Modernist art

Colorful beets, leeks, carrots and purple potatoes growing in deep, dark soil -- sawed in half so you can see inside. Bisected pots, woks and barbecues, with roiling flames and sizzling contents.

To say that Nathan Myhrvold's "Photography of Modernist Cuisine" -- at San Jose's Tech Museum from June 25 to Sept. 1 -- brings a new perspective on food is to understate the matter dramatically. It's a collection of strangely captivating, absolutely fascinating photographs from the James Beard award-winning, former Microsoft chief technology officer's epic "Modernist Cuisine." This is an exhibit worth checking out. Find details at www.thetech.org.

Take that, Sriracha

Torani, the San Francisco syrup brand, has just launched Sweet Heat, a sweet syrup infused with ghost pepper, one of the world's most incendiary chile peppers -- 125 times or so hotter than jalapeños. You have to wonder what lucky person is tasked with determining peppers' rankings on the Scoville scale. Clearly someone with great intestinal fortitude -- and access to a fire hose.

The Scoville scale ranks the relative hotness of peppers, ranging from bell peppers (zero) to the ghost pepper or bhut jolokia (855,000 to 1.5 million). Jalapeños are a lowly 8,000. Sriracha comes in at the 1,000 to 2,500 mark.


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So when Torani's VP of marketing says, "We're taking the heat to a new level," that's probably accurate. She suggests drizzling the new syrup into cocktails, mocha and coffee. We have a feeling it'll burn right through your mug. But we're definitely curious. Find it at www.torani.com.

Feel the heat II

Barbecue-lighting technology has come a long way, judging by the appearance of the Bison Airlighter ($110), a gunlike ignition device whose "high velocity, 4-inch flame with a jet-air-stream" claims to take your charcoal from bag to burger-ready in 5 minutes flat.

We keep imagining Clint Eastwood standing over the grill, asking his briquettes if they feel lucky.

-- Jackie Burrell, Staff