Domaine La Louviere, Malvies – August 2014

FWRR were granted the exclusivity of the the fine wines of Domaine La Louviere for Luxembourg earlier this year, shortly after we started up our own wine import business. The wines were among the first to be imported and among the first to be sold out. But do not worry – because there is still the great Le Galante on stock and maybe we can find a few of the reds too – even though our hearts cry every time a La Sedutrice or La Maitresse leaves the garage.

The outstanding artwork

The outstanding artwork

The outstanding art of work :-)

The outstanding art of work 🙂

That hit the spot

That hit the spot

But ever since the import started, Nicolas and Thore kindly invited us to come down down down south and have a look at the production and wineyards. And so we did. we stopped shortly before Barcelona it seems, and were amazed by the landscape,  which actually included more sunflowers than vines. I later told Nicolas, so this is the trick to wonderful herbal taste of the reds – you make them from sun flowers !!!!

Actually, wine maker and new on the team Jem (from Adelaide !!!) – showed us there were actually lots of wine grown on the land surrounding the Domaine.

Here´s some shots to get you an idea what awaited us.

The fountain and "market place" in front of the main building.

The fountain and “market place” in front of the main building.

The beauiful trademark fiirmly placed 4 times on the fountain

The beauiful trademark firmly placed 4 times on the fountain

The Pyrenees and attitude make room for a great wine growing climate

The Pyrenees and high attitude make room for a great wine growing climate

Suns everywhere.

Suns everywhere.

We were spoiled with good weather and Jem playing the perfect host, went shopping for us, right after arrival, and went to get us breakfast the next morning as well. That is great host playing. Good on ya.

First meal was cheese, charcuterie, fine La Louviere wines and …..more wines. What a nice arrival. Stefan made sure the beds were made and that all  of us were installed properly. A funny phone call from Nicolas set the tone of the stay, he was not to arrive until a few days later, but I could assure him we were well taken care of.

The next day we spend in beautiful Carcassonne, had a semi great lunch – and after returning to the domaine we relaxed with table tennis, rosé and ipads.

The big boys below Carcassonne

The big boys below Carcassonne

As always a Mr.Blue Sky when we are on a trip.

As always a Mr.Blue Sky when we are on a trip.

:-)

🙂

Hard to pick the shots to show you from the 200 I took.

Hard to pick the shots to show you from the 200 I took inside the old city.

one last one

one last one

and back the Domaine as I said time to rest before shower and dinner. The dinner I shall come back to in a review coming up shortly.

3 ages..

3 ages playing with rubber bands.

Returning after dinner most people called it a night and I opened a bottle of Rhum and were joined by the Bruxelles/Amsterdam connection in what turned out to be a longer drink – talk and night. I went to bed WAY over bed time but had a great evening. And mind you no hangover the next morning for reasons unexplained to man,

Next day was spend partly at the near by lake and for my part, shopping and cooking for our hosts and us. I had asked Stefan to find a “room with a view” – and the table and setting blew us away. Thank you most sincerely Stefan for arranging this, the evening was truly awesome. A pearler.

Before the dinner Jem showed us around and we were explained what makes La Louviere so special and what they aim for. Nicolas arrived – almost not late and joined us for my Coq au vin, which I think he liked 🙂

New mates - Oscar and Jem

New mates – Oscar and Jem

Dinner

Dinner

A proud wine maker.

A proud wine maker.

Table - and my humble sandwiches to get us going.

Table – and my humble sandwiches to get us going.

Waiting for the "coq" to arrive - Nicolas :-)

Waiting for the “coq” to arrive – Nicolas 🙂

Wine were plenty and good and I got a bit tipsy and called it a night. Judging from the look of some of the fellow diners the next day, that was a wise move.

Last day we spend exploring the area, and packing – sigh – I beat our host Nicolas in table tennis…and was both amazed and happy just doing that. Two things to be noted. One – I have a bad right wrist 🙂 and two  – I do think the score were adjusted a bit just around the 19-18 area, where I thought I was behind and then all of sudden was leading. Never mind. The victory was sweet. Oh so sweet.

Before leaving Nicolas told me some exciting and good news as for the product range of the domaine. Looking foward to that my friend.

We sincerely hope this will not be the last time we are visiting this great domaine. We thank you Nicolas, Jem and Stefan for taking good care of us. And we are looking forward to importing MANY more of your fine wines to the delight of our customers. I shall leave you with a few shots taken by my brother Heiko Schneider – one of the fans of the wines of Domaine La Louviere.

And to those of you who have not tried the wines yet. Feel free to pass by the garage sale of FWRR in Helmsange, Luxembourg or call me at +352661187904 – and let us arrange a tasting for you.

Style and taste

Style and taste

Herbal taste :-)

Herbal taste 🙂

and a final shot of the sun and the beautiful courtyard.

Bye Bye...

Bye Bye…

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La Fromagerie, Marylebone, London – 20 July 2013

On a visit to London in 2011 I think, I was happy to stay in the Marylebone area of London. And I loved it. So when the missus said to me, where are we going now, after havng showed Emil, Big Ben, I said – Marylebone !!!

IMG_5840-001

This one is for you my dear Emil

Bridge over troubled water.

Bridge over troubled water.

Marylebone is like a little hideaway, starting 50 meters off the end of Oxford Street, down – opposite of Marble Arch. The first part is STUFFED with all kinds of etnic restaurants, many of those offering water pipes. Emil was fast to claim that he wanted to try one of those. His mother was just as quick in rejecting that request. Later on it turns into a shopping area with shop that looks like shops should look . A book store that reminds one why it is nice to actually visit one instead of ordering via amazon.

I remembered where the cooking book section was...

I remembered where the cooking book section was…

And Emil had fun with this little book.

And Emil had fun with this little book.

As we came further up the road, I remembered having seen a funny little diner/shop last time. So we went down the corner and yup 20 meters of the high street was La Fromagerie.

THE shop !

THE shop !

It was closed last time I was here, but now the shop was full of life. Vegetables, pickled everything, freshly baked bread, cooking books, wines, a cheese department, charcuteri. Everything a man could hope for. And most of this stuff organic. Beside the shop part of the business, there are two rooms with tables and benches. Add to all that a large menu and even a small wine list

What to eat...

What to eat…

Green stuff

Green stuff

Open kitchen

Open kitchen

Cheese Department

Cheese Department

All kinds of stuff

All kinds of stuff

All kinds of people

All kinds of people

Well, we settled for a rillette of mackerel, a cheese plate with Italian cheeses and a fennel / red beet salad. The were 4-5 different cheese selections to choose from, there were all kinds of salads. In general I was releaved when I saw the menu. This was something for the missus. When that is said, we did not find any gluten-free bread, and Emil struggled to find something he wanted. Well blame that on the up-bringing of course, but it was not a child-friendly place anyway, with the small alleys and things to break. But Emil loved the “limonade” that was done on spot for him, and the chips.

Say cheese

Say cheese

Salad

Salad

Happy Emil !

Happy Emil !

Italian Chardonnay

Italian Chardonnay

The kind waitress actually warned us about the wine I chose. It is not your usual easy drinkable Chardonnay she claimed. Its a little full and rich for lunch maybe. Well actually it was nice, the colour very intense, seemed like they had a lot of sun in Piemonte that year. We liked it.

Conclusion:

As I said to the young couple at the table next to us. If I lived in Marylebone, I would be in this shop every second day. Great menu, great vibe, great quality and just about nothing to complain about. If I shall just mention that the salad as fresh and good as it looked could have used more acidity. The cheeses were wonderful so was the rilette. Great service and a smell of freshly baked bread in the air. This is where you wanna lunch in London.

I know my family sometimes have to bear with me – a lot – because of the focus I do seem to give to eating – but this shop, I think it even impressed the missus. I am sorry dear A for all those restaurants and food trips I have dragged you on. I thank you for mostly being a good sport about it. Well, If I had one dream left in my world, not related to my family, – it would be to own a shop like this. .

My rating for this visit: Food 6.5p (10), service 4p (5), ambience 4.5p (5), 15p (20)

Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 31 july 2012

“School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces”
Alice Cooper 1972

Even though the termometer reads 19 degrees, its high summer at this point and the boys have started their summer vacation. So I decided to continue the tradition I started last year. Going with them to my favourite terrasse in town for a boys lunch , even though – to our disappointment the dining was going to commence inside this year. Not a surprice since the weather is really tricky this year. Nevertheless, the sun came out and people arriving an hour later were blessed with both sun and al fresco dining.

Big boys….they really are growing so fast.

We were joined by Angel, the big boy of Chef Arnaud and host Edwige. A big boy himself now at 12. Nice to have some grown up chat at the table. Thanks for your company Angel.

I forgot my camera, so I apologize to you readers and to Arnaud if the photos are not quite up to par. Two rounds of (very nice) amuses – which were both tried and almost liked by the boys 😉 –  were followed by my starter:

Variations of tomato

A summer dish, typical for the style of Arnaud, and it was very nice if not out of this world. The crunchy bisquit was a great combo to the delicate tomatoes. A decent starter where the southern or even Italian  influences were clear with pesto and mozzarella etc. 7.5p

Cheeks of veal, macaroni stuffed with tender small pieces of veal shoulder or leg. Can one call that rilette of veal ?

Great dish, the meat so tender, the reduction VERY tasteful, the different preparations of carrot fitting. Really up there among the top for such a simple dish 8.5p

The menu was followed by the usual sweets and 90 min had gone, the boys, mostly due to Angel, had behaved fantastic, even though I forgot the entertainment in the car.

.

Emil and Oscar both had veal on basmati rice with vegetables and as soon as the green leaf on top was removed they loved it…

“Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes”
Alice Cooper 1972

Well we had class today. And so did the menu and wines. The wines today were chosen – and served blind as I like it – 2 white chardonnays were followed by a beautiful red. To get such a great taste from a simple appellation. Well chosen dear Julien

Nice drop.

Conclusion:

I hope dear boys we can re-do this traditon every year for many years to come. It was good practicing for the upcoming lunch at Lameloise. And you did well, if not perfect. The food was in good Clairefontaine style. I do think that meat cooking is one of Arnauds strongest sides and the veal today was no exception.

As most times we were today given the seperate salon, which allows the boys to fool around a bit. Didier was his usual charming self, playing with the boys. The staff on their toes and nothing really to complain about. Was the food out of this world ? No. but it didnt need to be. After all it was just “family guy” establishing a little bit of summer tradition and – “an education” for two aspiring gourmets. And they tried both amuses today, and the first one even without any kind of pressure. Well done my boys. You make it all worthwhile. Restaurant Clairefontaine is still holding on strong to its position as the best (terrasse!) dining in town – and among the best anyway. Thanks for having us.

My rating for this visit;

Food 8p (10) service 5p (5) ambience 5p (5),  Total Score  18p (20)

Dubrovnik Part 2 – Two good Restaurants of Dubrovnik

Finding a restaurant in Dubrovnik is not tough. The city is packed with possibilities. We had recommendations from our friends as well as from different kind of sources, magazines, guides etc. But still we struggled a bit to find the level we are used to in Luxembourg. The price level was as I mentioned in my last post surpricingly high and not always on par with what landed on the plates. Sea bass, scallops and oysters are found on most menus – Dubrovnik getting all those resoources from the clear waters surrounding the city – the Adriatic Ocean. Like I mention in the last post, wines are served and left on the table for you to help yourselves. Sometimes the waiter will lend a hand, but not always.

Anyway, I shall give you a selection of our favourite dining spots ranging from  bar/brasserie to top gastronomic ones – starting at the lower end of the scale with

Restaurant Veritas

More a bar than a restaurant, much more a terrasse in fact. The food here was very simple, but stil on a few occasions we were spoiled with something that rose above much higher priced places. It is situated on the corner of the small market square where Oscar and Emil where playing most days with the hundreds of doves. Comfortably chairs, shadow or a spot in the sun, Elvis will make sure you feel at ease, and his smile and speed will charm you.

Deep fried Octopussy with French Fries...

Beautilful, simple dish. If they had offered a home-made sauce tartare with this one it would have been the perfect dish.

Elivs and the Sea bass...

So after having met Bruce Springsteen already - Oscar finally gets to meet the real deal - Elvis.

One day, we just passed by for a drink, and Elvis told us we had to have the fish he just got in, – so we stayed a while, even took a walk, came back had a starter and was served this perfectly cooked fish which Elvis prepared before our eyes. It came with a garlic/oil dressing, we also ordered a gorgonzola sauce….and together it was one hell of a meal. One of the best we had in town and a 8p score. But on most occasions the food was more simple and Veritas definetely lives from the service of Elvis and the placement on this beautiful square. Most meals for a family with a bottle of wine will cost you between 75 eur and 110 eur.

My rating for Veritas: Food  4.5p (10) service 4.5p (5) ambience 4p (5), – I shall add half a happiness point for Elvis – Total Score  13.5p (20)

*

Restaurant Proto

Our first evening and a lunch a few days later we spent at Proto, which is highlighted as one of the best fish restaurants in town. One of the chefs Branko Kusovac is just back from a 45 day stay at Noma in Copenhagen – and Amra our great and beautiful waiter of the evening told us about his praise for that experience.

The old fashioned but nice dining room, like a German Weinstube in Munich...

A perfect painting in a fish restaurant, Oscar was very impressed. We had to go back one day, just to look at the painting...

Beautiful starter...

The smoked tuna blew us away, great in texture and taste, the sardelles/anchovis not too salty on a bed of salad, really a good simple dish 8p

Our mains….

Fish....damn was ít sea bass or sole .... with grilled vegetables

Great vegetables, the fish – I found that something went wrong, or maybe it was just my expectations. It was rather soaked – in butter or oil – or both – and not as great as it looked. The red reduction was misplaced in my humble opinion.

Grilled Sole with potatoes, Eggplant and Zucchini

A little less fish on the plate would have done the trick, however the fish good, again the whole plate a bit too soaky

We had two bottles of wines – one was this great Chardonnay

Local wine...

the second one a bottle of rosé – we had  an amuse, a starter and a main dish, the boys shared a great quality schnitzel with fries – the mentioned two bottles of wine, water and fanta. and the meal clocked in at just around 200 eur. Not really expensive, and with the 2 bottle of wines I guess you cannot really argue. We felt we had a good meal, nothing more nothing less. We liked the place and came back for the lunch as I mentioned and had this plate for me and just smoked tuna for the missus..

Great Great Great lunch plate..all you need.

As I said above, Amra was a great, serviceminded waiter, some of the food was great, some did not quiete impress on that evening. There is however a huge menu to choose from, great table setting, great bread, a decent wine list and a kitchen that seems to have some eye for quality and good produce. I wish Branko Kusovac all the luck in this world to achieve what he aims for. We thank Amra for her wonderful service on that night. We are happy to recommend Proto as a good restaurant in town.

My rating for Restaurant Proto: Food  6p (10) service 4.5p (5) ambience 4p (5), Total Score  14.5p (20)

I shall be back tomorrow with our two favourite restaurants from this trip – I shall leave you today with what must be a contender for the worst wine label ever. The wine as such was drinkable, but the bottle and label – oh dear.

Somebody fire that designer.

Restaurant La Mirabelle, Luxembourg – 9 February 2012

Restaurant La Mirabelle is the top brand of the group of restaurants in Luxembourg that call themselves – Espaces Saveurs. These days they celebrate the 20th anniversary of La Mirabelle – but actually the collaboration between Olivier Fellmann and Dominique Colaianni started already in 1987 in Cave Gourmandes. So actually the two of them celebrate their “Silver Wedding” this year. Together with some investors they have build up a small imperium of restaurants that includes Come Prima, Goethe Stuff and Sapori among others.

Today I was invited as a “member of the press” -the new press so to speak. Newspapers are slowly but surely dying at this age in time. Unfortunately. I wonder what our kids, or grandchildren will thin kwhen we tell them about the time when you went to the shop every morning to pay for “old” news. The fastness of our world is not always a good thing I reckon.

Nevertheless, here I was, proud to be invited – and happy that La Mirabelle has recognized this change of the tide – by the way as the first restaurant in Luxembourg I know of.

So it was a big table – 13 people – fixed menu – in one of the small rooms upstairs – which I most certainly prefer to the semi-modern styling of the the main restaurant.

And here it was the table – om the table to greet us the usual sundried tomato “mash” – and the rilette with freshly roasted ciabatta. Great stuff. All you need. No need for any other amuses in such a restaurant in my opinion

Sundried tomatoes with bread

Terrine of fois gras

Lovely presentation, the gelantine to the right was done of – I think pomegranate – anyway, I think it was a great mix- the pomegranate with  the added orange balancing out the fatness of the dish. Served with a glass of sweet Chenin Blanc from Loire, but still with enough acidity to make the wine lighter and thus not as irritating sweet as many Sauternes. 8p

The wine for the dish to follow

My kinda wine...

Really a crowd pleaser, not even too sunny or too much wood. Just a good balanced Chardonnay. Not the depth or minerality of a lets say Chassagne Montrachet – but it does not need to have that in my opinion. I would order this wine – or buy a box given the chance.

Second dish…

Scallops with vegetables julienne, and a small coconut inspired sauce on the side.

Scallops has to be cooked perfectly to be interesting. It is very weasy to cook them to much, and too little I find them too fishy for my taste. These were cooked just as they should be. The plate with the running green stripe from side to side a beauty. I love Asian cooking. But I adore French cooking with Asian touches. The coconut would probably offend most French gastronomes…but I thought it was just right. Not to dominant, just a good companion to the still crisp vegetables. 8p

Filet of veal

Great looking dish, great jus, great creme of the root of persille, stunning millefeuille of vegetables, celaric, carrots…I think was in 10 or 12 different vegetables – slowly cooked, but wauw…what a result. With a touch of sea-salt on the top. That part of the dish was the highlight of the day for me and deserves an extra 0.5 point. Meat perfectly cooked. Great dish – really. 8.5p

With the veal we has a light female style of Bourgogne

Your average good Chambolle Musigny 2006

This wine did not blow me away as such, but off course Pinot Noir is a perfect companion to veal – and I think the raspberry in the wine goes well with fois gras, and as you can see from the picture the filet was done Rossini Style. Maybe a touch of raspberry within the dish would have brough that more out in the wine. But then again it might  have taken away the focus away from the lovely “millefeiuille”. Guess you can´t have it all.

Most appropriate - dessert based on mirabelle

Especially the caramel stribe behind the “cake” and the nutty ice cream made this dish work in my book. It had softness, crispness, sweetnes…and was actually a very light and nice finish to a great menu. 6.5p What followed was some sweets and coffee.

Here is two shots of the hosts of the day…

Dominique Colaianni

Olivier Fellmann

My conclusion:

As I said, being recognized as a member of the press, was something else for me. I know it is the ways of the world and there is nothing that can stop that. Still somebody need to be the first and Luxembourg is normally not that innovative to say the least. So I thank you Mr. Fellmann and Mr. Colaianni for that. The menu today was a step up in compare to the menu I had last month here. But then – it was a set menu for a set number of people. But it was good. It was not perfectly matched with the cold weather outside, I mean this menu I could repeat in the summer without a problem. But it was dishes that all looked and tasted nice, all were justified and all had great ingredients or good produce treated correctly and with a great result.

I much prefer the rooms on this floor to the large modern room down-stairs – but that is off course a matter of taste.

On another note I got to talk to Olivier Fellmann about Come Prima. And I was so happy to learn that they offer gluten-free pasta dishes. Come Prima we actually gave up when the gluten allergy of the missus was diagnozed. So – Come Prima – see you very soon….. Great news. Actually it always a pleasure to talk to professionals – about their experiences with the business, with wines, with ratings etc. etc. That makes it all worthwhile.

As for my rating today -service – well we had great service – but it was a closed table in a closed room. But I have judged it as I would have done it in the restaurant.

Thanks for having us.

My rating for this visit:

Food  8p (10) service 4.5p (5) ambience 4p (5), Total Score  16.5p (20)