Main | Bacon, butterscotch, apple, thyme ยป

October 27, 2008

Well, hello there.

Welcome to Alinea at Home. 

Glad you're here.

We'll get everything up and running in just a few days, but first, a little housekeeping and some rules of the road:

1) I'm using TypePad instead of Blogger this time around, so forgive me if I gork out on the first few posts and things are out of whack and look all cattywompus, or the feeds aren't feeding.  I'm still learning, and am grateful to Benjamin Lim for helping me get started.

2) I'm maintaining my comment policy from French Laundry at Home, which if you'll recall, went a little something like this: "Your comments and questions are welcome here. In fact, I think it's one of the things that makes this site such a pleasure to be a part of. One thing, though: please think of this web site as if it were my dining room table, and make sure your comments reflect the manner in which you'd treat someone in their home, as if you'd only just met them and were sitting across from them, sharing a meal. I've got thick skin and can take constructive criticism (because ultimately, we all learn from it), but nasty, rude, grossly off-topic (unless it's about Jim J. Bullock), attacking, baiting, or blatantly self-promotional comments aren't welcome and won't be posted. It's just not cool."  Let's add Jo Anne Worley and Michael Bloomberg to the Jim J. Bullock exemption, and we'll be all set there.  I'm moderating comments, so if you post one and it doesn't appear immediately, it means I haven't pushed it through yet.

3) I won't be posting recipes from the Alinea cookbook, so if you want to play along at home, buy the book.  It's available on for the low, low price of $30.  A freakin' STEAL if you ask me.

4) I do not work for Alinea, they are not paying me to do this blog, nor am I BFF with the chef/owners, nor can I get you a reservation.  Not even if you offer me your house in Aspen for the weekend.

5) Yes, Grant Achatz and his team know about the blog, and Grant has been incredibly supportive about it.  I hope he'll continue to be a good sport when I inevitably cock up one of his creations, which I am wont to do because HELLO HAVE YOU SEEN THIS BOOK?

6) I am not a chef, nor am I a professionally trained cook in any way, shape, or form.  I am a home cook who, with only one intro to knife skills class under her belt, cooked her way through The French Laundry Cookbook and lived to tell about it.  So, I'll do my best to explain everything as best I can, but if I screw up a little bit of technical jargon along the way, forgive me.

7) Just like I did with French Laundry at Home, I'm only going to attempt each dish once.  And for those who've asked, I'm not planning on buying all the serviceware and restaurant equipment, as much as I'd like to.  I'm going to do my very best to do these dishes in a way that reflects the resources I believe most home cooks have, or at least have access to.  That said, I might cave and buy one or two gadget-y things, but I'm trying not to.  I'll also bring back the "Music to Cook By" feature from French Laundry at Home because I know you all really want to know how many times I can listen to Styx and REO Speedwagon in any given month.

8) Content on this blog will revolve around the Alinea cookbook. From time to time, I may post links to interviews or other related content I think you need to see, but this blog has a singular focus: to cook my way through the Alinea cookbook and write about it.

9) You'll notice I'm not running ads on the blog.  If you feel the urge to part with a few dollars while reading what I write, I'd much prefer you make a donation to Share Our Strength.

10) Alinea at Home is not my full-time job (although, dude, wouldn't it be awesome if it was?).  Instead, I do some things here and there in our nation's capital around policy and media and issues and stuff, and that's really all I'm gonna say about what I do.

11) If you email me (which you are ALWAYS welcome to do), please know that I do my best to respond right away.  However, aforementioned job sometimes gets in the way, so I hope you'll understand if it takes a day or two or five to get back to you.

12) I hope to post here at least once a week, with a goal of updating every five days or so.  I wish I could update more often, but see #10 above.  I'll be doing the dishes as close to seasonal availability of ingredients as I can, but will also factor in degree of difficulty and will be starting out with some of the easier dishes to get up and running... and by easier, I mean those dishes I think I can conceivably pull off without a big, fat, huge, colossal FAIL because OH THE HUMANITY HAVE YOU SEEN THIS BOOK?

13) Because I don't want you to think the only things I cook and eat are from Alinea, I'll soon start a section in the right-hand navigation area called "What Else Did I Eat This Week" so that I can share what and where I've been eating, and hopefully give you some ideas for other things you can make at home.  Most of the time, it will look like this: peanut butter on toast, coffee, Pad Thai, peanut butter on crackers, roasted chicken, bacon, a spoonful of peanut butter, eggs over easy on toast with goat cheese, and did I mention peanut butter? -- but I'm sure some other things will make an appearance from time to time.

14) This is here because I can't end a list on an odd number.  Oh, I know what I could say here for #14: feel free to follow me on Twitter, if you'd like.  Nothing prolific goin' on over there, but it's a nice distraction if you're bored at work.  Ditto for Flickr.

First up?

Bacon, butterscotch, apple, thyme.

See you soon.


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Welcome to your new home, Carol. I've ordered the book, but I dare not attempt what you're about to. I can't wait to see what magic you have in store.

You can't go wrong by starting with bacon.

i was wondering when you were going to get up and running! :)

i've got snacks, tea and a cozy spot on my couch -- ready when you are!

This is exciting - I can't wait for the next post. Funny thing is I flipped through the book this weekend in a book store and just sighed and sighed... I'm a little scared of it, but it looks so tempting!

At first I thought you were just a nutty blogger doing The French Laundry at Home, but now that you're tackling Alinea, I'm now your loudest cheerleader. This won't be easy, but you have support. I can't wait for you to get started.

Hey! Im so glad to see this site up and running! I cant wait for your first food post... and of course, who doesn't love pork?

I can't wait to see what you'll do here. I can't wait to learn more about this way of cooking and about the extreme recipes. Not that the FL cookbook and recipes weren't extreme, but they were just technically difficult/ different (I think?). GOOD LUCK! hopefully I'll be following along with the book after Christmas.

I HAVE seen this book, and I cannot wait. Yee ha!

Thank god you posted quickly over here because I was starting to jones for FLAH big time.

And hey... bacon, butterscotch, apple, thyme?! I like all those things, and I lurrrrve the first two. Can't wait to see it. :D

So excited! You had me at'cattywompus'...

It would be VERY nice if your posts also included the date, in addition to the time posted.

Thanks. I look forward to this new endeavor of yours. I am envious.

Whoo-hoo! I'm so excited that we're getting started on Alinea. I'd follow you into the kitchen anywhere, Carol!

Magnolia, the date is up there right above the title of the post. Is it not showing up?

My brain works in mysterious ways when I need to go get some sleep.

Oh Goodie! I can't wait!

Carol you so know how to woo your crowd. Bacon, yeah baby! I can't wait. This blog is going to be so freakin' awesome.

Good Luck with Alinea. Can't wait for you to get started!

Well, looks like a lot of us are back. Good luck.

Yahoo! You go, girl.

And also: cattywompus? Awesome.

I mostly lurked on your FL blog, but lurked from close to the beginning and LOVED every post. I am so thrilled that you're doing another...and this is one I couldn't even dream of tackling. I thought you were crazy for FL!

Hah! I was just looking at that recipe the other day and thinking it was a good starter. It took me 3 days to just read through the recipes to see how many times the antigrill was used. Oh, I totally want one now. If only I weren't having foot surgery next week, I would v much be following along in my own home.

I too also lurked on FLAH and loved it. I have Alinea and will follow along intently. I can't wait until you make Pineapple, Bacon Powder, Black Pepper. I was wondering what source you are using to get the various hydrocolloids.

Woohoo! Have you managed to finagle a discount card from your local hardware store, yet? Is duct tape food safe? These questions and more will soon be answered, I'm sure. Have fun!

Ha! I KNEW it was gonna be the bacon...

Hi Carol - glad to see the site up and running. Looking forward to the new food! I take it music will still be a key element in the cooking process?

Lurker here, but have had the book (still wrapped) since amazon shipped them. Sounds like a fun ride!

Yee ha, indeed, Alice Q!

Let the games begin!!

If anyone offers up their home in Aspen I will be happy to get you a reservation.....

Good luck Carol... will be very fun to watch,,,,

I got a huge smile on my face when I was running down my blog reader and saw that you had a first post up here. I was happy to follow along with your FL blog without the cookbook, but I might need to get Alinea's for this...

Hi Carol, congratulations on the new chapter!

Alinea is amazing. I got my copy a week or two ago and have been marveling at it, slowly -- am only through one season, there is so much to read and take in. Can't wait to see your approach to the recipes. I'm really glad you will be doing interpretations because beyond watching you be your entertaining self :) there will be so much to learn from each decision you make (immersion circulator = ...low BTU burner? fondue pot?! antigriddle = ?!).

Exciting stuff!

You had me at "bacon, butterscotch."

you go girl
i'll be reading

your #1 fan
(ok, besides your mom)

The book was delivered the other day. Beautiful but holy smokes! This is going to be good! By the way, even if you don't post to it, I hope you are going to keep the other blog up for reference and rereading.

Having cooked from the FL myself, I know the love. I have not had the pleasure of eating at or reading ALINEA, and I look forward to your irreverant and always wonderful and enaging posts. Now hurry up and tell us all what you have been cooking!

ooooh, the bacon and butterscotch. Who was it, when reviewing the restautrant said: "Bacon and Butterscotch where have you been my whole life?"

Dude. Cattywompus. Awesome word.

Welcome to you new digs, Carol! This is gonna be so much fun!!


This is the first time I've visited your blog, but anyone who likes peanut butter as much as you do has got to have interesting things to say--I'm looking forward to visiting again!

Woohoo! Absolutely LOVED TFL@Home, been looking forward to this one for a while. Good luck!
JBL (aka jbzepol)

Very eloquently stated, Amy: "YAY!". I concur.

And, Carol, dude (uh, dudette, rather), Peanut Butter on Toast... don't forget to butter the toast before you add the peanut butter.

Now I have to decide if I can hold out 'til xmas before getting the book. Doh!

Longtime lurker here. Loved reading about your adventures through The French Laundry. I have my own copy of the Alinea book, and can't wait to see how you handle recipes which call for odd serving pieces or equipment!

I was mostly a lurker over at TFL at Home and followed along, but never made anything from TFL book. However, your effort to tackle Alinea at home has inspired me to at least make an effort with TFL. I've already made the staff lasagna, the Kuchen, and the Gourges (sp?). I hope to make a few more dishes before my next baby is born in April.
Oh and the Alinea cookbook is on my Christmas list so i can follow along here, but I don't think there's much chance of me cooking from that when you need equipment like an antigrill.

You're already off to a great start. Best of luck on this new adventure. One thing's for sure, you'll have lots of company every step of the way.

I hope, for your sake, Homaru Cantu doesn't release a book!

You hate odd numbers too? I thought I was the only one!

I'm very impressed that you're planning to cook EVERY recipe in the cookbook. I've had the book for a month or so, and it's taken me that long to find just one recipe I think I can handle. I'll be trying it for the first time tonight . . .

Welcome to your new home, Carol. I hope you're happy here, but you've got to do something about those curtains. They are hideous!

Actually I re-iterate the commenter who challenges you on the plating; also the equipment I imagine you will need to use will be quite the investment I imagine so how do u offset that cost?

...and Nick i am making it my mission to find you an Aspen home...I'm assuming it is to be used for skiing? What about Mont Tremblant?

Hey Carol,

It's awesome you are doing this bad boy next, the book is really amazing and beautiful even trying a nice simple recipe was a serious challenge, can't wait to see you work your magic!

Good luck and I hope its as fun as the FLAH.


P.S. pork and butterscotch is one of the best flavor combos ever I seriously can't wait to see how this is, mmmmmm bacon.

Oh Boy - I'm so looking forward to following your journey through this amazing book. No doubt it's going to be a wild ride!

Wooo hooo! Man, I'm as excited about this as I usually get about TV premiers....

Carol, I am so looking forward to this voyage with you. I have the book and haven't been able to find one recipe yet I could actually do because of the esoteric ingredients.

Oh, I have a beach house... Anybody????

whoooo hoooooo here we go!!

Bought the book (ok, three of direct so my copies could benefit from Grant's huge autograph. First name only - like Madonna and Cher.

Alinea is a stunning place - visually, sensually. What makes me especially proud to have Chicago as Alinea's home is the architecture. Purposeful construction and function - but always playful and inviting.

And the food is crazy good.

I'll be following along. This is going to be fun.

Cheers !

hey Carol.
I have read and re-read FLAH, and am looking forward to your next adventure.
Happy cooking, good luck, and puhleeze remember to use oven mitts.

I received the book yesterday (it was signed copy as well! Why am I such a fangirl?) and it looks so tempting... I definitely will be playing along at home with some of these recipes. Can't wait for the fun to start! Good luck with all the prep, I had some flashbacks to my science classes when I read the instructions...

Bring it on!

C'mon, let's go!

YaY! Again!

So exciting! Glad you didn't let the letdown that always follows a big accomplishment get you down. on to new things! and that combination of flavors sounds divine...

I'm so looking forward to following your journey on this one. I got my copy of the book 2 weeks ago and when I've finished drooling, I might get to work. Some of his powders are not available here in England but I'm going to see whether any friends in the US can ship them for me. After checking your French Laundry site, I've ordered the book.

Reverend Leonard

I'm so looking forward to following your journey on this one. I got my copy of the book 2 weeks ago and when I've finished drooling, I might get to work. Some of his powders are not available here in England but I'm going to see whether any friends in the US can ship them for me. After checking your French Laundry site, I've ordered the book.

Reverend Leonard

I don't think we have this one, but Maurice the stove always gives my wife a cook book for Xmas.

Will, with out question be following. This time from the begining.

I don't know how I have missed your blog(s) before, but I am so happy I found them tonight! I love your humor. Your apple experience left me laughing out loud uncontrollably! You have gained another fan, cheering you on. Best of luck with your new project!

Hmm, I thought that maybe Peanut Butter & Jelly would be first given your love of peanut butter.

At any rate, can't wait!

You say that you're not going to buy much kitchen tools...what did you end up having to buy for cooking in the french laundry...I'm sure I saw some tools that I certainly don't have..ring molds, cone molds...can you take a pic of the things you used?

I work at a restaurant where we work with foam, when it won't froth we have found that you can add more soy lethicin or add a little bit of water (a very little bit). When frothing also if you tilt the container so the froth has some where to go instead of being destroyed by immersion blender that helps also. Hope this helped.

I am so glad to be following you here. The Alinea cookbook contains recipes I could not, without sufficient girding, prepare at home. Even, so I thank you for being so brave as to attempt these recipes. Whereas the French Laundry inspired me to cook, these experiments seem to give me permission to sit back and learn from others' experience. Carry on!

P.s. I know gineua pugs in the DC area that salivate over your efforts, if ever you need a new audience. - d.

I am glad it was a joke, I was afraid we would not see your creations again.

I can't believe it has taken me so many years to find you again! You cracked me up with French Laundry at Home, and once again you've got me squirting my morning coffee outta my nose and eyes from laughing at your writing.
Thank you Carol, for existing and for being crazy enough to do this once more.
Ally, Singapore

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  • Your comments and questions are welcome. However, please think of this web site as if it were my dining room table, and make sure your comments reflect the manner in which you'd treat someone in their home, as if you'd only just met them and were sitting across from them, sharing a meal. I've got thick skin and can take constructive criticism (because ultimately, we all learn from it), but nasty, rude, grossly off-topic, attacking, baiting, or blatantly self-promotional comments aren't welcome and won't be posted. It's just not cool.