The Astor Center was the scene last Thursday night of the NY Public’s first opportunity to taste Grant Achatz’ cooking in their home city. Grant Achatz, Nick Kokonas and a crew from the restaurant, Alinea, in Chicago were in the Big Apple to promote the eponymous new book from the restaurant and to have a party. At $250pp, there was no evidence of a recession as the Astor Center event was extremely well attended.
The NYC dining public was treated to Achatz classics like "hot potato, cold potato," a dish that combines potato, hot Yukon Gold sphere and cold potato soup with a bit of Parmesan cheese, butter, chive some truffle and sea salt with the novel presentation of a pin and a paraffin bowl as well as the always enjoyable "black truffle explosion" with more black truffle, ravioli filled with black truffle "spheres", Parmesan slices and wilted romaine lettuce. Needless to say, given the crowds, the lines for these legendary delights were long throughout the event as it took time to assemble each serving.
Other, newer and less well known dishes were also presented. One of which even involved a wall installation that was a play on a now classic Alinea centerpiece, the Ohio honeycomb. With this installation, the guest had to punch through the paper honeycomb to reach a shrimp crisp locate within each cell of the installation. This was clever, fun and tasty.
As busy as the event was, even Nick Kokonas, Achatz’ business partner in Alinea, was thrown into the mix, serving "pumpkin with smoked salt" from the famous Alinea antenae. Despite all the culinary delights and theater in evidence, as always the star of the show was Grant Achatz himself. Chef Achatz welcomed the crowd to the event and over the latter half tirelessly sat at a table dedicating and signing an Alinea book for each person who attended the event.
The event was a success and many a New Yorker, who had never previously been able to experience Alinea, now were able to have a taste of it. I am sure that many an appetite became even more whetted for the full experience.
For more photos from the event, please see the Alinea NYC Photo Album.