Hotel and Restaurant Les Florets, Gigondas, France – September 2013

This one has been sitting in my mind for quite some time. I actually thought I shared the wonderful stay we experienced there – but it seems I only shared it with you in my head.

I was at Les Florets the year before, and swore I would be back with my family. As it turned out it had to be the year after. As things went, I got to decide on how to spend the last few days of the summer 2013 vaction – and my mind was so made up. Gigondas, Hotel and Restaurant Les Florets, with a stop-over in Beaune driving down.

We got to stay here 3 nights. We visited the area, we got on top of the world, we dazed by the pool, had lots of great wines, and stunning food and service in this little paradise on earth.

I shall break the photos of the tour up in three chapters, one for each day and leave you to indulge in the photos rather than repeating my sentiments of the first stay.

Day one – 31 August 2013 – arrival, lunch pool and dinner.

The quiet romantic hotel with the al fresco dning.

The quiet romantic hotel with the al fresco dining.

Big boy Oscar

Big boy Oscar

and hungry Emil

and hungry Emil

The view from the restaurant is simply breath-taking, the valley, the hills, the rocky mountains, the flowers – the perfectly set tables.

My lamb

Aubergine in some fashion

Tomato, Avocado and I think Salmon

Tomato, Avocado and I think Salmon

Fish for Emil - somebody remove that lemon foam :-)

Fish for Emil – somebody remove that lemon foam 🙂

And the smile was back

And the smile was back

After dinner rest and then the long awaited pool.

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Lets finish day one with some shots from the evening.

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Day two – 1st September – Breakfast – Mont Ventoux – Gigondas – rest – Dinner

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Breakfast is great here, great selection and as mostly in France, great Croissants

Before we left for the mountain – I took some of the nicest shots of the boys ever, the colours where amazing, you can feel that Provence is just down the road.

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After that we took the car up to the top of the world. Quite a ride – not as tough for us – as for the bikers, but all those curves get to you in the end. But the view from up there is worth the hassle. It was a windy day, still when we started the climb it was a nice 23 degrees celcius. On th top it dropped to 13 (!) No wonder, Mont Ventoux rises nearly 2.000 meter above sea level.

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After those crazy hights  – it was nice to hit the valley of Gigondas – only to find there was a local festival, which came handy because the boys could use some of their saved energy, the restaurant I chose was close to crap, the wine not as nice as it should be – or could be, but all in all, sun was out, the missus pretty as ever –

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After a rest and a shower I got to sit down – rest and endulge in a bottle of Condrieu from nearby Saint Cosme.

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And right there in the middle of the beauty of all this, while waiting for the missus to come and join me, sipping the wine – I saw this old man reading his book, ever so quietly – and I thought – could there be any more quiet and beautiful way to spend your autumn.

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Dinner was enjoyed inside, the mistral had arrived. I shall not bore you with too many details. We had open wines, they were all great. I had one of the best pieces of meat EVER.

What a piece ...

What a piece …

and it was good night.

Day 3 – 2nd September 2014 – Breakfast – Crocodile Park – Avignon – rest – Dinner

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The crocodiles came in all sizes, I think there was around 400 of them. Funny thing occured after 30-60 min. when Emil proclaimed. That one is alive !!! – He had not realized that apart from the wooden ones he sat on, – they were all maybe not moving alot – but most definetely alive and not to be taken lightly.

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Avignon is worth a visit, great local food at Lou Mistral, not so funny incident occured when I left to look at a shoe-shop across the street while the others was on the toilet. Emil chose a different toilet, and came out first and thought we all left. I rushed back feeling like the worst daddy in the world, as Astrid and Oscar just emerged from the other exit. It can easily go wrong.

Back at the hotel – freshening up, playing games, and our last supper at Les Floret for this time.

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Conclusion:

Like last time Thierry and Dominique and all the staff made sure we could concentrate on us and relaxe, endulge in the quietness and romance of the place and – just enjoy the good food and the great weather and the stunning views.

The kitchen even went the extra mile and cooked me the dish I had fallen in love wiht the year before, even though it was not on the menu. The chef came to the table, and I explained it to him in my poor poor French. And it was just as good 🙂

Just as we were all happy with Potsdam the week before, I think we were all quite happy here, focus was on relaxing and the good food, and that is of course more my idea of fun 🙂 So I thank you dear Astrid, Oscar and Emil – for coming with me on this long ride to the Southern Rhone and coping with all that food and romance.

I wish I could be back this year. Hotel and Restaurant Les Florets comes with my highest recommendation.

So with that wish I shall leave you with an oldie but goodie – One Summer Dream, written by Jeff Lynne a good 38 years ago.

Rock on dear Thierry and Dominique.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

Hotel and Restaurant Les Florets, Gigondas, France – July 2012

Where the stars do not mean anything – or as my friend said – This has to be the best two star hotel in the world.

Hotel Les Florets

First let me set the scene.

The hotel is situated in the Southern Rhone, beneath the rocky mountains that surrounds Gigondas. You have the smell of Provence litterally in the air.

A Smell of lavender is in the air – and the colours – amazing.

The main building of the hotel, most rooms overlooking the terrasse of the outside part of the restaurant as well as the beautiful valley.

If this does not make you happy ? I wanted to stay here forever – had my family been with me.

The hotel has been in the same family for 3 generations and Thierry and Dominique Bernard are indeed the perfect hosts – greeting you warmly with a smile and hand shake every morning – and most of the staff is also smiling and on their toes to give you the best possible stay.

I would not say it is 5 star level service, but I have definetely never ever had better service in any 4 star hotel. Example – at our first lunch shortly after arriving – we asked Thierry how far a drive – to a certain city where our first tasting was gonna take place – would be. He quickly went away to check – only to arrive 2 min after with a colour printed route guidance from the internet. Perfect.

The hotel offer different categories of rooms, incl. family rooms. Wifi, flatscreen television, indoor and outdoor dining as well as an outdoor swimming pool during the main season.

So if the Hotel les Florets is the best two star in the world, this young chef taking a break before service has to be one of the prettiest chefs in the world.

The view from the table where our first lunch was gonna take place minutes after our arrival.

I shall just give you a few more romantic evening shots from the hotel before coming back to our lunch and dinners here….

Evening shot from our table towards the valley. End of day, end of service.

– and the hotel in a romantic light before bed-time. One really did not feel like leaving this at all.

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Restaurant les Florets

Well, I think you by some of the photos will have an idea of the settings under which the food was to be enjoyed. Let me just say, those settings does not come any better. Truly stunning views and the smell in the air automatically gives you high expectations. I think those expectations were best met and exceeded during our first lunch. However, the evening light, the sun setting, the last warm breeze of the day hitting your face, the happy faces everywhere, the laughter in the air – all that also made both our dinners outstanding experiences as well. The restaurant offers different menus as well as a la carte, and you will end up paying 32-45 eur for a 3 course meal.

Again . if one would not feel happy with this view from the ding table – well….

– or with this view.

– and witth such a pretty waitress – the meal could commence….

I will show you some of the best dishes we had throught our 3 meals here.

Beans, pear, artichokes, hazelnuts, fois gras….

My first dish here….and what a dish. It was a pure 10 in my book. The combination of the pear and fois gras, the perfect vinegar dressing. It was the best dish we had throughout the stay. 10p10p – 10p. It was not the only good one – but it was so good that on the last evening I ordered it again. And since my friend ordered a different dish – and ended up being jealous about my choice – well I did something I have never done before. I called Thierry and told him I had a problem with the dish. Something he probably could not believe since my plate was empty. But I explained to him, that I loved this so much, that I simply had to have it once more and therefore he should halt the main dish for a bit and kindly provide both of us with another round of this beauty. It was just the perfect dish and it had everything that fitted this place and region. I can just underline – I would order it again today if I could.

Lamb and eggplant

Great dish too. Probably the second best. 8p

Rhubart with rillette of smkoed mackrel

Simple but again, fitting and good. I guess by now you have an idea of the kitchen 8p

Duck breast on lentilles

The duck breast – well I do prefer old fashioned slowly cooked – “like our mothers did” – duck – but it was also a very “true to concept” dish and the meat cooked perfect rosé – like most chefs would these days. 6.5p

Filet mignon of porc, on – arh… I do not know the English word – corn of a kind, with Apricots.

Unfortunately, the filet was slighly overcooked.The smaller pieces being close to dry. The Apricots – the black olives and thus the whole balance of the taste was incredible and saved the dish. 7p

Say cheese

Perfect selection, perfect ripeness. A bit more “air” between the cheeses would have made a nicer presentation I think 8.5p

The pretty young girl from the kitchen came over and said goodnight and I could not help it – my fingers slipped

– but I hope she will be happy with the result.

Conclusion:

Let me say it very very clearly. If you are going to the area of Gigondas. This is the place you wanna be. If you are staying only one night in France (and like me cannot afford George V. and Paris anymore) – This is where you wanna be. If you are looking for the perfect balance between hotel, service, food and surroundings – Hotel and Restaurant les Florets should be your choice.

As it turns out – Thierry and Dominique are expecting a visit soon from the hotel inspectors – that off couser send thoughts to Fawlty Towers. But let me assure you, the family Bernard is prepared. And it would be the biggest crime on earth if they do not get the third star. Lets hope they will keep the price level when it happens.

As for the room I have two minor complaints. My bed was 5 centimer too short. And I missed a minibar.

But – the food – the smiling staff, the views – the nice wine list. All you could wish for. Let me congratulate Thierry and Dominique also especially on the male waiter, that throughout our stay was smiling and helpful. A perfect waiter. Any restaurant or hotel would be lucky to have a guy like him. The only complaint about the restaurant would be the chairs. Romantic looking but not really comfortably. But i actually forgot that during the dinner because of all the rest.

I salute you my friend. Even if I forgot your name

So, to round it up – I surely hope to be back next year. Thanks for making the stay memorable. Thanks Gijs for showing me this place and inviting me on your trip – well you said at one point – this is OUR trip – but hell – you planned it and was in charge of most of the stuff. And you did most of that stuff pretty damn good. I salute you too- YUP 😉 –  and before my rating of the restaurant below that will include a happiness point –  I shall leave you with a goodnight shot.

Last man standing – well sitting –      Gijs Akkerman

My rating for this restaurant visit:

Food 7.5p (10) service 4.5p (5) ambience 5p (5), Happiness point (1) Total Score  18p (20)