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)

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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.


WARM DAYS & COOL NIGHTS IN REHOBOTH

Fall is here and the weather is beautiful here at the beach. There are less people in town but were still bringing the love. I have been posting a lot of picture on instagram and here are some of my favorite ones. Plus a picture of my arm!

I have been a bad blogger lately in pursuit of being the best chef/restaurateur that I can be. Now that the pace has changed I will post more often. Thanks for your continued support! Tell a friend about The Comb & Wattle. I will be posting more photos, recipes and featuring farmers and foragers in future post. If you want me to cover a story I am very open to suggestions. Cheers! Enjoy!

Pistachio financier – duck prosciutto – butternut squash – pistachio praline. A dish presented at the Celebrity Chefs Beach Brunch to benefit Meals on Wheels Delaware.

Our fall soup at a(MUSE.)
Acorn soup – house cured berkshire pork lardo – beech mushroom – acorn squash – lemon balm

Roasted figs – preserved lemon – parsnip

Meatless Monday

my arm

Raw squash with puffed grains – foraged prickly pear – sheep sorrel –  and sea bean.

a instagram view of a(MUSE.)

Last week a man that I am social media friends with and do volunteer work with for Meals On Wheels named Dave McCormick came into the restaurant and dined at our bar. He took pictures with instagram and tweeted them to his followers. I loved the photos and the effect that he put on them. I like seeing the food from the customer point of view. Thanks Dave. ENJOY!

ROASTED PEPPER WITH GOAT CHEESE, FENNEL, OLIVE PUFFED AMARYNTH

marvesta shrimp, caper, ice, horseradish, lemon

cauliflower soup, marrow toast

venison tartare, sorrel, pine, juniper

fluke crudo, beet, potato

textures of the field quinoa, barley, wheat grass

rockfish “cheeks & collars” cabbage, sun choke, violette mustard

local organic chicken hearts, purple asparagus, green almond

day boat scallops, foie gras, cauliflower, leek, tarragon

elysian fields lamb belly and sweetbreads, absinthe, coffee, lambs lettuce

gray tile fish, broad water oysters, chicken oyster, black garlic, purple kale, lemon

strawberry short cake, rose, creme fraiche, toast

Also check out LSD NEWS! They were there for first night of business!

PICTURES FROM THE BEGINNINGS OF a(MUSE.)

We have had a great first few days! We are off to a great beginning to a great summer.

This is a picture of our first family meal. Thank you Chef Lion Gardner of The Blue Moon for gifting us with the delicious rockfish!

My favorite sink.

Ham hock with red eye gravy.

SHRIMP COCKTAIL caper-lemon-ice-horseraddish

Early season heirloom tomatoes, scented geranium.

POTTED CHICKEN foie gras-whiskey-toast

NANTICOKE TRAIL venison tartare-sorrel-juniper-pine

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE rose-creme fraiche-toast

THE BEACH toasted grains-salted caramel-grape-a(PEARL.)

 

These are a few dishes and there are more to come!