Schloss Berg, Nennig, Germany – 28 April 2011

I am a privileged person. I live only 35 kilometers from heaven. If I had one last meal on earth, and could choose it – it would be at Schloss Berg in Nennig. The constant development of the dishes together with the asian influences, and the respect for the produce is simply second to none.

I simply love the room, and the warm ways of all the staff. You feel at home. The small room with the high ceiling embraces you.

Yesterday I was happy to re-introduce my good friend Pascal to the place. He had not visited the restaurant for some time and thus the changes both in the room but also on the plates of the last two years were all new to him.

I have already told you a few times about the stunning quality of the kitchen of Christian Bau and his team, and let me just say that the food yesterday was up to the incredible high standard I have gotten use to here, and thats an effort in itself. Because putting the bar so high time after time…as a chef – you are bound to disappoint a client every now an then. But no. Not here. The food was again stunning and taking the grand voyage together with a food and wine lover was an extra bonus.

But the highlight yesterday in the room for me was young Daniel Kiowski. Maybe it was because I was with Pascal – a true admirer of German wines whos knowledge on that subject was more a match to Daniel than the standard knowledge of yours truly. Daniel shone like a diamond throughout the evening. Entertaining us, explaining us, testing us. A lot of different wines landed on the table, in between the suggested bottles, we got small tasters….just the way you want it to be. This was the only time EVER – I experienced someone coming  close to the level of passion and service that my good friend Jan Restorff offers you at Sölleröd Kro in Denmark.

We almost only had German wines – (and coming of age, starting to appreciate Riesling), I was again and again stunned by the wines – perfect companions to the excellent food –  that were selected.

I shall give you some shots of the evening. Not all the plates we had, just a few.

Fois gras...what a dish....for me it broke the scale.

Nebraska Beef. Beef seldom get any better than this.

Exotic fruits. One of my best desserts - ever.

My conclusion:

Spending an evening at Schloss Berg is always fantastic. Your eyes are spoiled with beautiful arrangements. You are welcomed and treated like a king, and your palete is served the best plates and exciting tastes you can ever imagine. Yesterday we experienced a young sommelier on top of that with a passion for his job – wine – which clearly matched the high quality of the kitchen. He was in his element. Simple as that. Thanks to the whole team –  to Yildiz, Jochen, Christian, Tristan – and especially to Daniel – we had a blast. I even liked the German Pinot Noir (Friedrich Becker Kammerberg 2005)

On a leaving note I can inform you that the sous-chef of Christian Bau, – Tristan Brandt – is in the finals for becoming Chef of the year 2011 in Germany. A contest for young and upcoming chefs. I wish him the best of luck. Good to know that the knowledge and ideas of Christian Bau is passed on to the next generation.

My rating for this visit:Ambience 5 (5) Service 5 (5) Food/Wine 10 (10) : Score 20 out of 20.

Restaurant Patagonia, Hesperange, Luxembourg – 27 April 2011

I met new friends Serge and Guy at Restaurant Clairefontaine a few weeks ago. We immediately found out that there was a good chemistry between us, and that we shared a passion for the good things in life.

So returning to my home I was happy to find an invitation from them for dinner at Restaurant Patagonia. I know this place from the 90’s where it was a Spain or Chile inspired restaurant. Today its an Argentinian Steak House, the wine list consist of Argentinian wines. Nothing wrong with that.

The “new” owners have had the place I think 7 years. The room is beautiful, red colours on rough walls, lit candles everywhere, nice wooden tables and chairs, the ambience you would expect for a nice steak house. I would have been proud if it was my restaurant. I normally ALWAYS try to spot little things that would make the room or table work better, but no…I did not find one single thing. Even fresh flowers on all tables.

The friendly French waiter, offered me an amuse (olives, feta and bread with pate) and the wine list. Being the first to arrive (As always) I opted for a bottle of Chardonnay at I think 20 eur. Lovely and a bargain at that price.The following ordered redwine at 40 eur were in fact a GREAT drop. Most of the wine options were heavy on Malbec, which I am not a big fan of, but this was in fact a cuvee.

As for the food – we had a lovely Tuna Ceviche – which came at around 13 eur – and afterwards a 300g filet of Argentinian Beef with great avocado dip and homemade chips at I think 26 eur. The owner offered a fresh garlic/oil sauce to the meat, explaining that it was an Argentinian speciality

The following digestive was “on the house” and rounded of a great evening with lots of funny talk among “new” friends. I have a feeling Serge and Guy that we are going to see each other a lot more in the future, I also hope so.

As for Patagonia….here it comes:

Conclusion:

Knowing that Guy who lives next door comes back weekly to this place , I can only tell him this….so would I. Great value on the wine side, good quality of meat and acceptable presentation. Not big gastronomy, but decent price level and for Luxembourg standard a great price/quality level.

I liked the avocado dip with the steak, maybe I would have preferred it more spicy. Only thing where I would improve was the “roasted” slices of eggplant on the plate. They were not the worst I have had, but also not the best. I dont know how to cook these, but the chef of a restaurant in Spain (where I had the most perfect eggplant ever) revealed me the apparent secret, you slice the eggplant, and let them rest in milk for some hours, turn them in flour and then fry them in oil. So my advice – improve on the eggplant side and your concept is flawless.

There was a genuine good vibe in the beautiful room, as I stated earlier, I would be proud if it was my restaurant. the service was good and friendly, we never had empty glasses and the empty bottle of chardonnay was duly noticed and replaced.

So, Serge and Guy, thanks for the invitation, and showing me Patagonia – I truly enjoyed your company the food and wine – and had a GREAT time

My rating for this visit: Food 6p (10), service 4p (5), ambience 4p (5), total score for this visit  14p (20)

Lameloise, Chagny, France – 1 April 2011

The long awaited visit to Lameloise was due….and it was no Aprils Fool. The gastronomic highligt of our trip. As I mentioned in previous posts about Lameloise, I have a special room in my heart reserved for this restaurant, and I probably always will have. Its classic, its high level – its not food from another planet, but food presented beautifully and with the best of produce. I think tonight was my 10th visit or so over the last 18 years.

So expectations were as always sky high and Frederic Lamy, the Maitre – almost immediately set the tone, when he greeted us all at our table. Good evening – I had expected to see Oscar and Emil here tonight !!!!!!!!

Now I know I forwarded my last review by email to them, and I know its easy to google a guest these days….but still. Its nice when the effort is made by the people in charge to recognize that they know who you are and have taken the time to read the blog or the review. Thanks for that. I almost felt like a king dining at George V.

Well as it turned out, I was not dining with my boys tonight but with my blood brothers, Kjetil, Uffe and Frode..and here they are anticipating the dinner..

Fox Force Four minus yours truly !

The kir was ordered, the amuses brought, the menu booked…

And this is was followed

I think a Lameloise classic, first round of amuses…

Second rounds, as the first round served in the library/lounge.

We ordered the wine, a crispy Rully 1. cru from Jackeson, a fat Meursault from J. Prieur, and a smooth Gevrey-Chambertin from A. Rousseau

Last greeting from the kitchen, Crab on a lettuce creme

Cold and warm Langoustine, the cold on a creme of celeriac

Loved this one….10p in my book. The warm being coated in crisp rice.

A true beauty, Scallops on risotto, Asparagus and Calamares

Unfortunately, the Scallops were overcooked, and we all know what that means. Thus a perfect dish was far from it. So dispite the tasteful asparagus…7p

Fois Gras with apple

Nice, nothing more nothing less. 9p

Different cuts of Lamb

Now the chevre coated in citrus, was quiete a surprice on your tongue, and a true spark to the dish. However, the quality of the dish was in fact the quality of the lamb. Simple as that. 9.5p

Cheese….

Now if you ever happen to be at Lameloise…DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT forget to order the cheese trolley. They are all perfectly mature, and the selection is all you could wish for. Bread and nuts are added. 10p

Pre-dessert

I simply cannot remember what it was. Blame it on the wine or on the dish itself. I shall therefore not rate it.

First round of sweets. We finished them all.

My choice of dessert…a chocolate “thing”

The dish just perfect, the crisp layers, the chocolate mousse, the icy bon bons – a light heavyweight 9.5p

K’s choice….after he broke the shell. Sorbet and fruits…

I did not hear any complaints, and it was a beauty on the plate…10p…according to Kjetil. He dug it the most….

Last round of sweets from above…

and from the side

Conclusion:

It is always good to be back at Lameloise. You feel welcome. The room embraces you. There is a certain vibe. When that is said, the service had a few flaws this evening. We were in fact left alone without water a few times etc. It could have been worse. It could have been the wine. The sommelier where the only one to notice this – the last time – and seemed pretty irritated by it, his own or his colleagues mishab. But for the overcooked scallops there is no excuse. They should never have left the kitchen. So – this might seem like minor flaws, but when you eat at a 3 star establishment, you expect the service to be top-notch and the food to be flawless. And I am sure the maitre will be more bothered about this than we actually were. But, great menu, great inter-action with the sommelier, great bread throughout the meal, the warm greeting etc. made us all feel like we spend a pretty good evening.

So, brood brothers, – thanks for behaving (most of the time). Lameloise, thanks for having us, be sure to find us back – we had a great evening. And to Frederic Lamy – thanks again for reading my blog. It is highly appreciated. I shall bring Oscar and Emil next time…you asked for it.

http://www.lameloise.fr

My rating for this visit: Food 9p (10), service 4.5p (5), ambience 5p (5), total score for this visit  18.5p (20)

Beaune, Bourgogne, – April 2011

The Fox Force Four had their annual wine trip to Bourgogne, and what a trip it was. It included among others 6 wine tastings, dinners at Jardin des Remparts and Lameloise and 3 nights in a small family run 3 star hotel – Hotel des Remparts in Beaune. Madame and Monsier Epailly and their staff, make sure your stay is memorable and flawless. I have never experienced such a high level of service and dedication in any 3 star or 4 star hotel before. I give it my warmest recommendations.

Heres a few shots from Hotel Des Remparts

The hotel entrance

The lounge and reception area

The small court-yard, where breakfast was served, and wines were tried in the afternoon

The Burgundy sky…we were spoiled with good weather…

The proud and dedicated (and shy) Mr. and Mrs. Epailly with Kjetil, we thank you for a wonderful stay, your dedication and your company.

I shall not make a review of the dinner at Le Jardin des Remparts. But we were warmly welcomed, had a great 5 courses menu at 70 eur which included amuses, choices for –  starter, fish, meat –  cheeses and desserts. Great bread. Add a huge wine list. A great evening ended upstairs in the library, piano room with the coffee and digestive. At 70 eur this menu seems a bargain.

The young chef came down to say his goodbyes before we left the restaurant.  And actually the evening continued for a few minutes outside in their garden where a huge fire was placed in the middle with 4 chairs surrounding it. It was the perfect way to end a great meal and great day, letting the impressions of it all go through your head while the flames warmed your body and mind. Brilliant. I can warmly recommend this old pearl in Beaune and they shall rest assured I will be back soon.

The following morning I got up early and after the shower decided to take a walk through Beaune, enjoying the first day of spring, the quiet and beauty of Beaune, heres a few shots from my (de-) tour.

The day was then filled with 3 wine tastings in Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-Georges and Beaune – before the 4 of us needed a break to prepare for the booked dinner at Lameloise at 20.30.

Good friends Uffe and Frode reading about….wine. The beer is mine and hit the spot.

Did I mention we had blue sky and 20-25 degrees celcius…

I shall come back the dinner at Lameloise in the next post. The last day of our trip was spend with a trip to Pouilly Fuisse, a good 1 hour on the highway from Beaune. We had a tasting in Vergisson and picnic at the foot of Solutrê.

Highlight for me was the shopping of the groceries on the market in Beaune. Olives, Jambon de Persielle, cheeeses, dried abricots, moutarde de Dijon, freshly baked bread….all you could wish for.

Uffe doing the math…

And the picnic at Solutrê could begin…well after a short drive…

4 rocks – Frode, yours truly, Uffe and Solutrê

Le picnic…

Kjetil doing his best Popeye !

The afternoon ended with great company – Monsier Epailly and his wife had invited us to share a glass in the courtyard.

A perfect way to relax after a good days work…

So being together – 4 individuals for almost 4 days, you are bound to hit and edge every now and then. But we all had fun, and we are happy and lucky to have this friendship, given the distances. True friendship does not bother about time and distances. We share the passion for the good things in life, and I cannot wait to repeat the essence of this trip in the years to come. Frode, Uffe and Kjetil – I love you all, thanks for your friendship.

Beaune, I love you too…and shall be back before you can say blueberry pie….