Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Science of Alinea's Dessert

Sometime ago I learned about the restaurant Alinea in Chicago.  It's a 3 star Michelin restaurant and regularly considered one of the best restaurants in the world.

On YouTube, their famed dessert gets some attention in foodie videos.  The restaurant puts a number of sauces, sweets, and berries on your table in a pretty design and then drops/smashes a confection in the middle for you to eat.

Here's an example of the craziness:

Sometimes a chocolate ball is smashed instead of the frozen chocolate mousse.

After watching these videos, I began to wonder ... how come all those sauces don't just run off the table or become some sloppy mess?

In addition, how to the sauces form different shapes, like circles and squares?

I figured some of the differences were due to the viscosity of the liquid, perhaps due to a gelatin or something similar being added.

But how did some of the liquids become squares?  If anything, they should always be circles.

I found the answer on this blog, "Behind the scenes of Alinea’s “table-plated” dessert course"

The genius is in the table cloth.  The table cloth is constructed with a number of miniature square indentations in a grid format.  Depending on the viscosity of the liquid, it forms different shapes against this table cloth.  The indentations also presumably limit the sauces from running away on the table.

I found this absolutely amazing and a brilliant way to use a bit of science to plate/deliver your food in a more unique way.

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