Please Explain this Dessert: A Fluid Mechanics Quandry

Alinea dessert

The relevant footage is between 5:50-6:10. Why do the white droplets not spread into circular (spherical cap) shapes? I would think that it has to do with the apparent viscosity of the liquid, but cannot explain the rounded square shape that the quasiequilibrium droplets seem to have taken.


I didn’t watch the whole video, but it probably has something to do with an oil that the chef puts down. If he uses a square spatula to spread out the oil over a section, and if the dessert only spreads out over that oil, then you’d get a square dessert.

Perhaps the surface has a “grain” to it. For instance, if it is a fabric, I could imagine the fluid boundaries aligning with the weave through adhesion and surface tension.

That is some crap camera work. I don’t want to see the chef, dammit, I want to see what he’s doing. Stop showing me his face and show me his actions, y’know, his hands.

With such bad camera work it is impossible to tell anything conclusive from the video. Though it does seem they enjoyed it all and it did look interesting.

That’s the most complicated dessert I’ve ever seen.

Also, are they eating off the table? WTF?

Actually, it looks like a very simple dessert, presented in a complicated way. It’s frozen mousse with hot fudge and some sort of creamy sauce.

Except the goo she sucked out of the tube. And I’m with you on the ‘WTF?’, only I’m adding an exclamation point. WTF?!

There is a “molecular gastronomy” trend right now where they use all sorts of ingredients to create different textures. They probably added some sort of gelling agent to the mixture. Did the warm chocolate pudding on the end start out warm, or was it an exothermic reaction?

Alinea! I was there last fall, and had several of those courses. Not the cool first dessert (bummer! That was Grant himself making it!) but definitely the second dessert, the one in the tube.

It’s an amazing restaurant. Not someplace you go to just for a meal - it’s an entire experience.

I’ve got a feeling it’s got some unusual ingredient (but popular with molecular gastronomists) that renders it solid only while warm, melting when it cools - it’s been called ‘warm ice cream’.

Just an FYI on Alinea - it just made it up to #7 on the World’s Best Restaurant’s list, and #1 in the US. Pretty cool!