The menu does change from time to time, and trying to understand the courses at Alinea from its descriptions would be like truly understanding Moby Dick soley from being told "its a book about a whale".
There are actually some slight differences between that menu and ours from last night.
Working from the menu I came home with, here's last night to the best of my reckoning, wine pairings in italics...
Lemonade wind chime
Waiting for us the moment we entered off of the street, glasses floating a clinking musically in a water bath. Just a few sips; enough to get us down the corridor from the street entrance to the door to the dining rooms. Which corridor was carpeted with natural sod.
Steelhead roe St. Germain, long pepper, kinome
Gimonnet Brut with Lillet Blanc and Pineau des Charentes
Served in a glass straw with the roe at one end and a foam at the other. Eaten by sticking the straw into a middle of a big block of ice and slurping everything up in a single go.
The wine pairing was a champagne with just a touch of aperitif.
Oyster leaf mignonette
King crab passion fruit, heart of palm, allspice
Lobster carrot, chamomile
Razor clam shiso, soy, daikon
Georg Breuer 'Terra Montosa' Riesling, Rheingau 2009
These four courses were served in individual shells and brought out all together atop a huge pile of fresh East Coast seaweed. Only the freshest
The oyster leaf, a leaf that tastes naturally like oysters, was served just as a real oyster might be, in an oyster shell with mignonette sauce. The lobster was perpared with a chamomile tea foam.
The wine pairing was a surprisingly dry and deep riesling.
Woolly pig fennel, orange, squid
Served on an antenna. One bite, no hands. I don't normally love fennel, but this was great.
Tomato watermelon, chili, basil
Ginga Shizuku 'Divine Droplets' Junmai Daiginjo-shu, Hokkaido-ken
Maybe the best-tasting salad I've ever eaten in my life, mostly because of the natural flavor of the tiny tomatoes that starred in it. There were some frozen parts to it, IIRC, but otherwise nothing too drastically 'molecular'. Amazing looking, even better tasting.
The wine pairing was a smooth and very drinkable saki.
Corn huitlacoche, sour cherry, silk
Donna Fugata 'Lighea' Zibbibo, Sicilia 2011
The corn was liquefied. Huitlacoche is apparently a grey fungus that grows on corn. Served with fried corn silk, which was deliciously sweet, and sour cherry reduction.
Otoro thai banana, sea salt, kaffir lime
Chehalem '3 Vineyards' Pinot Gris, Willamette 2011
Served in a large glass bowl that reminded me of nothing if not the classic 60s/70s Ball Chair
, with kaffir lime foam that I recall tasting like something in the neighborhood of sweet cucumber.
Burn morels ramps, asparagus, smoked date
Descendientes de J. Palacios 'Pétalos' Bierzo, Spain 2009
Mushrooms harvested in the aftermath of forest fires. Served on four rocks sitting atop a charred log. The whole assembly came out warm to the touch, presumably from the oven.
Hot potato cold potato, black truffle, butter
Signature Alinea dish. Creamy potato shot in a wax bowl. The skewer the hot potato is on is threaded through the bowl. Pull the skewer as if pulling the pin on a grenade, hot potato falls into cold potato soup, eat in one sip.