A different take at Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 5 March 2011

For a while this day had be in the planning, and Arnaud Magnier had finally agreed to take on the challenge of sharing his kitchen with 6 hobby chefs, who wanted to feel a little bit of the magic behind the curtains and maybe even learn a few tricks. To assist him on this beautiful Saturday was his second de cuisine William. Since they work hard 70-80 hours per week, it is understandable that he does not offer this service as a standard, but who knows, maybe he will consider it in the future.

Our expectations were sky high and it seemed the Day shared our feelings showing Luxembourg from its best side this beautiful morning. Walking towards the restaurant this was the squares I passed, the busy market square and the square leading me down to the restaurant.

Arnauld had had free hands putting a menu together, only request from our side was that the main dish should be fish and that we did not want to cook a dessert.

Here are some shots from the cooking of the amuse

William and Morten chopping the filet

Seasoning the Tartare, with freshly made mayonaise, scallots etc.

Mixing the tartare

Arrainging the amuse...

Beef Tartare with Caviar

Second up was the starter, Terrine du Fois Gras with Mango Chutney. The cleaning of the fois gras, the rolling, the cooking (13 min at 76 degrees in duck fat). After that it needs to rest 4-5 days in the fridge, so we had a prepared one for the dish, but here are some of the shots.

Arnaud with the raw liver, showing us the preparations

Torben preparing the rolls...

Slowly cooking, 76 degrees warm fat, 13 min for this sice....

Arranging the plates with the Mango Chutney...

Terrine of Fois Gras with Mango Chutney

Next up was one of the signature dishes of the restaurant, Arnaud’s take on risotto. He uses a Basmati rice, because he prefer the exotic perfumed taste. He uses white wine first, then adds chicken stock slowly. Towards the end, parmesan and whipped cream is added. This version included green asparagus and sol-y-laisse, dressed with creme of truffles and a parmesan bisquit

Susanne learning from the best...

William roasting the Sol-y-laisse

Dressing the plates...

Skovmand arranging and dressing...

The result, Risotto with Sol-y-Laisse and Asparagus

4,5 kilo of Cod

Milk with garlic, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves simmering away, to be used for the poaching later

The main dish was going to be Arnaud’s take on a classic – Brandade – somewhat – re-constructed.

A beautiful garlic simmered creme made up the base, on top the poached cod, topped with the “Spumante(?)” – potato/olive oil creme – as light as a cloud…..dressed with roasted pieces of bread.

Yup, we now need one of those in our kitchens...

William poaching the fish

Magic is produced...

Dressing the plates

Final touches...

and "voila" - Brandade - Arnaud's way

Happy faces all around - Job done - table's waiting.

Table one is ready.....our table, eating our food. What a day.

Conclusion:

Actually, the hours just raced away, it was so fun and cool to watch. To learn and absorbe from two true wizards – its the little things that make the difference.  Salt, butter, coorect cooking temperatures, the organization in the kitchen, the preparations.

Arnauld and William succeded in setting up a menu, which we all feel we can somehow re-produce one fine day…if not as perfect …at least we would be able to give it a go. At the table afterwards Michael had put together a wine menu which matched our dishes perfectly. Thank you for that Michael.

Arnaud and William, we cannot thank you enough for taking some of your precious spare time and use it with us. We truly enjoyed every minute and all went away with a feeling of  “wauuw – this was even beyond our high expectations”. Besides making it all look so easy, we all learned a few tricks – and rest assured – if you allow us…..we will be bacl for the second class after summer.

Now, how could I rate this day and the experience in any other way than the following ….

My rating for this visit: Food 10p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), total score for this visit  20p (20)

Advertisements

Marbella Club (Club de Playa), Marbella – February 2011

Coming back to Spain for the first time in what seemed like a hundred years, I was invited to a lunch at this little pearl on the Costa del Sol. Its a beautiful hotel, with a small road leading down to the restaurant a few stairs above the beach.

Spain showed its beautiful side, granting us 20 degrees celcius and clear blue sky. Somewhat different from the frosty Luxembourg I had left the evening before.

The lunch buffet is prized at 70 eur which I guess is pretty damn high for Spanish standard. But let me just start by saying that every eur is truly justified. EVERYTHING on the large buffet is fresh. EVERYTHING. Any request is met with a smile and an effort to please.

We ordered pata negra, grilled langoustines and grilled sole. We were invited to have a look at the buffet while waiting for the fish….and soon covered our plates with freshly grilled vegetables, salads, artichokes etc. etc. etc.. It was simply not possible to resist this.

A chilled Marquis de Riscal, Sauvignon Blanc at around 30 eur was the perfect companion.

It later turned out that the 70 EUR did indeed cover the whole meal, the buffet, the pata negra, the grilled langoustines, the grilled scampis, the perfectly cooked sole (which came with freshly steamed spinach and potatoes on the side.

We never ever got a chance to taste the “postres”, – it was “nada mas” but they looked just as fresh and deli as the rest.

The service was outstanding, the meal a blast, the weather as good as one could hope for. Dining in the sun in February, a chilled wind, blue sky, ocean view, chilled wine. What more do you want in life. A small walk down the stairs and you are at the beach…

Conclusion

If you need a great meal for lunch in Marbella, a little bit of heaven. Go there….but be sure to book on week-ends and during the high season. Indulge in the fresh produce and great service while your children swim  in the pool or play at the beach.

It was easily one of the best lunches I have ever had in Spain, and for sure the best buffet I have ever seen in my life. I cant wait to bring the family here, knowing it will take a while, I wish it was tomorrow. On another note the lunch we had was even surpassed by one – a few days later – at a small club in Sotogrande, but thats another story. But that only makes the yearning tougher.

The service was flawless, the lunch outstanding and way beyond any expectations I could have ever had.

My rating for this visit: Food 8p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), total score for this visit  18p (20)