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Books: Alinea by Grant Achatz

The Chicago restaurant Alinea has its own molecular gastronomy wunderkind in Grant Achatz as he takes food in previously unimagined directions. This cookbook presents the exact recipes, grouped by season, from the restaurant kitchen, such as Yolk Drops with Asparagus, Lemon and Black Pepper or Bison with Beets, Blueberries and Burning Cinnamon, along with gorgeous closeup photographs of these jaw-droppingly fanciful creations. The book opens with essays by food world elder statesmen, including Michael Ruhlman and Jeffrey Steingarten, who lavish praise on Achatz’s approach, and Michael Nagrant, who explores the Alinea philosophy through a dish called “Black Truffle Explosion.” Achatz himself eloquently explains 10 techniques he uses at the restaurant to achieve his culinary goals, from “bouncing flavors” to custom service ware and aroma manipulation.

Though readers are encouraged to make the recipes, or at least interpret them so as to “craft an experience similar to dining at the restaurant,” where every minute involves intensive engagement with the food, most people will value the book more as a beautifully produced insight into Achatz’s creativity and perhaps a spur to their own, even when they are not making spheres of beet juice or mozzarella balloons. Purchase includes access to a companion Web site with video demonstrations, interviews and an forum with Achatz and his team. (Publishers Weekly)

Alinea Book by Grant Achatz, 416pp, Hardcover

Buy it here: Amazon


Monday, March 16th, 2009


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