Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 14 January 2013

“It’s good to be king, – if just for a while
To be there in velvet, yeah, to give ’em a smile
It’s good to get high and never come down
It’s good to be king of your own little town”

Tom Petty 1994

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So – a few weeks ago, when publishing a list with some of my favourite dishes from last year, I got a message from one of my best friends – who spanked me for not having any dish of Clairefontaine in the top 10. Another good friend I have – could never imagine having a good lunch in Luxembourg if not at Clairefontaine.

Well, the first spanking I accept. Because there were some good dishes in there I could have chosen. But when I did the list I had no idea what would end up at the top spots. But just like with my favourite Springsteen songs…the list is constantly changing. But I do feel that all dishes on my top 10 that day deserved their ranking. But, maybe I overlooked a few strong contenders, I cannot honestly say I did not. But – so much more reason to be happy to be back at beloved Clairefontaine. Whether I was the king for a day, or Clairefontaine still is the King of Luxembourg – well I shall let you be the judge.

Table booked, in the car – 15 min later a big smile from Didier, Arnaud, Julien and the rest of the staff, what more could you want. Had a good long chat with Arnaud. Luxembourg is still only just waking up from the holidays and the city is VERY quiet.

New menu, so lots of things to choose from – but I did my homework – online – and settled for the King Crab and the Kobe Hamburger. Open wines, a  matter of trust and confidence and always exciting here at Clairefontaine, because, firstly they do not list any of our wines – yet – so no chance of recognition 😉 – secondly Julien Codet has a GOOD taste, and is slowly starting to know mine 😉 – and thirdly they know I want my wines blind if possible.

The lunch started with a Chenin Blanc, which suffered from my just finished chewing gum, but got better by the sip. The second Chardonnay, – well at least I got the grape right and Bourgogne correct, and I also guessed a Rhone blend for the red.

So…

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Saumon

Slowly cooked at 42 degrees for 20 min. Great. One of the best amuses I have ever had at Clairefontaine. And I have had a few 😉

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Round two…

As always you get a second round, and this was to the right a crevette on a fois gras mousse, and to the left a snail on a potato something. Great, except I avoid snails whenever I can.

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King Crab on redish

What made this dish work – or even stand out was the “corail” ice cream on top, the green redish and the fine meat of the crab. What a nice combo. The mozzarella “espouma” with the “egg” shell was a crunchy companion. But I think the dish did not need it. 7.5p

Kobe Hamburger

Kobe Hamburger

Yeah – why not. The little brother L´Annexe has as one of their classics on the menu a “Hamburger” – with slowly braised shoulder of beef I think. This was the big brother of that one. If someone would argue that it would be a crime to mince kobe beef – well I would not know – but I know this much. This was just about the best burger I have ever had. No ketchup to disturb the delicate taste of the meat. Did I say delicate. I meant outstanding. The thin layer of cheese even made it a cheese-burger, but did not take away the focus from the meat or the wonderful reduction. French fries, soft and more like potatoes than greasy fries, and speaking as a Dane – that is a great plus. The bun perfect. If any complaints…it would be the missing pickled cucumber. I do love my cucumbers. Would fit in with the concept of a Luxury burger ? Maybe not. As a burger I would give it a good 10p. As a normal dish in my gastronomic world – well still a good 8-8.5p

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Say cheese…

So our local angel – Gabriel – as always smiling, attentive, and in this case presenting the cheese. The cheese at Clairefontaine is among the best in town, and mostly what you need after a great meal. Special roasted bread is offered as well as selection from the normal bread basket. 8.5p

Conclusion:

Riders of the storm – or readers of my blog will know. Clairefontaine is as good as it gets in Luxembourg. The service under Didier on their toes to make sure you as a customer always are as comfortably and happy as possible. Julien among the best and most gentle sommeliers I know – and Arnaud – classic with an innovative touch. Today I have nothing to complain about. Really I do not. So I think you might find me back soon.

My rating for this visit: Food 8.25p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), Total Score  18.25p (20)

It’s good to be king, if just for a while

To be there in velvet, yeah, to give ’em a smile It’s good to get high, and never come down It’s good to be king of your own little town

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Best dishes of 2012 – “The Directors Cut”

Many good meals were had, many extraordinary dishes were consumed in restaurants in Luxembourg and surroundings. If you are  a returning reader you will know that my overall favourite restaurant is Schloss Berg, and Clairefontaine is my local favourite. But the best meal in Luxembourg I actually had on on the last day of May at Bouquet Garni where Mark Wright joined us before his first ever show in Luxembourg. Thank you Thierry Duhr for an outstanding meal – it was an evening where it all came together taste wise. But unfortunately no photos were taken 😦

But I thank you dear friends who made all those meals worthwhile – for what is outstanding food without the right dining partner….so thank you dear friends – Astrid, Torben, Gijs, Jerome, Serge, Richard, Pascal, Johan, Jörgen, and the changing members of the G8 group – also for the fun. Also BIG thanks also goes to the Fox Force Four – Kjetil, Frode and Uffe. See you in Beaune..

Wine wise I have had to scale down in the restaurants – but that have only given room for many new discoveries. On private basis, the joint venture with Le Caviste has spoiled me with so many new good wines I cannot start to count them, but only feel priviledged – to have tasted them,  AND to be able to sell some of those to many new customers who I am sure will enjoy them just as much as we have.

But here I shall present you with some of my best shots of some of those dishes that made 2012 a VERY gastronomic year for me.

Here you go…

Marbella Club Hotel

10. Marbella Club Hotel

The Chef, ever so kindly suggested these beauties to us – in Spanish. Not sure what they were…except a kind of Langoustines. But they were cooked to perfection. The dinner was enjoyed with the missus and the boys.

De Leuf, Maastricht

9. De Leuf, Maastricht

I have to mention this one. NOT a fan of oysters…but this amuse was served in a Gin/Tonic version. Best oyster ever, and made promise for a GREAT evening that food wise kept the level. The dinner was enjoyed with best friend Jerome. Love you.

8. Lameloise, Chagny

8. Lameloise, Chagny

I just love the arrangement of this dish. You can do few things wrong when serving lamb to me. And lamb at Lameloise is like a perfect marriage. It doesnt get any better. Eris Pras like Monsieur Lameloise before him knows his way around classic dishes. Even with a twist. I was happy to visit lameloise a few times last year, but this specific dish was enjoyed with the missus and the boys.

7. Schloss Berg

7. Schloss Berg

A surprice dish, – well in a surprice menu all dishes are a surprice, but this one was an extra “throw in” by my favourite chef Christian Bau. Different textures of artichoke. And within the menu on that certain evening it sure made us feel happy. Dinner was enjoyed with the missus. It was our 10 years anniversary dinner, and we could not have wanted to be anywhere else in the world on this evening,

6. Hotel and Restaurant les Florets, Gigondas

6. Hotel and Restaurant les Florets, Gigondas

This might seem like a simple dish or presentation. But I loved this dish so much, On the last evening of our stay, I ordered it twice. Read the story on my post from that evening if you want to know the details. It was the final evening of a succesful wine trip to Rhone with new friend and business partner Gijs. The dish…Pears in red wine, nuts, beans, fois gras, artichokes. It all came together like few dishes in this world. And on a beautiful evening, knowing that one of the Chefs was the prettiest chef on this planet. Well I almost cried. Dinner was spent of course with Gijs. Thanks for your friendship and giving me the opportunity to promote and sell the wines of Le Caviste.

5. Schloss Berg, Nennig

5. Schloss Berg, Nennig

A slightly different presentation of a GREAT dish of Christian Bau. The combination of the fois gras with the sea algae…..I tell you if you havent tried it – well you havent lived. One of my favourite dishes ever. This evening was spent with good friend and gastronomic expert Pascal. Looking forward to more of those evenings my friend.

4. De Leuf, Maastricht

4. De Leuf, Maastricht

Another dish from De Leuf, and another fois gras dish. This dish brought tears to the eyes of my fellow diner – best friend Jerome, who was litterally moved by this dish. So was I. And….The fois gras was combined with a piece of sole. GREAT combo.

3. Lameloise, Chagny

3. Lameloise, Chagny

Cold and warm Langoustine. The cold on a an apple “thing”. The warm wrapped with crispy rice. I was lucky to have this dish on two occasions. With the FFF and with the missus on our summer holiday. Simply Stunning. This presntation was from the dinner with the missus.

2. Fischer´s Fritz, Berlin

2. Fischer´s Fritz, Berlin

Fois Gras again…no wonder I´m fat….but….This one…perfect fois gras on smoked eel, with caramel on top. I tell you. You dont get much more classic kitchen than in this GREAT restaurant. I have no doubt, I would rather haeve the menu at some other restaurants mentioned in this post – but – the cooking here is great.  And it does not always need to be innovative to please your palete. This lunch was enjoyed with the missus, prior to a Bruce Springsteen show. And what a show it was…

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1. Falco, Leipzig

Peter Maria Schnurr…..We had such a wonderful evening “in your hands”. This dish was raw scallops with rhubarb and apple. It just worked. Like the whole evening did. Like Christian Bau, you are a true magician. There is only one regret. That Leipzig is 600 km away. I chose this dish, because, just like the one in Gigondas…it is a dish were simple ingredients can make an explosion in your mouth, and play with your senses. It gets almost sexual. You were great fun too Peter 😉

Conclusion:

Looking back at all those dishes, I know – the result – the list . would be diffferent even just now. And some dishes…like the chocolate dessert at De Leuf, the Poulard de Bresse at Clairefontaine, the Banana Split at Schloss Berg…well I could have chosen many other dishes. But one thing is sure. These dishes were all outstanding. And they each give me memories of the taste, the ambience and the people with whom I enjoyed them.

And I need to add….I did not get a chance to visit my good friend, and one of the best kitchens in Europe this year. Jan, Sölleröd Kro. Im sure you would have had a dish in here if…

Thank you dear friends…I love you all. And thanks for taking the time. Rock on.