Alinea

Over 40 and Feeling Foxy

Last night Adam took me to Alinea.

If you have not heard of this restaurant, please let me expound.

It has received many accolades. It was given a 3 star Michelin Guide rating. It was also voted one of the best restaurants in the world by Restaurant Magazine. The owner and chef was voted best chef in america in 2008 by the James Beard Foundation. And so much more. In fact, it might be easier to name what this restaurant did not win then list it’s accomplishments.

And if all these awards didn’t make him famous enough, in 2007 Alinea’s owner and chef, Grant Achatz, made headlines for being the “chef who couldn’t taste”. He was diagnosed with stage 4 tongue cancer. He is now in remission and his sense of taste has slowly returned.

Achatz’s style of cooking is called¬†Molecular Gastronomy. Sort of how fusion cooking was the popular trend in the 80s, and gastropubs were the hot item in the 90s, molecular gastronomy is the cutting edge trend these days. And Achatz is considered the leading American chef in molecular gastronomy.

What is molecular gastronomy? Good question. One that I figured I could answer after eating it. But I’m almost at a loss for words. It was so many different things. It was whimsical, it was scientific, it was an explosion of taste and color.

Technically it’s combining science with food. Every single dish that came made me wonder how long they spent in research and development. Every dish was so perfectly crafted, so unusual, so unique.

One dish was a block of ice that you stuck a straw into to drink with. The straw had a butternut squash soup and lots of little bits of different tastes in it that changed as you sucked it up.

One dish was made almost entirely of corn, except for a sour cherry accent.

“Corn”

Adam splurged on the expensive wine pairing and every wine paired perfectly with all the complex tastes. The corn was paired with a Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. It changed dramatically before and after I tasted the food.

The first few courses were very specific. Eat them in a certain order. I thought, another controlling perfectionist chef. But just as I thought that, this dish came…

“Lamb”

Let me show you the dish in front. You were meant to try each of the different lambs with the different tastes and textures on the plate. This one was paired with a Lebanon’s most famous wine, Chateau Musar.

At one point we were served a helium balloon that tasted like a green apple.

For the last dish they put a mat down, then painted the table with sauces, took a chocolate ball and smashed it on the table. Inside was more delightful flavors and textures.

In the end I realize that, no matter how much I try to describe it, you really have to experience it for yourself. Amazing, amazing night. Thank you Adam!

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