2011 Outstanding Restaurant Award


Friends of James Beard Dinner

james beard logoJoin us for this very special evening to Benefit the James Beard Foundation Scholarship Program.

We have put together a very special evening to celebrate the role of the foundation, one of our own mentors and some of the best examples of the vibrant neighborhood dining scene here in Chicago.

We have invited some of the best and brightest.

This evening will be one to remember for some time to come.

Garden Reception on the patio at 6pm

Hors d’Ourves – Chef Tony Montuano – Spiaggia, Cafe Spiaggia, Bar Toma, Purple Pig, Mangia

Libations by Autre Monde House Mixologist – Becci Visconti West using the fine spirits of Chicago based CH Distillery

Dinner at 7pm with courses & pairings from:

Chef Danny Mejia & Partner Scott Warsham – m.f.k.

Chef Cameron Grant & Partner Aldo Zanninotto – Osteria Langhe

Chefs Beth Partridge, Daniel Pancake & Andrew Kerns & Partner John Aranza C.S. – Autre Monde

Dessert from Chefs Dave & Megan Miller – Baker Miller

Dessert pairing by John Aranza

$175 per person – To benefit the Friends of James Beard Scholarship Program

Reservations 708-775-8122


Intro to Shrubs and Switchels Class

apples

Saturday, February 6th Noon-3pm

What is a shrub?  How is it different than a switchel?

What do shrubs have to do with apples? And what are the benefits?

Why are so many bartenders incorporating shrubs into their cocktails?

We will answer these questions and students will prepare their own shrub.

Class fee is $50 and includes tastings of shrub cocktails and a light lunch.

For more information and to RSVP, call 708-775-8122


Happy Hour at Autre Monde

happy hour

Welcome back happy hour to Chicago with Autre Monde!

Happy Hour specials will run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting on July 28th from 5-7pm for guests seated at our bar.

(Not available for tables seated in the dining room or on our patio)

On Tuesdays we proudly offer 1/2 price wines by the glass.  Our wine list changes often, so you can explore a different wine or region every week!

On Wednesdays come try any of our specialty cocktails for 1/2 price-including “The Best of the West” featured cocktail, which changes every week.

Cheers!


Ever Wondered about Ribero del Duero, Wonder No More

Some Famous Ribero Producers

Some Famous Ribero Producers

So you’ve all heard of Rioja by now, but what about her kissing cousin the Ribero del Duero? Lucky for you I am one to kiss and tell. Rioja has emerged as Tempranillo’s marketing agent extraordinaire. Though, to the northwest, in Ribera del Duero, 1/3rd the size of Rioja, a long awaited story is finally being told. While attending a recent seminar & tasting of these historic wines I was inspired to share their story with you.

Ribera del Duero is known for Tinto (Red) & Rosado (Rose’) all from the Tempranillo grape. The DO (Domain of Origin – designation) here was established in 1982, though winemaking in this region reaches back to the mid-1800’s. Established producers like Tinto Pesquera, Pingus, Vina Sastre & the unorthodox Vega Sicilia all claim deep reaching roots in this DO, literally.

In Burgos, in the heart of this DO, expect beautifully integrated, high acid reds that express the more austere side of this food-friendly vinefera. the small production 2011 “Mibal” by Hornillos Ballesteros shows deep cherry tones & eucalyptus while 2008 Tinto Paesquera to the west expresses a more masculine tone of cedar & plum. Unknown-1

Then there is Soria, to the east. A region which caught my attention. Heret is a story of a terroir that hosts 100-125 year old pre-phylloxera root stock & un-grafted vines. Veterans that sit watchfully & tell stories which few can fathom. Stories which unfold ethereally on the palate. Two were well represented. First was the 2010 Antidoto, rusty brown & deep with woodland strawberries and mint tones that reflect 100yr old root-stock that pull from an uncommon place. The second, bigger & bolder, was the 2009 “Valdegatiles” by Atauta whose focus is letting you know it has aged for 16months in french oak with its baked fruit aromas & 125 year old lineage.

I linger writing this looking for a proper closing line. I look over my notes & see stars and side notations that just say “persue”.


Going South – Exploring the Evolving Wines of Southern Italy

By John Aranza

For years Southern Italy was on the verge of a bad reputation. You know, the kind of rep where you’re known for “getting around”. Quantity and quality do not always go hand in hand, so much of the wicker covered bottles heading out of Italy for many years were not the best. The market was there however and as a result many producers fell into the habit of lower quality wines to get the most bang for the buck….Later when Napa reds rose in popularity, again Southern Italy tried to compete with big – Cab forward wines that they felt would appeal to the international market.

But these times are a changing…..

There is a movement right now in the South to use this limited terroir how it was originally intended; high quality wines with perhaps lower yield, that have brought serious attention to the potential of this historic winemaking region.

Lets start with Frank Cornelissen. Starting with 200eu, he bought a small plot of land on Mount Etna. Now expanded to 8.5 hectares of sustainable vinyards, these wines are identified not by vintage but rather number. A minimal approach by an extraordinary vintner. At last weeks tasting we poured the Munjabel Bianco No. 8 (800 bottles total produced). A blend primarily dominated by Grecanico Dorato, it offers an incredible nose of caramel & nuttiness, this is a part of oxidation. Historically, this was always an undesirable quality in whites. However in natural aging where it is intentional the wines are different. The result of the all natural practice of amphorae aging with no sulphites added, nothing but the vocanic ash & minerals at work here produce some interesting wines. The winemakers aging this way believe they are getting back to the basics of winemaking. These wines are indeed limited though. Based on the yield. We had the opportunity to dine with Frank when he was last in Chicago and he remarked that this particular wine was limited because his horses broke into the 2hectare plot & ate a fair amount of that vintage’s ripened grapes!

Another producer we featured at our last tasting was Arianna Occupinti. She is one of a few new style winemakers in Sicily who has really put them back on the map. Last Wednesday at Wine Wednesdays we poured her soft yet expressive 2011 Frappato. Grown on 10 Hectares of stoney vinyards, this southern blending grape gets a homecoming crown in this very capable producers hands. Soft tannins & fruit are reminiscent of a Burgundy, but Sicilian at heart with a uniqueness all their own. Ariana took the vineyards organic, then biodynamic, and the resulting wines are stellar on the palate. Small packages do indeed deliver big things with altitude & attitude and an astute winemaker all combining to create this exceptional wine. Bravo!

Finally our journey took us to Puglia, for the 2005 Alberto Longo “Capoposto” which is driven by the Negro Amaro grape. Translated into “Dark Bitter”, this astringent Southerner must be in the right hands. In this case it is, delivering a lush and welcoming, mouth-filling wine. Deliberately light on skin contact, this old world vinefera is tamed by oak transforming this rough around the edges grape into a wine that is a formidable contender! Lamb, Short Ribs & other hearty fare come hither….we have a match for you!

Our next entry will explore this weeks tasting which focused on French whites. Up next week, join us for Sherries or join us in April for our next series of Wine Wednesdays. Always at the bar, always informal and always fun!


Exploring Balkan Wines

As a part of our companion series for Wine Wednesday our Sommelier John Aranza, is writing companion pieces to give you an overview of the region we are exploring and what we taste. Read on for an exploration of Balkan Wines, and join us this month for Wine Wednesdays!

Today we are going to skip across the Adriatic to the Balkans. Formerly Yugoslavia, this area had been cloistered from the rest of the world of wine export for some time until the late 1990’s. It was then with the independence of Croatia, Slovenia, Montengro that these long standing wine producing arease were able to bring their wares west.

The Balkans refer to the range of mountains that extend inland across these Eastern European lands. It is just now being made aware that wine has been made here for centuries with the same intensity & warmth that many familiar producers display in France and Italy. Today we are going to talk about three characters in this play that have often been snubbed by the Oscar’s, but deserve a nod for their continued, expressive roles in the Balkan wine community.

The First, is from Ilocki Podrumi. A combined effort of Cabernet Sauvignon & an Austrian/Hungarian descendant called Blaufrankisch. BF is a late ripening, tannin-realized red grape. Expressive on its own, and possibly explosive with CS, but this invocation is soft in the hands of one of Croatia’s oldest producers. In the glass it is Burgundian, in a sense, with its soft balance & red fruit delivery. Perhaps this is why IP wines were served at the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

Next we travel to Montenegro. Off the shores of Lake Skadar, which borders Albania & Montenegro claiming the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula. From the cool, Mediterranean climate comes Vranac (translated black stallion) from producer Monte Cheval. Firm in tannins, this fruit-forward workhorse dates back to Roman plantings. This medium bodied red can be found throughout the region and further inland in Serbia as well. Familiar to residents of the Balkans, this is the favorite son served usually fresh from the producer in local Konoba’s! Red meat and game are a perfect match for the dark-horse of grapes!

Lastly we travel a bit inland, completely land-locked to the Mostar region and the limestone plateau’s of Citluk in Herzegovina. Zilavka is the grape, and aromatic is the name. Tropical fruit, and hints of grass dominate this white. Reminiscent of Pinot-Gris in its earthy tones, it pulls from its stony roots…literally…and delivers a wine that has been schooled in the cool mountain evenings and bathed in its sunny afternoons.

Having family roots in Croatia I appreciate the education these wines deliver at the table. A history of a people & terroir that is just now being realized by discerning palates that have been denied these pleasures for far too long. Enjoy all, join us for dinner one evening and raise a glass. It’s an affordable trip to a magic place.

Zivjeli!


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.


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


Vinitaly2012 – Part 1 or Scooters, Fiats & Cividin

Some Delicious Large Format Bottlings

When asked, “What is Vinitaly” an easy American response would be “Google it.” There is no meta-description that can aptly describe, which this event certainly deserves ten-fold …..and then there are the scooters.

Vinitaly may have inspired the cantina scene in “Star Wars.” Italians, Brits, Americans, Chinese, leaning into the slickest trade-show booth’s that only an Italian could have imagined. Speaking languages that all are translated by hand-gestures & understanding of a common interest in uva-culture. Castles, enoteca’s….night-club, music-pumping booth’s manned by models across from modest looking vintner’s in jeans & sport coats. Entering its perimeter takes a careful eye, & knowledge of Italian terroir. Italy’s 20 wine growing regions, each represented in a building the size of the UIC Forum….within those buildings the individual territories broken down even further. Wine makers from these individual DOC’s & DOCG’s show their new vintages, and occasionally, if you are worthy, produce some of their older vintages, richer, deeper examples of their wine-making prowess.

Fresh Goat Cheese from the Farm on the Bulfon Estate

It was my first trip back in 11 year and it has grown, showcasing the ever vibrant, Italian wine scene. We were guided by true gems of this industry. Bevery Malen of Imports Inc. “Strong is the force in this one”….Beverly represents some of the finest Italian Producers, with special strength in the North, including Friulian Elder-Statesman Emilio Bulfon , responsible for championing the survival & vinification of the rarest varieties of this region. There is more though. It is a proud story of someone close to his land, his heritage, his maker. The varietal wines he produces have names like, Cividin, Ucelit, Sciaglin sounding very exotic and indeed they are some of the most interesting wines that will ever touch your palette. Showcasing an exciting diversity of flavors and styles.

Bulfon and his family are true custodians of their Region, his daughter is an avid conservationist and fascinating historian of the area and every inch of the winery and grounds are dedicated to preserving and showcasing the most authentic and very best traditions that Fruili has to offer. Bulfon has only visited this country once to proudly showcase his wines 8 years ago on North Michigan Avenue at Cafe Spiaggia…we were lucky enough to be there. In the fall, his son will return to do the same, right here, in Berwyn….as I write this I realize the parallel’s and it makes me grin…..but these are stories to be detailed in future episodes.

Oh those darn scooters!

Side View of Large Cask at Bulfon

Then there is Aldo Zaninotto of Wine D.O.C. Aldo is a citizen of the world & whom introduced us to Mariano Buglioni’s wines this past summer. We found ourselves staying at his warm & welcoming Locanda & witness to his old-world sensibilities peppered with new-world polish. Wines vinified from oft forgotten, secondary grapes are transformed into front-running contenders. He revels in doing this but also excels in more classic wines such as Amarone & Recioto. Interested? Well stay tuned for a personal introduction on Roosevelt Road later this summer as part of a very special dinner we are planning.

Buzz, buzz, beep.

Like bees around the daisies, these Vespa’s zoom in & out in front of your Fiat….if you’ve driven in Italy you know what I mean, stressful but we were fortunate enough not to directly feel the sting. This is why one risks to enter the hive…to come out with honey so sweet. Mission accomplished.

We can’t wait to share the new found treasures & relationships of our trip with you this year and beyond! The Voyage was not not only fruitful, it was inspirational. To see the owners of a little cafe in Berwyn U.S.A so warmly received by our Italian & Croatian hosts & inspirations….what..Croatian’s you say? Yes….but that is for a future episode. Look for more entries on VinItaly and our trip over the next few weeks.