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The Alinea Cookbook

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Apparently the books that were sent to Canada just cleared customs on Thursday, so we should be receiving them with the week, give or take.


Edited by mkayahara (log)

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I received my book yesterday and I must say that I am truly disappointed. :sad:

It took more than a year for me to receive my book and it arrived damaged. If I had known that it would be shipped via surface mail, I would have gladly paid extra to have it shipped via air mail.

The book was poorly packaged so it was easy to see why it arrived in the condition that it did. A couple of emails sent via the contact us link on the Mosaic site have gone unanswered. I am not sure what to do at this point, especially since all the limited edition copies have been sold out.

Hopefully, Nick will read this and provide some insight. According to the initial email I received from the Alinea team the book should have been shipped via "track-able" airfreight.

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My copy arrived over the weekend, hopefully others will follow. It's a great book, and it will take me a while to read through and decide how I'm going to start using it!


Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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It took more than a year for me to receive my book. 

That part's not really a valid complaint considering the release date has always been Oct. 2008 regardless of when you decided to place the order.

The damaged part sucks, did you file a report with the carrier?


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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It took more than a year for me to receive my book. 

That part's not really a valid complaint considering the release date has always been Oct. 2008 regardless of when you decided to place the order.

The damaged part sucks, did you file a report with the carrier?

Oh I was not complaining about that. I spoke to the Post Office about it. They did not commit to anything. :angry:

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It took more than a year for me to receive my book. 

That part's not really a valid complaint considering the release date has always been Oct. 2008 regardless of when you decided to place the order.

The damaged part sucks, did you file a report with the carrier?

Oh I was not complaining about that. I spoke to the Post Office about it. They did not commit to anything. :angry:

Yeah, I hate dealing with the postal service sometimes. My latest shipment from l'epicerie arrived with a big hole punched in my bag of apple pectin and about 2/3 of it gone. I'm going to ask next time if they'll ship another way.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I just received an email from Kate with the Alinea Book Team. She indicated that they would be sendinf a new book out. I asked if I could pay more to have it sent via UPS or Fedex and I am awaiting her reply.

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A very interesting thing happened to me with this Alinea cookbook.

Last night I was looking through my collection of cookbooks and immediately went to grab my copy of the French Laundry cookbook. I did so because I have been doing nothing but carefully perusing the Alinea cookbook for the last couple weeks. I thought to myself, what would the French Laundry cookbook look like to me now after reading Achatz's face melter. Would I somehow remember the book as I have in the past, or would it appear to be very dated. Well...I couldn't believe how simplistic all the recipes were in the French Laundry cookbook. Mainly because I had to adjust my thinking back to recipes that didn't contain maltodextrin, agar agar, etc.

This is in no way to discount chef Keller and his cuisine. The French Laundry cookbook hit me just as strongly when I first received it and dove into the stories and recipes. I believe, like many, that Keller is still at the top of his game today. However, after returning once again to the Alinea cookbook (after reading the French Laundry cookbook), I have come to the conclusion that this work of art is truly ahead of the times and one that will take a long time to catch up with. I can't even begin to imagine what will be surfacing from the restaurant industry in the next ten to fifteen years that will make this book look dated.

Thank you Grant and staff for the hours of reading and inspiration...


"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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Jennifer Day has written an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune about attempting to make one of the recipes in the book.

Enjoy!

In case you're reading this weeks or months from now and the link no longer works, the name of the article is "Making 'Bean'--a $352, 31.5-hour, 175-mile cooking odyssey."

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Jennifer Day has written an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune about attempting to make one of the recipes in the book.

Enjoy!

In case you're reading this weeks or months from now and the link no longer works, the name of the article is "Making 'Bean'--a $352, 31.5-hour, 175-mile cooking odyssey."

Great article and interview link too! ("...Tiger Woods")


2317/5000

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A very interesting thing happened to me with this Alinea cookbook. 

Last night I was looking through my collection of cookbooks and immediately went to grab my copy of the French Laundry cookbook.  I did so because I have been doing nothing but carefully perusing the Alinea cookbook for the last couple weeks.  I thought to myself, what would the French Laundry cookbook look like to me now after reading Achatz's face melter.  Would I somehow remember the book as I have in the past, or would it appear to be very dated.  Well...I couldn't believe how simplistic all the recipes were in the French Laundry cookbook.  Mainly because I had to adjust my thinking back to recipes that didn't contain maltodextrin, agar agar, etc. 

Thank you Grant and staff for the hours of reading and inspiration...

You can see Keller's evolution by comparing his new "Under Pressure" book as well. His new book is very different from his French Laundry cookbook, as his food now looks very modern, almost El Bulli-ish in style and presentation.

On an opinionated, critical note about the Alinea book, I HATE the photography in it. I don't want stylish photos with crazy angles and affects in my cookbooks. I want to know what the dish freakin looks like! With these artsy fartsy photos, you can't even tell what the dish really looks like half the time, literally. I've seen photos on blogs that better depict what the actual dish looks like. But other than that major gripe, I love the book. :)

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A very interesting thing happened to me with this Alinea cookbook. 

Last night I was looking through my collection of cookbooks and immediately went to grab my copy of the French Laundry cookbook.  I did so because I have been doing nothing but carefully perusing the Alinea cookbook for the last couple weeks.  I thought to myself, what would the French Laundry cookbook look like to me now after reading Achatz's face melter.  Would I somehow remember the book as I have in the past, or would it appear to be very dated.  Well...I couldn't believe how simplistic all the recipes were in the French Laundry cookbook.  Mainly because I had to adjust my thinking back to recipes that didn't contain maltodextrin, agar agar, etc. 

Thank you Grant and staff for the hours of reading and inspiration...

You can see Keller's evolution by comparing his new "Under Pressure" book as well. His new book is very different from his French Laundry cookbook, as his food now looks very modern, almost El Bulli-ish in style and presentation.

On an opinionated, critical note about the Alinea book, I HATE the photography in it. I don't want stylish photos with crazy angles and affects in my cookbooks. I want to know what the dish freakin looks like! With these artsy fartsy photos, you can't even tell what the dish really looks like half the time, literally. I've seen photos on blogs that better depict what the actual dish looks like. But other than that major gripe, I love the book. :)

I agree with the picture comment. I used to hate that about Trotter's cookbooks, too. Take a picture of the whole plate from the (would-be) perspective of the diner. That would be better for me I think...


"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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...

You can see Keller's evolution by comparing his new "Under Pressure" book as well.  His new book is very different from his French Laundry cookbook, as his food now looks very modern, almost El Bulli-ish in style and presentation. 

...

You can actually see this evolution even with el Bulli itself. The recipes in A Day at el Bulli (from 2008) are magnitudes more complex than the ones in the el Bulli 2003-2004 cookbook.

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The recent announcement of the first list of errata for Modernist Cuisine reminded me that I don't have a copy of the errata for the Alinea cookbook anywhere, and now that the Mosaic is apparently defunct, I no longer have online access either. Does anyone have a copy of the official errata that they'd be willing to share, or know of somewhere else it's available online? Thanks!


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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The recent announcement of the first list of errata for Modernist Cuisine reminded me that I don't have a copy of the errata for the Alinea cookbook anywhere, and now that the Mosaic is apparently defunct, I no longer have online access either. Does anyone have a copy of the official errata that they'd be willing to share, or know of somewhere else it's available online? Thanks!

http://www.alineaphile.com/archives/10-Errata,-Alinea-cook-book,-first-edition.html

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The recent announcement of the first list of errata for Modernist Cuisine reminded me that I don't have a copy of the errata for the Alinea cookbook anywhere, and now that the Mosaic is apparently defunct, I no longer have online access either. Does anyone have a copy of the official errata that they'd be willing to share, or know of somewhere else it's available online? Thanks!

http://www.alineaphile.com/archives/10-Errata,-Alinea-cook-book,-first-edition.html

Wonderful, thank you! *clicks on "Print"*


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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      Chef Grant processing the broccoli

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      Broccoli stems after cooking
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      Grant's mise...not your ordinary cutting board

      Poached Broccoli Stem and Crisp Bread cooking

      Ready for plating

      A bright green broccoli puree is made with a vita-prep blender. Here, Chef Grant "mohawks" it onto china given to him by Thomas Keller

      Smoked Coho roe has arrived via Fed-Ex, courtesy of Steve Stallard

      Chef Grant devises a plating scheme for the Poached Broccoli Stem while Curtis looks on

      Chef Grant ponders one potential plating of the dish. He called this incarnation 'predictable' and started over.

      Another plating idea. This version is garnished with broccoli petals and ultra-thin slices of connected grapefruit pulp cells. The yellow petals are stand-ins for what will ultimately be broccoli blossoms
      Grant is still displeased at the dish's appearance. "The dish tastes as I envisioned it....texturally complex, with the crispness of the bread, the soft elements of the floret puree and stem, and the pop of the eggs. The buttery richness from the bread gives the stem the flavor of the melted cabbage I loved at the [French] Laundry. And the hot and cold contrasts from the roe and broccoli …I like it…..I just don’t like the way it looks.” Another attempt and the group agrees, it is better but not “the one.” The use of the thinly sliced cross sections of peeled grapefruit energizes the group. In the next rendition, they make small packets with the ultra thinly-sliced grapefruit containing the roe...

      A third plating configuration for Poached Broccoli Stems; this one featuring the packets of roe wrapped in ultra thin sheets of grapefruit pulp cells
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      Caramel blob awaiting formation. Chef Curtis kept this pliable by leaving it in a low oven throughout the day

      Chef Grant’s initial idea to use a metal bubble ring and heat gun (normally used for stripping paint) to form the bubbles does not work as hoped. Attempts to fashion them by hand also come up short.
      Says Grant, “At Trio we tried a hair-dryer. When Martin told me about these heat guns which get up to 900 degrees F, I thought we had it for sure. If it was easy everyone would do it I guess.” Eventually, Alinea partner Nick Kokonas garners the task’s best result by positioning a small, warm blob of sugar onto the end of a drinking straw and blowing into the other end. The results are promising. Curtis suggests using a sugar pump to inflate the orbs. That adjustment will be attempted on another day.
      “We intentionally position whimsical bite in the amuse slot, it tends to break the ice and make people laugh. It is a deliberate attempt to craft the experience by positioning the courses in a very pre-meditated order. A great deal of thought goes into the order of the courses, a misalignment may really take away from the meal as a whole.” For PB&J, the grapes are peeled while still on the vine and then dipped into unsweetened peanut butter. They are allowed to set–up, and then they are wrapped with a thin sheet of bread and lightly toasted. When the peeled grapes warm, they become so soft they mimic jelly. The composition is strangely unfamiliar in appearance but instantly reminiscent on the palate. PB&J is, according to Grant, virtually ready for service. There are a couple of aesthetic elements, which need minor tweaks but the Chef feels very good about today’s prototype.

      Chef John peels grapes while still on their stems

      Peeled grapes on their stems with peanut butter coating

      Chef Grant studies the completed PB&J in the Crucial Detail designed piece

      PB&J
      Often, creative impulses come by way of Alinea’s special purveyors. “Terra Spice’s support over the past couple of years has been unprecedented, and it has accelerated with the start of the food lab,” says Grant. “It is great to have relationships with people that think like we do, it can make the creative process so much easier. Often Phil, our contact at Terra, would come into the kitchen at Trio and encourage us to try and stump him on obscure ingredients. We always lost, but not from lack of trying. He even brought in two live chufa plants into the kitchen one day.” The relationship has developed and Terra team has really made an effort to not only search out products that the chefs ask for but also keep an eye out for new ingredients and innovations. In August, Phil brought by some samples of products that he thought the Alinea team might be interested in trying.

      Phil of Terra Spice showing the team some samples

      Coconut powder and other samples
      Grant recalls “the most surprising item to me was the dried coconut powder. When I put a spoonful in my mouth I could not believe the intense flavor and instant creamy texture, it was awesome.” That was the inspiration for what is now Instant Tropical Pudding. The guest is presented with a glass filled with dried ingredients. A member of the service team pours a measured amount of coconut water into the glass and instructs the guest to stir the pudding until a creamy consistency is formed.

      The rum-spiked coconut water being added to the powders
      At the end of the day, the Chefs assess their overall effort as having gone “fairly well.” It’s a mixed bag of results. Clearly, the fact that things have not gone perfectly on Day 1 has not dampened anyone’s spirits. The team has purposely attempted dishes of varying degrees of difficultly in order to maximize their productivity. Says Grant, “Making a bubble of caramel filled with powder…I have devoted the better part of fifteen years to this craft, I have trained with the best chefs alive. I have a good grasp of known technique. The lab's purpose is to create technique based on our vision. Sometimes we will succeed, and sometimes we will fail, but trying is what make us who we are." The team's measured evaluations of their day’s work reflect that philosophy.
      According to Chef Grant, “The purpose of the lab is to create the un-creatable. I know the level at which we can cook. I know the level of technique we already possess. What I am interested in is what we don't know...making a daydream reality.” With little more than 100 days on the calendar between now and Alinea’s opening, the Chef and his team will have their work cut out for them.
      =R=
      A special thanks to eGullet member yellow truffle, who contributed greatly to this piece
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