Taste Of Chicago March 27, 2007Posted by Beth in General.
Filed by Lisa Jarvis
Not all of the chemistry is happening inside McCormick Place. Four C&EN reporters ventured out to Alinea, a restaurant in Lincoln Park that uses science as a tool in its cooking—some might call it molecular gastronomy. If any of you are fans of “Top Chef,” this is the stuff of Marcel Vigneron.
The restaurant’s signature dish (more of a bite, really) is the “black truffle explosion,” and we got the chance to visit the kitchen to see how it is made. Essentially, black truffle juice is gelatinized, then the delicate little balls are set in a ravioli skin. When cooked, the gelatin liquefies, creating a very different kind of ravioli than the kind I buy in the freezer section of my grocery store. The idea is that, when eaten, you get a taste of liquid gold.
Yes, you ask, but how does it taste?
Later that night, we had the chance to try the goods. First, I should note that the truffle explosion comes with a warning from the server: Be sure to fully close your mouth over the morsel, or you’re facing a minor disaster. I am happy to report that our four diners made it through unscathed—ACS does not need to worry about paying anyone’s dry-cleaning bill.
But back to the truffle. There was a long moment of silence after each of us popped the treat into our mouths.
Well, it turns out you can’t really go wrong with black truffles. If I had the resources, I’d be sprinkling them on my cereal. But this was something truly remarkable—the flavor was incredibly intense, yet surprisingly controlled. I had worried the truffle would swamp my taste buds, but instead, after an initial burst, that one bite left a coating on the palette that produced a lasting, delicious savory flavor. Followed up by a sip of red wine—a Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso Riserva Pipparello, to be exact—I had a strong taste of dark chocolate in my mouth. It was quite spectacular. Someone should be selling these things on a street corner.
LIQUID GOLD Andrew Graves prepares the black truffle explosion.