Well, well, well…I’ve been wanting to make this meal for ~20 years.

It took – to my taste buds – the best chef in the Boston area, Craig White of Half Baked Cafe, to score me the uni necessary to do so.

The rest was just about not fucking it up.

I made the great David Lebovitz’s semolina pasta.

I made the great Kristen Miglore’s corn “butter”  (Seriously… Make this!: Cut the corn kernels off ~8 ears of corn; juice them; cook the corn juice over med heat until it thickens (~5 min); cool. That’s it. Totally amazing!)

I cooked some shallot and garlic in some evoo, added a couple ears’ worth of corn kernels, some Meursualt, and some corn stock (boil the corn cobs with some onion, garlic and pepper corns for a little while), and cooked it all down.

I blitzed the the uni in my mini food processor with just a few drops of lemon, a little salt, and a little bit of the corn butter.

Homemade pasta takes like three minutes to cook in heavily salted water. Some wise person taught me to not dump the cooked pasta into a colander to drain, but, rather, to use tongs to transfer it from the boiling water to the pan with the sauce. Doing it this way gets some of the salty/starchy cooking water into the sauce. This is what I did. Then I stirred it all up with some more evoo.

I served the pasta with bowls of corn butter and the uni sauce on the side; everyone loved the corn butter, but only I availed myself of the uni sauce (…their loss, my gain…acquired taste, or so I’m told).

Also: local lettuce, shallot vinaigrette, little slice of Humboldt Fog, and, of course, the Meursault.

Summer.

 

 

 

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Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 10.18.14 PM

I’ve noticed something in two products I use that has excited me more than just about any tech development really since I first laid eyes on Twitter.

Specifically, there’s something very interesting going on with – for lack of a better term (and undoubtedly, there is a better term) – Artificial Intelligence. In short, our User Interfaces (UI) are starting to get smarter; to the point that, with some products at least, they’re resembling Artificial Intelligence (AI).

I’m not talking about Siri, Echo, et al., which I deem more just variations on a search engine UI. Rather, I’m talking about the way at least two products are using AI to both instruct and delight me in my work flow.

Slack
Anyone paying attention can probably guess that the first product that I’m referring to is Slack. Enough has been written about its general greatness already1, but certainly one of the more compelling features of Slack is the way in which the Slackbot AI is employed.

At first, it sort of onboards you in a pleasant and engaging way, and helps you create a profile/learn the basic Slack protocol. But after that – and I think they could/should do more with this – it becomes a (somewhat) interactive participant amongst the others on your Slack team.

For instance, I send private messages to Slackbot and use it as my to-do list keeper, etc.

As I say, I imagine somewhere on Slack’s roadmap is the idea of continuing to bring in further interactive features for Slackbot that are inline with how it’s employed to help you create your Slack profile.

I hope they do, because it’s a fantastic implementation, and consistent with their overall theme of pleasant productivity.

TextExpander
The second product that does this, and, which is – surprisingly to me – ahead of Slack on developing the AI engagement is TextExpander.

I’ve used this product forever, and it’s always one of the first apps I install on any new mac. Their newest version, however, represents something of a seismic change.

Now, beyond increasing your productivity by allowing you to use snippets for oft-repeated words, and even beyond keeping track of your typing patters, the new version offers you tips – via Notifications – when you, for instance, are typing the same word with regularity – so that you consider creating a snippet.

I really like getting these notifications, in the same way I like the Slackbot interactions. It’s not just that their helpful, it’s more that there’s a vague AI component that makes my – often solitary – work experience a little less interactive.

For those who find the above a depressingly sad statement, it’s not a leap to see how this could become not only far more engaging, but also far more social, generally.

Imagine, for instance, a writing app that’s sort of like Waze. One where when you log on not only do you get helpful tips from the AI (“You’ve used the word ‘nonplussed’ three times, George, in the last five pages…”), but also allows you to see which of your friends are also online writing/working, and you could shoot them little gestures of encouragement, etc.

Who knows precisely where this goes, but I feel strongly that it’s coming/here.

UIs will gradually evolve more into AIs. Our user interfaces will guide us with a combination of personalization and instruction that will soon not just be indistinguishable from magic, but also indistinguishable from “real” people.


  1. And I refer to it quite a bit in the book I’m working on now, Social, Fun, and Competitive: A Framework for Product Development and Marketing

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