Alinea

04/04/2011

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I was fortunate enough to go to the best restaurant in North America yesterday! I attempt to write about food on this blog, but I really can't describe our experience at Alinea. All I know is that I was giddy the entire time and I'm pretty sure I giggled with delight each time they brought out the next serving in the 22 course menu. Progressing leisurely through the courses, we enjoyed 4 hours at the restaurant.  Watching food competitions on TV I never really understood why presentation or aroma was such a huge deal to the judges, but knowing that the chefs at Alinea meticulously placed each element (with tweezers if necessary) on our plates and smelling the aromatics (some as exotic as warmed eucalyptus leaves) which accompanied each serving made our experience at the restaurant unforgettable. 

I'll show you pictures now, but I have to say I'm not exactly sure what we ate last night. Even though our servers gave us a menu to take home as a souvenir, some of the ingredients still elude me.
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Each course had its own silverware, and they were placed on these linen pillows.
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Steelhead Roe in a soup flavored with rutabaga and grapefruit. The creamy pillows are dijon mustard.
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Razor clam with carrot, soy and daikon.
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This one blew me away. In the little bowl is an asparagus soup with foam. On the fork is foie gras encased in aspic and topped with watercress, vanilla and mint.
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This plate was fascinating because I never realized how much I rely on color to tell me what my food will taste like. So, when I ate this I had no idea what flavors to expect. It is halibut with all sorts of stuff, including pepper, coffee and lemon.
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This dish was served on an orb with three levels. The first level has a rabbit parfait with pumpkin seeds, sage and I'm pretty sure that orange stick was freeze dried pumpkin.
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The second layer held a rabbit rillette nestled in apricot and pumpkin gelee.
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The third level was rabbit consomme seasoned with sage and cinnamon and heated by a hot rock.
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This mushroom dish was plated so that it looked like they were just growing out of the plate. It featured morel mushrooms, wild leeks, sumac and pine (nuts or bark, I don't know).
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This is a pasta wrap with short ribs and the diner's choice of toppings which included sun dried tomato dressing, turnips, tobacco gelee, blackberry, olives pickled in red wine, and fermented garlic, among other things.
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This recipe is from a french cookbook published in 1906. It's called canard a la cussy, and it is duck, topped with fried duck skin and atop a puff pastry filled with more duck! It was incredible. Oh, and it was also served with the antique plate you see, as well as antique silver ware and an etched crystal wine goblet.
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I think this was my favorite course of the whole evening. A single ravioli like pasta filled with black truffle oil, truffle, romaine and parmesan. The chef calls it 'black truffle explosion.'
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This course is called 'snow.' It is yuzu juice frozen on a metal bowl with dry ice. You use a spoon to scrape it off. This was the start of our dessert courses.
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This is a sweet potato emulsion served on cedar with pecans, brown sugar, apples, bourbon filled drops and cayenne pepper cotton candy!
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This is a glass straw filled with water, lemongrass, finger lime and cucumber and sealed with a dragon fruit gelatin. To eat it you suck the gelatin out of the straw and all the liquid follows. This was simply perfect, so refreshing and you could taste every ingredient.
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This was the final dessert course. The servers spread a mat on top of the table and then two chefs brought out the ingredients: creme brulee custard, hot chocolate, freeze dried blueberry, blueberries pickled in red wine, freeze dried peanut butter, sugar, and free dried chocolate mousse.
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When they plopped the freeze dried chocolate mousse on the table, the cool fog rushed over the ingredients and it smelled incredible!
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When they remove the glass tubes, the custard has set in place, and they burn the sugar on top to make creme brulee!
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The finished product. Pretty amazing huh?! It was so neat to watch the chefs make the beautiful designs so effortlessly. I asked how they made squares out of the hot chocolate, but the server said 'Wouldn't you like to know?'
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Then we demolished it!
Thanks for reading this really long post and looking at all the pictures, I didn't even include photos of all the courses! Share in the comments, what's your favorite restaurant?
 


Comments

04/13/2011 19:33

Wow! I have heard so many good things about Alinea (and I know a guy who is a server there). Your photos just made me even more intrigued!

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