ML - Michigan Avenue

Michigan Avenue - 2015 - Issue 8 - Winter - Sandra Lee

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY NEIL BURGER (SALERO); JENNIFER GIRARD (SCHULMAN) the cuisine at Salero, his latest Randolph Street concept, in the traditions of Northern Spain and the Basque Country, rather than the Southern-style of tapas more commonly served in the city. "I want to give people something different than anything else on the street." Thirty-one-year-old chef Ashlee Aubin—who has partnered with Gianni to lift Wood, the Contemporary American eatery in Boystown, to three consecu- tive Michelin Bib Gourmand recognitions—felt the same way after his travels in Spain. "I dug the people, the architecture, the whole lifestyle," comments Aubin. "And the food just blew me away. They have access to the best seafood in the world, amazing produce, and just a light, clean technique." Aubin was clearly paying close attent ion, because at Salero he has crafted a menu of deeply satisfying yet clean and simple dishes that show- case Spanish fl avors with a Midwestern twist. Meaty, hearty Gulf shrimp a la plancha is a strikingly fl avorful starter, with a fi rm Hazzard Free Farm grit cake contrasting with plump shrimp and the earthy funk of huitlacoche purée. Other standouts include ultra-creamy burrata made in-house with jamon serrano, apple butter, and pickled ramps, and grilled hanger steak with Manchego whipped potatoes. The restaurant also features a bar-friendly menu of Basque-inspired pintxos—small, composed bites rang ing from ham and Manchego croquettes to brown and white anchovies that have become the menu's sur- prise hit. Laughs Gianni, "People really enjoy eating anchovies and bread. Who knew?" The space itself is all muted tones, under- stated, and clean. "Walk into any Spanish restaurant, and you're going to get bombarded with the Spanish feel—the reds, the fl amenco painting on the wall," reasons Gianni. "We wanted [the look] to be modern yet classic so, 10 years from now, the space will still look fresh." The warm, minimalist environment allows diners to focus on Aubin's impressive plates. "Partnering with Ashlee was probably the best move I ever made," says Gianni. "We seem to meld together beautifully." 621 W. Randolph St., 312-466-1000; MA Taking the Cake ELI'S CELEBRATES 35 YEARS AS ONE OF CHICAGO'S GREAT TASTES WITH THE ELI'S CHEESECAKE COOKBOOK. BY J.P. ANDERSON From chocolate-dipped to straw- berry-topped, Eli's Cheesecake has been a smashing success since making its public debut at the fi rst Taste of Chicago, in 1980. Now the company is commemorating its 35th anniversary in style, with the publication of The Eli's Cheesecake Cookbook, out December 1, which recounts, in loving detail, the history of the dessert crafted by famed restaurateur Eli Schulman of Eli's The Place for Steak. Co-author Maureen Schulman, Eli's daughter-in-law, gives us the sweet details on one of the city's most renowned confections. What is it about this cheesecake? Maureen Schulman: It has a unique taste and texture; it's almost like a miracle. How did Eli, who wasn't a trained pas- try chef, come up with the cheesecake that broke all the rules of making cheesecake? How did he break the rules? MS: Traditionally, cheesecake is baked at a low temperature for a long time and in a water bath so it doesn't crack. We don't use a water bath, and it's baked hot and fast. Who knows why Eli did it this way, but it resulted in a sort of souffl éed custard that doesn't taste like other cheesecake. Any favorite Eli's moments? MS: When we did Hillary Clinton's 50th-birthday cake, we made it a pretty big size, not thinking about the doorway at the Chicago Cultural Center—and it didn't fi t through the door. They had to take the door off the hinges and the frame off the door so we could get it through. [Laughs] Any new developments you're looking forward to? MS: We're planning to expand the bakery next year, which will allow us to do other kinds of products. And I'm excited about our vegan line. What are your favorite recipes? MS: I love the banana enrobed in chocolate, but I really think chocolate chip might just be my all-time favorite. Eli himself was quite a personality. MS: He was so friendly and vibrant—one of those people that just had a sparkle in their eye. He treated everyone as if they were the biggest star in the world, and so everybody loved him. What do you think he would say if he were still around? MS: Eli was a real Chicago booster, so I think he'd be happy that the cheesecake has became a symbol of Chicago—and that, 35 years later, no one is saying, "Who was Eli?" He has his stamp on the city. BAR BUZZ Gin is in at Salero, where the intriguing fl avor of yellow bell pepper syrup has made beverage director David Disney's Despite All My Sage ( LEFT) the restaurant's most popular cocktail. "You get more of an earthy, savory, vegetal note you don't see too often in cocktails," notes Disney, "which I think helps make it more food-friendly as well." Despite All My Sage recipe 2 oz. Langley's gin ½ oz. Art in the Age Sage liqueur 1 oz. salted yellow bell pepper syrup ¾ oz. lemon juice 3–4 basil leaves 1 sage leaf Shake with ice and double-strain into a coupe glass with a sage leaf garnish. SITTING PRETTY Similar to the bar at Wood, a "peninsula" juts out from each end of Salero's bar, allowing diners to face each other and still have easy access to the bartender. Explains Gianni, "Every time people made a reservation [at Wood] they were [requesting those seats], so we did the same thing here on both ends of the bar." // JUST DESSERTS // Maureen Schulman, Eli's daughter-in-law. TASTE 92 MICHIGANAVEMAG.COM

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