Yes, this is food porn of the highest order: Hundreds of glossy,
full-color photographs of Achatz's unique creations fill its 400 pages.
Should you summon the courage to make one of the dishes (all scaled
down to serve 8, but otherwise unchanged from the restaurant's
meticulous preparations), the pictures of the finished product might be
as daunting as the recipe itself.
For me, the Alinea cookbook isn't a cookbook so much as an impressionistic map of Grant Achatz's imagination. Its most interesting feature -- and, for the home cook, maybe the most useful -- is a section in which Achatz describes the general thought processes behind his dishes. For example, stopping at an A&W restaurant for a burger and root beer led him to explore the traditional ingredients in root beer and how those might be paired with beef.
If nothing else, you will be happy to learn that one of America's leading chefs happily admits to pouring A1 sauce on his home-grilled steaks. Of course, he then researches the original A1 recipe, from anchovies to tamarind.
- Ian Froeb
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