Next: Paris 1906

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nextSlim Paley Photo

Sublime, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres, including brioche fois gras filled brioche with apricot, and white anchovies perched upon softly cooked quail eggs begin chef Grant Achatz’ Auguste Escoffier- inspired culinary adventure back to the Ritz in 1906 Paris.

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My friends & family are all too familiar with my oft repeated lament that I really should have been born in another era.

Dare I suggest Edwardian sensibilities would have suited me to a high tea :)

Sure, I hear what you’re saying; “But Slim, you couldn’t even swear in those days!”   Dear Reader, I demurely contend that I wouldn’t have needed to-everything was so civilized then!  A Gentleman would have left me his calling card, bed warmers would have been placed with loving care between my finely monogramed linens before retiring…don’t even get me started on the fashions and cuisine or we’ll be here all day.  “Downton Abbey” just about brings me to my knees and if we’re to be perfectly honest, I’ve never met a heavy cream that was quite heavy enough.

So imagine my unbridled delight the day my husband rushed in to inform me we had ‘scored’ the Golden Tickets to “Next; Paris 1906″ !

(yes, I know an Edwardian Lady wouldn’t say “scored”, just roll with me here…)

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“Next” is the brand new, utterly unique dining experience created by Grant Achatz, one of the world’s most innovative chefs (of “Alinea” -3 Michelin stars)

Turning Chef Atkatz’ dream into a reality nightly is the young dynamo Executive Chef, Dave Beran (formerly Mr. Achatz’ chef de cuisine at Alinea)

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Chef Achatz & Chef Beran wracking their brains for ways to get Slim Paley to Chicago and “Next; Paris 1906″

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“Just to set the bar a little higher for himself, and make the creative process more invigorating, each menu for Next will draw from a different place and time. So, rather than the earthbound categories of Japanese, Italian or Peruvian, the food will evoke cloudier concepts: Kyoto in springtime; Palermo in 1949; Hong Kong in far-off 2036. A menu might be designed around a single day — say, the Napa Valley on Oct. 28, 1996, the day Mr. Achatz started work at the French Laundry, where he remained until 2001.”(Excerpt from the NY Times)

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Much time and resources were spent scouring the entire world searching for era appropriate silver and china, including this stunning egg server

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Yes, (blush) I did bring my camera, but I was very discreet and snapped only one photo of each dish (pas du flash, bien sur!)

Oeufs Bénédictine  

Custard infused with black truffle stock; followed by lightly salted cod with potatoes, thyme and garlic scented cream; finished with a lemony sauce crème and crowned by  black truffle shavings.

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.via NY Times (OK, I didn’t take photos of everything)

Turtle Consomme

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“Fillet de Sole Daumont”

Fillet of sole stuffed with forcemeat (a crayfish mousse) and lolling in a sauce I like to call; “Where’s the Spoon?”

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Supreme de Poussin

Poached Chicken as you’ve never tasted it, accompanied by rounds of cucumber soaked to translucency in butter. You heard me.

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A divinely wicked layering of lamb

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The spirit of Auguste Escoffier was truly smiling down upon us this weekend, as we were seated at The Chef’s Table, affording a front row seat on the exuberant goings on behind the Wizard’s curtain

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Chef Dave Beran, table side, preparing the sauce for the duck course with a fabulous antique silver presse

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presentation of the duck…

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Duck at Next, ChicagoSlim Paley Photo

Caneton Rouennais a la Presse & Gratin de Pommes de Terre a la Dauphinoise

Roasted and pressed duck served with a reduction of red wine, brandy and duck jus

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It was brilliant fun to witness such an engine of precision in action- the staff work SO hard!!

 The level of cleanliness Chef Beran maintains is utterly amazing.

I began to worry they suspected I was the City Health Inspector (Though, granted, I was drinking a hellalot  a generous amount of wine while on the City’s clock )

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The entire staff  worked together, keeping everything immaculate  through the course of the evening and the team effort was a pleasure to behold.

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As you can see, they even scrubbed the insides of the cabinets.

Very impressive and I’d venture a guess not how kitchens were managed in 1906!

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and when I say the entire staff…

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I love this shot because it’s Chef Beran himself scrubbing the counters at the end of the night.

OK, busted…we closed the place, but there was one other table of diners when we left :)

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A light salad of palate cleansing greens, asparagus and edible nastursium precedes the dessert courses

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Having fun preparing the Sauterne Sorbet with liquid nitrogen

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Sauterne sorbet, Next, ChicagoSlim Paley photo

I’m not a Dessert Diva, but Dear Lord in Heaven, I will dream about this sublime Sauterne Sorbet for years to come.

I believe the liquid nitrogen prevents the forming of ice crystals, creating instead the creamiest textured sorbet on the planet.  You’ll want it to last forever but you’re racing against time… the sorbet quickly melts back to pure, velvety amber sauterne within minutes.

 Not the worst fate in the world.

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Bombe Ceylon 

Coffee ice cream, rum & cocoa, with custard &  cherries so sopping in alcohol they put the nail in the coffin of my burgeoning Health Inspector career.

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But wait…I’m not quite finished…


Mignardises ( including salted caramel and beet flavoured jellies)

How good could a beet flavoured jelly be??  Crazy good!

I told you I’m predicting jellies are making a comeback

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As for these caramels lightly dusted with fleur de sel

OMG

It almost came to fisticuffs between my husband, my son and me,

however, decorum reigned and I managed to compose myself

After all,

I really should have been born in The Edwardian Era :)


Pinkies Up!

Slim Paley

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A couple of things you need to know about “Next”:

- NO reservations by phone, you must buy “tickets” online. Are they very expensive? No. Are they hard to obtain? Very. Try Craig’s List, Stubhub… get creative!

-The entire menu changes every 90 days, so if your travels and the Culinary Good Luck Fairy do not whisk you back to Paris 1906- do not despair- there’s another exciting adventure on the near horizon… I hear rumblings of Thailand… (turn-around time for the entirely new menu is an astonishing 3 days)

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If you’re interested in learning even more about “Next” and Grant Achatz, who  incidentally made Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list for 2011,

  read this great article from the NY TIMES

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Thanks to Chicago, once again, for another great trip!

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42 Comments

  1. OMG you are one very Lucky Lady!

    Those photos are fantastic!!!!!! so cool that they allowed you to take them.

    Did you get to try a bit of everything (lamb, duck, chicken etc…)?.
    Is it all sharesies (sp?) or do you order dishes for yourself like a typical restaurant? Every dish looks so amazing!

    and here I was all happy that a new Shawarma joint opened in my hood.

    • Yes, VERY lucky! and yes I had everything, of course (not a stretch for me unless there is Coleman’s hot mustard or creamed corn involved) The menu is set- so you don’t order anything. No muss, no fuss, just pure decadence and fun.

  2. I’m misty-eyed. The food is so beautiful – I can only imagine how it tasted – the quail egg with anchovie – yes, please.

    On the occasion we have a really special meal, I’m not ashamed to get my camera out. However, you, my dear, are a true pro.

  3. Lucky Duck. Totally mind blowing, your photography is perfection. Every course soooo appeals to me. I will for sure put that on my bucket list.
    Amazing post Slim, thank you for sharing with your Slim Paley readers.
    ox

  4. Those photos made my mouth water! And in regards to the Edwardians, did you know Edward and Lilly Langtry’s old favorite Rules now has the most divine little bar upstairs? It’s run by the one of the top bartenders in London (formerly was with Gordon Ramsay), Brian Silva, who moved to London from Boston 20 years ago. Along with some fabulous early standards, like a Sidecar, he has created some new drinks (some infused with candied violet or rose petals from Fortnum & Mason). Slim, you’ve got to go the next time you’re there. And, I’m going to have to get me-self to Next!

    • I’m SO going! Cocktails…candied violet & rose petals… that’s got my name all over it!
      I’m due for a trip to my old stomping grounds anyway :)

  5. WOW! Everything looks amazing! I am about to eat my computer screen! I hope to one day eat there. Another thing to add on my bucket list that I found on slimpaley.com…….

  6. Divine! Perfection! Thanks for sharing as always – 16000 miles (and apparently up to 30 hrs including connections) so lucky I have you to share these sorties :-))

  7. Wow! My husband and I ate at Alinea in April, just a few days after Next opened. We had a fabulous meal there and now I can’t wait to go back to Chicago and try Next. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  8. This is one of my favourite posts. Thank you for the beautiful photos and for sharing it with us. The food sounds and looks sublime, and worthy of all that beautiful china and silver. What an original idea for a restaurant.

  9. The quail egg with the anchovy…I can taste it…I can make that at least. Thank you for another visual delight!

  10. Paris 1906 – what a perfect time and place to re-create. I wish I lived in that era too. Superbly written and photographed post – better than any food magazine.

    Wondering what you wore … do tell!

    • I wore my new Alexander McQueen le smoking jacket (amortizing score: +2 already :) )
      and an old, plum coloured shot silk fish-tail Chloe skirt (alarmingly rolled over waistband by the end of the evening!)

  11. love the mood and even proust might have been tempted to take a few fotos to drink it all for years to come. enjoy reading your blog

  12. If I even begin to start with the food I will sound all jealous and that is so….not the woman I want to be. Loved the running hygene commentary-priceless! (Were we like this before we had kids?).

    Downton Abby – where to begin……..as a horsewoman/fashionista the riding habits alone make my knees quiver. A great read on that period is “The Perfect Summer” by Juliet Nicholson (grand daughter of Vita Sackville-West). Her historical information (translation – gossip) alone re: Winston Churchill is priceless. And thank you P.B.S. for (finally)a production that is post Victorian/hard bustle fashion wise.
    I am still waiting for someone to take on Angela Thirkell – she is long over-due for a good production. If you’ve never read her before start with “August Folly”. You are in for a great literary/spend the day in bed/life is grand adventure. Thanks again, I never want to live my life vicariously, but hey, yours is pretty swell, and I am enjoying the benefits! Debra

    • Thanks Debra
      I will definitely look up “The Perfect Summer”.
      Angela Thirkell…sounds so familiar…
      Based on your comment, I feel pretty confident in rec. you pick up “The Light Years” (Volume I of the Cazalet Chronicle) by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I think you would enjoy it. :)

  13. hi slim,

    i happen to be starving at the moment. even though i would be unable to eat 99% of everything on the menu, i can appreciate the thought, work and love that went into ea of those dishes. i love being able to see into kitchens, the energy in them is intoxicating to me. thanks for sharing such an awesome experience.

    xo
    janet

  14. Sadly I’m with Janet. Positively drooling over wonderful descriptions & photos but sadly I’m afraid all my doctors would okay is the turtle consommé & divine lamb dish. But with a glass of good Bordeaux I’d be quite content. The duck antique duck press brought back lovely memories of my first time at Tour d’Argent in 1953. Now if my memory could just bring back where I carefully tucked away the tiny medal & document with number of duck we ate that night.
    Would be interesting to compare number with current ones. How many tens of thousands of ducks have been consumed there since my memorable meal! But duck you photographed appears to be perfection. Who needs Tour d’Argent except for memories of first time in Paris & first great love. You know there had to be that element to have such loving memories of a duck 58 years later!!!

  15. cannot believe such a slim babe enjoys her food so much, you are unique in many ways!
    I am on a no carb diet and found my mouth watering, actually dribbling may be more appropriate!

  16. Slim, devine, but must know, did you dress ala the era? I’m going to “high” tea next month with a group of friends and we’re all wearing our fascinators, mum’s kid gloves, boucle suits… pinkies out!

  17. OK, I have just made up a birthday list that only involves Chicago, for my husband. Yours raised the bar, I could eat white anchovies all day, and that kitchen is fascinating. We used to be fortunate enough to dine on the tasting menu at the Windsor Court, for years. I’m sorry, but this covered all senses, what loyalty?! Wow, thank you.

  18. Dear Slim, that looks amazing! I’ve had Oeufs Benedictine and they were divine. I’d love all of it and that pudding!!

    If you’re loving Downton Abbey ,can I recommend my favourite British period drama to you? It’s Edwardian, the acting is fabulous and there’s lots of food.

    http://www.amazon.com/Duchess-Duke-Street-Complete-Collection/dp/B001ADXWYC

    I’d lend you my box set but it’s currently on it’s way to Australia, Spain, Italy and so on after I blogged about it and asked if anyone would like to see it. Lots of people replied.

    Hope you’re good xx

    • Thank you Cristina! You had me at ‘Edwardian’ & ‘Food’.
      I just clicked on your link and bought the set- I’m excited to watch it!

  19. Yum, yum, yummy. Cucumbers soaked to translucency in butter? Seriously? I think my husband is in the kitchen right now trying to achieve that. I know how to put them in vinegar… I will have to tell you, seeing the cleanliness of that place makes me want to go as much as the food. Thanks for sharing!!

  20. Beautiful posting once again, Slim!
    One extra thing I would add about NEXT so they know ahead of time is
    that they are unable to accommodate people with food allergies, I would
    presume because of the complexity of the meal already. Alas, this means
    this Chicago-area gal won’t be able to attend do to a shellfish allergy, so
    it was great to read all about yours!

  21. Yummy in sooooo many ways. The food , the ambiance, the romance……………
    Deliciously fun.
    Thanks,
    Slim

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