Place of the Moment - Alinea

Last night, Brad took me out to dinner for my birthday. No big deal, right? Wrong, my friend, very wrong. This place was incredible. It's called Alinea, and to show why this was the best meal I have ever eaten, I'm going to walk you through each of the 12 courses we ate, one by one. I did not take my camera, every picture on this site was taken by the blogger of Gourmet Pigs. They posted these the day before we went, so the food looks very, very similar.

The format goes thusly... you have no idea what you're going to be served, and the food comes at its own pace, one course at a time. I also did the wine pairings with the food, so the memorable ones of those I'll mention as well. Each course is different and delicious in and of itself, and each has its own utensils and serving apparatus. You'll see... On to the food!

English Pea

This was frozen peas (and by frozen, I mean dehydrated and/or frozen with liquid nitrogen, or some such awesomeness), honeydew melon, iberico ham, sherry vinegar, burreta cheese, basil, and other bits all put together for a few great bites. It was like biting into delicious, savory dippin' dots

This was served with my favorite drink of the night. It was a Szigeti Cuvee Prestige Brut with some drops of Iqhilika mead and Peychaud bitters. Yes, sparkling wine with mead and bitters swirled in. The best sparkling wine I have ever had. Flavorful, full of body, I wished I had another few glasses... until there were so many other wines served to us. 

Shad Roe

This had a bay branch growing out of it for the aromatic properties, and it was a tempura battered and fried single bite of shad roe, wrapped in bacon, with shallots and Dijon mustard.


This looked like a shot of liquor of some sort, but it was, in fact, a distillation of thai flavors. You should have smelled this thing. It was so aromatic, and tasted just like all the flavors of the Thai food we'd eaten the night before in one little swallow. 

Pork Belly

So we'd already had these little flags of rice paper on our table, and we'd been told we'd use them later. So sure enough, they're set out on this little holder contraption, filled with a bunch of pureed pork belly, then you're told to garnish the whole thing however you want with the bits on the glass plate. There is black salt, cucumber, dehydrated garlic flakes, bananas dipped in chocolate powder, lime gelee, coconut, red onion, basil seeds in a lime juice thing, cashews, and two other bits. It was amazing.


This was a deconstructed sturgeon potato leek soup. There was an applesauce ribbon over it all, with bits of pureed leek, some crouton dust, radishes, a potato crisp, and who knows what else. Yummy.

At this point, Brad got a glass of a 2005 Anima Negra from the island of Majorca. The major varietal is Callet, and it was a very delicious wine. I loved the creativity of the wines they offered and the fact that so many were so new to me. 

King Crab

So this was a three-course course. The top was some crab and fennel with a lemon foam (I think) and some other jellied/frozen bits. Then the top of the bowl comes off and there's more crab and fennel flavors in a slightly more substantial/traditional form. Then down blow, there's a creamy reduction of the flavors with some more crab bits floating in it that tasted like the best crab bisque you've ever had, if it was in Thailand. Very fun.

This was paired with a 2006 Albert Mann Pinot Gris 'Hengst' Grand Cru. It was a grapefruit-crisp Pinot Gris that was very nice.

Filet de Boeuf

This was a plate of beef/meat bits. It was the most substational course of the night. There was a wagyu round in the center, a sculpted button mushroom, a cockscomb, sweetbreads, and some other pureed beefs. I'm still not turned on to red meat, so this wasn't my favorite. But the flavors were wonderful. 

Hot Potato/Cold Potato

This was a paraffin wax bowl with a cold potato soup in it, then a skewered bit of hot potato and truffle that you let fall into the bowl and slurp like an oyster. 


This was a few different preparations of duck surrounded by a chamomile foam with some morel mushrooms as well. One of the bites was the most tender piece of meat I've ever had. And it was my first taste of foie gras, which I didn't know I was eating or I would have left it on the plate on principle. Though, admittedly, delicious.

This was served with a 2005 Quinta de Foz de Arouce 'Vinhas Velhas de Santa Maria' from Portugal. A red varietal called Baga, which I'd never had, with a lot of structure and good flavor, it was my favorite wine that was served. Though there were some fine pairings with the other offerings, this is a wine I would drink on its own and truly enjoy. 

Black Truffle

This was called a truffle explosion, and we were warned to take it in one bite or it would explode everywhere. A sort of ravioli filled with truffle and topped with a parmesan sliver, a very juicy bite that just melted in your mouth. 

Earl Grey

This started the dessert courses. The pillow was inflated with the aroma of Earl Grey and it slowly deflated as you ate, swirling the smell around you. On the plate was some white chocolate, some bits of earl grey cookies, caramel (I think), and other sweeter flavors. It was my favorite of the desserts. 


This picture is actually from the full 24-course tasting menu, and it gets served on your actual table. Ours was the same components, just served on a plate. Frozen dark chocolate, solidified chocolate mousse, menthol cream, and coconut. The dark chocolate was amazing, but the menthol was a little overpowering for me. Still an intriguing presentation.

Bubble Gum

This was our last course of the night, and it shows up in this tube. It is hibiscus bits, creme fraiche, and bubble gum flavored tapioca at the end. You just suck it out in one go and swallow it down. Definitely tasted like bubble gum.

So I'm sure you can all see why I was so enthralled with this place. It was the most interesting meal I've ever had. Bravo Chef Achatz, bravo. 


seth said...

wow! that is great adventure.. somehow i have to experience it someday.

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