Tuesday, December 06, 2011
HIGHLIFE LOWDOWN IN “THE OFFICE”
Sixteen lucky members of the Société Mondiale gathered on December 6 for an exclusive visit to The Office, a speakeasy owned by Next Chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. Descending the flight of stairs down beneath The Aviary, we were transported back in time to the era of Prohibition. Romantically dark lighting, Oriental carpets, art-covered walls, art deco fixtures, and deep leather sofas were the setting for luxurious foods that might have been enjoyed by the likes of Al Capone. Each dish of Executive Chef Craig Schoettler was matched with both an artfully flavored cocktail from Sous Chef/Mixologist Jason Cevallos and also with a wine provided by a pair of Chaîne diners—-a sure recipe for delight and perhaps a touch of inebriation.
The nine taste experiences included: (1) caviar served with Yukon Gold potato chips and crème fraîche; (2) Malpeque oysters adorned with eye droppers of flavored tinctures—-lemon, curry, ginger, smoke, and fennel; (3) chanterelles in a mushroom cream sauce; (4) shrimp cocktail; (5) foie gras terrine with black truffles and kumquat jam; (6) white truffle risotto; (7) fine Iberico de Bellota ham; (8) Wagyu tartare; and (9) an ice cream sundae with an abundant array of sweet and salty toppings. The Osetra caviar was paired with a martini-inspired drink of sorrel gin enhanced with a tincture of seaweed, dry vermouth, and lime. The oysters were matched with sparkling sake flavored with vanilla, sassafras, parsnip, and honeydew and also a 2008 grand cru Chablis. We learned that tinctures are developed by steeping a single flavor in 190-proof alcohol. The shrimp was paired with a terrific Auslese Riesling and also, to match the cocktail sauce, a cocktail based on Mescal with smoked paprika and agave nectar. The chanterelles were matched with a Pouilly-Fuissé and also a botanical drink where each glass was rinsed with rosemary and the cocktail thus developed herbaceous notes. With the ham, a 2002 Dom Pérignon went head to head with a cocktail flavored with bitters. A 1993 Barolo washed down the white truffle risotto served on individual spoons. A favorite pairing of the evening was the ’83 Auslese served with the foie gras. A rye whiskey-based cocktail with star anise and crushed lemon held up well to the anchovy, onion and capers of the beef tartare. Inniskillin icewine brought the wine offerings to a sweet finish.
The intimacy of the cozy dining experience in The Office was charged with excitement, thanks to the exotic ingredients of the inventive cocktails, the fine wines, and the many novel tastes and three-way pairings.
My sincere apologies for the very short notice! But a rare opportunity has been offered for Chaîne members to hold an exclusive pow-wow at “The Office,” the invitation-only speakeasy owned by Chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas tucked quietly underneath The Aviary and Next Restaurant. On December 6, 2011 at 6:00 p.m., we will experience carefully crafted, flavored and perfumed cocktails with the decadently delicious food offerings of the Prohibition era in an environment that actually whisks you back in time to the days of Al Capone.
Executive Chef Craig Schoettler (just voted best bartender in the nation) and Sous Chef/Mixologist Jason Cevallos will inspire and teach us about their thought-provoking and delicious cocktails that combined rare and top-tier spirits, over 200 house-made tinctures, fresh juices and herbs served with custom crafted ice cubes in vintage glassware. Best of all, these master mixologists will design off-the- menu drink creations just for us that will match and enhance each of our eight luxurious courses. Here’s a sampling: Osetra caviar with house-fried Yukon Gold potato chips and Kendall Farms crème fraîche; Chef Achatz’s favorite Island Creek oysters with their beautiful butter-and-brine taste that you can flavor with six different house-made tinctures; foie gras terrine made from grade-A Hudson Valley foie gras topped with black truffles and chives, garnished with toasted brioche, frisée salad, and black mission figs; and beef tartare, a 50-50 mix of Wagyu strip loin and dry-aged USDA prime beef with rye toasts and traditional garnishes.
In addition, to the food and cocktail pairings, Mondiale members will team up in pairs to bring a bottle of wine that they believe will match extraordinarily well with one of these food offerings. We’ll discuss the pairings and decide which are the most successful and why. In addition, guests will get to visit the ice kitchen, where the Aviary/Office team creates dozens of types and shapes of ice designed to enhance their cocktails.
Seating is strictly limited to 16 guests, on a first come, first served basis with preference to Mondiale members. Please make your reservations ASAP. Team assignments and complete menu course descriptions will be provided to the lucky 16 guests with the email confirmation.