Playing with unexpected flavors and scents plays a big part in (Grant) Achatz's kitchen. Some of Alinea's dishes are served alongside a pillow case with tiny holes in it, designed to release certain fragrances while diners eat.
"We've done firewood ashes, we've done leather, we've done grass," says Achatz. "There's a lot of smells that you can't necessarily consume. You're not going to go out and chew on a baseball glove. But, in a lot of ways, a lot of smells that aren't necessarily edible smell good, and they remind you of certain aspects of food. So making those associations with what smells good or smells a certain way and pairing that with actual edible ingredients is one avenue that we take creatively."
It's amazing that someone can design that kind of experience for a meal.