Ever since it was announced that Alinea would take its mad scientist culinary show on the road, the question has been: what would Grant Achatz's menu look like at Madrid's NH Hotel? We knew, for starters, that the Madrid stint was to be divided into two segments. The first, from January 12 to 16, would shuttle guests, progressive-dinner-style, in between Achatz's pop-up and the much-lauded DiverXO, also housed in the NH Hotel.
The serious fun, however, would begin after January 16, until February 9, with the full Alinea experience. For this, Achatz, executive chef Mike Bagale, and Alinea partner Nick Kokona pledged to "faithfully represent the Michelin 3-star cuisine of Alinea, while paying homage and honoring the culinary heritage of Spain."
Now, finally, we have a sense of what it all looks like. The pricey pop-up's temporary digs are described by El Mundo as "a space that renders homage to Chicago in the 1980s, courtesy the ubiquitous interior designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán." In his account of Alinea's pop-up for the Spanish newspaper, columnist Albert Solano calls Achatz's plates "hedonistic and very playful." Here now, the thirteen dishes being served at Alinea Madrid's sold-out pop-up, at a cost of 275 euros (almost $300) per person (quotes have been translated from Solano's original text).
1. Flavor packet from the wall "Two games to start: a ‘vertical mini-garden’ that consists of a glass of Champagne with iced celery; and a gelatin bite that tastes like a Chicago-style hot dog."
2. Seafood "Tribute to Spanish bivalves served on a large block of ice. Scallop with white gazpacho, conchafina with garlic and squid. Served with a lemongrass infusion (in the tube)."
3. Jar jar can "Another tribute, in this case to Spanish canning traditions. Cilantro and carrot; Osetra caviar with asparagus and white pepper; octopus with eggplant and cinnamon, wreathed in smoke. Perfect textures and intense flavors."
4. Red mullet "Very peculiar, Miró-esque version of bouillabaisse."
5. Moqueca "Reinterpretation of the typical Brazilian fish stew. Ceviche of shrimp and sea bass with leche de tigre, coconut and tapioca, in which citric dry ice vapor recreates the boiling stew. The big twist is that the stew has become a cold dish."
6. Crab shrimp siam sunray "Crab tempura with cucumber, vanilla and ginger. Caramelized shrimp with tamarind. Lemongrass, coconut, lime, and vodka. Three mini-bocaditos of finger food made with exotic ingredients from Ecuador."
7. Graffiti "The waiter says: ‘We're from Chicago, a city with buildings and graffiti, we wanted to remember that.’" Mushrooms and herbs, essentially.
8. Hot potato "A delicious snack of cold potato with truffle butter."
9. Wagyu "Wagyu tenderloin cooked on coals in view of the customer, with potato, lettuce, onion, and a vegetable cream. An explosion of flavors and textures."
10. Black truffle "A Parmesan raviolo taken in one bite and chewed with your mouth shut. Completely shut, because it explodes with lots of power and the consequences could be catastrophic if your mouth is open …"
11. Bacon "A sheet of bacon with apple, butterscotch, and thyme meant to be plucked by hand and eaten in one bite."
12. Balloon Solano calls this dessert "very reminiscent of El Bulli." A balloon inflated with helium, that ultimately tastes of candy apple.
13. Milk chocolate "An abstract painting for those with a sweet tooth."
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