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[CHI] Alinea – Grant Achatz – Reviews & Discussion (Part 2)


BryanZ
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So, as a friend of mine is saying, Alinea is more ride than meal. It's hard to remember enough detail about 23 courses to make any coherent commentary later, but I will at least attempt to give some impressions.

<b>Hot Potato, cold potato, black truffle, butter</b>

A classic. I love the way the black truffle lingers on the palate long after that single bite (and slurp) is gone.

<b>King Crab, vinegar, aromatics</b>

This was beautiful to look at - the crab encased in a crystal clear gelee of rice wine vinegar. The sushi rice was perfectly seasoned, and there were a bunch of little garnishes - ginger, black pepper, microlemongrass, saffron, etc.

<b>Trout Roe, cucumber, coconut, bonito</b>

This was a great combination - beautful trout roe from Michigan, creamy coconut pudding and avocado puree, a sheet of lime rock, a drizzle of cilantro juice, and a sprinkle of bonita powder, all topped off by a cucumber foam. Light, refreshing, perfectly in harmony. And the wine pairing was a hint of great things to come - the Naiades Verdejo, Rueda, Spain 2004 was a prefect match, with hints of cucumber and lime to echo the food.

<b>Akayagara, radish, coriander, poppyseed</b>

No picture for this one - it was served in a round bottom bowl, so we ran short of hands. A fork topped with the akayagara (at type of fish) fit into a slot atop the specially made bowl, and the poppyseed milk was in the bottom.

<b>Matsutake, mango, peanut, yuzu glass</b>

Matsutake mushrooms from Oregon were served three ways here - pureed, dicked and sauteed, and dehydrated. As with many of the items on the menu, there were a ton of other ingredients - mung bean edamame, mint juice, mango peanut curmbs, soy nage, yuzu "glass" - but it managed to come together some how. This wasn't one of my favorites, but my tablemate liked it a lot.

<b>Rabbit, cider, roasted garlic, smell of burning leaves</b>

We liked to call this one the "pot" dish. Who knew that burning oak leaves smell just like pot? A glass containing smoke was carefully placed over the food, and then lifted up at the table. Grant Achatz is well known for these dishes that use various aromas to put you in a particular frame of mind. In this case, we found that we could also taste the smoke in the dish. With cider gelee and garlic puree, black pepper and thyme, this was a perfect seasonal dish, and it was served with a cup of lovely rabbit consomme.

<b>Peach, smoked paprika, carrot</b>

Peach juice is captured inside a hollow shell of cocoa butter, carrot juice and smoked paprika. The fragile shell breaks and the liquid rushes out, so our server made a point of warning us to be sure our mouths were closed lest we soak the person on the otherside of the table... Interesting, although I wasn't tremendously fond of the way the cocoa butter felt in my mouth.

<b>Kobe Short Rib, beets, cranberry, campari</b>

Even though it's not mentioned in the description, this was as much about fennel as beets. There were shaved fennel, fennel puree, and fennel fronds. The beet side included the beet-campari sheet covering the short ribs, a single golden beet, and an interesting dehydrated beet ribbon. I was already starting to get full, so I took a short course on this one, trying a bit of everything, but not finishing it. Very dramatic plate.

<b>Black Truffle, explosion, romaine, parmesan</b> (times two)

I'd had the black truffle explosion (BTE) once at Trio, and was excited to see it on our menu at Alinea. To my tastes, the wilted romaine was a much better accompaniment than the broccoli puree, adding a little bit of texture as well as good flavor. The second BTE was even better than the first, as presumably because it was an extra course, it was hotter when it arrived.

<b>Squab, huckleberry, sorrel, long peppercorn</b>

A plethora of squab presentation - leg, breast, crispy skin, some confit - with a huckleberry sauce and three fresh huckleberries, a long peppercorn custard (yum) and some micro sorel. Beautiful plate, this one. We noticed them bringing our plates in, then whisking them off again - a huckleberry had moved out of place and had to be adjusted before they could serve it. The wine for this course (Hermitage "Cuvee Emilie," Domaine des Remizieres, Rhone 2002) - easily my favorite of the night.

<b>Concord Grape, frozen and chewy</b>

By now I was ready for a change of pass, and a few cold bites were just the thing. No picture again, as we found that the dishes served without a plate were really hard to get pictures of. In contrast to earlier and later courses that contain a laundry list of ingredients and garnishes, this was simply a lozenge of concord grape puree, frozen on the anti-griddle. It was intensely grapey, and the texture was really interesting.

<b>Chestnut, blis maple syrup</b>

Another little frozen bite, and this one I liked quite a bit. A sweetened frozen disk of chestnut puree, with a little divot to hold a pool of maple syrup that has been matured in bourbon casks, and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt to bring it all together.

<b>Crabapple, cheddar, eucalyptus, olive oil</b>

Clearly the kitchen had had enough with simplicity, judging from this next course. Let's see if I can decipher the notes well enough to list all of the accompaniments to this tangy frozen crabapple mousse - tellicherry pepper tuille, crispy sage leaves, extra virgin olive oil jam (yes, jam), ecalyptus sauce, cheddar custard, sweet onion marmalade, and a cherry blossom. Phew! It was fun to taste all the garnishes alone, with the crabapple, and in varying combinations. The wine pairing for this one (Pfeffingen Ungsteiner Herrenberg Scheurebe Spatlese, Pfalz 2003) worked really well. The grape variety is a hybrid, and it had some of that foxiness that you get from hybrids, which meant it actually could stand up to a dish with eucalyptus in it!

<b>Quince, prosciutto, orange, juniper</b>

This was one of the famous "antenna" dishes. Pierced on the end of the antenna was a roulade of pureed and dried quince and prosciutto. Other flavors included braised mustard seeds, bitter lemon, micro cilantro, juniper, and a honey glaze.

<b>Shellfish, gooseberries, horseradish, celery ice</b>

I'm a celery fan, so this one worked really well for me. Celery leaves, and celery ice topped a shellfish sponge, and diced celery sat underneath it along with a pool of gooseberry coulis. A single meat each of crab and mussels garnished it all. Very nice.

<b>Hamachi, buttermilk, blackberry, green peanuts</b>

The hamachi was topped with a roasted peanut topping of some sort, and green peanuts were sprinkled underneath. It was garnished with blackberry sauce, some sort of buttermilk concoction, and tarragon leaves. This smelled great, and I wanted to like it more than I did - it was a fine dish, but the hamachi is a very fishy tasting fish, and that didn't work so well for my tastes.

<b>Bacon, butterscotch, apple, thyme</b>

Hanging from a wire was a perfectly crispy strip of applewood smoked bacon, wrapped with chewy butterscotch and apple leather. A single tasty bite of salty sweet goodness.

<b>Lamb, date, mastic, rosemary aroma</b>

Three pieces of lamb sat sizzling atop a 450 degree rock. Our rosemary table decoration was fitted into whole in the stone to give just a hint of rosemary to the proceedings. (This brought my back to my first meal at Trio, where we had a dish with rosemary vapor, created by pouring boiling water over rosemary leaves.) The lamb was perfectly done, but then the rock gave it a really nice sear on the bottom - you had to be careful how you ate it, lest you burn your tonge. The three toppings where a mastic cream, a pickled date puree, and a red wine braised cabbage. Nice wine pairing for this one as well - Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, S. Rhone 2000.

<b>Bison, gruyere, pumpernickel, ramps</b>

The presentation on this one is fascinating. Cubes of cold smoked North Dakota bison sit atop a ragu of plumped raisins with Worcestire sauce, and the whole thing is buried beneath a pile of dried gruyere and shreds of toasted pumpernickle bread, and garnished with pickled ramps. Surprisingly good.

<b>Raspberry, goat milk, red pepper taffy, pistachio</b>

Rasberries and roasted red peppers... fascinating. Combined, we were told, because they were both red. Okay... But all in all I have to say it worked pretty well. Lots going on here - raspberries were filled and wrapped with a chewy red pepper taffy, and set upon lavender pudding and goat milk tapioca. Pistachio came in three forms - a puree, a tuile, and a brittle. And the whole thing was adorned with a blanket of raspberry sauce. It looks like it should be some sort of solid, the edges are so perfect. We asked and they let us in on the secret - the raspberry sauce is frozen on a sheet of acetate. The frozen strip is laid over the dessert, then the acetate is peeled away and the sauce allowed to melt. What a clever way to get a really dramatic presentation!

<b>Licorice Cake, spiced with hoja santa leaves</b>

Neither of us being licorice fans, we were a little worried about this one, but it was actually a very nice spice cake. Once you got to it, anyway, which involved peeling away parchment paper, then the hoja santa leaves that wrapped the cake. Accompaniments included a sweet potato cream, roasted something with licorice leather (we're 22 courses and XX wines into the meal at this point, so you'll have to forgive the quality of my notes!), muscovado gellee, and oranges stewed in some sort of Mexican liqueur from the Yucatan.

<b>Chocolate, bergamot, cassia, figs</b>

This was a little ridiculous, as course 23 out of 24. At least an ounce of dark chocolate, right on the dividing line between liquid and solid, atop a sheet of dehydrated chocolate mousse, served with a scoop of cassia bud ice cream, and some stewed figs. A bergamot flavored black tea is poured into the bowl right at the table. We couldn't possible eat it all - I think I took one bite, just to say I had. I know that over-the-top death by chocolate desserts are popular, but this was totally overkill. I would have been much happier with a single spoonful of chocolate at this point in the meal.

<b>Caramel, meyer lemon, cinnamon perfume</b>

The final course was another that brought back fine memories of Trio meals. Then, it was crab and meyer lemon on a vanilla bean, this time it was chewy caramel, meyer lemon, and a cinnamon stick. Both crispy and satisfying bites, though.

I know some people have left Alinea hungry, but this was not one of those nights. We were both stuffed to the gills, but happy and satisfied. We stopped in the kitchen to chat with chefg on our way out, and he was gracious and friendly. I was impressed with the evolution of his food from Trio to Alinea, and told him that - there's a level of maturity and polish that seems new. While there were certainly dishes I liked more than others, there weren't any clunkers anywhere on the menu, something I wasn't able to say after my trips to Trio. All in all, it just seemed very refined. Which, in some ways, made the experience a little less fun - the service was a little more formal, the atmosphere quieter and more reverent, somehow.

Anyway, it was a fabulous meal, and a fabulous evening. Service was fabulous too - doubly so when we realized the next day that I'd left my umbrella at the restaurant, and someone from the staff took the time to deliver it to our hotel, since we weren't going to have an opportunity to be back that way.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Wow - we're flying in for for dinner tomorrow night - can't wait!

So, as a friend of mine is saying, Alinea is more ride than meal.  It's hard to remember enough detail about 23 courses to make any coherent commentary later, but I will at least attempt to give some impressions.

<b>Hot Potato, cold potato, black truffle, butter</b>

A classic.  I love the way the black truffle lingers on the palate long after that single bite (and slurp) is gone.

<b>King Crab, vinegar, aromatics</b>

This was beautiful to look at - the crab encased in a crystal clear gelee of rice wine vinegar.  The sushi rice was perfectly seasoned, and there were a bunch of little garnishes - ginger, black pepper, microlemongrass, saffron, etc.

<b>Trout Roe, cucumber, coconut, bonito</b>

This was a great combination - beautful trout roe from Michigan, creamy coconut pudding and avocado puree, a sheet of lime rock, a drizzle of cilantro juice, and a sprinkle of bonita powder, all topped off by a cucumber foam.  Light, refreshing, perfectly in harmony.  And the wine pairing was a hint of great things to come - the Naiades Verdejo, Rueda, Spain 2004 was a prefect match, with hints of cucumber and lime to echo the food.

<b>Akayagara, radish, coriander, poppyseed</b>

No picture for this one - it was served in a round bottom bowl, so we ran short of hands.  A fork topped with the akayagara (at type of fish) fit into a slot atop the specially made bowl, and the poppyseed milk was in the bottom.

<b>Matsutake, mango, peanut, yuzu glass</b>

Matsutake mushrooms from Oregon were served three ways here - pureed, dicked and sauteed, and dehydrated.  As with many of the items on the menu, there were a ton of other ingredients - mung bean edamame, mint juice, mango peanut curmbs, soy nage, yuzu "glass" - but it managed to come together some how.  This wasn't one of my favorites, but my tablemate liked it a lot.

<b>Rabbit, cider, roasted garlic, smell of burning leaves</b>

We liked to call this one the "pot" dish.  Who knew that burning oak leaves smell just like pot?  A glass containing smoke was carefully placed over the food, and then lifted up at the table.  Grant Achatz is well known for these dishes that use various aromas to put you in a particular frame of mind.  In this case, we found that we could also taste the smoke in the dish.  With cider gelee and garlic puree, black pepper and thyme, this was a perfect seasonal dish, and it was served with a cup of lovely rabbit consomme.

<b>Peach, smoked paprika, carrot</b>

Peach juice is captured inside a hollow shell of cocoa butter, carrot juice and smoked paprika.  The fragile shell breaks and the liquid rushes out, so our server made a point of warning us to be sure our mouths were closed lest we soak the person on the otherside of the table...  Interesting, although I wasn't tremendously fond of the way the cocoa butter felt in my mouth.

<b>Kobe Short Rib, beets, cranberry, campari</b>

Even though it's not mentioned in the description, this was as much about fennel as beets.  There were shaved fennel, fennel puree, and fennel fronds.  The beet side included the beet-campari sheet covering the short ribs, a single golden beet, and an interesting dehydrated beet ribbon.  I was already starting to get full, so I took a short course on this one, trying a bit of everything, but not finishing it.  Very dramatic plate.

<b>Black Truffle, explosion, romaine, parmesan</b> (times two)

I'd had the black truffle explosion (BTE) once at Trio, and was excited to see it on our menu at Alinea.  To my tastes, the wilted romaine was a much better accompaniment than the broccoli puree, adding a little bit of texture as well as good flavor.  The second BTE was even better than the first, as presumably because it was an extra course, it was hotter when it arrived.

<b>Squab, huckleberry, sorrel, long peppercorn</b>

A plethora of squab presentation - leg, breast, crispy skin, some confit - with a huckleberry sauce and three fresh huckleberries, a long peppercorn custard (yum) and some micro sorel.  Beautiful plate, this one.  We noticed them bringing our plates in, then whisking them off again - a huckleberry had moved out of place and had to be adjusted before they could serve it.  The wine for this course (Hermitage "Cuvee Emilie," Domaine des Remizieres, Rhone 2002) - easily my favorite of the night.

<b>Concord Grape, frozen and chewy</b>

By now I was ready for a change of pass, and a few cold bites were just the thing.  No picture again, as we found that the dishes served without a plate were really hard to get pictures of.  In contrast to earlier and later courses that contain a laundry list of ingredients and garnishes, this was simply a lozenge of concord grape puree, frozen on the anti-griddle.  It was intensely grapey, and the texture was really interesting. 

<b>Chestnut, blis maple syrup</b>

Another little frozen bite, and this one I liked quite a bit.  A sweetened frozen disk of chestnut puree, with a little divot to hold a pool of maple syrup that has been matured in bourbon casks, and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt to bring it all together.

<b>Crabapple, cheddar, eucalyptus, olive oil</b>

Clearly the kitchen had had enough with simplicity, judging from this next course.  Let's see if I can decipher the notes well enough to list all of the accompaniments to this tangy frozen crabapple mousse - tellicherry pepper tuille, crispy sage leaves, extra virgin olive oil jam (yes, jam), ecalyptus sauce, cheddar custard, sweet onion marmalade, and a cherry blossom.  Phew!  It was fun to taste all the garnishes alone, with the crabapple, and in varying combinations.  The wine pairing for this one (Pfeffingen Ungsteiner Herrenberg Scheurebe Spatlese, Pfalz 2003) worked really well.  The grape variety is a hybrid, and it had some of that foxiness that you get from hybrids, which meant it actually could stand up to a dish with eucalyptus in it!

<b>Quince, prosciutto, orange, juniper</b>

This was one of the famous "antenna" dishes.  Pierced on the end of the antenna was a roulade of pureed and dried quince and prosciutto.  Other flavors included braised mustard seeds, bitter lemon, micro cilantro, juniper, and a honey glaze.

<b>Shellfish, gooseberries, horseradish, celery ice</b>

I'm a celery fan, so this one worked really well for me.  Celery leaves, and celery ice topped a shellfish sponge, and diced celery sat underneath it along with a pool of gooseberry coulis.  A single meat each of crab and mussels garnished it all.  Very nice.

<b>Hamachi, buttermilk, blackberry, green peanuts</b>

The hamachi was topped with a roasted peanut topping of some sort, and green peanuts were sprinkled underneath.  It was garnished with blackberry sauce, some sort of buttermilk concoction, and tarragon leaves.  This smelled great, and I wanted to like it more than I did - it was a fine dish, but the hamachi is a very fishy tasting fish, and that didn't work so well for my tastes. 

<b>Bacon, butterscotch, apple, thyme</b>

Hanging from a wire was a perfectly crispy strip of applewood smoked bacon, wrapped with chewy butterscotch and apple leather.  A single tasty bite of salty sweet goodness.

<b>Lamb, date, mastic, rosemary aroma</b>

Three pieces of lamb sat sizzling atop a 450 degree rock.  Our rosemary table decoration was fitted into whole in the stone to give just a hint of rosemary to the proceedings.  (This brought my back to my first meal at Trio, where we had a dish with rosemary vapor, created by pouring boiling water over rosemary leaves.)  The lamb was perfectly done, but then the rock gave it a really nice sear on the bottom - you had to be careful how you ate it, lest you burn your tonge.  The three toppings where a mastic cream, a pickled date puree, and a red wine braised cabbage.  Nice wine pairing for this one as well - Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, S. Rhone 2000.

<b>Bison, gruyere, pumpernickel, ramps</b>

The presentation on this one is fascinating.  Cubes of cold smoked North Dakota bison sit atop a ragu of plumped raisins with Worcestire sauce, and the whole thing is buried beneath a pile of dried gruyere and shreds of toasted pumpernickle bread, and garnished with pickled ramps.  Surprisingly good.

<b>Raspberry, goat milk, red pepper taffy, pistachio</b>

Rasberries and roasted red peppers... fascinating.  Combined, we were told, because they were both red.  Okay...  But all in all I have to say it worked pretty well.  Lots going on here - raspberries were filled and wrapped with a chewy red pepper taffy, and set upon lavender pudding and goat milk tapioca.  Pistachio came in three forms - a puree, a tuile, and a brittle.  And the whole thing was adorned with a blanket of raspberry sauce.  It looks like it should be some sort of solid, the edges are so perfect.  We asked and they let us in on the secret - the raspberry sauce is frozen on a sheet of acetate.  The frozen strip is laid over the dessert, then the acetate is peeled away and the sauce allowed to melt.  What a clever way to get a really dramatic presentation!

<b>Licorice Cake, spiced with hoja santa leaves</b>

Neither of us being licorice fans, we were a little worried about this one, but it was actually a very nice spice cake.  Once you got to it, anyway, which involved peeling away parchment paper, then the hoja santa leaves that wrapped the cake. Accompaniments included a sweet potato cream, roasted something with licorice leather (we're 22 courses and XX wines into the meal at this point, so you'll have to forgive the quality of my notes!), muscovado gellee, and oranges stewed in some sort of Mexican liqueur from the Yucatan.

<b>Chocolate, bergamot, cassia, figs</b>

This was a little ridiculous, as course 23 out of 24.  At least an ounce of dark chocolate, right on the dividing line between liquid and solid, atop a sheet of dehydrated chocolate mousse, served with a scoop of cassia bud ice cream, and some stewed figs.  A bergamot flavored black tea is poured into the bowl right at the table.  We couldn't possible eat it all - I think I took one bite, just to say I had.  I know that over-the-top death by chocolate desserts are popular, but this was totally overkill.  I would have been much happier with a single spoonful of chocolate at this point in the meal.

<b>Caramel, meyer lemon, cinnamon perfume</b>

The final course was another that brought back fine memories of Trio meals.  Then, it was crab and meyer lemon on a vanilla bean, this time it was chewy caramel, meyer lemon, and a cinnamon stick.  Both crispy and satisfying bites, though.

I know some people have left Alinea hungry, but this was not one of those nights.  We were both stuffed to the gills, but happy and satisfied.  We stopped in the kitchen to chat with chefg on our way out, and he was gracious and friendly.  I was impressed with the evolution of his food from Trio to Alinea, and told him that - there's a level of maturity and polish that seems new.  While there were certainly dishes I liked more than others, there weren't any clunkers anywhere on the menu, something I wasn't able to say after my trips to Trio.  All in all, it just seemed very refined.  Which, in some ways, made the experience a little less fun - the service was a little more formal, the atmosphere quieter and more reverent, somehow.

Anyway, it was a fabulous meal, and a fabulous evening.  Service was fabulous too - doubly so when we realized the next day that I'd left my umbrella at the restaurant, and someone from the staff took the time to deliver it to our hotel, since we weren't going to have an opportunity to be back that way.

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Alinea has been added to AAA's list of 5-Diamond rated Chicago restaurants. This now brings to 7, the number of 5-Diamond rated restaurants in Chicago -- more than any other city . . .

Making their debut on the 2007 Five Diamond restaurant list, Alinea in Lincoln Park is becoming known around the country for its innovative tasting menu and Avenues, located in the Peninsula Chicago, is well known for its exquisite menu.

"AAA is thrilled to add these two impeccable restaurants to the Five Diamond rated properties," said Brad Roeber, Regional President, AAA Illinois/Indiana. "All recipients undergo rigorous review and meet the highest standards in quality and service to earn AAA's exclusive, top Diamond rating."

Chicago's 2007 Five Diamond rated restaurants: Alinea (1 year), Arun's (5 years), Avenues (in The Peninsula) (1 year), Charlie Trotters (13 years), Everest (11 years), Seasons Restaurant (in the Four Seasons Hotel) (7 years), Tru (7 years).

Chicago Is Now the Leading Destination for AAA Five Diamond Dining

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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This is not the topic for it, but IMO there is at least one restaurant on that list that does not belong there. I have eaten at 5 of the 7. To keep this OT, Alinea is not that restaurant :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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Finally got to Alinea this past weekend. Been wanting to go since the pre-opening thread here. We planned our honeymoon as a trip to Chicago so we could go. We had the 24 course tour with wine pairings. In summary: Best. Dining. Experience. Ever. I can't really add too much to what has been said here, but I'll toss in my twenty cents:

- We had a couple of dishes that were new from the most recent, and excellent, review posted here. The "black truffle explosion" was instead a white truffle explosion with a slice of Alba truffle. The hanging bacon was replaced with a small bite pineapple fruit roll-up thingy stuffed with powdered(?) rendered bacon fat. There was also a hard cinnamon puff stuffed with some forbidden, liver-y deliciousness. There was a new venison dish - venison coated in granola on a bed of celery root puree with a pond of cherry-red wine sauce.

- The wine pairings were unbelievably good. I had *no idea* what a wine pairing could be until that dinner. The sommelier did a great job explaining each wine in detail with each pour.

- The service was unflaggingly excellent. I was a bit nervous that my small bladder (and, hence, 854 trip to the ladies room) would be troublesome for the meal pacing, but everything was seamless. The pacing was perfect for the entire 4+ hours we were there. The service added a lot to making the meal feel like a fun event, rather than just eating.

- There was a family at the table next to us that seemed to be enjoying themselves very much. At one point in the latter part of our tasting, a waiter was describing to us the many components of a dish.. can't remember which one... and the Dad of the neighboring table whispered in our direction "And there are little Martian babies hiding under there". For some reason that keeps making me laugh.

- A word of advice: If you have a choice, don't do a 9 pm or later sitting if you want to get the tour. We chose that over the 5:30 because I wanted to do Topolobampo at lunch. We were dying of exhaustion partway through the meal and felt like crap the next day after our full, drunk selves passed at at 2:05 am, which was the instant our butts were back in our hotel room.

- I am a small person with a small appetite. I couldn't finish all of my food, but I could eat some of everything. I also couldn't keep up with the wine pairings. But I had at least a little of each pairing with the appropriate dish and sent many glasses away with some wine left in them. It was still 100% worth getting the tastings. I wonder if one could ask for a 'mini pour' version of the tasting.

- The last chocloate dessert was too much. Please have mercy and make that dish half of its current size.

We had very high expectations and the meal exceeded them. There were a couple of dishes that did not work for me taste-wise, but a) I could appreciate something about each dish and b) given how picky I am, its amazing that there were only a few out of 24 dishes that I couldn't 'do. It was the best meal I ever had. And I wasn't just on a honeymoon high.. fwiw we were disappointed by both Topolo and Avenues.

Edited by baw (log)
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- I am a small person with a small appetite.  I couldn't finish all of my food, but I could eat some of everything.  I also couldn't keep up with the wine pairings.  But I had at least a little of each pairing with the appropriate dish and sent many glasses away with some wine left in them.  It was still 100% worth getting the tastings.  I wonder if one could ask for a 'mini pour' version of the tasting. 

We did convince them to let us split a pairing and do mini-pours, and it was still too much wine - the half pours were more like 3/4 pours. I am convinced that the way to do this is for one person to order the wine pairing, and for both people in a couple to drink out of the single glass. I really just want a sip or two of the wine, and this seems like the best way to achieve that.

I love that Martian baby line - I wasn't even there, and it cracked me up!

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Just put up a podcast with Grant Achatz. As you can imagine, he's a really thoughtful and intelligent chef, and the conversation covers his vision of constant evolution, perfecting something, throwing it away, and starting again. We also talk about customer expectations, why molecular gastronomy isn’t a meaningful label, how family meal or “comida” is different for the Alinea staff, and of course the most important question, what is Achatz favorite Potbelly sandwich?

Podcast

There's also a photo slideshow of the Alinea kitchen during prep from a few weeks ago:

Pictures

"That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred." Goethe

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I just got my December Food+Wine and there's a whole article on ChefG and has quite many of his favorite recipes - not from the restaurant, but from his family. His mother's pie (which he fills with buttered pears - yum), and smokey meatloaf with prune ketchup looks very do-able for the home-cook. Haven't read the article yet, just skipped to the recipes (sorry ChefG, I'll read about you eventually :wink:).

Congrats on the continued press.

u.e.

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Just a quick post regarding the lovely dinner (yes, the tour) I just completed at Alinea. Besides being in a room that ended up being filled with Canadians (and a few pride and joys of Toronto sitting at the "rock star" table next to mine), having the attentive and wonderful service of Olivia and Jason (and Eric :raz: ), I was treated to a special first edition/made for me (the person allergic to chocolate) Butternut Squash dessert (to replace the chocolate course).

Butternut squash:

Honey and brioche puree

Toasted brioche crumbs

Grapefruit pulp and gelee

Raisin verjus sorbet

Chilled brioche soup

Kudos to Chef Achatz for coming back to the Alinea kitchen after a long day and participation at the Food & Wine Expo and for being so attentive to my allergy/dessert replacement request. Chef Achatz's creativity and effort at a moment's notice from this first experience of mine, deems him much respect in my (amateur) opinion.

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Just put up a podcast with Grant Achatz.  As you can imagine, he's a really thoughtful and intelligent chef, and the conversation covers his vision of constant evolution, perfecting something, throwing it away, and starting again. We also talk about customer expectations, why molecular gastronomy isn’t a meaningful label, how family meal or “comida” is different for the Alinea staff, and of course the most important question, what is Achatz favorite Potbelly sandwich?

Podcast

There's also a photo slideshow of the Alinea kitchen during prep from a few weeks ago:

Pictures

Such an insightful interview in many aspects.

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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Just put up a podcast with Grant Achatz.   As you can imagine, he's a really thoughtful and intelligent chef, and the conversation covers his vision of constant evolution, perfecting something, throwing it away, and starting again. We also talk about customer expectations, why molecular gastronomy isn’t a meaningful label, how family meal or “comida” is different for the Alinea staff, and of course the most important question, what is Achatz favorite Potbelly sandwich?

Podcast

There's also a photo slideshow of the Alinea kitchen during prep from a few weeks ago:

Pictures

Such an insightful interview in many aspects.

Yes, Michael does great work.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Thanks for the kind words guys. I'm always looking for feedback if you have any. I worry sometimes if the interviews are too long. I know most of the egulleters are hungry for this information, so I tend to err on the side of most information...but of course folks time isn't infinit. I've been toying with the idea of a short version and a long version, so if folks want a quick digest, more like NPR they can get it and go, kind of an amuse if you will....

"That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred." Goethe

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I just got my December Food+Wine and there's a whole article on ChefG and has quite many of his favorite recipes - not from the restaurant, but from his family.  His mother's pie (which he fills with buttered pears - yum), and smokey meatloaf with prune ketchup looks very do-able for the home-cook.  Haven't read the article yet, just skipped to the recipes (sorry ChefG, I'll read about you eventually :wink:).

Congrats on the continued press.

u.e.

Thanks for the heads-up, I will be picking that mag up today! I'm going over to my in-laws for Thanksgiving and am looking for a few ideas. I'm making pomegranite cranberry sauce already, but also stuffing, maybe a veggie thing, and a dessert.

Last year the in-laws came for Thanksgiving at my place. I made my first turkey-OMG it was incredible. I can be my own worst critic at times, but the turkey came out better than I could have imagined! I took an Emeril recipie for beer brine, soaked the bird for 24 hours, then used a Collichio recipie from last year's Bon Appetit Thanksgiving edition for putting herb-butter under the skin, and I basted it with chicken stock that had a bit of curry powder in it. It was jucier than deep fried turkey and the flavor went all the way through. I made a squash gratin from that Bon Appetit, but instead of yellow summer squash I used crookneck squash, turned out well. I made Cashew-Coconut tarts, kinda like chocolate pecan pie. I also made four kinds of flavored butter...I worked all day Wednesday and part of Thursday and loved every minute of it. A few days ago, when talking about last years' Thanksgiving dinner, my father in law said, infront of my mother in law, that it was the best turkey he'd ever had. MAN, did he get "the look!" Could have cut through diamonds with that look!

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Thanks for the kind words guys. I'm always looking for feedback if you have any. I worry sometimes if the interviews are too long. I know most of the egulleters are hungry for this information, so I tend to err on the side of most information...but of course folks time isn't infinit. I've been toying with the idea of a short version and a long version, so if folks want a quick digest, more like NPR they can get it and go, kind of an amuse if you will....


GREAT interview Mr. Nagrant!! I really enjoyed spending the hour with you and ChefG in my car to and from work this week. I especially enjoyed ChefG's comments on how he perceives his work and culinary philosophy vis-a-vis other notable chefs, a few whom he has trained with.

A Wreck, ehhh? smile.gif Home-made tagliatelle with white truffles, I could eat all day too!! tongue.gif

[Moderator note: This topic continues in [CHI] Alinea – Grant Achatz – Reviews & Discussion (Part 3)]

Edited by Mjx
Moderator note added. (log)

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Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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