Friday, August 27, 2010

Alinea: 9-06-09, Courses 6-22


With my impending third meal at Alinea coming up in a couple days, I thought I’d finally finish up the series of posts that I started back in October 2009.  I realized I was indulging myself by writing way too much about each course, so I’ll simply present each course with a short description this time around.  Anyways, it should go without saying that most everything was amazing, set a new standard for me, and changed the way I think about food.


BLACK TRUFFLE – explosion, romaine, parmesan

If Achatz has a signature dish, this may be it.  The ravioli burst with truffle broth upon mastication.



TOMATO – fig, nicoise olive, pine nuts

Served with tomato leaves resting on hot stones to release tomato aroma.  The white thing on the tomato on the right is olive oil snow, and a slice of bacon bread accompanied the dish.



 BACON – butterscotch, apple, thyme

SWEET POTATO – bourbon, brown sugar, smoldering cinnamon

The bacon and sweet potato were served together.  I was afraid that pulling the bacon off the wire too hard would make a piece of bacon fly into the air.  My fears came to fruition.  The sweet potato, which reminded me of sweet potato or pumpkin pie, was skewered on a smoldering cinnamon stick which slowly released its aroma.



MUSTARD – passionfruit, allspice

This was a “time sensitive” bite, and I almost waited too long because the pin started slipping out of the thing as I pulled it up to my mouth.



HOT POTATO – cold potato, black truffle, butter

Another “time sensitive” bite in which I stupidly failed to heed the advice of the servers.  Sadly, I experienced warm potato – warm potato.  However, it was still probably my favorite dish of the night.  I would be redeemed on my second meal at Alinea in which I ate the bite right away.  The contrast in temperatures from the hot potato and the cold potato soup added a whole new level to the bite.



YUBA – shrimp, miso, togarashi

I never knew the word for what I grew up knowing simply as “tofu skin.”  The shrimp was wrapped around a stick of yuba.



FOIE GRAS – peach, fennel, shiso

The peach broth was the peachiest essence of peach I had ever had, and it went really well the the foie.



CRAB – carrot, five spice, duck

The crab parfait challenged my taste buds as I’d never tasted anything like it in my life.



 WAGYU BEEF – powdered A-1, potato, chips

A liquid was poured into the cold centerpiece and it released the aroma of meat sizzling on a grill.  The potato cube consisted of a potato puree covered in small pieces of potato chips, which gave it a smooth and crunchy texture.  The powdered A-1 (anchovy, raisin, tamarind, and clove) came in a plastic package and gave the dish a nice zing.  A dinner roll accompanied the dish.



WATERMELON – lime, nasturtium 

LEMON SODA – one bite

BUBBLE GUM – long pepper, hibiscus, creme fraiche

TRANSPARENCY – of raspberry, yogurt

The next 4 bites were presented at the same time.  The watermelon liquid was encapsulated in a waxy ball-shaped shell.  The powdered lemon soda came in what I think was a rice paper wrapper just like White Rabbit Candy.  The bubble gum was to be slurped out of the glass tube and was filled with tapioca balls.  The transparency was somewhat pliable and not as brittle as I thought it would be.

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 RHUBARB – goat milk, onion, lavender air

Another dish that challenged me but steadily grew on me after each bite and tasted like cheesecake with onions.  The combination of sweet (from the cotton candy) and onion was completely new to me, but made sense after I thought about it for a while: people do love sweet, caramelized onions.  The dish rested on a pillow filled with lavender scented air, which was steadily released as we ate.

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 CHOCOLATE – blueberry, tobacco, maple

The final composed dish of the meal was prepared by Chef de Cuisine Dave Beran on a mat that was placed directly on the table.  The chocolate mousse was frozen with liquid nitrogen and cracked open on the table, the amber balls were filled with maplewood consomme, the dollops of cream were infused with tobacco, and the blueberries were pickled.  Other garnishes included malt ice cream, blueberry syrup, blueberry jam, freeze-dried blueberry chip, walnut shortbread, frosted walnuts, and thyme leaves.



POUND CAKE – strawberry, lemon, vanilla bean

The final bite of the night was a strawberry pound cake skewered on a vanilla bean.  If I recall correctly, the pound cake was held upright on the plate by some sticky lemon stuff and surrounded with powered vanilla.


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