Please believe me, Grant, when I say I'm sorry, really and truly and sorry.
You and your team created a wonderful meal -- scratch that, an otherworldly dining experience -- and I went and fucked it all up by taking several dozen of the worst photographs you'll ever see. I'm not talking just a little bad, like, say, the kind of problem that can kind be remedied with some judicious tweaking of the shutter speed or f-stop. No, I took a very good digital SLR camera and your extraordinary food (a combination that should lead to something closer to this), and ended up with photos that look like they were taken by a blind man using a cell phone.
"So don't use the photos," you say (oh wait, that's my wife), "paint a picture with words."
Screw that. A lot of suffering and anxiety went into these photo montages, mainly because I'm a careless idiot. When we got into the cab after our meal at Alinea, I started a conversation with our driver, Driss, a thoughtful MBA student originally from Morocco. Maybe it was the fourteen half-glasses of wine that accompanied our tasting menu, or just the thrill of a good conversation, but I left our new camera in the cab. As if that weren't bad enough, I didn't notice it was missing until the next morning, when we were checking out of the hotel to catch our flight to Toronto.
Luckily, I remembered enough of my conversation with Driss -- including the school at which he'd just completed his MBA, but not his cab company or his last name -- to put on my sleuthing cap and track him down. After a couple of long-distance hours on the phone with many people and several days of anxiety, Driss called to say he had my camera and was eager to return it. Alimentary, my dear readers. All it took then was more than a week of misplaced courier tracking numbers, and some extensions on Rachel's photography class assignments. Three weeks later, the camera was in our hands.
So, yes, my little photo montage is the food photography equivalent of a macaroni picture, but, it's my pastiche of crap. Besides, I'm a writer. (Ooooh, I've always wanted to say that).
As many of you may know, Alinea was recently named the best restaurant in the United States by no less an authority than Gourmet magazine. Our visit, it should be noted, occurred long before the rankings were published. Now, as I see it, this means two very important things:
- I don't follow trends, I set them. I'm a trendsetter.
- I must be one lazy bastard to have only now gotten around to writing this review. I plead guilty, but ask you to be lenient in light of ongoing renovations to our new house.
So, does Alinea live up to the hype?
Yes it does. Emphatically so.