Monday, August 17, 2009

Foodie Freebie Friday: Alinea


Happy Monday and welcome back! Did you have a good weekend? I hope that you had a chance to relax and perhaps have a little culinary adventure in your corner of the world. Over the weekend, I had a few culinary adventures of my own with What's Cookin, Chicago including:

Wine & Dine: Australia - We got together to learn more about the cuisine and wines of Australia, with a few recipes to share.

Neighborhood Taste Tour: Maxwell Street Market - We took a trip to this open-air market and got to indulge in some authentic Mexican eats, learn more about new fruits and vegetables and enjoy the sights and sounds.

Now to start off this new week, I've got a special Foodie Freebie Friday. Aside from the great food and ethnic neighborhoods that make up Chicago, we certainly have our share of chef rockstars. One such rockstar is Grant Achatz.

Grant Achatz grew up in the restaurants industry since his parents and grandparents owned restaurants in Michigan. Naturally, he decided to enter the culinary field and became a student at the Culinary Instititue of America in New York. Once he graduated, he worked his way up to a sous chef position after four years at Thomas Keller's renowned restaurant, The French Laundry. He then moved to Chicago to become an executive chef of the restaurant, Trio. He worked three years there before starting his own restaurant, Alinea.

His culinary point of view takes on molecular gastronomy. Grant takes food to a whole new level and diners are immersed in an experience using all their senses - sight, sound, texture and taste. It's no wonder that Alinea was named the best restaurant in America in 2006 and is just one of sixteen restaurants in the United States that received 5 stars in 2007.

But 2007 was a difficult year for Grant, despite the accolades he received for Alinea. In July of that year, Grant was diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth. He underwent aggressive treatment and before the end of the year, his cancer was in full remission. He continues to work on exciting creations at Alinea and just shy of a year after being cancer free, he published this week's Foodie Freebie Friday - Alinea.

Spain boasts Ferran Adria's restaurant, elBulli, to push modern cooking's boundaries, but 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. -- Publishers Weekly/Amazon

Some guidelines:
- Giveaway is only for those who live in the United States - my apologies to my international readers!
- You must have a valid email address (within your comment or blog link) so that you can be contacted if you win.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment answering:

- If you lost your sense of taste, what foods would you miss most?

Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 12 midnight CST.

ONE WINNER will be randomly chosen by Random. Org's Interger Generator based on the number of your comment and will be announced on Friday, August 21, 2009. Good luck!