Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

chefseanbrock

[CHI] Alinea – Grant Achatz – Reviews & Discussion (Part 1)

Recommended Posts

Alinea will change the way people look at restaurants forever

I am very interested to hear more on this. Could you please elaborate on how you predict Alinea forever will change the way people perceive restaurants. I am interested in how your perception of restaurants has changed from pre-Alinea to post-Alinea and how general people's perception of restaurants will change.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The serving piece for the bison? Was that glass or some kind of acrylic?

The serving piece was made of glass and it has glass balls as the feet.

I think M. Ruhlman is correct; it's a votive candle holder from C&B.

=R=

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The serving piece for the bison? Was that glass or some kind of acrylic?

The serving piece was made of glass and it has glass balls as the feet.

I think M. Ruhlman is correct; it's a votive candle holder from C&B.

=R=

Here it is. Robyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
the tastes were extraordinary and if they weren't they were always interesting. ...  did some courses miss--one or two did for me.  but shit, he's swinging for the fences on every one.  he, and every bit as important, the fifteen other cooks in the kitchen, are working at a really high and impressive level.  It's been four days since I ate there and I only find my respect for what grant and his partners and his staff have done increasing.

Thanks for taking the time to write your impressions and some specifics regarding the food. Your comments regarding the level of ambition and standards the team is aiming for and apparently reaching already are praise indeed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I feel like a caveman trying to ask questions about the operations of the Star Trek Enterprise here, so sorry if this is a stupid questions -- but are you saying the dishes cannot be served, if the guest is away from their seat? I'm confused by this comment about "...every time you leave the table chef needs to re-plate dishes..."

Once a dish is plated, it typically only has a few minutes before it dies: e.g. A tuile becomes soggy from soaking up sauce and collapses, foam settles, skin forms over a shiny sauce, ice cream melts, et cetera. With that in mind, there are a few reasons why a dish is not served if someone at the table goes to the bathroom:

1. The serving of the plate is part of the service experience, much nicer than just coming back to a plate at your table.

2. Part of the service code is to try and serve everyone at the table at the same time.

3. A plate sitting there on your table may be "dead" by the time you come back from the restroom.

I'll note that part of the server's job is inform the back of the house of any restroom breaks so that the kitchen doesn't plate related in the first place. Woe betide a server who does not do this consistently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before we get too "off topic" with discussions of restaurant theory and philosophy, etc. I want to remind everyone that this thread is designated for discussion of Alinea and I will keep it pruned accordingly. Of course, brief discussion of some tangential aspects is bound to pop up, but I don't want it to dilute the focus of this thread.

The larger discussion, while quite interesting -- and possibly even important -- is one that should take place on a thread of its own, in our General Food Topics forum.

Thanks :smile:

=R=

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

noambenami, thank you! Reading it now, it seems quite logical, considering the nature of the food...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, the pictures. Yellow Truffle did an outstanding job of capturing the overall essence of each dish, so I will slant the content of my photos with the purpose of providing a closer look:

01.jpg

SOUR CREAM smoked salmon, sorrel, star anise

02.jpg

DUNGENESS CRAB raw parsnip, young coconut, cashews

03.jpg

HEART OF PALM in five sections

04.jpg

ASPARAGUS caramelized dairy, egg, bonito

05.jpg

TURBOT shellfish, waterchestnuts, hyacinth vapor

06.jpg

EGGPLANT cobia, crystalline florettes, radish pods

07.jpg

FROG LEGS spring lettuces, paprika, morels

08.jpg

BEEF flavors of A-1

09.jpg

10.jpg

HAZELNUT PUREE capsule of savory granola, curry

11.jpg

PROSCIUTTO passionfruit, zuta levana

12.jpg

FINGER LIMES olive oil, dissolving eucalyptus

13.jpg

MELON gelled rose water, horseradish

14.jpg

ENGLISH PEAS frozen lemon, yogurt, shiso

15.jpg

FOIE GRAS rhubarb, sweet onion, walnut

16.jpg

BROCCOLI STEM grapefruit, wild steelhead roe

17.jpg

SNAPPER yuba, heavily toasted sesame, cucumber

18.jpg

19.jpg

LAMB NECK sunflower seeds, kola nut, porcinis

20.jpg

ARTICHOKE fonds d’artichauts cussy #3970

21.jpg

BISON beets, blueberries, smoking cinnamon

22.jpg

PINEAPPLE angelica leaf, Iranian pistachios

23.jpg

24.jpg

SASSAFRAS CREAM encapsulated in mandarin ice

25.jpg

STRAWBERRIES argan, lemon verbena

26.jpg

LIQUID CHOCOLATE milk, black licorice, banana

27.jpg

SPONGE CAKE tonka bean, vanilla fragrance

28.jpg

It would be impossible for me to describe every dish in gory detail so I will present you with some high level thoughts that I have after dining at Alinea.

The physical design of the restaurant is outstanding...one of the most enjoyable spaces I’ve dined in. As you enter on the ground floor, you proceed down a long hall that harkens to a contemporary rendition on Frank Lloyd Wright’s use of confined entry spaces to help narrow your focus as you enter a large room. As you head down the hall, you are sealed off from all noise and activity…at the end of the hall, a solitary metallic sculpture bristles, creating a perplexing noise which draws you down the hallway. As you come to the end, you discover a set of doors to your left that suddenly slide open to reveal the heart of the restaurant. The receptionist greeted us, quite impressively, by name. After meeting Nick, visiting with Grant, and taking a quick tour of the kitchen, we proceeded upstairs to the dining level. The long and narrow building is broken up into a series of small dining rooms. Most impressive is the generous space between tables. While enjoying this space I couldn’t help but be thankful that we weren’t packed in like sardines as is the case of the similarly shaped Charlie Trotter’s. Almost equally as impressive were the chairs. These things were incredibly comfortable (and that’s a definite requirement when you sit down to a 7.5+ meal.)

All of this is important to note because it illustrates an attention to detail that is rather impressive. The team has definitely utilized the nine months of down time to design this restaurant not just in a physical sense but also in a more robust conceptual sense. I get the feeling that not a single piece of service ware, paint color, or floral arrangement was chosen without first considering how it fits into the larger picture. A perfect example is the ginger sculpture that soon arrives to your table. Why put a flower arrangement down when you can use food as art? It provides a pleasant smell and is pleasing to look at but more interestingly, later on it becomes part of your meal (used on the Beef course.) Looking at established concepts in a new manner is really what Alinea is all about.

Any discussion about Achatz’s food must first be put into proper perspective. The style of cuisine that he’s developed relies heavily on the interrelation and progression of a series of flavors. Unlike the cuisine at more traditional restaurants where one typically evaluates each dish as a separate entity, when dining at Alinea one must continually keep in mind that each dish’s juxtaposition is quite important in order to understand it’s role and objectives. The resulting meal (in its entirety) is what Alinea’s statement is all about.

The meal begins with Achatz’s take on PB&J. It’s an interesting start to the meal...I get the feeling that the purpose of this dish is to ease the diner into the meal by presenting a universally understood (at least in this country) concept. The dish’s concept is so innately easy to grasp that even the most timid diner will be able to make a connection and understand what the restaurant’s vision is (examining established concepts in a new manner.) How’d it taste? Well, as one might imagine, it tastes like a well-refined, gourmet PB&J sandwich. The real interest is in the texture of the grape (which has been peeled and left on the vine.) Warm and gooey, the grape melts in your mouth, enveloping the other flavors into a unified whole.

Presenting contrasting textures to create interest is another favorite device that Achatz utilizes. The asparagus dish illustrates this quite well. You’ve got various elements providing at least six different textures: crispy fried egg whites (think, the outer edges of a regular fried egg); a soft, thin film of egg yolk; the crunchy grit of caramelized dairy; a slippery noodle shaped gelee of egg white; a creamy sauce of some sort; and the firm texture of the asparagus itself. Flavor-wise, you’re essentially tasting asparagus, egg, and a smoky accent from the bonito. But all of this is coming at you from a large assortment of textures…it’s a real trip.

I’d like to discuss the broccoli stem dish. Many people might wonder why Achatz would go to the trouble of serving what has been referred to as the offal of the vegetable world. I’m really curious why people would have a difficult time embracing this concept. Regardless, in order to fully appreciate this dish you need to experience the mouth-feel of a perfectly tender broccoli stem. What I’d previously thought was a tough, fibrous part of the broccoli plant was anything but that in this dish. The real reason to explore the stem is the fact that it provides a very delicate broccoli flavor in a uniformly tender texture. Broccoli’s more well regarded portion, the floret, is simply not going to provide you with the same delicate flavor, nor the same mouth-feel. Remarkably, what Achatz has done with this dish is taken the lowliest portion of the plant and cooked it in such a way that it exudes refinement and nobility. Add a paper thin wrapping of bread for some richness and textural contrast, a mound of broccoli puree for added intensity of flavor, grapefruit in 3 different forms for some contrasting bitterness, and a few precious pearls of steelehead roe for a wonderful earthy, brininess and you have a completely satisfying dish. To me, what Achatz has done with this dish is quite representative of what all chefs should strive for. Taking what is considered often considered mundane and transforming it into something that tastes luxurious is a skill few chefs can claim. So, why bother with a broccoli stem? The answer lies in the fact that any chef can throw a slice of foie gras or truffle on a plate and have a good shot at satisfying the diner. But taking on the challenge of doing the same with a broccoli stem forces us to think more about what the limits of food are and how we can approach cooking in a way that maximizes the potential of each and every ingredient.

Of the 10 courses designated as “small bites”, the Escoffier inspired Artichoke dish was the most instantly rewarding. Served in what was described as the “anti-plate” (a plate with no bottom) this small sphere showcased a deliciously warm, deep fried crispy exterior surrounding a firm yet rich artichoke heart that was filled with, if I recall correctly, foie gras and truffle. (for full disclosure, I need to let you all know that I did not take detailed notes so please accept my apologies ahead of time for any mistakes in this post…and after enjoying a meal that featured 20 different wines, there will undoubtedly be a few lapses in my memory :D ) As you might imagine, popping this in your mouth and biting down released an immediate richness that was incredibly gratifying to my palette.

A lot of people have been curious about the Beef Flavors of A-1 dish. Essentially the dish attempts to deconstruct A-1 sauce to some of its core flavors and present them in various forms on the plate. Not having grown up eating A-1 sauce, I can’t be a great judge as to whether this dish successfully pulled that off. But I want to touch upon another aspect. Even the most inventive concepts are rendered worthless if basic execution is not upheld. In this case, the piece of beef on this plate was one of the most incredible specimens of red meat I’ve ever indulged in. First, cooked en sous vide, this meat had an incredibly tender texture which retained plenty of juices. The second step of grilling the meat, imparted a tremendously intense charred flavor and aroma which had no hint of bitterness or over-grilling. It was truly the best of both worlds and is a great example of a perfectly treated piece of meat. So, here’s where Achatz’s outstanding level of execution plays such a tremendous role in a dish’s success…even though I can’t relate to the A-1 concept, the quality of preparation made this one of my most favorite and memorable dishes of the evening. Besides, any dish that includes potato fried in rendered beef fat cannot help but be good. :D

Continuing with this issue of execution, I find it incredible that I cannot classify any of the dishes as failures. Each and every one of them was soundly structured, well thought out, and executed to a high degree. Sure, my palette would have lead me to increase the onion flavor and reduce the sweetness of the Foie Gras dish as well as reduce the number of sunflower seeds in the Lamb Neck dish. But these are my personal preferences and are not indicative of a failed dish. What brought the success of Alinea’s menu more into focus was the fact that the following evening we dined at Moto. Moto’s Chef Cantu should be highly commended for also taking on the challenge of exploring food through a new set of glasses (albeit in a significantly different way than Achatz). However, I would classify nearly a third of the dishes I had at Moto as, at the very least, significantly flawed. (factors included improper proportions, basic salting issues, unclear concepts, and monotonous flavor profiles.) Since the validity of a chef’s culinary “statement” hinges primarily on whether the food was even prepared correctly in the first place, it is gratifying to see the lengths that Achatz has gone to refine and perfect each and every dish on his menu.

It will be interesting to watch how other people interpret Alinea in the coming weeks. Speaking with Chef Achatz after the meal, he indicated that they are still working on finding the proper portion sizes for The Tour menu. I have to say that after 28 courses of food and 20 different wines, I was absolutely stuffed by the end of our 7.5 hours...more so than any other meal I can remember. Fortunately, I would much rather be served an abundance of food (which I can decline should I see fit) than end up leaving the restaurant still hungry (which has happened to us at other restaurants several times in the last year.) To their credit, Alinea will customize your meal on the fly, pairing it down should you become too satiated. Also, their wine pairing is quite flexible. If you find yourself at your limit of alcoholic consumption, you can let them know and they will end your wine service and charge you only for the wines you consumed. And I must highly stress that, due to Alinea’s eclectic and lengthy menu, choosing the wine pairing is pretty much the only way to go. I can’t imagine trying to choose a few bottles that could span the meal as well as the course by course pairing. And much credit goes to our sommelier/server, Joe Z., who not only knows his wines, but provides vast amounts of information in such an approachable manner.

Speaking of service, it is almost unbelievable how on the ball the service was on the restaurant’s third day of operation. It speaks to how well Achatz is regarded by his staff that he was able to retain many of the former Trio employees who worked at that restaurant during his tenure there...it was great to see so many familiar faces. Doing so has obviously made the opening of Alinea a much smoother process than it might otherwise have been. There were a couple minor hiccups but, regardless, the overall service was extremely polished and equivalent to some of our finest dining experiences.

Courses to watch (my top 10 dishes in no particular order)

DUNGENESS CRAB raw parsnip, young coconut, cashews

ASPARAGUS caramelized dairy, egg, bonito

TURBOT shellfish, waterchestnuts, hyacinth vapor

EGGPLANT cobia, crystalline florettes, radish pods

FROG LEGS spring lettuces, paprika, morels

BEEF flavors of A-1

FINGER LIMES olive oil, dissolving eucalyptus

BROCCOLI STEM grapefruit, wild steelhead roe

ARTICHOKE fonds d’artichauts cussy #3970

BACON butterscotch, apple, thyme

For those of you clamoring to hear further descriptions of the food, let me tell you that, even in my wildest dreams, I would never be able to craft the words necessary to do justice to Chef Achatz’s cuisine. All I can say is that if the pictures pique your interest, if you’re an adventurous diner, or if you’d like a dining experience that is not found anywhere else that I know of then you need to visit the restaurant and savor Alinea for yourself. The cool thing is that due to the uniqueness of this cuisine, everyone will have their own slightly (or drastically) different interpretation of what the restaurant offers...I look forward to hearing from others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm interested in the timing too though...if one had a reservation for, say, 9:30 and ordered the tour, would they (and the kitchen and serving staff) be there until 4:30? Or did you just have very leisurely meal, Yellow Truffle?

9:30 for the Tour, huh. You might want to take a disco nap before going, you could be in for a long night. I am sure the kitchen will do their best to make you comfortable, and the following day they would have disclaimer on start times for the Tour menu when making reservations.

Not to worry, my reservation is for 8 - this was purely a hypothetical!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last night's meal at Alinea was as good a meal as I've ever had in Chicago--or any other city for that matter. We did the 12-course menu "one" (although they treated us to a couple extras from the tour menu, so I think it was 14 courses). Highlights? Uhh...everything! The dungeness crab/raw parsnip/cashew/etc. dish was one of the best things I've ever tasted--an instant classic on par with ChefG's famous (and, sadly, retired) black truffle explosion from Trio. The frog leg/morel/nasturtium/paprikka/etc. dish was also just stunning and beyond words.

Our meal was exactly three hours--the pacing was perfect. I can see why several people have commented on the chairs; they are amazingly comfortable and I wouldn't have any qualms about tackling the 30-course tour.

It sounds trite to refer to something as "indescribably good"...but that's my verdict and I'm stickin' with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anyone had one of the smaller menus? I have reservations for Thursday and I think I would feel a bit rushed on a week night ordering the tour. Previously at Trio I've experienced both an eleven course and the tour and I was astonished both times. The anticipation is killing me.

My question was just answered - Thanks!


Edited by rhinopias (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I also have to say, with no disrepect intended to anyone at Trio (pre-Atelier), that the desserts at Alinea were transcendant and I felt matched the meal way better than most of the desserts I remember from the closing menu at Trio.  They were boldly flavored but, for the most part, light in body.  Ethereal would probably be a good description.  The Pineapple was like a dream, the Sassafrass Cream was a tasty and sweet adventure on a plate and the Sponge Cake . . . well, it was so good that even though it was the last course, we were all sucking dry the glasses in which it was served.

That would be thanks to Alex Stupak, former pastry chef at Clio in Boston. I was there the night he left and was able to enjoy what I was told was the last dessert he ever made there. Damn Alinea for stealing him away from Boston!

So who wants to take me to Alinea?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm loving the reviews and the pictures - thanks everyone! I can't wait until I can make it to Alinea myself. I told my husband this weekend that it's what I want for my birthday, but October is a long way away!

One question - what's up with the Alinea website? I understand minimalism and all, but a little more content would be nice.

http://www.alinearestaurant.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I only decided to try this after I heard that they were booked solid until September....

Where did you hear this? I'm pretty sure they only just opened the reservation book for July last week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I only decided to try this after I heard that they were booked solid until September....

Where did you hear this? I'm pretty sure they only just opened the reservation book for July last week.

Last night, GM Joe Catterson said they will take reservations up to three months in advance. Which tells me that they're not even taking September reservations yet. Whatever the case...book a table now, because it's only going to get crazier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Talking about every single dish, would a little too much and I don't have knowledge base to articulate each item, instead I will talk about some of my favorites and hope that others will pick up my slack and fill in the blank. But let me say that I enjoyed everything.

The BACON was top on my list. This was such a wonderful combination of sweet and savory in one bite. The server brings out the bow (as discussed in the Alinea Forum) and hanging from it is the bacon, sliced thin and dried. This was covered with semi-solid, gooey butterscotch and a confetti of apple. You take the bacon strip and pull it from the bow, tilt your head back, and lower in down into your mouth, similar to the PB&J dish. First, your are hit with the sweetness of the apple and butterscotch, then a finish of the slightly salty bacon. He went the full 180 in flavor range in one bite. This was a wonderful transition to the sweet part of the meal and I really loved it. I only wish that there could have been more than one bite to enjoy this dish.

The ENGLISH PEAS is also up there. First the server brings out a small bowl with a green thick liquid, slightly warm, but not steaming. Then another server comes by and places a white disk, that just covers the green liquid. As the waiter explains the dish, you see the yogurt melt into the pea soup. Very nice. As you dig in, all the elements have mixed together, without any mixing done by the guest. The soup was silky smooth and the frozen lemon was crunchy and not that citrusy. The shiso herb added a sort of light and fresh aroma to what I thought would be a heavy dish. I thought this to be the prettiest of the dishes.

The BEEF dish was simply amazing. For me, the idea of using A-1 steak sauce on anything, is to mask the bad or poorly prepared item. Usually the sauce is so overpowering that you forget about what you are eating and just taste the sauce. Don't expect this to taste like the A-1 sauce. What we have here is deconstructed version of the sauce and an amazingly prepared meat all on one plate. Rather than reconstructing the ingredients of the A-1, the chef showcased all of them individually, giving them equal billing. I enjoyed tasting the elements that make up A-1, and found it weird to know what actually makes up the sauce. The meat was well prepared and enjoyed it last. It's like having two dishes for the price of one.

The HEART OF PALM came out in five, square pedestal, dishes and were arranged in order, of the weight of the filling. First was the vanilla pudding with avocado topping, followed by fava bean, with meyer lemon topping, then bulgar, plum pudding and can't remember the last one, but it was very intense. There were utensils brought out for this dish and one had to treat it, "as if you were taking a shot." The heart of palms were very crisp and provided a nice contrast to the pureed filling. It is an interesting experience when the skin (HOP) does not change and only the filling grows in flavor intensity.

In the end, my young and inexperienced palate, found all the dishes to be mind blowing. I had throughly enjoyed the experience of the wild, yet tamed ride of flavors, aromas, textures, presentations of both the food and wine, although, there were some dishes that were more memorable than others. Everybody was very professional and not pretentious. The whole evening was extremely comfortable, from a physical and emotional level. Everything was so much fun and I had an exciting experience. There is so much to learn over at Alinea. Thanx to all involved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
. . . The HEART OF PALM came out in five, square pedestal, dishes and were arranged in order, of the weight of the filling. First was the vanilla pudding with avocado topping, followed by fava bean, with meyer lemon topping, then bulgar, plum pudding and can't remember the last one, but it was very intense. There were utensils brought out for this dish and one had to treat it, "as if you were taking a shot." The heart of palms were very crisp and provided a nice contrast to the pureed filling. It is an interesting experience when the skin (HOP) does not change and only the filling grows in flavor intensity. . .

The last 2 were filled with prune and pumpernickle puree respectively. I'm sorry but I cannot remember the toppings/garnishes for either of those 2 at the moment.

=R=

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[The last 2 were filled with prune and pumpernickle puree respectively. I'm sorry but I cannot remember the toppings/garnishes for either of those 2 at the moment.

=R=

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
. . . The HEART OF PALM came out in five, square pedestal, dishes and were arranged in order, of the weight of the filling. First was the vanilla pudding with avocado topping, followed by fava bean, with meyer lemon topping, then bulgar, plum pudding and can't remember the last one, but it was very intense. There were utensils brought out for this dish and one had to treat it, "as if you were taking a shot." The heart of palms were very crisp and provided a nice contrast to the pureed filling. It is an interesting experience when the skin (HOP) does not change and only the filling grows in flavor intensity. . .

The last 2 were filled with prune and pumpernickle puree respectively. I'm sorry but I cannot remember the toppings/garnishes for either of those 2 at the moment.

Prune filling and plum topping? Or is it the other way around. Help.

I know the pumpernickle one had some black truffle, because it was my favorite...

Thanx. I had that written down, but I just could not believe it. Very intense.

Also, I think the bulgar was with a garlic mayo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Prune filling and plum topping? Or is it the other way around. Help.

Also, I think the bulgar was with a garlic mayo.

Prune filling on number 4. Again, not sure about the topping. Pumpernickle puree on number 5 and yes, definitely truffle was present although, I'm not sure if it was the topping or not. Number 3 was bulgar (and garlic?) filling with a garlic chip as the topping, IIRC.

=R=

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It seems that the bubbles' position on a left to right basis may have something to do with the relative sweet/savoriness of a particular dish.

the 'bubbles' are a graphic description of the menu progression on a sweet/savory scale and also illustrate the size of the portions

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
the 'bubbles' are a graphic description of the menu progression on a sweet/savory scale and also illustrate the size of the portions

Martin, can you tell us more about the donut porcelain dish used for the ARTICHOKE. Was this a custom job? I noticed the chef did not have a folded napkins in any of the presentations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Any discussion about Achatz’s food must first be put into proper perspective. The style of cuisine that he’s developed relies heavily on the interrelation and progression of a series of flavors. Unlike the cuisine at more traditional restaurants where one typically evaluates each dish as a separate entity, when dining at Alinea one must continually keep in mind that each dish’s juxtaposition is quite important in order to understand it’s role and objectives. The resulting meal (in its entirety) is what Alinea’s statement is all about.

jeffj,

I am very grateful for your jaw-dropping photography and insightful description of your visit to Alinea. Those of us who are too far away have you, yellowtruffle, Mr. Suburban and others to thank for offering a window on this truly historic culinary event. It has caused much reflection on the possibilities for food in the future. Very fascinating.

johnnyd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very positive ink from metromix.com (today):

From the dollop of frozen organic sour cream--dressed with shavings of frozen smoked salmon and a sorrel leaf, served in a specially created dish--to a tender prime ribeye cube, served with the deconstructed flavors of A-1 sauce, each dish was like a little food fantasy.

Achatz rockets

=R=

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Martin, can you tell us more about the donut porcelain dish used for the ARTICHOKE. Was this a custom job? I noticed the chef did not have a folded napkins in any of the presentations.

yellow truffle,

The piece is called Antiplate. Grant Achatz asked me to design a service piece for foods prearranged on a spoon (traditionally presented propped up on a napkin). The goal was to keep the focus on the food as well as make the removal of the spoon very easy and natural. The pieces currently used at the restaurant are essentially a prototype run.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Similar Content

    • By ElsieD
      I got an e-mail this morning about the Modernist team's next project - pizza! 
       
      Modernist Pizza is Underway!
      After taking on the world of bread, we’re thrilled to announce the topic of our next book: pizza. Modernist Pizza will explore the science, history, equipment, technology, and people that have made pizza so beloved.

      Authors Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya, with the Modernist Cuisine team, are currently at work conducting extensive research and testing long-held pizza-making beliefs; this quest for knowledge has already taken them to cities across the United States, Italy, and beyond. The result of their work will be a multivolume cookbook that includes both traditional and innovative recipes for pizzas found around the globe along with techniques that will help you make pizza the way you like it.

      Modernist Pizza is in its early stages, and although we’ve begun to dig in, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Although we can’t guarantee when it will arrive at your door just yet, we can promise that this book will deliver the complete story of pizza as it’s never been told before.

      In the meantime, we would love to hear from you as we continue to research pizza from around the world. Contact pizza@modernistcuisine.com to tell us about your favorite pizzerias and their pizza. Connect with us on social media to get all the latest Modernist Pizza updates.
    • By Tempranillo
      I have been tasked with putting together a team for a new kosher barbecue event in Arizona, happening sometime later this year. The event was supposed to be in mid-April, but the venue decided to cancel. The organizers are busy looking for a new venue, and have assured us that this will happen.
       
      Many details for the event are not quite settled yet, so, I am trying to prepare for all sorts of contingencies beyond the usual concerns about putting out good food. What is known is that we will be following the KCBS kosher rules. As far as I can tell, there were 10-12 such events held last year across the US. So, it's a pretty small world. I don't think there's a kosher championship ladder like the other barbecue events have, either. I think it's a good time to get in, get practice and see where it takes me.
       
      Now, I've been reading and watching videos online with all sorts of info on smoking/cooking for competitions. I have watched some of the TV shows, and one documentary. It's been kind of a mixed bag in terms of usefulness. No one has posted much about kosher barbecue, so I am making changes to recipes and procedures and running a lot of tests. I currently have access to my home kitchen which is small but adequate, the stove is electric and unremarkable and about 7 years old. It does maintain temperature well, and can be set to run anywhere from 140°F to 550°F.  I also have access to an outdoor kitchen at a friend's place, with a relatively large charcoal type grill. At most of the kosher barbecue events the event organizers provide smokers/grills plus meats and many ingredients to ensure that everything is truly kosher. If needed, my team sponsor is prepared to purchase a grill/smoker which I will need to research once I know I will need it.
       
      I should note that I am not Jewish and did not grow up around any kosher households, so I am also studying some of the finer points about running a kosher kitchen and learning about kosher ingredients. Modern competition barbecue is an odd mix of modernist techniques and ingredients, right alongside ordinary-folk foods like margarine, and bottled sauces.
       
      For reference, the 4 categories for kosher events are: Chicken, Beef Ribs, Turkey, and Beef Brisket -to be served in that order.
       
      So far, I have been running smokeless tests on chicken and beef ribs. Mostly learning to trim the chicken thighs (what a nightmare!) and seeing what happens at certain temperatures and times. I know things will be different with real smoking happening, but I want to see some baseline results so that I know what to strive for. I do have a bunch of thermometers, and have got some basic ideas about writing a competition timeline.
       
      The chicken perplexes me in several ways. First, some of the competition cooks recommend boning while others recommend bone-in. Second, I see some folks injecting and brining, while others maybe do a quick half hour marinade, and even others are full-on modernist with citric acid under the skin, etc. Third, the braise vs non- braise chicken where some people load up their pan with a pound of butter, margarine or a couple cups of chicken stock while others do not. Fourth, The bite-through skin is driving me insane. Some people swear by transglutaminase to reattach the skin for a better bite. Catch is, only some types are kosher, and I can see having issues explaining it. I have tested an egg white egg wash which seems to attach the skin pretty well without showing. I think I need to go for longer times to get more tender skin. Today I did a pan (with olive oil) of six as follows: one hour at 220°, one hour under foil at 230°, then glazed and 20 minutes on a rack at 350°. It was only partly bite-though and the taste-testers wanted more crispiness. I tried showing them pictures and explained that it wasn't ever going to be crispy, that we're looking to go even softer. I am going to run tests on longer cook periods and see how it goes.
       
      I want to ask people about the whole swimming in margarine thing which is in voque right now. people claim it makes the chicken juicy. I know that meat is mostly all about temperatures. I can see how the margarine acts like duck fat in a confit and helps prevent some oven-drying after hours and hours in the oven, but, in the end, isn't it just an insulator?
       
      I've been making corned beef and other brisket dishes for over 20 years, so, I think I have a good handle on that. I will practice it in a couple of weeks. I simply don't need as much help on this item.
       
      The turkey scares me. On TV, I see people dunking it in butter before serving it. This obviously is not kosher, and I don't want to do it with margarine I don't want to present anything in a competition made with margarine, there has to be something better! -Either cook the bird better or find a better dip, like maybe a flavorful nut oil or a sauce. That said, unlike ribs or brisket, it is not traditional to dunk turkey in a sauce.  I went with some friends to a chain place called Dickies to do a little research and their turkey breast was odd and kind of hammy. Not like Virginia ham, more like ham lunchmeat. It was very moist and unlike any turkey I have ever eaten. Ok, I admit to not being very fond of turkey, so my experiences with it have been a bit limited. I am assuming it was brined. Given the limited amount of time we will have (about a day and a half) to cook, I am planning on just cooking the breast. Other than that, I am open to suggestions. The internet has been least informative on the topic of turkey. People's videos and such just show rubbing the whole bird and letting it roast for a few hours. Any tips at all would be appreciated.
       
      Whew! Thanks for reading all of this, I look forward to any advice you can give.
    • By flippant
      I've had the CSO for a number of years now, but have yet to actually bake bread in it.
       
      Reading through the Modernist Bread thread on this forum I see many of you are using the CSO to great effect, which is heartening.
       
      To that end, I would like to know about your experience baking bread in it – what sort of extra equipment you use (pans, cast iron? etc), what breads work the best, any corrections you find yourself making, or anything you feel might be useful to someone else using the CSO.
       
      Thank you!
       
       
    • By Rho
       
      The space race trickled into kitchens in the 60s and 70s, including one curious tool that's faded away in the years since: the thermal pin, a heat pipe skewer that can halve cooking times for roasts:

       
      Heat pipes are thermal superconductors, transferring heat 500-1000 times more effectively than solid copper (some people in the sous vide thread have discussed copper pins). They're hollow tubes with the air evacuated and a small amount of working fluid, often water. The usable temperature range is limited by the triple point and the critical point, with additional constraints near the edges. Water is effective from 20C-280C /70F-530F, which comfortably spans most cooking temperatures.
       
      Modernist Bread has an excellent section on how bread bakes, including a diagram of the internal heat pipes that develop, summarized here. (click for a good photo!)
       
      Sous-vide solves the overcooking side of the gradient problem, but it's still limited by total heat diffusion time-- doubling the size of a cut quadruples the time needed for the center to reach temperature. Heat pipe pins should make larger cuts practical, or normal cuts cook faster. Here's a graph from "The heat pipe and its potential for enhancing the cooking and cooling of meat joints", showing average temperatures over time for 1kg joints of meat convection baked at 190C/375F for 110 minutes (foil removed for the last 30 minutes):

       
      Thermal pins were sold commercially from 1956 to about 1990. They're listed occasionally for about $20 on ebay. They even made potato baking racks with heat pipes-- though now you can easily par-cook a potato in the microwave and finish it in the oven.
       
      I don't know why production of thermal pins stopped, or what fundamental problems limited their usage. It seems like pans and commercial griddles would be improved by adding heat pipes to spread heat throughout and avoid hot or cold spots. Perhaps roasts fell out of favor as the culture of entertaining shifted away from monolithic centerpieces to smaller, more precisely cooked portions.
    • By philie
      Hey there, i hope to find some help in the wise hands of yours. after some research i am still having some problems concerning glazing:
       
      For a party i would like to make some cubes and rounded savoury cakes and foams out of silicone forms that have a ready bottom and a colour glazing. 
      Somehow i just do not manage to find a steady glazing ( one that does not run ) and is for texture reasons preferably hard or crisp that does not include sugar or syrup.
       
      can you help me or lead my way in a certain direction?
       
      thanks very much!
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×