May 6, 2007

Alinea: The first 12 courses

jump to: prologue : part 1 : part 2

To keep the blog on this from extending to ridiculous lengths, I'm simply going to post the photos, the restaurant's name of the dish, the wine pairing when applicable, and brief, minimal thoughts and reactions.

CROQUETTE smoked steelhead roe, several garnishes
L. Aubry Brut Champagne with Pineau des Charentes

The candied endive ribbon added a phenomenal, perfect sweet accent to the light salinity of the roe, creating a fantastic dimensionality of flavor. Absolute synergy.

OCTOPUS shiso, papaya, toasted soy

The octopus sliver was lightly cooked, with a heavenly earthy tone from the baby shiitake and a light touch of creamy avocado to tie the elemental flavors together. A masterful secondary layer came from the warm, light soy milk broth infused with sesame and mint at the bottom of the bowl.

CHANTERELLE carrot, curry, ham
Frecciarossa Pinot Nero Bianco "Sillery", Oltrepo Pavese, Italy 2005

Golden chanterelle lobes in pureed and seared forms, accompanied by dehydrated prosciutto, dried apricot encased in curry powder, spinach, minute carrot segments, and carrot foam. Rich and earthy, and arriving in a well-conceived bottomless glass cylinder preparation (which was lifted a the last moment to allow the ingredients to place themselves on the plate). A strange pairing with the light-bodied, delicate Pinot Nero.

APPLE horseradish, celery

A "shot" of granny smith apple jus, encased in a horseradish cocoa butter shell, submerged in celery jus and topped with celery leaf. Totally amazing. A great palate cleanser well-placed after the rich chanterelle dish.

MONKFISH banana, onion, lime
Follin-Arbelet Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 1999

Monkfish in three preparations: battered and fried tail, gently poached loin, and mousse of ankimo, served with a pudding of lime and banana. Reminiscent of Southeast Asian and Polynesian flavors, the subtle banana component and its marriage to the lime was totally inspired. This might have been THE dish of the night. Transcendent wine pairing.

DUCK mango, yogurt, pillow of lavender air
Rudi Pichler Gruner Veltliner Smaragd "Kollmutz", Wachau, Austria 2001

Duck in three preparations: slow poached breast, shaved and rolled; duck confit; and lightly grilled loin. Served also with red wine-braised turnips, yogurt water, and a dense mango puree. The plate was served atop a literal pillow of air scented with lavender, with the aroma of the lavender gently escaping and lightly permeating our air as we ate, adding just the faintest hint of lavender flavor to the duck. Not gimmicky (really... I had my doubts), but magical. Amazing wine paring.

BLACK TRUFFLE explosion, romaine, parmesan

A single raviolo of black truffle jus, black truffle slice, caramelized romaine, parmesan shard, served in a "negative dish", a little bit of coy visual trickery, the porcelain was bottomless. Explosion is absolutely the right term, with the juice having palpable velocity. Lav even had some shoot out from her mouth onto the table...

SHORT RIB Guinness, peanut, fried broccoli
Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso Riserva "Pipparello", Umbria 2001

Beef shortrib confit, dehydrated Guinness "sheet" (seriously crazy, and it seriously tasted like Guiness), broccoli puree, spiced peanut pudding, pink peppercorn, micro-cilantro. Never thought of the way Guiness matches with tender braised beef, but it makes perfect sense. Lots of Asian flavors here. Conflicted wine pairing, clashing flavors.

HONEYDEW Blis sherry vinegar, mint

A wonderful combination of sweet, acidic, and soothing, drifting off to a clean finish.

RHUBARB goat milk, beet, long pepper
Muller-Catoir Haardter Mandelring Scheurebe Spatlese, Pfalz 2005

Rhubarb in seven preparations: (1) suspended liquid beet ball in rhubarb jus, (2) candied sheet, (3) pickled, (4) mousse-air, (5)braised and encased in goat milk gelatin with tapioca, (6) dense fredo on crust, and (7) "oyster" composition... each articulation more deliciously engaging than its predecessor. Outstanding wine pairing.

STRAWBERRY frozen and chewy, with wasabi

The most singularly intriguing textural element of the meal simply because of the amazing plyability. Delicious match with yuzu and wasabi.

STURGEON candied and dried

Dessicated sturgeon "jerky." Amazing clarity in its transleucense. Playful, but sophisticated. Impressive depth of flavor, which included sesame, fresh ginger (which lended a nice spiciness), and candied citrus rind. Background of fish sauce and soy sauce. Would have been interesting with a secondary source of spiciness.

That takes us through 150 minutes of eating. Stay tuned for Act 2.

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1 comment:

  1. Nice blog and beautiful pictures! I would love to go to Alinea..if only time would permit.

    Anyway -- glad someone feels the same way about Grimaldi's. People cannot believe I just criticized the "best pizza on earth." I beg to differ.