Continuing my post on Alinea from yesterday…(it makes sense this is a multi-part post, as the 20-course meal was served continually over a three-hour period)…
Even though it was by far the stuffiest food I had ever eaten, the servers and chefs didn’t make us feel like the undeserving diners we truly were. They were welcoming and friendly. They pretended not to notice as Kevin texted his Dad/JP pictures of single-bite courses under the table, like this piece of fish and banana breaded in coconut, panko, and pineapple salt, skewered with a Madagascar vanilla bean:
(Dad texted back that we should ask if they have a doggie bag for leftovers; we told him they’re called “Standard Poodle Bags” at Alinea.)
Here, of course, is the sea urchin suspended in mint gel with an edible, teeny tiny fascinator on top, all of it resting above a green garlic soup that tasted just the way butter smells when you put it in a hot pan and let it bubble for a minute:
Next up: a cool, creamy rabbit parfait. I’ve never used the words “cool,” “creamy,” and “rabbit” all go together like that, but the dish was delicious. (Then again, when you start your meal with an oyster-flavored leaf, pretty much anything tastes amazing afterwards.)
Underneath the rabbit parfait was a course of rabbit rillette made with all the ingredients on the top layer, only prepared differently.
And underneath that dish was this rabbit consomme kept warm with a hot stone that, unlike everything else that evening, was not actually a trick. It was a real stone and we were advised not to eat it.
And underneath that dish was an entire set of Bugs Bunny nesting dolls that said, “That wascally wabbit!” when you bit into them. Picture not available.
I loved the surprise of this ice-cold potato soup served that you dropped a piping hot potato inside of and then drank like a shot so that your mouth was first shocked by the cold, then comforted by the hot:
For someone who is always cold and trying to get warmer it was sensational.
I was kind of afraid to eat this black truffle raviolo after the server warned us to tightly seal our mouths around so that it would explode down our throats rather than out our mouths:
Sweetened lemongrass water served in an open cylinder, sealed on one end with finger lime gel and the other with dragon fruit gel (we were instructed to give the tube a hard suck to get it all in our mouths at once and I felt about as sexy doing that as one feels when starting up a siphon):
These are just a few of the 20 courses we were served. I didn’t even mention yet the tobacco gel or the yuzu snow that tasted like a tangerine lifesaver, but I see you getting all glassy-eyed on me.
We were stuffed by this point. The food had been getting more complex and mind-boggling with each course and any one of those dishes could have been the finisher, but just like at a fireworks show when you think an impressive burst of color might have been the grand finale, then you think the next even bigger burst of color must be the grand finale, and then something happens in the sky, all over the sky, and every person watching knows undoubtedly that that was the grand finale…that’s how the final dessert made itself known.
A chef came out for this course. He covered the table with a silicone mat and, ingredient by ingredient, did this to it:
It would take a whole other blog post to rightfully describe everything here: milk chocolate frozen in liquid nitrogen; blueberry and white chocolate plumes; bursts of cookie crumbs; pickled blueberries; vanilla milks that set into custards while we waited, then sprinkled with sugar and torched; milk chocolate sauce that formed squares instead of circles when the chef dropped them on the mat. It was a dizzying combination of food and art and chemistry and magic and chocolate.
We eated it all.
It felt like going to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, then taking a spoon and devouring the entire painting, from her pudgy fingers to her smirky smile, then licking off whatever frayed pieces still clung to the frame.
Art never tasted so good in my life. Thank you, Mama B, for treated me to the meal of a lifetime.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Grilled apricot and chicken kebabs
Couscous with carrots and peas
Star Wars sugar cookies