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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
24
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 2 March 2017
An Incredible insight in to a world of magic.
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on 1 January 2012
My guess is that many of the reviews of Alinea are going to try to define the book, and invariably there'll be a comparison to The French Laundry Cookbook. They're both gigantic hardbacks with unwieldy dimensions and an obsessive focus on precision. Not to mention that there's a nice human-interest angle to the fact that Thomas Keller was Grant Achatz's mentor. But the books are more different than they're alike.

They should admit that this is a recipe collection that's unapproachable for most people, and sell it like A Day at El Bulli. Not to cooking from, but more as a source of inspiration. Or, alternately, they should present this as a real cookbook, with a straight face. They should be saying "these are the recipes, cook them. If you can't cook them, don't purchase the book."

Here's an oversimplification: French Laundry is accessible. Keller's whole thing, his metier, is taking everyday food (lettuce, cheese, oyster, chocolate) and doing it up in such a way that its essence is revealed. The portions at his restaurants are so small because the one bite of marrow that you get is all you need - it is one perfect bite of marrow, it is the platonic ideal of marrow, reduced and contextualized to contain all marrow of all cows on all ranges in that one bite. What Keller does is edit food down, distill it, and that's something people can do at home. If they can't do it at home, it's still something they can wrap their heads around.
Imagine a lamb chop, but it's the best, most succulent, most intense lamb chop you've ever had. Imagine it melting in your mouth. Imagine it surrounded by peppery greens whose flavors are so intense that they seem to crystallize. You can do it, right? Your mouth is watering. All you have to do to describe Keller's food is name the ingredient, and then say "and now imagine that as the best, most intense version of that possible." Keller is accessible.

Achatz, on the other hand, isn't. Imagine a blackcurrent. Now imagine it's on a sheet of tobacco-flavored whipped cream, made with a crushed cigar, and the cream is set using gelatin so it doesn't feel in your mouth like whipped cream. And top that with smoked salt, and bee balm, and peppercorns. Imagine that. Are you imagining it? Is the flavor in your mouth? Alinea isn't accessible in the same way

In the right context, this lack of accessibility isn't a bad thing. It's what makes eating at Alinea so extraordinary, that the flavors and sensations and textures are turned inside-out and on their ear. A meal at Alinea isn't a meal - it's multisensory performance art, it's the culinary equivalent of dropping acid, it's palate-expansion.
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on 3 May 2010
This book is for the professional chef. It is a gorgeous tome of nearly impossible recipes for the home cook. I do love looking and reading it though and cannot wait to eat there. Grant is a true inspiration. A wonder of a restaurant, a wonderful book, and a fantastic chef. The book physically is big and heavy and impressive. Perfect for the coffee table to look through like a large art book.
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on 15 December 2008
it took me well over a month in fact nearly 2months to get this book and i thought of cancelling it. i got to say im glad i didnt.

this book is amazing but would say only for a experianced chef or someone that really loves food. the recipe are extremly complex for the everyday cook and doing most of them at home is nearly impossible. but from cover to back this book is glorious. the best book i own (and i have alot) maybe that will change when my el bulli collection turns up
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on 31 December 2011
Wow! It.....when you open it......OMG!! The food!....The images!.....Wow!. Recipes? Yes but how do you even begin?!!! What a tome, soooooo beatuifully put together and genuinely impossible food but it's the photography that makes this book absolutely amazing. Page after page of sheer stunning imagery. The recipes are clear and informative and if you had an army of sous chefs and an unlimited budget then I'm sure anybody could do it but lets be honest, no one buys these books to find inspiration for adding a bit of a twist to sunday dinner, we buy them for their wow factor and OMG does this have it. By the truck load. It might just be the ultimate coffee table foody book. Buy it, love it and be amazed by it. I never thought I'd say it but Heston and The Duck haveThe Big Fat Duck Cookbook competition for my favourite foody book!
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on 3 March 2009
Unlike other reviewers I do not think that the very sophisticated and inspiring recipes in this book are impossible for the home cook. But they are complicated, for sure. Sometimes even incredibly complicated.
But the descriptions are extremely accurate, the photography is fantastic and I particularly loved the 'to assemble and serve' paragraphs that end each recipe. Though many recipes are also too complicated for me as an advanced amateur, I dare say that that I succesfully made 8 dishes from this wonderful book at my own 2008 Christmas dinners.

Grant Achatz is a fabulously talented chef and his book Alinea is highly recommended to advanced home chefs. Incredible photography makes it inspiring and mouthwatering at the same time, even if you don't do any of his recipes at all.
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on 14 February 2014
Amazing and beautiful book full of recipes you never make. But who cares when you try some of the elements of the dishes, and they are shown great in this book. I like it like Hestons Blumenthals book. True inspiration for the foodie. Dont buy it if you wanna make food i 30 min. But If you wanna a know what a Master Chef like Grant Achatz thinking when he creates dishes, menues etc. Then this is a must. a dream builder for visiting Alinea and Chicago.
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on 11 November 2008
This is a truly amazing book but one I don't think I will ever use to cook from. The photography, the writing, the recipes are all excellent but I think maybe a little too complicated to want to do at home.

At work maybe I will use a few of the ideas but I dont think i will ever make any of the full recipes.

I still have to give this 5 stars as it is a truly great book and just carries on from any of Thomas Keller's books, Its different cooking but still in the same league!! Highly reccomended
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on 10 November 2012
How grant comes up with ideas like the dishes in this book only he knows. One of the most imaginative chefs of this era.
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on 30 January 2009
I probably will not use this book for cooking one-to-one, however the innovative and artistic style of cooking that it represents is indeed inspiring.
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