bite through the warm gooiness into a cold sharp tang of raspberry sorbet. The rose flavoured candy twig was then devoured.
Another palate cleanser and intriguing taste adventure arrived after that. A small dish was placed in front of us with a dob of white peach sorbet surrounded by small droplets of three differing sensations of tarragon, pepper, and raspberry. Food technology was certainly being tested.
If the night had not already been one of exploration, creation number three Lush Hideaway took us down the rabbit hole with Alice to a blind folded “drink me” test tube situation. We were given a vial and told to swallow its contents and chew on the small pieces also in the liquid. As the drink was layered, each gulp and bite was surprising and we moved through wild strawberry, fresh mint, and coconut water flavours. This for me was the highlight of the night of capturing the concept of transitioning from one taste to another.
Paradise Retreat, the pièce de résistance of the whole Edible Life Scents experimentation closed the night. Donato regaled us with a story of the months and hours of work pastry chefs had taken to build an almost 6 ft high chocolate tree with coconut petals surrounded by chocolate soil, cherry sorbet nuts, and an almond blossom aroma. This was exactly the type of experimentation that Willy Wonka would be pleased to claim if he had the chance and I had to keep reminding myself not to become that greedy Augustus Gloop kid. It was a struggle though for as you can see, the night was full of imagination, innovation, wondrous sights, lovely aromas, and most importantly delicious tastes. Congrats to Gelato Messina and Air Wick for pulling of this daring partnership.
PS - You too can experience the limited edition Air Wick x Messina Edible Life Scents project at the pop up Life Scents Lab in Sydney from November 19th to 21st by entering the competition at www.facebook.com/airwickaustralia