parenthetical musings 3.0
Day Forty-Three - Alinea

Measurements for 2012-02-12:

-Body Fat Percentage: I did not measure it today

(Measured with the Personal BodyMetrix scanner, Jackson & Pollock 3-site formula).
Change from yesterday: —
Total Change from first measurement (1/6/2012): —

-Weight: I did not measure it today
Change from yesterday: —
Total change from Day One (1/1/2012): —

Food

-Breakfast: We ate at Reza’s Restaurant and enjoyed their Persian Sunday Buffet.  It was, bar none, the best foreign food buffet I’ve ever encountered. 

Reza's Restaurant

Plate One

Plate Two

-Lunch: A Ghirardelli hot fudge sundae.  Hell yeah.

-Dinner: We ate at Chicago’s Alinea.  Nothing I can write could possibly encapsulate the experience of dining here.  This was, without a doubt, the most enjoyable meal, and the most fun while dining, I’ve ever had.  Ever.  It was exquisite, serious, and so very full of humor.  This is what food should be.

Welcome to Alinea

Alinea Kitchen

When we were seated, a clear ice monolith (though we didn’t know it was ice at first) into which was drilled two tubes that were filled with a dark red liquid was the only decoration on our table.  We hoped we would get to taste it by the end of the meal, and we were not disappointed.

Ice Mystery

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1st Course: Char Roe

Char Roe

Char roe with gels of carrot and coconut and curry.
It was paired with a cocktail of Gimonnet Brut with St. Germain and Esterházy Beernauslese.

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2nd Course: Yuba

Yuba

The yuba stick is made from soy milk and is wrapped with chicken breast, rolled in white and black sesame seeds, and togarashi for heat.  It is in a red miso cream for dipping.

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3rd Course: Four Bites from the Sea

Four Bites

Oyster leaf mignonette; king crab with passionfruit heart of palm, and allspice; Prince Edward Island mussel with saffron, chorizo, and oregano; and a razor clam with shiso, soy, and daikon; all presented on drift wood and seaweed.

King crab with passionfruit heart of palm, and allspice.

King Crab

There is usually an inverse relation between how good king crab is and what you add to it.  That was not the case here.  At all.

PEI mussel with saffron, chorizo, and oregano

PEI Mussel

Razor clam with shiso, soy, and daikon

Razor Clam

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4th Course: Sweet Maine Shrimp

Sweet Maine Shrimp

with a cold savory parsnip soup flavored with chili and topped with white chocolate foam.
This. Was. Phenomenal. I apologize for the blurry photo.
It was paired with Barth “Charta” Riesling, Rheingau 2008

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5th Course: Scallop (acting like agedashi tofu)

Scallop

Apparently Chef Achatz was playing around creating a meal for himself, and he started out by pureeing a scallop.  He refrigerated it for a day or so, and discovered it had taken on a tofu-like texture.  After some playing around with technique, it made its way to the menu.
The liquid is a dashi broth, and it was made before us during several courses in a vacuum brewer.  This broth was so savory and wonderful, a small cup of it was served beside the dish for our enjoyment.
Paired with Viña Godeval, Valdeorras 2010

Dashi Vacuum Brewer

Dashi Vacuum Brewer, Detail

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6th Course: Woolly Pig

Woolly Pig

with fennel, orange, and squid, served on a long pin, eaten without benefit of utensil.

Woolly Pig

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7th Course: Ice

Ice

Into this monolith was drilled two tubes which were filled with a liquid made of beet, hibiscus, and licorice.

Ice

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8th Course: Loup de Mer

Loup de Mer

with mint, caponata, and a chickpea panella.
Paired with Jobard-Chabloz “Corton Charlemagne”, Burgundy 2005

Chickpea Panella

Caponata

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9th Course: Hot Potato Cold Potato

Hot Potato Cold Potato

with black truffle and butter.  This tied with the Sweet Maine Shrimp with its Parsnip soup as my second favorite dish of the night.  It was spectacular. 

Hot Potato Cold Potato, Wax & Pins

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10th Course: Wild Mushrooms

Wild Mushrooms

with sumac and shallot on, I kid you not, a slowly-deflating juniper-scented pillow.  The idea was to evoke a meal you would make yourself in the deep woods of what you found there.
This is not what I would make if I were deep in the woods.  I would get eaten by a bear.
Paired with Domaine François, Lemarche Echezeaux 2008, our first red wine of the evening.  It smelled of cinnamon and vanilla, but did not taste so good at first.  After this course, however, its flavor improved.

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11th Course: Venison

Venison

with red cabbage, mustard, and paprika. Also, stewed tomato, garlic, bell peppers, pickled onion, pureed onion and bacon, a cube of gelled potato with Hungarian paprika, and a spoonful of gelled Pilsner beer.
Paired with Celler Mas Doix “Vinyes Velles” Priorat 2007

Venison Accompaniments

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12th Course: Black Truffle Explosion

Black Truffle Explosion

with romaine and parmesan.  This is a ravioli filled with liquid black truffle stock.  This was, by default, my favorite dish of the night.  It literally left me speechless.  Amy and I were both undone.
A note: there is no bottom to this small white dish.

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13th Course: Squab (inspired by Miro)

Squab

The note I wrote during the dinner: “Spoons of awesomeness.”
Paired with Valpolicella Classico Superiore “TB” Bussola, Veneto 2006

Spoons of Awesomeness, Detail

Spoons of Awesomeness, Detail

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14th Course: Apple

Apple

with onion, brie, and smoking cinnamon.
Paired with d’Oliveira “Reserva” Boal, Madeira 1978

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15th Course: Ginger

Ginger

Five different types and flavors of Hawaiian ginger. 

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16th Course: Winter in New Hampshire

Winter in New Hampshire

Again, four bites, three candied fruits and one other confection.  The rocks had been soaking in liquid nitrogen.  The snow was actually snow, though sweet and peppermint flavored.  The cup held a clear (clear!) hot chocolate.
Paired with Dashe “Late Harvest” Zinfandel, Dry Creek 2009

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17th Course: Balloon

Balloon

Helium and green apple.  Everything, save for the pin, is edible.
This course left us giggling like children.  We pressed our lips to our balloons and inhaled the helium and spoke silliness.  Everything not helium or pin is made from green apple. 

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18th Course: Lemongrass

Lemongrass

with mango, Thai basil, and sweet sweet finger lime cells.
This, more than anything else, is staying with me.  I can taste this as I type it, my mouth watering at the memory.

Lemongrass

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Birthday Special

Birthday Special

A chocolate sphere filled with ice cream with hot cream poured into the center of it.  This was off-menu.

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19th Course: Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate Preparation

with butternut squash, lingonberry, and stout sauces.  Onto our table, until this point naked of any sort of covering, was rolled a large latex sheet.  The chocolate bowl was filled with the delectables in the center, then filled with liquid nitrogen and allowed to steep while the patterns were created with the sauces by a chef.  Upon completion, he lifted the bowl up, smashed it to the table, and walked immediately away.
Paired with Domaine Madeloc “Robert Pagès” Banyuls NV

Dark Chocolate

Sauces