Friday, May 11, 2007

Alinea: More Complete Account, Part 5

In preparation for this course, our server came and moved everything on the table. "I need to make lots of room for the next course," she said. We had been the first seating in our room, so we had no idea what was coming -- other people seated in our room had less surprises, because they saw us eat everything before them.

So, we sat, waiting for who-knew-what. Then one of the young men brought two linen pillows, and placed them before us. Another server placed the plates on the pillows, and we smelled smoke drifting up. "Can you identify the smell?" he asked. It was lavender.

The pillows had been filled with lavender smoke, which was expelled by the weight of the plates. The food, itself, was duck in three textures -- crispy skin, confit, and something else I can't remember.

The young man who brought this course to the table said, "Now, the first thing I want you to notice is the deep, dark sauce in the bottom of the dish." We both nodded gravely, and he smiled. "Actually," he said, "this is what we call our anti-plate. It doesn't have a bottom. That's the table showing through." The plate was basically a notched rim suitable for holding the spoon.

The spoon contained a black truffle raviolo "explosion" (their name for it). Topped with shaved truffle, Parmesan, and romaine. When you popped it in your mouth and bit down, the raviolo exploded with black truffle soup, and the other items balanced the texture.

This was our first experience with fresh black truffle in that concentrated of a form. We've had little bits of truffle in things (like truffle salt in mashed potatoes -- yum), and I had a shaved canned truffle at a local restaurant once. But, now that I've had it fresh, I completely understand what all the fuss is about. Delicious!

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