As we are about to book another trip to Chicago, I realized I never actually published my first post about Alinea below.
Alinea, what a dreamy place! You know in a top ten restaurant off the World’s Best list that your meal will be otherworldly, and our experience was no exception. The service was extremely friendly and fun–a big part of what made the meal enjoyable, and the dishes were so imaginative and thoughtful.
There were so many moments where I felt like a giddy, excited, and fascinated kid in a science lab. Setting high expectations can be a bad game to play with food, but this met them all. Alinea was food on another level. I don’t want to write too much and give it away, but if you need more convincing research the green apple balloon!
As someone who travels for food and books reservations before flights, whenever I tell my friends about my time at 41 Grados they pause a bit before asking more. REALLY? THAT GOOD? I’VE NEVER HEARD OF IT! 41 Grados was started by the Adria brothers. Ferran Adria started El Bulli and many of the techniques used in El Bulli serve as the foundation of 41 Grados. If you missed out on the infamous El Bulli olive, you can get it at 41 Grados and Tickets, the tapas bar that the Adrias opened (and in DC with Jose Andres).
Getting Reservations Both Tickets and 41 Grados are relatively difficult reservations so you’ll have to book a month in advance. In both of my early Winter trips, 41 Grados would book up 2-3 weeks prior, but Tickets would book up instantly on the day reservations are released online. Of course, you should always check back for cancellations, but you’re less likely to see that at 41 Grados because there is a 50 Euro deposit.
The Experience Incredible. Albert and Ferran created an “experience” for lucky diners–inclusive of moving projected images and music as the Albert takes you around the world with food. Depending how die hard you are–you’ll probably want the first seating’s courses; If you sit through the the later seating, your dishes won’t line up with the music though I doubt anyone would have really noticed unless they asked! Likely you’ll sit there asking what items on the plate you can eat or not eat because all the food is presented in such a bizarre or fun way. This probably goes without saying, but not only does every dish have a perfect presentation, it all was delicious! I nearly forgot to note the cocktails that come with the tasting–frankly, I wonder why all cocktails aren’t as beautiful or wild as the ones at 41 Grados! Whether it is edible “leaves” and “pearls” or the perfectly branded ice cubes, you will probably leave impressed and excited about eating in a way you’ve never felt before. Go now! Nom.
If you like Gyu Kaku, a bit of adventure with weird textures, and weird animal parts, you should head over to Yakiniku Takashi on the west side. If that point blank description didn’t sound like your cup of tea, I don’t recommend this adventure to you!
Although, it was definitely an experience that you have to have once (and really fun), I probably won’t go back unless someone else is dying to try it.
Last time I went they had some silly and fun items on the menu like the beefy popcorn (with loads of MSG I’m sure), and the curry puffs that you grill on your table. Both were just that–silly and fun, but nothing remarkable.
Not sure if all these things are still on the menu, but we also had this cheesy fondue that wasn’t really too exciting. The meat was overcooked and the bread a bit stale.
We wrapped up our apps with the Niku-Uni, chuck flap topped with sea urchin and fresh wasabi. Not sure if it was anything too great–just mediocre uni and meat with that oily seasoned seaweed you get in those snack packs at Japanese grocers.
Finally, we ordered a lot of different things ranging from the different cow stomachs to different cuts of meats. It was exciting because I haven’t had a lot of these things before, but altogether I wasn’t really impressed by anything too delicious. A few of the stomach dishes were just incredibly chewy and I think I was making funny faces the entire time…
At work one big task is to stay on top of what is going on in the food world. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is certainly mine! I have probably read more blogs and articles about food in the past week than in the past year before I’ve started this internship.
Anyway, it has made me much more food aware. It also helps to have a boyfriend who grew up down south. What is unconventional to me (mysterious sugary recooked bread=french toast for breakfast) is normal for him. What is normal for me (chicken’s feet and eating Asian food for 75% of my meals) is strange to him.
Here is a picture of a jarred pigs feet VALUE PACK (in case you really needed that extra foot) in an Italian deli down at Arthur Ave in the Bronx:
This is the first of hopefully more posts of “weird” things I’ve only realized recently are WEIRD. I’ll definitely have a crazy one of a Chinese supermarket soon and it won’t be for the squeamish. If you didn’t like this one…wait for the gruesome picture of FRESH pigs feet, already packed and ready for you to take home!
So if you google pesce stocca you realize it is legit–not just one of those American marketing ploys to get you to think something is Italian when its not (panino anyone?). Everything you get back is strictly in Italian!
It means stock fish or dried cod. I did some research because as you can see it doesn’t look like our typical bacalhau that comes in pasty white dried pieces. From the poor translations I got, apparently in Southern Italy they use swordfish instead of cod. If anyone knows more, I’d really appreciate it :).