So, the good news is that I seem to be a little bit ahead of the curve in my A&P class. As a celebratory gesture, and because many people actually want to know what they had been looking at in my recent post, I’d like to go back and give a brief description of those incredible dishes.
First, the hors d’oveures.
I think everyone recognizes the roasted asparagus. We tried to be very seasonal with this recent dinner. As such, we served asparagus, plainly roasted with sea salt and olive oil to showcase the difference between produce that is available year-round, and when the same produce is actually in season.
At the near end of the picture, are breaded and fried summer squash blossoms. A very generous friend who has a fantastic garden at the side of his house had these blooming, and wanted to share them with us. They were fantastic.
I confess that I do not know many of the intricate details of this recipe. Dan made this strawberry gazpacho from Modernist Cuisine, and it was incredible. Although strawberries (again, still in season) were the main ingredient, this was a very savory dish, had quite a bit of spice to it, and was balanced very nicely by the rhubarb sorbet pictured at the far end.
Conspicuously absent by way of photographic evidence is the dish of tuna with Kaffir lime marinade, chili oil and avocado. It’s a real shame, too, because that dish was a true work of art, both in presentation and taste.
Next, the salad of petite summer tomatoes, from the French Laundry cookbook.
The tomatoes were blanched and their skins removed, and tossed with a little salt and olive oil. Underneath the tomatoes is a brioche crouton, sitting atop sous vide infused basil oi. Above the tomatoes is a tomato sorbet, made with a hint of orange zest and red wine vinegar, a garlic tuille, and a basil flower.
This was my favorite dish of the evening. I love chicken, even though it gets a bad rap. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the reason most people are so ambivalent about this bird is not because of its ubiquity, but because so many people do not know how to cook it properly. I am happy to have roast chicken and pasta every shabbos–indeed, most weeks that is the Friday night menu.
This chicken, however, was not roasted. The breast was cooked sous vide, perfectly moist, and finished with a shallot and tarragon jus. However, the real exciting component was the “chicken nugget” on the left.
The genius of Grant Achatz’s brain decided it would be a good idea to render the fat out of some chicken skin, with some garlic and thyme added to the pan. Once the skin has crisped up, the rendered fat is powderized with N-Zorbit M Tapioca Maltodextrin, and the skin is ground to a coarse powder. These two powders are then mixed with freeze-dried corn powder, thyme leaves, and some minced truffle, and the resulting mixture is formed into a ball.
Grant Achatz is a genius. This chicken-skin and truffle chicken nugget is the proof. A chicken nugget on crack, or steroids, or maybe LSD. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t tried any of them, but I do know this was amazing.
Another Alinea creation, this little course was a lightly pickled cucumber strip wrapped around mango leather and topped with clove and coriander salt, and saffron threads.
We had to really push this course, as the dinner was running late. On the right is a 72-hour short rib with a tamarind glaze. On the left, a sous vide rib cap, atop honeydew slices with a soy pudding, lime sugar rocks and pink peppercorns.
Finally, the dessert.
At the center is a pliable chocolate ganache. Usually just chocolate, cream and sugar, ganache is not supposed to be pliable. Here, we added gelatin and agar agar to allow for an exciting twist in the presentation, literally. At the far ends of the ganache are cocoa crumbs, and at the near end, some mint pudding and avocado puree. To the left, a lime sorbet, with a dehydrated chocolate mousse tuille, and to the right, a toasted almond ice cream truffle and dehydrated lime curd. Another plate of Alinea perfection.
Well, that’s it for this evening. I want to say that I do appreciate the encouragement I have been receiving from you guys recently. I really do hope start putting posts up again with some regularity, but that will have to wait until my schedule settles a little bit. I was also asked to put up a recipe section. Do you think that’s a good idea? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and I’ll try to make it happen.
Until next time…