Sassafras Bitters

I love how certain smells instantly transport you to a distant time. Your olfactory glands are like magical teleportation devices. The smell of sassafras takes me back to the time when I was younger running around in Georgetown Delaware, playing in the woods of with my younger brothers in the spring and summer. A tree would snap and the air would be perfumed with the woody root beer smell. I loved it! I would try to find as much of the red hued wood and roots as possible to carve and make tea.

My good friend Nathan Tanner is now digging the roots for me, with his kids. I was looking for a way to utilize the fragrant, bitter, sweet quality of it. I knew would pair perfectly with bourbon, so I created this powerful elixir.

Sassafras bitters in the making.

Sassafras bitters in the making.

SASSAFRAS BITTERS

Ingredients

750 ml. bottle of neutral grain spirit (I used a white corn whiskey)

2 vanilla Beans split

2 star anise pods

1 t. fennel seeds

4 clove

2 black cardamon

2 t. wormwood

1 pound sassafras root

1 t. shredded oak

1 t. dry caramel

.5 oz sassafras root extract. (not needed, but really Boost flavor!)

Method

Toast all spices until fragrant. Combine all ingredients in a jar. Let macerate for 2 weeks, agitating once per week.  Strain and enjoy!

A spring cocktail made with bourbon and sassafras bitters!

A spring cocktail made with bourbon and sassafras bitters!

 

one plate at a time.

I am honored to report that I have recently been nominated for a James Beard Rising Star Chef Of The Year Award. I am one of twenty eight semifinalists. On March 18th they will announce the finalist. I am excited to find out the outcome! I want to thank the person or people who submitted my name to the James Beard Foundation. I was truly in shock when I read my name on their website. I am proud of our accomplishments at restaurant a(MUSE.). This nomination may have my name on it, but it is a tribute to the hard work of all our dedicated staff.

When I was a young cook, I once told my mentor at the time, Kevin Reading, that I aspired to one day be a regionally great chef. He was very encouraging and stated that anything was possible through hard work. To me, regionally great meant a chef who was known in the mid atlantic for creating an excellent product and developing a style of cuisine that guests would come from surrounding areas and beyond to enjoy. At this point I feel that I am on my way.

With cooking I have never been in competition with anyone but myself. It would be great to be a James Beard Finalist. No matter what happens I will still keep cooking, doing my best  to cook a high level of cuisine one plate at a time.

A look at recent plates at at restaurant a(MUSE.)

Photo was taken by Courtney Swift.

Photo was taken by Courtney Swift.

foie gras

Hudson Valley foie gras with carrots and pine (CS Photo)

jKrMV3i47MuJvqz8FdszfI501emf55-5d4DvXQ7hGGY

In the kitchen (CS Photo)


Nantucket Bay scallops - trout Roe - lardo - potato - fennel

Nantucket Bay scallops – trout Roe – lardo – potato – fennel (CS Photo)

flatiron steak - onion - turnip - hedgehog mushrooms

flatiron steak – onion – turnip – hedgehog mushrooms (CS Photo)

house cured coppa - Cheseapeake gold oyster - oyster mushroom - cedar - sunchoke. a broth of mushroom, cedar, ham, and oysters poured table side.

house cured coppa – Cheseapeake gold oyster – oyster mushroom – cedar – sunchoke. a broth of mushroom, cedar, ham, and oysters poured table side. (instagram picture)

oak creme brûlée -orange curd - bourbon -molasses - shattered caramelized honey gummy - smoked almond

oak creme brûlée -orange curd – bourbon -molasses – shattered caramelized honey gummy – smoked almond (instagram picture)

razor clam - foraged sumac - wintered acorn - spice bush gel

razor clam – foraged sumac – wintered acorn – spice bush gel (instagram)

beach bonfire our version of smores

beach bonfire our version of smores (instagram)

Lobster - beets - horseradish - rose hip vinaigrette

Lobster – beets – horseradish – rose hip vinaigrette. A plate created for a tasting menu. (instagram)

Thanks again for everybody’s love and support.


A BLACK AND WHITE VIEW OF a(MUSE.)

front dining room

The dining room.

Joy of cooking book self

The Joy of cooking book self.

World record rock fish made out of recycled material. glass eye from Luckie Glass

World record rock fish made out of recycled material. Glass eye blow by Luckie Glass.

Clifton Cochran of Heavy Design was in charge of all construction and decor at Restaurant a(MUSE.)

Clifton Cochran of Heavy Design was in charge of all decor at Restaurant a(MUSE.) The wall paper is made from pages of The Joy OF Cooking.

print by C.LEROI

The print by C.LEROI.

BALL JAR LIGHTS

THE BALL JAR LIGHTS.

The wall behind the bar.

My Father Stephen Cameron did this piece in the seventies.

My Father Stephen Cameron did this piece in the seventies.

horseshoe crab sink

The Front bathroom horseshoe crab sink.

nautilus sink

The back bathrooms nautilus sink.

bourbon

A bourbon gift from a friend.

duck for scrapple!

Duck scrapple in the making.

The beginning and the end.photo courtesy of Jamie Knapp

The beginning and the end.
photo courtesy of Jamie Knapp

Fresh & New

few hour mozzarella – rhubarb – citrus – vanilla

Last night we added a new dessert of fresh mozzarella made with vanilla, rose compressed rhubarb, whey foam, wild sorrel, orange, lemon emulsion.

With two weeks under our belts here at a(MUSE.) things are really coming together. We know that we have a lot of growing to do as any new business does but we have a lot of people that care about the product that we are producing and the seamless guest experience that we are trying to create. We understand that this style of progressive mid-atlantic cuisine where small tasting plates are the focus is not for everybody. I have created a menu that I want to share with the guest with the goal 100% being the smiles of many different customers face. We hope to inspire and a(MUSE.)

a (MUSE.) Inspired Food and Drink.

I have recently purchased my first restaurant. It will be a place that my team and I can create inspired food and drink in Rehoboth Beach Delaware. We will be dedicated to providing a seamless guest experience with a true hospitality focus. I am currently in the process of working on my ideal space. We are using many reclaimed and organic materials in the design.

The restaurant will be a menu composed of 20-25 small plates with five areas on the menu to choose from. We will cook modernist food that is truly mid-atlantic inspired. We are sourcing the highest quality products that are within our food shed or 150-200 miles, with the exception of coffee, chocolate, wine, and some fruits such as citrus. All of the fish we will serve will be atlantic based and we will be committed to sustainability. We will also  be highlighting naturally and humanely raised animals. We will accommodate vegetarians, vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, and any other dietary restrictions. I want the diner to have the choice of a quick small plate or a grand tasting menu.

In addition to an excellent wine, craft beer, and innovative cocktail menu we will offer a large variety of non-alcoholic beverage options such as proprietary fair trade coffee, tea, and house made soft drinks, spritzers, juices, and mocktails.

We plan to operate with a triple bottom line, focusing on People, Profit, and Planet. People: We will cultivate strong ties within the community in various avenues. We plan to be involved in non-profit events, reaching out to the schools, and doing fundraisers and classes within the restaurant. We will also have a gallery hallway featuring local artist works. Profit: In addition to serving our guests a worthwhile dining experience we will offer branded merchandise items available for purchase both in our restaurant and on our website. We plan to build a strong web and social network presence. Planet: We will work hard to give weight to environmental sustainability and operate with a consciousness of the effects of our operations on the surrounding environment.

My mornings are spent planning and making the project happen and my nights cleaning, painting, designing and pretty much everything else that goes along with preparing a space to reopen in month. I feel blessed to have such a strong dedicated team of friends and coworkers helping out and keeping me sane every step of the way. Yesterday

Fine Line Websites & IT Consulting

launched our splash page coming soon website. I have to tell you it is perfect. Those guys do great efficient work. Check Out our website. http://www.amuse-rehoboth.com/

Well enough of blogging I must return to the cleaning:)

Before

AFTER. THANKS BILL AND ALEX!!

HEALTHY EATING WITH THE STUDENTS

“Every day you have the opportunity to learn and experience some-thing and some-one new. Seize the opportunity. Learn and experience everything you can, and use it to change the world.”         Rodney Williams

I recently had the pleasure of cooking for some Cape Henlopen High School students and their family members. The dinner was an award ceremony for the completion of their wellness course. I gave a quick healthy cooking demonstration and then dinner was served. I served food that was healthy and tasty! Everybody really had a great time. Congrats triple ten challenge students. They all were winners!

Healthy spinach salad with apples, hazelnuts, goat cheese, and red wine vin.

Cous cous loaded with fresh veggies and topped with dried aporicots

Cornbread, nothing wrong with that!

grilled scrimp

Ginger oatmeal cookies. Stay tuned for the recipe!

How do you eat an Elephant?

The package that I received a few days ago was even more gargantuan than I had imagined. There it was, Modernist Cuisine, the books that I had been dreaming about for a long time. It took my sous chef  and myself to get it to my car, taking turns carrying it from the kitchen. It was back-breaking work. I have to say it is all a little overwhelming. So much to see, explore, and learn.

I plan on tackling it systematically, studying it like a college course. I have taught myself a lot of the knowledge over the years but it is great to have all of the information complied in one not-so compact resource. It took me ten minutes just to get through the layers of tape and cardboard. My Mom says “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time till it’s done.” I agree with her. It is an adventure that I am happy to share with you.