Alinea’s Transparency, of Manchego Cheese

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As I lazily sipped on my sunday afternoon coffee, I couldn’t help loving one of my many birthday presents from my husband – the Alinea book. Just the evening before, I was enjoying every page of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a thoughtful, much-desired gift from my best friend. I must confess that life is good.

Alinea

Reading Alinea is like being transported to a different world; a world of ideas, inspiration, and aestheticism. I have much respect for Chef Grant Achatz, a true artist and creator of today’s culinary world. To Chef Achatz, the gnarly roots of an overturned tree has inspired him to create the famous dish Salsify; the accidental shattering of a wineglass makes him question how he can create raspberries that fragile. I started noticing details, things I have not seen before, and wondered how delicate it would be to replicate my memories through food.

Transparency of Manchego Cheese
Recent obsession of Manchego cheese has led my husband to conclude that we would have to create Chef Grant Achatz’s Transparency of Manchego Cheese. The thinly sliced Manchego cheese melts over olive oil pudding, roasted garlic, roasted red and yellow peppers, fresh sourdough croutons, manchego squares and dice, dehydrated Niçoise olives, white anchovies, and garnished with baby arugula and spring flowers. Aside from Transparency’s literal visual meaning, I believe Chef Achatz is also referring to the transparency and elements of traditional appetizers, such as cheese, olives, olive oil, bread, garlic, etc., being reassembled here.
So, the two of us spent the better half (conservatively speaking) of our day assembling the different components of the dish. Here are a couple steps along the way if you are interested…
We pitted and pitted those tiny olives…
Finally dehydrated, 5 hours later…

Charring peppers in open flame

Chilling olive oil pudding
Every bite was an explosion of flavors: salty, sweet, creamy, crunchy. I was eating through a million layers of flavors, at once – so amazing. And so delicious. 

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8 comments for “Alinea’s Transparency, of Manchego Cheese

  1. Ravenous Couple
    January 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    cooking together for a better half of a day..what a great way to spend a day!

  2. 5 Star Foodie
    January 11, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Wow, you guys did a fabulous job recreating this dish! I'm a huge fan of Grant Achatz and Alinea! Looking forward to following your adventures in the kitchen!

  3. Rich
    January 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Well, that does it, then. I'm buying the Alinea cookbook. That meal looks sublime.

  4. Stephanie
    January 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I applaud you for sticking with it! Sounds like an intense cooking session. Love it.

    I also love my Julia Child's cookbook. Have you tried her version of roasted chicken? It's to die for! The best I've ever had.

  5. Jessica
    January 11, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Stephanie, it is too funny you mentioned the roast chicken! My friend told me to try that as my first recipe, so while my kitchen was cooking up a storm for the Alinea dish I was also preparing the roast chicken at the same time and it turned out SO SO SO good.

  6. Dawn
    January 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I love the flavor of fire roasted peppers. This sounds like an amazing mix of flavors!

  7. Fresh and Foodie
    January 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Your blog is really cool! I haven't been to Alinea yet, but many of my friends have. Since I live in Chicago, I want to go someday. Having one of the world's best chefs in your backyard is too tempting!

  8. Amy
    January 23, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    I love manchego, and used in this way, I bet it is wonderful!

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