12.25.2007

I'm back for a snowy christmas at home. After multiple christmas gatherings, it's finally settled down. It was good to see all of the relatives, and share a bit of christmas cheer. At church on christmas day I noticed that a pair of my high school classmates have a brand new baby, which was a little bit of a shock to me. I guess I should get used to it. After the batch of errands I have to run tomorrow, I may try grabbing a beer at the hometown bar to see if any other classmates crawl out of the woodwork.

Oh, and Santa brought me a fly rod for christmas, which should be perfect for the Baja trip.

In other news, I finished The World Without Us, a book from Annie, which explores the idea of what would happen to the world if humans disappeared tomorrow. It's a really interesting read.

12.13.2007

We didn't take any photos at Alinea; my camera was borked and it seemed a little touristy, but after doing some digging I found other diners who did. Since the menu changes so often not everything is represented, but you get the idea:


Lamb Cubism

Hot Potato, Cold Potato

Scallop (though ours had chamomile flowers)


Sweetbreads


Transparency

Apple Cider


Beans

Bison (with the rosemary)

Butters

Chocolate
Annie and I had the tasting menu at Alinea last night, and it was easily the best meal I've ever had (though not the cheapest). We showed up plenty early, since we forgot about the time zone shift between here and Chicago, so we killed some time in a Boarders nearby. Once we were seated, the fun started, and continued over 14 courses. No menu was provided, though they allowed us to tailor the tasting menu if we had any special requests. At the end of the meal we were handed a copy of the evening's menu, which listed each of the courses and their primary ingredients. Here's what we had:

Trout Roe: coconut, licorice, pineapple
Roe from Michigan trout, harvested just days ago, on a coconut snowman... thing alongside pineapple foam and a dollop of licorice sauce. It was a little intimidating for a first course since it was so delicate, but the flavors worked well together. It was the first time I'd ever had caviar, and it was great; it tasted like the sea smells.

Beans: many garnishes, pillow of nutmeg air
Now things got fun. What looked like a burlap pillow was set in front of us, and then a large plate was placed on top. As the plate weighed down on the pillow, it released the scent of nutmeg, which we would taste, even though there was no nutmeg in the dish. The dish was pureed navy beans topped with a pancetta crisp, topped with a Guinness foam. Around the plate were a host of one-bite garnishes; green bean and almond salad, ginger topped with peppers, mango and orange leathers, a basil gel, a crunchy somethingorother, a bit of apple hollowed out and filled with molasses. Very tasty.

Scallop: parsnip, orange, chamomile vapor
This course started with a single bite of an orange gel, which was like a tart, palate-cleansing fruit snack. Two nesting bowls were set down, the outer filled with various herbs and flowers and the inner filled with amazing food. The outer bowl was topped off with hot water, which released a strong smell of chamomile. In the inner bowl sat a perfectly cooked scallop, topped with shaved razor clams, accompanied with a reduced stock and diced parsnips. One of the best dishes I've ever had.

Apple Cider: walnut milk, cinnamon, vegetable ash
A shot glass was set in front of us containing a green orb, dusted with a bit of powder, sitting in walnut milk. The entire shot was knocked back, and once the little orb was in your mouth, it exploded with a splash of apple cider, and then dissolved into a taste of cinnamon. Refreshing.

Salsify: caper, olive oil, smoked salmon
A column of (razor clam? some shellfish, but I think we missed that part of the explanation) coated in a crackley caper-and-crunchiness, suspended between a small stack of wonderful smoked salmon on one end and a salmon puree on the other, with a dollop of a dill sauce between the two and a few drops of a lemon gel around the plate. The smoked salmon was the best few bites of salmon I've ever had.

Sweetbread: cauliflower, burnt bread, toasted hay
A few bits of breaded sweatbreads, surrounded by dollops of gels from roasted cauliflower, vermouth, and burnt bread, along with crunchy roasted cauliflower bits and a cauliflower stalk wrapped in bread. Tasty, and the first time I've enjoyed sweatbreads.

Lamb: in cubism
A slice of lamb tenderloin on one end, and a braised and breaded wheel of lamb-something on the other end. In between, seven or eight overlapping squares of sauces. Our waiter didn't tell us what the sauces were, but noted that the garnishes on the lamb tenderloin offered hints to the sauces (which included mint, pomegranate, sour cream, horseradish, among others). Very playful. The round bite of lamb may be the best bite of food I've ever had.

Hot Potato: cold potato, black truffle, butter
We were handed a wax bowl, which had a long pin stuck through it. On the pin were a couple cubes of butter, a small round hot potato, topped with a large shaving of black truffle. This was all suspended over a cold potato soup. To eat, you pulled the pin out, dropping the hot portions of the dish into the cold soup, and then slurped the whole thing down like an oyster on the half shell. Vies with the lamb as the best bite of food I've ever had.

Bison: red cabbage, candy cane, rosemary aroma
Our tables were originally adorned with foot-long stalks of rosemary. When this dish was delivered, it was presented on a 500 degree brick that sizzed under the bites of bison. The bits of bison were adorned with a red cabbage braise, star anise and candy cane, and a mushroom sauce, respectively. The sear on them was amazing, though I'm not quite sure how the mushroom sauce was, since I manage to drop it. Drat.

Transparency: of raspberry, rose petal, yogurt
A big, stained-glass looking piece of transparent raspberry, with rose petals set into it and dusted with yogurt powder. It was tasty, but a little prickly, like a broken Christmas ornament.

Chocolate: passionfruit, lemongrass, soy
A big ribbon of dark chocolate sauce. Above it was a great rice pudding (only without the rice, though the rice flavor was there). Below, a noodle of passionfruit. In the middle of a soy marshmallow was a cube of iced lemongrass. Around were dollops of reduced soy sauce and soy powder. Tasty tasty, though I could have done without the soy. The chocolate, lemongrass, and rice pudding were all amazing.

Carmel Corn: liquified
Another shot, this one was a popcorn foam on top of a carmel cream sauce. It reminded me of a jelly belly, and tasted just like it should have.

Persimmon: carrot, red curry, spice aroma strip
A soft persimmon cake, with cubes of carrot in cognac, pistachios, a honey sauce, and other accompaniments. This dish felt a little disorganized compared to some of the others.

Pumpkin: pie dough, tempura, cinnamon fragrance
Pumpkin pie, frozen, then dipped in a creamy sauce, then tempura fried and dusted with a cinnamon sugar that was evocative of mini doughnuts. This whole things was served on a long cinnamon stick popsicle, the bottom of which was lit before it was served, so a cinnamon aroma permeated the room. An amazing finish to an amazing meal.

12.10.2007

Had a good time making indian food and playing wii with some friends last night. Tomorrow is the last day of classes, followed by a few study days and annie's xmas-present-dinner at Alinea. It's a little tougher to study for finals w/o a solid study group, but I'll keep badgering people until I have someone I can bounce ideas off of.

Freezing rain yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Gotta love south bend. On the bright side, I stayed rubber-side-down on the bike ride to class today.

12.05.2007

I bought another bike; got a good deal on a '77 Raleigh Grand Prix, from the good 'old days when the Raleighs were still made in Nottingham. Should make a pretty fixed, and will probably replace my Raleigh Pursuit as my day to day commuter. We got 4-5 inches of snow last night, so it was the fixed mountain bike for riding to school today.

Oh, and I started volunteering to assistant coach a local H.S. Mock Trial team. I went to my first practice last night. It was pretty fun, and I'll be back next week.

12.03.2007

I made it home for thanksgiving last weekend, which was fun. I got to see some friends, and take part in the big Family Turkey Day Extravaganza. Even made some money playing cards against the relatives. I took the train in and out of Chicago, which was nice.

I got out kayaking yesterday, when it was way cold. It snowed again last night, and it squarely feels like winter now. The semester is starting to wrap up a little bit, and everyone is looking toward finals. I'm happy enough to be heading toward the end of the semester; I feel like my afternoons have hit a little too much of a routine. Though my evenings are somewhat varied, I feel like just about every afternoon runs through the same motions.

Anyway, I've registered for classes for next semester. It's a pretty touchey-feeley, constitutional/civil rights semester, with Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Human Rights Practice, my journal, Constitutional Law II (Civil Rights), and 1st Amendment (Freedom of Religion). Should be fun.