Alinea devotees, Grant Achatz followers, and all addicts of online foodie communities, listen up. The Alinea book, the result of years of planning by Achatz, co-owner Nick Kokonas, and numerous others on the Alinea team, will arrive in bookstores on October 15. And after reading through a copy of the galley (a paperback, B&W version of the book), we can tell you it's an impressive and epic piece of work. But more on that in a minute. What's most vital to fans right now is Alinea-Mosaic, the online companion piece to the book accessible to those who pre-order now. It has demo videos, high res images, recipes, preview pages, but more importantly, it features an online forum. The forum allows chefs and amateurs to ask others for help with everything from dehydrators to thickening agents to beet spheres, and Achatz personally answers nearly all inquiries. See what Grant has to say about making olive oil sorbet, how they create "flavor puffs" at the restaurant, and oh so much about agar agar and gelatin.
As for the book, it contains a number of essays from big time foodies (Michael Ruhlman, Jeffrey Steingarten, Michael Nagrant, etc.) explaining the meaning of the restuarant, about food as art, a piece by Achatz on his inspirations and how certain notable dishes came to be, an explanation of the menu and the restaurant's unusual serviceware, and over 300 recipes that Achatz and Co. have created over the years at Alinea (but almost never repeat in the restaurant).
As one would expect, almost every single recipe calls for something you most definitely do not have in your kitchen (vellum envelopes, anyone?), but a guide at the beginning explains how to adapt the recipes to a home kitchen and where to source items like agar agar and Ultra-Tex 3. And honestly, we're guessing a lot of people who purchase the book will use it as more of a conversation piece, a beautiful coffee table item with excellent photos essays, or as insight into how the pros do what they do. For you incredibly ambitious chefs, you might want to invest in an antigriddle and a dehydrator now.
· Alinea Mosaic [Official Site]
— Photo courtesy of Alinea