Whisky Tasting Dinner at La Distellerie, Bourglinster, Luxembourg – March 2013

“I am going, I am going
Any which way the wind may be blowing
I am going, I am going
Where streams of whiskey are flowing”

Streams of Whisky – The Pogues 1984

Just around Christmas time I ran into a friendly guy at the local Supermarket. He attracted my attention – because he was standing in front of a large selection of Malt Whisky – a drink I have enjoyed on many evenings in front of the open fire – back in the days where we had a cottage in Denmark. The perfect threesome in my opinion, Malt Whisky, Cold weather and open fire.

The name of the friendly fellow was Herman, and he was in fact representing the Whisky Club Luxembourg. We chatted a bit and the following day I received an invitation to a Gastronomic dinner at the beautiful Chateau Bourglinster hosted by WCL

I have not been back here for a long time. It is among the best set restaurants, when you cross that small bridge to the Castle, you feel transported a few hundred years back in time. The new chef René Mathieu has been awarded with a michelin star a few years ago.

Chateau Bourglinster

Chateau Bourglinster

Herman was there on chilled evening, in quilt and all – and greeting meant welcoming a good 100 people that was coming to the event.

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Herman in the left middle

The dinner was set up with a 6 course gastronomic menu with a corresponding Whisky to each dish. No wine. No wine. No wine. That was quite a challenge for a wine lover. I was excited to see if it would work, and if I would cope without the wine.

After a glass of a Luxembourgish cremant, and looking at the Whiskies on display we were shown to our table, that apart from Gijs and I consisted of 2 young Scandinavians, a youngster from Belgium and 2 mixed couples. One of the mixed couples – had litterally just arrived in Luxembourg – 4 days before. I can barely remember that feeling – a good 24 years ago a young slim man flew in with great expectations, but I dont think he ever imagined he would still be here 24 years burning down the road. Good luck to the both of you – it was a pleasure meeting you.

I shall show you some of the dishes but not go too much into details.

Saumon...

Saumon…

The second best dish of the evening and a good start. The salmon worked very nicely with the Whisky.

Fois gras poellé

Fois gras poelé

The best dish of the evening. My photo does not give full credit to the dish, I forgot my Canon and had to use my old I-phone.

Next up was a funny dish, Gambas in a letter. Well it might be a funny presentation if you are a smaller table, But we could see the waiters struggling with the opening of 96 envelopes – and that did effect the presentation of the dish in some cases. But funny it was.

An envoi recommandé

Un envoie recommandé

and voila...

and voila…

Next up was the veal, not an outstanding dish, and by this time Gijs and I were REALLY craving wine….I know now how lucky I am to be able to drink a glass or three every evening.

Veal

Veal

Herman was a great host, coming over to our table, being only one of 20 tables or so – to make sure the dishes and corresponding whisky was explained in an understandable language. He never seemed stressed, I am sure he was. Great respect goes to you my friend.

After the veal, we were getting really tired, I had a rough night with no sleep before and we were just about to say our goodbyes, but Herman managed to convince us to stay for the dessert and the following digestive, the 30 year old highlight of the evening.

Dessert...if you zoom in you can real full menu and the corresponding whisky selection.

Dessert – if you zoom in you can red thel full menu and the corresponding whisky selection.

Conclusion:

A great evening. Hats off to the event manager WCL, check them out at http://www.whiskyclublux.com/

If I have any complaints about the night it would be that it was even more difficult for me on a personal level to dine without wine. I know Gijs felt the same or even worse lol.

Some of the dishes went well with the whisky, some were more well borderline. I know many of the dishes would have improved with a glasss of the right wine, but was it a funny experience. Yes indeed it was. And I again met some beautiful people I hope to see again, and apart from the whole dining experience I think that is what good food is also about. For what is good food without friends, and new friends.

I shall not rate the food and restaurant as such. Serving 96 people at the same time in a room laid out for that does not give a fair impression about what the kitchen and chef is all about. The food did not scare me away for sure, and one fine day I will return to La Distellerie with a more private setting.

I was impressed by all the different whiskies – all provided by a good friend of mine – Rossi.

One thing I did take away from this evening, was my urge to swap that Grappa di Prosecco out once in a while with a good malt. So, Herman, my friend – I am sure you will be happy to hear that since that night in March I have aquired meself a bottle of Glenmorangie Sherry Cask and a bottle of Caol Ila.

Slainthe Herman 🙂

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Monkey´s West, Düsseldorf – 26th March 2013

“They prosecuted some poor sucker in these United States
For teaching that man descended from the apes
They coulda settled that case without a fuss or fight
If they’d seen me chasin’ you, sugar, through the jungle last night
They’da called in that jury and a one two three said
Part man, part monkey, definitely”

Part Man Part Monkey – Bruce Springsteen 1990

Celebrating the end of 3 succesful tasting days at Prowein 2013 – my first but not last showing here – the two Akkermans and I thought we needed to spoil ourselves.

Akkermans discussing the wines of the last 72 hours - and there were a few.

Akkermans discussing the wines of the last 72 hours – and there were a few.

Most of the pictures in this review have a red shine, most of that shines comes from the bar, and secondly because the lights were dimmed romantically low. Well with this crowd romance was not the first thing on my mind, but good food was.

Having heard many good things about the Monkey West it was a natural choice. The Chef here – Christian Penzhorn –  has last year been awarded with the first michelin star – and I am quite sure to predict – it is not gonna be his last.

The restaurant is build together with a cosy bar with funky lights and a huge wine refrigerator, showing (off) many nice drops if money is not a problem. The wine list is indeed ok, if not out of this world.

The menus let you swap around and starts with 4 courses for 80 eur. A bargain.

Here are 2 more shots from the funky bar.

Showing off ;-)

Showing off 😉

Pre-dinner toast in Domaine Gauby

Pre-dinner toast in Domaine Gauby

19.00 – and we were ready to hit our table….

GREAT selection of GREAT bread.

GREAT selection of GREAT bread.

Amuses first round - 3 different tastings.

Amuses first round – 3 different tastings.

Amuses - round two - Diffrent preparations of rabbit.

Amuses – round two – Different preparations of rabbit.

The rabbit being wonderful, and all in all I think this is what you can and should expect from a 1 star michelin restaurant. Nothing outstanding, but meaningful presentations. The bread came with a marmelade (!) and a fresh cheese creme, but no butter – which we asked for ourselves. I think I speak for all when I say the bread really impressed us.

Fois Gras

Fois Gras

We all had this one, I loved it. Clearly with an eye for detail on the plate but not too much. Just about how I like a dish to look. 9p

Quail with truffles

Quail with truffles

Again a great presentation, but all in all I think this for me was the weakest of the dishes tonight. 7p

Langoustine

Langoustine

And right here and then…back on track. This was probably the best dish of the evening. Everything perfect here. 9.5p

Loup de Mer with Artichoke

Loup de Mer with Artichoke

Gijs and I chose this one – and just as the dish before, the fish cooked to perfection the arrangement wonderful and the different texures of the artichoke a great companion. Now wait…this was probably the best dish of the evening lol 9.5p

Veal for Chris...

Veal for Chris…

Guess a solid dish is the right word. It looks a bit heavy when the large piece of the filet is served like that. Two smaller pieces would have made it a nicer presentation. I did not taste it, but I heard no complaints and also no wauw´s from Chris. Maybe he was just tired at this point. I know I was.

A little something as pre-dessert - with rhubarb.

A little something as pre-dessert – with rhubarb.

Loved this one, would have liked for the rhubarb pieces to be more prominent. I love rhubarb. 7p

Chocolate and Mango

Chocolate and Mango

I am a sucker for mango – and with chocolate, what more can you ask for. The details on this dessert send memories to some 2 or 3 star restaurants – and any 1 star michelin restaurant in the world should be proud if they can present a dessert like this. In my humble opinion. 9.5p

So where we done…not quite….after the pre-dessert, and dessert first little arrangement was presented…

Say chocolate...

Say chocolate…

My selection

My selection

and finally the last serving of tonight arrived

Over and out...

Over and out…

Conclusion:

I was actually amazed about the quality of food, the service, all the pretty waitresses walked gracefully through the room. Especially Kathleen (?) was a wonderful head-waitress (I presume). Tobias Kühne was a great maitre – all of the staff un-pretentious, which I like. Some of the male waiters had a more “monkey” way of walking, but I guess it fitted the room or concept. But all staff was on their toes on a busy night and with very few flaws and nothing worth of mentioning here.

The ambience, the bread, some of the food, the service – all that actually was at least 1 star menu tonight. Some dishes showed that there is room for more development in that respect. Meaning we have had less good experiences in both 2 and 3 michelin star restaurants. Respect.

The wines we chose tonight were a white Puligny-Montrachet from J. Prieur – did it have a flaw ? I was not sure, but a bit disappointed with its flatness – and a wonderful Arlaud village wine from Chambolle-Musigny. Tobias threw in a blind glass – a light Riesling Auslese for the dessert, and that too was a perfect match. And guessing it made it taste even better.

One complain only would be the list of digestives, which we found very simple and not up to par with the rest. But – having a London Blue Gin in the selection is on the other hand always a plus….

Mr. Akkerman and Mr. Akkerman – it was great fun – I have never walked so much in my life in 3 days. I have never tasted so many good wines. Gijs, – I cannot wait till we get some of these wines to Luxembourg – our clients will be amazed – but I guess the Prowein story is worth another post in its own right, so I shall get back to that. Chris and Gijs, thanks for your friendship. Rock on.

It was time for these 3 monkeys to leave the herd and hit the road and go back to Luxembourg.

IMG_5230

Thanks to all the staff at Monkey´s West for a wonderful time spent. Be sure to find us back.

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

*

“Well did God make man in a breath of holy fire
Or did he crawl on up out of the muck and mire
Well the man on the street believes what the bible tells him so
Well you can ask me, mister, because I know
Tell them soul-suckin’ preachers to come on down and see
Part man, part monkey, baby that’s me”

Part Man Part Monkey – Bruce Springsteen 1990

A different take at Restaurant Clairefontaine – Take 4, Luxembourg – 16 March 2013

“Old friends
Winter companions
The old men
Lost in their overcoats
Waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city
Sifting through the trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends”

Simon & Garfunkel 1968

Luxembourg city was showing itself from its prettiest side on a Saturday morning where we were again invited behind the curtains of our favourite local restaurant, the pride of the city – Restaurant Clairefontaine. Parking below the market, I just had time to shoot a few shots of one of the greatest thing city life has to offer – Saturday markets.

The Saturday market at Place Guillaume

The Saturday market at Place Guillaume

IMG_4946

Say Cheese !

The Cathedral

The Cathedral

And below the square, the morning sun on Clairefontaine.

And below the square, the morning sun on Clairefontaine.

So – old friends gathered at 10 am, greeted by Arnaud and William, waiting to see what there was expecting us today. Input had been given but apart from that we really do not know what awaits us on these cooking sessions. Catherine, Susanne, Morten, Torben, Klaus, Gijs and I were so ready and happy to be back.

As it turned out today – we were gonna make

Frog legs Parisienne – classic but deconstructed with Carrot mash, Parsley and Garlic

Scallops  Parmentier with smoke

Sweetbreads of Veal with Morilles

Grand Marnier Soufflé

Lets start with some frog legs ….not my favourite by far – but hey we are here for the fun and to learn.

Legs all lined up,....

Legs all lined up,….

Torben doing a Man´s Job.

Torben doing a Man´s Job.

William showing us how to prepare the other ingredients...

William showing us how to prepare the other ingredients…

The girls chatting...

The girls chatting…

Legs in the pan...

Legs in the pan…

The parsley creme almost finished. WHAT A COLOUR !!!

The parsley creme almost finished. WHAT A COLOUR !!!

Table 8 almost ready to go....

Table 8 almost ready to go….

IMG_5027

Frog legs, classic but deconstructed…

I was really happy to see the trick with the foam, the parsley creme was amazing in taste and colour, and I am sure I am gonna reproduce for some of my dishes. Frog legs as such remain something I would never order in a restaurant.

Next up was a favourite of most of my friends. Scallops.

Arnaud learned us how to read and understand the label.

Arnaud learned us how to read and understand the label.

Morteen looked and acted like he had never done anything else. Respect.

Morten looked and acted like he had never done anything else. Respect.

Taking out the delicate piece...

Taking out the delicate piece…

- and voila.

– and voila.

Scallops in the pan

Scallops in the pan

Gijs chekking the reduction..

Gijs checking the reduction..

Come together 1

Come together 1

Come together 2

Come together 2

- 3

– 3

Table 8 ready ....

Table 8 ready ….

Result - Scallops on leek, with potato creme, truffles and beef reduction.

Result –
Scallops on leek, with potato creme and potato chip – truffles and a beef reduction.

This was a brilliant dish, and great to see Arnaud cooking the scallops to perfection, see the smoke canon in use, seeing the wonderful potato creme done from scratch with a secret ingredient…hey we are not giving it all away 😉

Next up was the sweetbreads, who some of my friends had a slight “issue” with.

Cleaning the ris de veau...

Cleaning the ris de veau…

Cooking them for 10 min. on one side only.

Cooking them for 10 min. on one side only.

make them look a lot nicer and taste stunning.

make them look a lot nicer and taste stunning.

Arraning of the "risotto" with morilles

Arranging the “risotto” with morilles –

adding the morilles sauce and wauw.Ris de Veau with Morilles

Adding the morilles sauce and wauw.
Ris de Veau with Morilles

In the end all tasted the result and I think I speak for all when I say that this is a pearler of a dish. I have never had a better sauce in my life I think. Well at least this morilles sauce is as good as it gets. The sweetbread cooked to perfection.

As for dessert, Arnaud and William showed us quickly how to make the souffle. The result was perfect, great taste. lovely presentation. Not a dessert man – me – but still I was amazed of what you can do with basically just an egg and alcohol.

Grand Marnier Souffle.

Grand Marnier Souffle.

There was a certain vibe in the room today. I think everybody enjoyed being back, Torben joked around, Gijs took notes on his mobile, Klaus served the wine in the kitchen and we all enjoyed the fact that by now – Arnaud and William are pretty confident in letting us participate when we want to, but also letting it be when not – like me. After seeing another friend of mind – Claus – struggling with the scallops a few weeks ago, I felt no need to fight these.

We all had our favourite dish today I think, for some it was the frog legs, some the scallops and some the sweetbread. But in the end we again learned a little something in a few hours. Something we can reproduce, develop or use in other dishes. We also learned tha we have to have two or three more applicanses in our kitchen. And Christmas is far away.

Well the 16th of March was Christmas in some fashion. Thank you Arnaud and William for inviting us again. Thanks to my friends for coming along on this train. And yes – maybe next time we should work on presenting a menu for our hosts. I think that sounds like a plan. Also thank you Julien. Again you succeeded in great wine matches to the dishes. You are one heck of a sommelier and friend.

What a great day it was. Old friends.