Test-tube "caviar," froths and foams and taste-teasing flavor infusions, miracle fruit and desserts "cooked" at super-chilled temperatures. . . . Welcome to the brave new world of contemporary cuisine commonly known as molecular gastronomy.

It's not really new, of course. For the past decade or so, the melding of culinary creativity and cutting-edge food science has been gathering steam (or is that dry ice?) in both Europe and America, and gaining plenty of critical plaudits, too.

The leading apostles of the movement are Catalan chef Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal in England, and their restaurants — El Bulli outside Barcelona, and The Fat Duck near London — consistently and deservedly rank among the best in the world.