A different take at Restaurant Clairefontaine – Take 3, Luxembourg – 22 September 2012

1 year after our first cooking class at Restaurant Clairefontaine, Arnaud and William again opened their doors and there “Little box of secrets” for us.

This time around we were 7 students and the menu apart from the requested beef was a secret to all of us.

What was on the working and dining menu today was:

Amuse – Tartare of Tuna with a wasabi/soya dressing
Starter – Lobster carpaccio with redish
Main – Filet of Beef with pepper sauce and a potato mash
Dessert – Creme Brullee

So a very classic menu, – again with a lot of focus on our chances of re-producing most of it at home without too much of a fuss.

After a small briefing and a cup of coffee for those in need of that, it was cooking time,

Cutting the tuna, scallots, choriander…

voila…at the end finished of with olive oil with a touch of lemon, salt and pepper

Cherry tomatoes with a twist…

Finishing the dish…

The finished result…

The “wasabi” sauce was made of wasabi paste, soya sauce and a touch of homemade mayonaice to make it smoother in both taste and texture. A great amuse that you can make in 5-10 min.

Next up – the lobster.

A view to a kill….

Anyone up for a 69 ?

Now at this point we close the cameras and have a moment of silence. 9 lobsters were used – and killed in that process. Yes, Susanne – I shall spare you the details.

Busy hands…

Dirty work…

What followed next was the slizing of a monster redish, and explanation about how to do the lobster reduction to enhance the flavour of the dish, crushed dry rosemary as well as the crushed dried orange skin added the “genious” factor to the dish. The cleaned lobster cut into carpaccio style slices, the salad bowl on top done with a thai tempura flour.

Great little extras for an outstanding dish

Mind your fingers…

Put aside to rest for a while…

This ones for you Susanne

Making a salad “bowl”..

So three-4 steps of arranging the dish

Step 1 – arranging the sliced and boiled redish over the lobster…

Gijs adding the classic vinegar/honey/oil dressing

Adding the crunched dried Rosemary and Orange – with a touch of chives…

The salad bowl on top – inside the salad a claw of the lobster….

Now this dish might seem a bit complex for amateurs like us… with the homemade little extra seasonings, the killing of the lobster, the tempura salad bowl, the wonderful lobster reduction etc. etc. But I think that even if one cut some corners here and there -it can be reproduced at home. And it for sure was a dish to die for. Or to kill for. In this case the lobsters left the world for a good reason. Susanne, I am sure they went straight to lobster heaven. I know we did. The blanched cruncy redish mixed with the texture of the lobster and the tempura on top….Arnaud and William. I loved this dish so much.

Next up was the slowly cooked beef. After preparing the whole filet of prime Luxembourgish caddle, it was quickly sealed and put into a vacum to cook at 48 degrees in slightly over and hour. Finished off at high heat. Peppersauce was done with a pre-produced reduction, and man what a sauce it was. The mash consisting of potatoes, butter, butter, butter and chives.

Heres a few shots of that preparation

First cleaned, then strapped up, then cut into 250 gram pieces…

Sealed off and with butter, herbs and garlic into the “solarium”….

Pepper and scallots braised off, cognac added and after a small fire, the pre-produced reduction was added. Man what a sauce….

The mash…

arranged in a genorous way….

and table 1 was ready to go…

To say I love this dish would be the understatement of the year. Perfectly cooked prime beef. The worlds best sauce, and a simple mash. What more do you need ?

To finish of a classic menu, you off course need a creme brulee. I shall not bother you with all the details of that one. Just say that from the two variations we made – one with burned sugar and one where rhum was added and lit to make a more fun presentation – I prepared the classic bunselbrenner version…but the flamy one of course makes a nicer picture

Arnaud showing how to prepare my favourite dessert..

Creme

– Brulee

So – looking back at now 3 sessions and a good 11-12 dishes…which ones stands out. I am actually not sure. I know for sure that the 4 dishes we had today all ranks up there with my overall favourite classic dishes in the world. But then there was off course also those pork cheeks, that fois gras, – that cod – etc. etc. etc. too praise. But most of all, what I appreciate the most in these cooking sessions – and I think I speak for the whole group is the little things we learn. Extra salt, extra butter, the small tricks – that all improve a dish in so many ways. So Arnaud and William – we especially thank you for that. We also again thank you bot for your precious time, what a wonderful way to spend “A day in the life”.

We also thank Julien, who always amazes with his choice of wines. Today it was absolutely on top. Each wine a perfect match enhancing our FANTASTIC dishes…

Session 4 already seem to far away.

Smiling faces all around…yours truly smiling only behind the camera.

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Lameloise, Chagny, France – 26 August 2012

First week of our summer holiday was spent in a rented town-house in Beaune. It was a personal wish and the family played along, even though we all knew that Beaune is not a typical place for family holidays. The focus is for sure on food and wine. There is a playground, there is parks and ducks…..but its not Kapt. Blaubär Club In Hohe Düne.

Lunch in Beaune…

My dream has always been to spend a little bit more time in this wonderful city, than the odd one or two nighter every now and then. And this time we had indeed booked 5 nights and were lucky to enjoy nice weather. We also got to visit Dijon as well as seeing old friends Pernille and Patrick – as well as new friends – our hosts Alain and his wife Marie-Claire. We thank you both for a wonderful stay in your beautiful house.

Our great hosts….

The next day Alain arranged a tasting tour the the beautiful cellars of Louis Jadot, and it was as good and interesting as we could have ever wished for.

Many great drops were tried…

But as I mentioned the other attraction of Bourgogne, beside the fabulous wines is off course the food. And a lunch at one of my old time favourite restaurants was booked for the second day of our stay. First a trip to the traditional Sunday market in Chagny with all its colours, spices, vegetables, truffles, oils, cloths, hats and you name it….

2 gents trying the olives…

Out two cool boys in front of …

Lameloise

The missus took another round at the market, and I ordered a kir on the terrasse. It came with the usual WONDERFUL olives – the best on this planet – escargot flavoured pop-corn as well as the creme of this time mackerel I think.

Emil eating ALL the pop-corn

Seated in the lounge bar this beauty was up just after another round of the same olives etc. served at the terrasse.

An army of small tastings, some prepared gluten free…

Actually each one of them would be worth a report and photo – but I shall give you just one of them

Mackerel

A fresh cheese wonder was the last greeting from the kitchen…Minor flaw, the vegetarian status of the missus was neglicted…a roll of tender roastbeef on the side.

This salty fluffy bread has to be one of the best of its kind in the world. All you even need.

Emil sure loved it.

Frois Gras de canard, in a robe of potato, with bouillon of truffles

My choice of  a starter, is one of the signature dishes of Eric Pras. Its wonderful 10p

Langoustines, cold and warm

When ordering this dish, the waiter came back and informed the missus that they could try to present it in another way, because the rice-crisp on the warm Langoustine would contain a tiny amunt of flour. But, he assured that it was close to nothing. Astrid took the chance and actually had no problems afterwards. It was probably the best dish of the day. 10p

Childrens menu comes at 25 eur. including their share of all the amuses as well. The boys had a childrens menu which could also have included fois gras, but they opted for these 3 dishes…

Ham and salad

A piece of Saint Pierre with vegetables

Pancakes with ice

Since I had ordered the wonderful crepe-suzette I had requested some extra pancakes for the boys and that request was met without a fuss.
Back to our menu  – the choice of the missus

A large piece of cod

Beautilful simple arrangement, but the size of the Cod, made actually Astrid loose her appetite, even before she started. When ordering the menu all dishes are cut down in size, but we had indeed opted for a la carte this time. But – especially with the missus -sometimes less is more, – she liked it, but it never really rang her bells. 7p

But mine did….Lamb.

You can wake me up for this dish – lamb and Lameloise go hand in hand. Just so tender, the outstanding garlic crumble, the beauty and quality of the vegetables. Bonus point lol. It was better than ever….and prettier. 10p
This dish certainly will stay in my memory for a long time.

Time for sweets and dessert

Round 1

Round two…

Some fluffy good looking things for the missus…

Great looking – but the fluffy fellows were a bit boring in taste. 7p

My “pancakes”…

Now they might look a bit boring, but the taste…classic 10p

Final round…

Conclusion:

Its always good to be in Lameloise. And one thing is for sure. I will be back.

It seemed I had a bit more luck with my choices this time than the missus. But that did not ruin our experience. The boys behaved great – with the help of an Ipad, that helped us over the last hour or so. Three hour plus dining is a whole lot to ask from two active fellas.

Emil and I paid Eric Pras a visit in his kitchen and thanked for the wonderful food. The great and elegant Frederic Lamy paid us a few visits during the dining.

The interaction with the young sommelier very nice and even a blinder served. Thanks for the fun.

The waiter I have enjoyed most over all the years, still remain a prominent figure. He is so kind and service-minded. Whenever Astrid would leave the table he would come over and  entertain and visa-versa. I asked him how it was to be one of the best waiters in the world…he only laughed…no no no…he said…but he is so good, and as I write this I have forgotten his name. but I shalll give you the picture – if you see him say hi from me. Pascal ?

The best waiter in the world? For sure among them.

My rating for this visit: Food 9p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), total score for this visit  19p (20)

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I shall leave you with a few shots from the wonderful garden of “our house” and a single last shot from Beaune, my kinda town.

The pool, the water a bit to cold for yours truly…but the boys enjoyed it.

The house with garden and pool

One of my favourite spots in town

Marbella Club Hotel (Restaurant Club de Playa), Marbella – September 3, 2012

I really had been looking forward to re-visiting this place. Ever since our last visit a year ago I have corresponded a bit with the great waiter – Francisco Javier Doncel – in Spanish !!!  – Unfortunately he had other duties this day – it would have been great to see him again – hasta luego Javier, see you hopefully next time.

We were spoiled with a clear blue sky and 26 degrees celcius.

A few shots from the restaurant and surroundings.

The location, as good as it gets

The beach below

Our table, front row tickets you may say…

Now the 5 star hotel looks like a hotel, where I could survive a few days without a problem, and I can only wish that I will one day be able to afford a stay here. Beside a gastronomic restaurant inside, the attration is the beach club, which has a buffet second to none. Everything is so fresh with an eye for detail and with a great presentation. Beside the cold buffet you have a barbeque where fish of all kinds and meat are prepared to your liking.

Great olives and roasted almonds and a bottle of Rueda…while the boys took a swim

Oscar where he likes to be the most

Emil preferred the slighly smaller version

Back to the other reason for our visit. The incredible lunch that was waiting for us. I greeted the chef, who at least seemed to remember me, and he was on his toes as soon as I – por favour – asked for a plate of Pata Negra and some grilled lenguados for the boys.

A proud chef

At your service…

Freshly cut pata negra.

What to choose…

The quality is really outstanding. I dont even know where to start, – only by saying that I only tried a fraction of it. The artichokes amazing, as the lobster and langoustines. The chef asked me if he could propose a little plate of something for us – I did not understand what he meant, but I was pretty confident we were gonna like it. And man did we like it. We loved it. Simply the most perfectly cooked langoustines of a kind. Grilled around 1 minute only, just enough to leave the colour – but still ever so moist and tender. Best plate I have had in a long long time. All you need is actully good produce and a chef who knows his techniques.

If that doesn´t make you happy…

Oscar loving his sole, not so much the spinach..

Round two from the buffet

This time I actually also tried the paella, which was very nice. I did not manage any grilled fish or meat – my belly was full. The kids had been looking forward to the desserts. As Oscar had informed us…Im going to have my favourite dessert again. Strawberries, raspberries and whipped cream. As it turned out the strawberries were the only flaw of the day, being a bit boring, tired…but the raspberries…have never tasted sweeter or better.

Oscar was a happy chappy

Emil opted for chocolate…

I do think that Emil had three rounds of desserts (!) These two, and two pieces more….

A look at the beach and the Jetty, and it was time to ask for the bill. After 4 hours in Paradise.

End of season, quiet beach

The bar is extended onto the jetty.

Conclusion:

Our visit this time was even better foodwise than last time. We were graced with the visit to our table by Uncle Rudi, previous director and co-founder of the hotel. He was celebrating the birthday of his wife at the table next to us and he came over to congratulate us on our choice of restaurant and me of my beautiful wife. What a nice person and gentleman he was. I bet he had a story or two to tell. Next time maybe Uncle Rudi.

The service is impecable, the settings pure holiday feeling with a classic luxury touch. I thank you again Torben for showing me this spot in the first place.

I shall re-post the great shot I took of our dear friend Javier last year

We missed Javier this time as I mentioned, but if money allows it Javier, please be sure to find us back next year.

My rating for this visit: Food 8p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), 1 extra happiness point for a day in Paradise – Total Score 19p (20)