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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Alinea's Transparency, of Manchego Cheese

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.


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. 


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

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

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

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