Alinea Dinner Challenge 2

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Introduction: Alinea Dinner Challenge 2

About: I helped start Instructables, previously worked in biotech and academic research labs, and have a degree in biology from MIT. Currently at our parent company Autodesk, learning new things, and trying to catch …

Alinea is one of my favorite restaurants! Unfortunately we can't make it to Chicago very often, but fortunately they have a cookbook. All of the recipes call for special ingredients, tools, and techniques that appeal to the biochemist in me.

The recipes can be pretty complicated, so Seppo and Ei-Nyung challenged us to throw down and actually make some recipes to the letter. They've organized similar dinners before for the French Laundry Cookbook (I made salmon tartare coronets) and a previous Alinea dinner where Eric and I made Bison, beets, blueberries, burning cinnamon (p.112), which required a 76-item Gantt chart spanning 10 days of prep.

This time seven of us took up the challenge, and made at least one recipe apiece to serve to the rest of the table. The pictures you see below are mostly finished products - I hope to post full Instructables for two of my recipes, the Oyster shooters and the asparagus & egg drop dish. I've listed the dishes below, in order of presentation. Some awesome people made multiple dishes, meaning we had 11 dishes for the 7 people in attendance. Only the Nicoise olive dish failed (the almond shortbread didn't set up enough to make the olive oil ravioli, and plating the ingredients randomly was a bust) - everything else was amazing. The lime sugar on the kuroge wagyu was brilliant, and really made the dish pop. I was amazed by the apple, horseradish, celery juice shot - the ingredients were all a bit yucky on their own, but together really worked in amusing fashion. The black truffle explosion and hot potato/cold potato were repeats from last dinner, and deservedly classics. The oyster shooters were my favorite from among my dishes.

Dishes, in order served:
Kumquat, Aquavit, picholine olive, caraway, p. 276 (Colin)
Surf clam, Nasturtium leaf & flower, shallot marmelade, p. 57 (Jess)
Hot potato, cold potato, black truffle, parmesan p.304 (Max)
Apple, horseradish, celery juice and leaves, p.317 (Seppo)
Oyster, ginger, steelhead roe, beer, p.94 (Christy & Eric)
Egg drops, asparagus, lemon, black pepper, p.100 (Christy & Eric)
Kuroge Wagyu, cucumber, honeydew, lime sugar, p.78 (Seppo)
Black truffle explosion, romaine, parmesan, p.238 (Ei-Nyung)
Lamb, akudjura, olive, eucalyptus veil, p.80 (Colin)
Nicoise olive, saffron, dried cherry, olive oil, p.336 (Christy & Eric)
Pork belly, pickled vegetables, BBQ sugar, polenta, p.328 (Seppo)

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    14 Discussions

    0
    flyingpuppy
    flyingpuppy

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, kumquats. I thought those were tomatoes. Glad I read the note.

    0
    canida
    canida

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Much tastier than tomatoes in this context! Still kind of weird, though. ;)

    0
    canida
    canida

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! Tons of work, but worth it for the fun.

    Have you made it to Alinea? If not, I highly recommend saving up. It's a fantastic experience.

    0
    shesparticular
    shesparticular

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Haven't yet (sadly) - could be a little tough with all the meat-based dishes. You guys did a remarkable job though!

    0
    canida
    canida

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    They'll do it 100% veggie if you ask. Just make the note with the reservation.

    0
    shesparticular
    shesparticular

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    No way! That's some of the best and most exciting news I've heard in a while - thanks!

    0
    angelabchua
    angelabchua

    9 years ago on Introduction

    The presentation is awesome! Looks as fun to make as it does to eat.

    0
    canida
    canida

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    It totally was! We'll have to do a lab molecular gastronomy challenge.

    0
    iceng
    iceng

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Amazing orderves creations as seen by this steak and potatoes male.

    0
    canida
    canida

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you!
    Many of these recipes are relatively straightforward, and are especially fun/easy if you found yourself good at chemistry labs in school. For you, I recommend the Kuroge wagyu steak dish and the hot potato, cold potato soup. ;)