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Rhubarb, Seven Different Textures. Pt. 1

By September 16, 2010Cooking

I’m going to try something a little different this time around. My friend Christopher has this term he uses, “Performance Coding”, to describe the act of writing programming code live in front of an audience (with an implied undertone of grim expectation that the likelihood of things going wrong is notably higher when doing this).  In my head I’ve been calling this dish “The ridiculous Rhubarb dish”. It’s a 7-page recipe, 4 pages of which are text and the others are photos of all the bits and bobs, which makes it easily the longest recipe in the book. It was also my New Year’s Resolution to make this dish. I’m not kidding. Not “get more exercise” or “get serious about saving for retirement”. No, it was “make the ridiculous rhubarb dish”.

The planning involved here, and the subsequent processes and execution of the dish, are pretty long and involved. So long that I suspect that no one’s actually going to want to read it in one go, if at all. I at first thought that rather than write up a summary at the end (which is a disservice to the sheer amount of effort involved here), I’d keep a running diary as I worked through it, but that approach is already running pages and pages long. So I’m going to try some “Performance Blogging” here, and start writing as I’m making this dish. My goal is to serve it this Sunday. The exciting part for everyone reading this is, of course, watching me potentially fail at doing this. Oh the suspense! It’s like reality tv, except that I don’t have fake boobs and am not an idiot.

So, having said that, here I go. Summer is waning in the bay area and I can smell autumn in the air; I was close to skipping over this dish and saving it until next year, but my conscience got the better of me. I’m committed.

Each of the seven variations of rhubarb presented here could be a dish in itself, so I started planning to see if I can find clues as to what order the various components need to be made:

–Beet Spheres
–Rhubarb Juice
–Dried Rhubarb
–Gin-Compressed Rhubarb
–Rhubarb Sponge On Bay Leaf
–Lavender-Poached Rhubarb
— Lavender Pudding
–Goat’s Milk Custard
–Rhubarb Sorbet
–Oatmeal Streusel
–Rhubarb Gelee
–Fennel Candy
–Green Tea Nage
–Final Assembly

The book just says “Reserve” at the end of most bits, without elaborating on what temperature to reserve the component at or how long it will stay viable. I suspect that more than one person is dedicated to making this dish on the production line at Alinea; it seems quite complicated for one person to juggle.

Good thing I got me some juggling boots though.

For funsies, here’s the equipment I’ll need to use to complete this:

–Hemispheric Molds
–Vacuum Sealer
–Rice Cooker (for sous vide cooking)
–Sous Vide Magic
–Immersion Blender with Whisk Attachment (to replace stand mixer with whisk attachment)
–Ice Cream Maker
–Half-sheet pans (to fit in our freezer)
–Service pieces

The goal is to plate 8 full servings (but probably more) around 6pm Sunday.