2011 Outstanding Restaurant Award


Exploring Barrel Aging with Classic Cocktails

By Marcus Reidy

The finished product

The finished product

Due to the fire we had last summer, I found myself out of regular bartending work for 3 ½ months. I decided to use this time to my advantage and test some new mixology projects that I thought would work well for our reopening. Most of the cocktails on our current menu are a result of that 3 1/2 month experimentation period. The “6.28,” for example, is named after the date of that June blaze, and features a house-made syrup infused with smoked tea.
Amongst all of my ideas for the new recipes, the one thing I was most excited ti attempt was a barrel aged cocktail. This notion was inspired by a trip I took to Portland at the beginning of the summer. Though I had heard of barrel aged cocktails before, and had even enjoyed a few here in our own city, I was eager to try one made by the man who really helped popularize the concept. He is Jeffrey Morgenthaler of the bar Clyde Common. Upon tasting his barrel aged Negroni, I knew that I wanted to implement this technique at our restaurant. Typically a beautiful, bittersweet cocktail, his barrel aged Negroni presents a more rounded fusion of bitter and sweet, and a rich, burnt orange flavor.
Unfortunately, the day I came back home from my west coast trip was the very same day of our fire. But perhaps this was a blessing in some ways. This gave me 3 ½ months to come up with the perfect cocktail for my barrel aging endeavor. I knew immediately that I wanted it to be a whiskey cocktail, strictly for selfish reasons. Next, I wanted it to involve sweet vermouth. The slight oxidation of vermouth seems to add richness to a drink. Finally, it had to be an “all booze” cocktail; aging anything with juice isn’t a good idea. After extensive research, I decided on an old New Orleans classic, the Vieux Carre. This cocktail comprises equal parts Templeton Rye, Carpano-Antica sweet vermouth, E&J brandy, a splash of Benedictine, and a dash each of Peychaud and Angostura bitters. All ingredients are stirred gently and served over one large, slow-melting ice cube. It’s a tasty, sweet, and boozy cocktail, with a slightly bitter fullness.
About three weeks ago, after acquiring a used Templeton Rye barrel, I began to age the Vieux Carre. I added all the booze ingredients, minus the bitters, undiluted to the barrel. Then I sealed it and let it sit. After 2 ½ weeks I decided we should pull our first batch and test it. In just this brief aging period, a drastic change had occurred. The charred oak of the barrel imparted vanilla and caramel notes to the Carpano-Antica and Templeton Rye, and yielded a prevalent burnt orange character. These emerging aromatic flavors softened the bite of the alcohol. Even non-diluted, this aged version is mellow, rich, and smooth. Adding the bitters to order creates a wonderfully full-flavored, dangerously sippable cocktail that I hope you will come in and enjoy while supplies last!
Unassuming deliciousness in a barrel await.

Unassuming deliciousness in a barrel await.


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Bringing News of Verjus to You!

As promised, while we finish our repairs, we are going to the source to find the very best of what is going on out there and bring it back to you this fall.  Our first trip was this past Monday we headed up to Hickory Creek Farms  for their Verjus celebration.  Fortunately, it was one of those rare below 90 degree days and only about 90 minutes from Chicago, in other words, the perfect day trip.  Indeed it was.

 

What is verjus you ask?  Good question, verjus (translated literally – greenjuice is the very first pressing of grapes during the season).  It can also be done with sour fruits such as crab apples.  Historically it was used in Western Europe in the Middle Ages, it is also found in Syrian Cuisine.  As what you ask?  Think vinegar substitute (heck it is really an unfermented vinegar — could certainly be fermented in a a barrel or cask of your choosing).  In cooking it can be used when a mild acidity is called for.  It is similar to a little citrus juice although the flavor is a bit rounder.

 

Beyond the obvious uses, our hosts (including Beverly Malen) encouraged us to try Verjus Cocktails from Adam Seger  including a fantastically herbaceous Rooibos, Verjus & Rum Punch w/ sour cherries and herbs, a Gin, Verjus & Ginger Beer Cocktail w/ fresh thyme and a Verjus Manhattan w/ Rye.  Important to note: all the spirits were from the fantastic newcomer to the local spirits scene, Journeyman.  They are located in Three Oaks a very short drive from Chicago and well worth the visit.

 

 

Palazzolo’s Sorbetti

 

After a nice covered trolley tour of the vineyards we returned to a tasty feast of goat, which had been roasted by Chef Leonard of another West Suburban local fav, Marion Street.   A feast under the apple tree was accompanied by the wines of Hickory Creek as well as some wines from a Long Island vineyard that may make an appearance on our fall list.  The meal finished with a little crushing of the grapes and a verjus sorbetti from Palazzolo’s Gelato.  The result was a delicious and refreshing alternative to the more traditional lemon or lime flavors.

 

 

So the versatile verjus reminds us that everything old is certainly new again.  We have one question for you?  Do you verjus?  Well if you want to try check out the very brief recipe below and let us know if you have new successes of your own using this interesting acid.

 

How to Make your own Verjus:

Note/Disclaimer: you need a lot of grapes to attempt this.  Figure about a pound and a quater of green wine grapes for one cup of verjus.  Try Midland or call a local winery to see if you can acquire… with the very dry summer it may be a more difficult task then usual.

 

You will need a food mill (wine press is great if you have one), fine strainer, grapes, mason jars to store the juice.  First stem the grapes as much as possible, then run through the food mill in batches.  Then pour through a fine mesh strainer to catch the rest of fruit (you will still have a little sediment on the bottom).  You can strain directly into sterile mason jars or a spouted container useful for mixing cocktails or into a punchbowl for immediate serving.  As with most things food related it is best used fresh but will hold for up to 6 mos if you add citric acid and a little sodium metabisulfate.  If sulfites disagree with you this is probably not something you want to do.

 

Happy pressing!

 

 

 

 

 


Don’t be Shy and Shake it in Your Mini Bar!

by Duri Kwon

Have you ever WAITED for the class? As far as I know, unless a hot biology teacher walked in the classroom, I have always eagerly awaited the break time. On May 12th, I was completely absorbed in the first ever Mixology Class hosted at Autre Monde by our amazing bar team. Are you thinking that there must have been hot teachers? They were good looking & charming to be sure, but I was drawn in not just by that but by the subject matter as well. How many teachers would be willing to make students a little tipsy as part of the class?

With that intro in mind, let me give you a birds eye view of the class and tempt you to joins us for the next one that will happen in July.

God Bless The Internet

As the clock ticked towards noon, I was excited that I could take a free cocktail class. I do love my internship! Marcus’s wit and Diana’s espresso made students comfortable and set an easy atmosphere for the class. The first part of the lesson began with a discussion of bar tools. Although we may think we know about cocktails, without understanding how to use proper tools, how can we even start? Many people don’t even know what they have to have or where to find the proper tools. In my case, these obstacles could easily make me give up before even starting. According to the teachers kind & patient explanation, we can purchase all of them from Amazon or other websites (please refer to below suggestions) that they recommend at a low price. I was surprised to learn that you can get a pretty professional starter set up of tools with a small investment. Perhaps all that silver & gold made me think they were more expensive than they were! They showed us that with the right tools, you can come pretty close to restaurant quality results at home.

2:1:1 or 8:2:1! A simple recipe, no need pen!

I’m embarrassed to admit it but, I don’t cook. Technically, I can’t cook. There are some reasons or excuses I could make as to why, one of the main ones being that the recipe is too complicated. When it reads something like ‘Drop ingredients by teaspoonfuls…’ I freeze I still don’t know my measurements well and have no idea what kind of teaspoon is the proper size! But it’s different when it comes to mixing a cocktail. All I need to do is having fun! Just choose a spirit and add a favorite flavor of syrup and/or fresh juice, mix and shake them or stir in a ratio, simple. The cocktail will be on the table for you to enjoy in a matter of minutes. Most of the classic cocktails follow simple recipes with a focus on a few key techniques and finding the right ingredients. It is more about the shopping, which I definitely know how to do. The best part of the class was that through first observing and then getting some hands-on cocktail training, we all felt a little bit like experts at the end. A little of this knowledge and it is easy to build your own cocktail. To learn about the next class, sign up for our newsletter or visit us on Facebook & follow us on Twitter! If you see me at our next class, let’s raise aglass and make a ‘gun bae’!(Korean toast)

Nicely done!

Tasting different style of cocktails and toast with cocktail lovers exchanging opinions about their favorite flavors in the afternoon, what could it possibly get better than this? It was relaxed and informative time. I would like to thank for sharing secret tips to our amazing teachers Marcus and Diana, and all students who enthusiastically took part in the class.

Here are house recipe for Manhattan & suggestions that we want to share!

Manhattan(House recipe) 3:1

Ingredients

3/4oz. Carpano Antica formula(sweet vurmouth)
2&1/4oz. Whiskey(Rye or Bourbon)
4long dashes of Angostorra bitters

Method

Stir(10-20secs)
Served on the rocks or up into a chilled martini glass
Garnished with a cherry or twist

Tips

Many other versions are 2:1-whiskey,(sweet vermouth) with less bitters
Perfect Manhattan 2:1:1-whiskey, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth
Dry Manhattan 2:1-whiskey, dry vermouth

Readings:

The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David A. Embury
The Savory Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock
Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh

Websites for Equipment:

Cocktailkingdom.com
Kegworks.com
Amazon.com


Wine Recommendations & Recipe for A Gnocchi Side

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and as Shakespeare said ” Dining is always a great artistic opportunity” and in that spirit we are suggesting some inspirations to change up your usual turkey day table.
We began by talking with our Wine Director, John Aranza, about some different ideas to change up your wine selections. These are not the usual pairings but make for some fresh new flavors to pair with the usual fare. He has selected a white, and two reds from lesser known producers in the Mediterranean, which will pair nicely with the usual suspects on your Thanksgiving table. We also have included a recipe for our butternut squash gnocchi, a wonderful change up to the usual mashed potato or stuffing side. Several guests have asked for the recipe so here it is…happy hunting and Happy Thanksgiving!

For a departure from the usual chardonnay or pinot gris you might choose for your table, we suggest a tasty Pecorino. Our list includes a very full bodied example from Jasci, called Atteso. This particular Pecorino has an uncommon sweet & savory quality that will really punch up a pairing with poultry. For reds he recommends the 2007 Lini Lambrusco (on the lighter side) and a Teranum from Croatia (for a fuller bodied red).

The Lambrusco is spritzy and a little sweet with hints of stone fruit while the 2008 Piquentum Teranum is earthy and fuller bodied with lush fruit, great with Turkey or game meats. The grape in the Teranum is a kissing cousing to Italian Refosco.

So that takes care of the drinks….now on to the recipe for our Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Brussels Sprout leaves and Mushrooms, courtesy of our Sous Chef Matt Saccaro…..Making gnocchi is not for the faint of heart, but if you can master it, it makes a great new addition to your sides. So here we go……..

Ingredients
(makes an 8 oz portion so adjust up if you need to make a bigger batch)

30 oz. Roasted butternut squash
2 Cups whole Milk
2 Cups Semolina Flour
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
3 Eggs
2 Oz Butter
Salt
Pinch of Nutmeg

Method
Place all ingredients into a wide flat pan. Cook over low heat constantly spreading mixture around the pan until it forms a tight dough and there are no lumps. It should be just slightly tacky. While hot, roll out dough into strands about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut into half inch rounds. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Ingredients for sauce

4 oz Mushroom Stock*
1/4 cup sliced yellow onion
1 handful of picked brussels sprout leaves
1/2 cup sauteed cremini mushrooms
1 oz. butter
Handful of Sage Leaves (roughly chopped)
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Grated Pecorino

Method

In medium saute pan pour about 2 tbsp. olive oil and heat. Add onions, cook onions over medium heat until lightly browned (caramelized). Add add brussels sprout leaves and 4 oz. of mushroom stock ( Recipe below) to pan until leaves are gently wilted. Add 1/4 cup sauteed mushrooms and a few leaves of chopped sage. Add gnocchi (make sure that heat is not to high or gnocchi will stick to pan). Cook until liquid is reduced by 2/3rds. Finish sauce with one ounce of butter. Pour mixture into serving vessel and garnish with grated pecorino. Serve.

Mushroom Stock

8 oz dried Porcini mushrooms
4 cups water
2 onions diced
1 carrot diced
3 stalks celery diced
4 Sprigs Thyme
5 bay leaves
1 head of garlic – crushed
Tbls Black Peppercorns

Combine all ingredients in stock pot, brink to simmer and reduce to three cups. Strain and set aside.


A Look Back at our Best Summer Cocktails

Med Mojito

As promised we are recapping our favorite summer cocktails inspired by the greenhouse, the Med Mojito, the Cucumber Fizz & the Berry Basil. These drinks were inspired by a combination of great herb varieties that flourished in the greenhouse and the fun products we discovered this past season. There is no doubt that muddling, infusions and hand crafted simple syrups were a big part of our summer bag of tricks. The most important thing to remember is to master the muddle. Don’t eviscerate your herbs, muddle them gently and they will yield the best flavor. Many of you will remember one or the other and we hope you will tuck these away for next year. Certainly, the leaves are falling but before we know it summer will be here again and these should provide some needed inspiration just in time to cool you off……tuck them away for a sunny day….cheers!

Med Mojito

Ingredients (makes one drink)

2.5 Oz Pyrat Rum
1 sprig Fresh Mint (we grew a special Mojito variety – lot’s of room to experiment here)
1.5 oz. Simple Syrup
Club soda
Ice

Method

Gently muddle mint leaves with simple syrup, enough to break up leaves and release essential oils. Pour 1/2 of muddled mixture into bottom of collins glass, fill glass 1/2 way with ice. Pour in rest of mint/syrup mixture, fill to top with ice.
Add Pyrat rum, fill to top with club soda, serve!

Cucumber Fizz

This drink was inspired by the discovery of Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka & the cucumbers we grew in a hanging basket in the greenhouse. This is a sure fire summer refresher (we recommend it in a Pimm’s Cup as well).

Ingredients

Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka
1 sprig fresh Thyme
3 or 4 Lemon Verbena Leaves
Simple syrup
Club Soda or Ginger Beer
Persian cucumber slice (cut lenghtwise into thin strip)
Ice

Method

Muddle lemon verbena & thyme just enough to release their essence and bring them together with the simple syrup. Pour 1/2 mixture in bottom of collins glass. Add cucumber vodka add ice to top of glass and add the rest of syrup mixture. Fill to top with your choice of club soda, ginger beer or a combination of the two. Garnish with slice of Persian Cucumber.

Berry Vodka Cooler

2 oz. House Infused Rasberry Vodka ( 1 pint OP Farmer’s Market Raspberries, vodka – infused in infusion bottle for a minimum of 72 hrs – flavor intensifies the longer you leave it in).
1 oz Jo Snow Strawberry Basil Syrup
3 leaves Fresh Basil (We used Genovese)
1 slice lime
4 oz Club soda
Ice

Berry Basil Cooler

Our next blog discussion will be all about wine and our upcoming wine dinner. After that look for a short series in November from Chef Dan Pancake sharing their culinary experiences living and working in Spain.

Method

Gently muddle Basil leaves with Jo Snow Syrup. Just enough to bruise the leaves and release their essential oils). Place in martini shaker with ice, add house infused raspberry vodka & club soda. Stir to combine ingredients, pour into highball glass, garnish with lime and enjoy!


Pasta 101 Class Recap & Recipes

As promised we are back to share some insights and recipes from our very first cooking class, Pasta 101. In this class Chef Dan Pancake took participant through a hands on journey in making fresh pasta, cutting noodles, filling a ravioli style pasta and making a few simple summer sauces. After the students were finished with their time in the kitchen, they moved to the dining room to enjoy the fruits of their labor as cooked for them by Dan. Paired with Med wines selected by owner and wine director John Aranza it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. As we are in the height of tomato season, we thought we would share with you a basic pasta dough recipe and a toasted garlic, tomato sauce that showcases the height of Italian simplicity and yields a delicious dish. We have been making this all summer with tomatoes from the Greenhouse, Cakeridge Farms and the local farmers market. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Making Pasta from Scratch

Making pasta dough from scratch is quick and produces excellent results. There are several variables that affect the final product:
? Flour type and grind
? Eggs (whole, yolks)
? Ambient conditions in the kitchen
? Additives to the pasta dough (spinach, beet, etc…)
The most critical variable is flour. At Autre Monde, we use only Farina “00”, which is a hard, Winter durham type wheat flour. The “00” refers to the size of the grind, and is the finest flour available. Ours is imported from Italy, and can be found at Italian specialty shops in the area.
Basic Fresh Pasta Dough Recipe:
1 kg 00 Flour
8 ea Whole large eggs
4 ea Egg yolks
2 Tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
This dough can be made easily in a stand mixer with a dough hook, by starting with the eggs and olive oil in the bowl. Mix until combined, then add the flour and watch for the dough to come together in a smooth ball. Wet or dry dough can be corrected by adding a small amount of flour, or another egg yolk. Ambient conditions (mostly humidity) can have a significant impact on how much moisture the dough will require.
Remove the dough from the mixer and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to use.

Chef Pancake Demos Saucing Technique

RECIPES FOR TODAY

Napolitano Style Fresh Tomato Sauce Serves 4

1 lb Fresh Pasta dough
1 pt Ripe cherry tomatoes (e.g., Sun Golds, Juliets, Sweet 100s)
1 tsp Minced fresh garlic
2 Tbl Fresh basil, chiffonade
1 TT EVOO
½ Cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (Grana Padano or Pecorino will work)
1 TT Sea salt/Kosher salt and Cracked Black Pepper (can sub Pepperoncino)

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, and crush each with your fingers, into a large bowl. Add the garlic, basil, EVOO, cheese, salt & pepper. Reserve at room temperature.
Roll out the pasta into desired shape (Tagliatelle, chitarra, stracci). Bring 5-6 qts of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 3-4 minutes or until just tender. Strain the pasta, and reserve the pasta water.
Toss the hot pasta into the bowl with the fresh sauce and cheese. Let sit for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce coats the pasta.
Divide the pasta between 4 plates, and add additional cheese is desired. Drizzle with EVOO.

Chef discusses results with the class.