CHICAGO: Alinea, Part 2

The second wave of courses was the desserts, some of the most whimsical culinary imaginings, plated and edible. If Willy Wonka was a pastry chef, he would have worked at Alinea.

The first three were a play on childhood favorites and required some guessing to figure them out, but we eventually got ‘em through nostalgic recognition. This is where the real fun began.

BUBBLEGUM STRAW. A giant straw layered with Balinese long pepper, hibiscus, and creme fraiche. Somehow, when slrupped all at once through the tube, these flavors tasted miraculously reminiscent of bubble gum. I’m not big on bubble-gum flavored food, but this was refined.

And I could totally see Nestle stealing and mass-producing something like this. It’ll be the hot-new craze until someone’s kid inevitably chokes on it and the media fallout forces them to remove it from the shelves.

BACON FRUIT ROLL UP. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but this tasted exactly like a fruit roll-up. Not a bacon flavored fruit roll-up, but a genuine, out of aluminum sleeve packaging, Betty Crocker Fruit Roll-Up. The listed ingredients are bacon, butterscoth, apples, and thyme. What the fuck, right?

RHUBARB DESGUSTATION. Beautiful presentation; otherworldly. The plate arrived on a pillow injected with juniper air. As the plate sunk into the pillow, it deflated and released pure juniper aroma. My first thought was, ‘I need to get me one of these for home!’ My second thought was, ‘damn, this goat cheesecake is fuckin’ good.’

CHOCOLATE & TOBACCO. This presentation seemed like some sort of alien landscape which was fit for the earthy flavors present in this dessert. The gels in the picture are filled with liquid blueberry and maple that ooze out when broken.

SWEET POTATO CHURRO. this tasted like a churro, except times ten.

It’s not everyday that I get to eat like this, but it’s nice every now and then (maybe once a year). And it’s totally worth it. If anyone is willing to pay an upwards of $100 for a Broadway show there’s no reason to avoid fine-dining; it’s just as entertaining except it plays to all of your senses at once. So, if you’re ever in Chicago, treat you and your love out. Eat at Alinea.