Apologies to the people I’ve kept waiting. It’s time for the main event: the food at Alinea. In a few words: amazing, thoughtful, challenging, unbelievably creative, and (dare I say?) life changing. But I’ll shut up now and let the photos do the talking:
course #1: osetra + traditional garnishes
wine pairing: cocktail with henriot brut with chartreuse, akvavit, and orange curacao
The foam was a “brioche foam,” the idea being that the garnishes were the distilled essence of things without any of the textural elements. I wish I remembered what else was on the plate besides the osetra. Regardless, it was so amazing to get such a clear taste of things without the associated textures. Tim and I knew then that we were in for something really special.
Two pictures because this course was so damn pretty and so damn tasty. The Thai distillation was taken first as a shot to prime the palate. We were a bit concerned at first because we wouldn’t normally think to shoot fish sauce + chili + lime but it was surprisingly light and clean tasting. It was a good primer to prepare for the richness of the pork belly which was cooked in coconut milk. The cucumber element to this dish was injected into the lettuce. Crazy, huh?
This was probably my favorite savory course of the night. Crunchy, savory finger food. We were encouraged to double dip, which was a good thing because that red miso dip was amazing. And Tim got to make fun of me because they brought this dish with screaming hot towels to the table. I nearly scorched my hands using the towel before eating this. Tim reminded me that the hot towel was to clean our hands after eating this. Oh hai, who’s classy?
This was a fun, whimsical dish, as the the trout was surrounded by pastry “roe boats.” The dish was apparently a page out of Escoffier and as a nod to this historical element, the dish was served on fabulous 100 year old china. I couldn’t stop staring at the details on that wine glass. Gorgeous.
A single bite. That burst of truffle in my mouth was arresting. Wow.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t crazy about this dish, (not a big fan of chestnuts or mace) but the beauty of Alinea is that even the less remarkable dishes are a simply a cut above the rest.
This dish was supposed to simulate a sazerac cocktail. A lot of strong flavors. Tim wasn’t crazy about it and I probably wouldn’t have been either but for the demerara sugar, which saved it for me. If nothing else, it sure was pretty.
In case you’re wondering about portions and pacing for 23+ courses, it’s fairly comfortable because a lot of the portions are small single bites. This is obviously no place to be in if you’re rushed (our dinner lasted just about 4 hours), but to save on some time a few of the courses were brought out in groups, as was the case here for courses 8, 9, and 10. (Don’t worry, individual pictures and descriptions follow.)
We were instructed to pluck the bacon from the wire and eat it in one bite.
This was a crazy textural experience…on the little metal pick the peanut butter was in powder form but when it hits my mouth and it turned the texture of regular peanut butter…but spicy.
This was on a tiny pin, again, to be eaten in one bite.
Ok, that’s enough ground to cover for one night. Can you believe we’re not even halfway through? More soon….
Earlier: Alinea (part 1)