The best dishes of 2013 – “The Directors cut”

Again in 2013 many good meals were had, many extraordinary dishes were consumed in restaurants in Luxembourg and Europe.

I think my favourite meal this year I had at Falco in Leipzig, the most romantic eve I experienced in Anna Amalia in Weimar. The most surpricing and low budget lunches but with great food was also consumed in the Pickled Piglet in Birmingham and Le Fromagerie Marylebone, London. It was nice to be back at Le Cinq but especially the amuses let me down a bit.

There was less dining out in Luxembourg, especially the drop in quality in some old favourite places made me sad. I do think that Restaurant Clairefontaine and Bouquet Garni are among the best in the country. And my favourite Italian Il Riccio never let us down. I enjoyed some easygoing and Luxembourgish inspired menu at Brasserie Aubergine.

Private great cooking classes were held at Clairefontaine and in a small German town where I found new friends and an amazing group of people that were all with an amazing cooking level. And who knew how to have fun.

I shall present you with some of my best shots of some of those dishes that made 2013 a VERY gastronomic year for me.

Here you go…

10. Gaumenschmaus, Potsdam, Germany

10. Gaumenschmaus, Potsdam, Germany

Simply the best Flammkuchen I ever had. The missus had an equally good salad. GREAT quality for little money. Potsdam was such a nice city, especially the Dutch Quarter.

9. The Pickled Piglet, Birmingham, England

9. The Pickled Piglet, Birmingham, England

Went here with good friend Jörgen, to catch a Bruce show, spiced up with performances by good friend and great singer Gazza, who dedicated a song to me – The Ghost of Tom Joad and after the Bruce show Mark Wright performed his Elvis show. What a day. Lunch was had at the Pickled Piglet, and the army of GREAT tasting tapas dishes amazed us. They outshone the meal the next day at one star rated Turner´s by many miles. I think we had a range of nine Tapas and especially the lamb meatballs blew us away.

8. Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg

8. Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg

A burger as good as it gets. I think it stayed on the menu for quite a while. It was damn good. Kobe style beef, with panfried frois gras. Respect Arnaud.

7. Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg

7. Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg

And while we are here, why not stay. I must say I think my favourite meal this year at Clairefontaine was my birthday menu. I thank you for that dear Arnaud and Edwige. This dish is of course one of Arnaud´s classics. His bio egg on truffles and risotto his way.

6. Lameloise, Chagny, France

6. Lameloise, Chagny, France

I have said it before and I shall say it again. Lamb at Lameloise is a marriage made in heaven. Happy to be back always. The service, the room, the food, the wine, – pure class. The crust on this lamb, the roasted garlic. Oh my God.

5. Schloss Berg, Nennig, Germany

5. Schloss Berg, Nennig, Germany

And just as Lamb is never wrong at Lameloise – Tuna is never wrong at Schloss Berg. In fact nothing is ever wrong there lol. The staff, especially Mrs. Bau and sommelier Daniel Kiowski make sure you are spoiled while Christian Bau and his brigade in the back does their magic.

4. Falco, Leipzig, Germany

4. Falco, Leipzig, Germany

Without compare the evening at Falco was the best dining experience the missus and I had in 2013. The fun, the interaction, the sometimes crazy and surpricing ideas that was presented to us. This porc, was the best meat I have had in 2013 for sure and maybe in my life. It was outstanding. Thanks, Peter, Christian, Oliver and all the staff that made this evening stand out.

3. Le Cinq, Paris

3. Le Cinq, Paris

Even though the menu as such let us a down a bit, it was good to be back, and to be here with good friends Jerome and Dragana. It was definetely a treat to be invited here, thanks Drag. But the amuses was not up to par, and the menu swayed a bit up and down. This starter, variations of octopussy was the best octopussy I have ever had in my life, and I have no problems in saying that THAT dish and watching the ballet that Le Cinq is was worth the admission alone.

2. Falco, Leipzig, Germany

2. Falco, Leipzig, Germany

So lets repeat what I said about Falco. That evening blew us away. This dish was the best fish we had all year. The somehow unlucky glazing of the plate made it hard to shoot – but trust me the Omble Chevalier wth wasabi, curry apple was to die for.

1. Greenhouse, Mayfair, London

1. Greenhouse, Mayfair, London

The Greenhouse was awarded their second michelin star for the 2014 edition of the guide. And that holds out. From the minute we entered the room we felt special and in good hands. Many of the dishes were amazing. This little something was mainly cornish crab and mint jelly, cauliflower, apple (granny smith). I do believe it was more or less a signature dish of the talented French chef Arnaud Bignon. So if you go there – try it out and say hi from FWRR. Sometimes it is the little things that counts. I never wanted this dish to end.

So, I again thank you dear friends who made all those meals worthwhile and possible in 2013, I missed dinners with some old friends I hope we will be able to catch up in 2014 – for what is outstanding food without the right dining partners….so thank you dear missus Astrid and dear dining friends, Torben, Jerome & Dragana, Serge, Johan & Tracy and Jörgen and of course Oscar and Emil who again made room for some very proud parents.

I shall leave you with some shots of the boys fine dining.

Emil at the Greenhouse after a long London day.

Emil at the Greenhouse after a long London day.

IMG_4701 IMG_4700-001IMG_4702-001

Oscar having a Burger at Clairefontaine – 1-2 and 3 🙂

I am the Walrus...

I am the Walrus…

Knive and fork is a Man´s Job

Knive and fork is a Man´s Job

Chocolate cake is never wrong :-)

Chocolate cake is never wrong 🙂

And finally Emil looking not so impressed. He finished the plate :-) at wonderful Hotel les Florets in Gigondas

And finally Emil looking not so impressed. He finished the plate 🙂 at wonderful Hotel les Florets in Gigondas.

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Le Cinq, Paris – 29 June 2013

It had definetely been too long. I cannot begin to tell you how I anticipated being back in this fab place. The prospect of being invited here for lunch by good friends Jerome and Dragana, and later on having a blast with 60.000 people at Stade de France, watching my 50th Bruce Springsteen or so. Actually Paris is – together with Frankfurt – probably the city I have seen the most Bruce shows., – let me see 1997, two shows, – 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006 and now 2013 – a good 7 shows over the years.

Bruce – is of course also likely to pop up in the lobby or tea room of George V. – but being in a “French” crowd, we were running a bit late – and therefore no time to absorbe the beauty of the tea-room, or to look out for Bruce – but straight into the beautiful arms of Le Cinq. However we did notice that the “crisis” has not have any impact on the flower budget of the hotel. Flowers everywhere.

If there is one thing you do not need to worry about here in the hotel and in the restaurant – it is the service.  It is as good as it gets.

"Le Grand Salle"

“Le Grand Salle”

I remember reading that the architect behind this room strived for making the room look like a dining room more than a restaurant. I do not know if he succeeded. I guess you have to have a monster salary to have a dining room like this. But nevertheless it is a beauty. And the waiters are everywhere. As we noted, it is like watching a ballet. A  ballet with a lot of action, our great sommelier had some work to do – and you could actually se he was stressed every now and then. Just in compare, I have never ever experienced Daniel Kiowski stressed. BUT, a good sommerlier this one was. He came with advice and was close to a perfect sommelier in my humble opinion. A great grande champagne opened the “party”. Comptes from Tattinger. As good as Champagne gets in my eyes.

A Condriue and a white Chateauneuf du pape was ordered to follow. Jerome being my earliest friend to direct me to Rhone whites, after all these years I am happy to admit….those are my favourite whites these days.

Old and new friend, and lovebirds...

Old and new friend, and lovebirds…

Ready to go…

Amuses - round 1

Amuses – round 1

Salmon, parmesan flake and a “flower” with some fish eggs. None of these extraordinary, rather blant, an optimist would say pure.

Amuses - Round two

Amuses – Round 2

The thing on the left I have forgotten – in the middle a redish thing, and to the right a wonderful pea creme. From all these tasters only the pea creme stood out, and the parmesan flake was nice. The rest, well …pure. But a weak start of the menu, and we were beginning to get nervous here.

Great bread selection.

Great bread selection.

Happy to find the same fluffy bread – to the left – as in beloved Lameloise. It did not quite hit that level, but still very nice bread indeed.

Calamares

Calamares

I did not get a copy of the menu, so I cannot give you the full description of the dish. What I can tell you – is that this dish was among the best I ever had. Every variety of Octopussy cooked to perfection. It will be among my dishes of the year for sure, of my life maybe 10p.

Razor mussels / shrimps

Razor mussels / shrimps

We all agreed on the texture of the chopped mussels and the taste as being perfect. The raw or almost raw shrimps we did not like. I did not care for the presentation. Back to shaky. 7.5p

A little in-between

A little in-between

And a great one. With a hidden ravioli inside the “soup”. What a taste of chantarelle. 9p

The butter cover - V

The butter cover – V

Very tempted to ask if I could take one of these with me. Would be a nice memory. I did not. And I did not bring one with me. But I do love an eye for detail.

My main dish.

My main dish.

I have absolutely no idea what kind of fish it was. I did not know the name in French nor in English. It was steamed with a very citrus tasting creme and a poached egg on top of the beautiful fried zucchini  flower leaves. 8p

Pigeon with fois gras and cherries.

Pigeon with fois gras and cherries.

The verdict was not balanced on this one. Jerome found it lacked tasted – especially the reduction he found very weak and was not happy with cherries anyway. Dragana found it the best dish of the day. And it looked stunning – so lets say Jerome, a 7, Dragana a 10 – I guess we would would it somewhere around 8-8,5p

Sorbet of blackened lemon

Sorbet of blackened lemon

A little pre-dessert – might not look like a lot, but we all loved it. It had the wauw factor like the starter had. It was spot on. 10p

3 riders were approaching...

3 riders were approaching…

and the wind began to howl. Strawberry desserts waiting to be served to lucky us. Not a dessert man. Not a strawberry man. But man was this a great dessert. Strawberries never tasted richer or better. 9p

The aftershow. the sweets is a story for itself – you are spoiled with a waggon of goodies.

Make your selection

Make your selection

or let this PERFECT waiter do the trick.

or let this PERFECT waiter do the trick.

Marsh-mellow strawberry.

Marshmallow strawberry.

So – that was the end of a great show. Like any good Bruce Springsteen concert, a show with highlights and never uninteresting. A show that had us entertained a good 3 hours. Almost like a Bruce show lol.

Conclusion:

Of my three visits, I think this was the weakest performance of Le Cinq. Would I like to back. Any day. Like Jerome stated in the beginning. It is like a ballet. I think especially the amuses let us down.  But forget that and minor complaints and you have yourself a ball with stunning food, great presentations, top-notch service – and a wine book to die for. The number of wines to choose from are second to none. I do not have to wonder about the wine cellar nor the storage solutions Le Cinq has chosen. For I have been there. On a previous visit Oscar and I inspired the cellars. Organisation is everything like in all aspects of life. The small alleys in the cellar had all wines beautifully arranged and easy to get hold of. I have good friends who are actually happy with the systems you get here – http://www.loknstore.co.uk/

I thank you Drag and Jerome for this wonderful lunch, more importantly I thank you for your friendship. May your love last forever. And I thank you Bruce for directing me to this pearler in the first place 🙂

Oscar selecting a nice drop...

Oscar selecting a nice drop…

My rating for this visit: Food 8.5p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), Total Score  18.5p (20)

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…

IMG_1464-002

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.

Restaurant De Leuf, Ubachsberg, Netherlands – 3 November 2012

My dearest friend Jerome thought it was just about time that he and I got away together again. Prior great trips included Dublin and Paris among others so a trip to nearby Maastricht – well actually a bit further, did not seem so exotic or even spectacular.

But the main reason for this trip was a visit to De Leuf, and to the kitchen of Paul van de Bunt who has just been awarded Chef of the year by Gault Millau. De Leuf and Paul holds 2 michelin stars – and with that in mind we actually hoped that the trip would be right there on top with the others we have been lucky to endulge in. We share experiences in numerous 1 star restaurants – four 2 star restaurants – and several visits to our beloved local 3 star Schloss Berg.

How can a dinner start any better than when you are picked up in a classic Bentley – with a surprice driver – Paul van de Bunt. What a nice gesture. On the drive from the hotel to the restaurant we had a chance to talk about the history of De Leuf, and we learned that Paul was a truly warm and gentle man.

“Driving Miss Daisy”…

The restaurant is situated in a beautiful building with nice pieces of art in the garden, I wanted to shoot it….but the warm greetings of the sommelier and a waiter, made me forget it. Next time.

I loved the open fire, where amuses and pre-dinner drinks were served, and menu and wine list handed for us to choose from.

Pure class in my book.

Open fire, if that doesnt make you happy….

So, yes the scene was set, the menu “Wonderment” ordered together with a prestige wine menu. De Leuf offers 4 different menus, encluding a vegetarian menu, also a la carte dining and wine menus – a standard and a prestige one. The wine list is a bit on the expensive side but Jerome being not a only my dear friend but also educated sommelier did find some better priced or even good priced numbers there.

As an aperitive we opted for a crispy Rully 1. cru from Jacqueson. Served chilly and then left out of the basket. A minor flaw happened here…we had to serve ourselves towards the end…but then – we must admit that we drink faster than your average client 🙂

And then the army of amuses started to arrive:

Round 1

In the front a cornet with a creme of goose liver and eel, behind a great light creme with herbs and behind chips of carrot and sweet potatoes and the bowl – also eatable – being an asian crispy “thingy”.

Round 2

Presented as a variation of a pizza I think. I did not get that taste – but what I got was an explosion of taste. I closed my eyes to this one and wauw….. Onion compot, basil – blew me away.

Oyster with a gin/tonic granité.

Not a big fan of oysters – but this amuse again – was simply amazing. I do like my gin/tonic – and this was for sure a GREAT combo. Hail to the “chief”.

Round 4

What a nice presentation. The kitchen surely know what they are doing we thought  – and at this point we both agreed that if this level kept we were in for something special tonight. I shall not hesitate to give these 4 rounds of goodies 10p. Really impressive level.  And as good as it gets in my book. Classic tastes mixed with innovative thinking and presentation.

At the table two kinds of bread was served with two kinds of butter.

The prolongation of the lounge area – the Restaurant. Our table being in the left corner below.

I loved the room, giving an almost “barn” feeling but with a class touch. I loved the art on the walls, the visible wood. Even the tiles fitted, even if tiles are not my favourite flooring in any restaurant lol.

My favourite bread of the evening.

Jerome liked the more classic medium dark hombaked “Bauernbrot” better.

Dublin Bay prawn.

Together with the lime taste and the crushed nuts below…the texture and the taste of this dish, kept up EVERYTHING we were hoping for with the level of the greetings from the kitchen.

Yesterday, I rated it lower, but looking at the picture and description on the menu, this was in fact again brilliant 10p.

Lobster

The only set-back food-wise of the evening. For different reasons. Jerome found the lobster slightly overcooked. I did not. But I was not so crazy about the foam or sauce. Maybe it was the Noilly prat. 7p  But again a great presentation in this funny round dark plate.

So – a little shaky here – would the same occure as on our prior 2 star visits – would the level drop ? Rest assured we were positively surpriced.

Sole with fois gras

So this might not seem like a perfect match. I tasted it first and said nothing. Jerome tasted it, and then made one of his funny faces. I had no idea what he was on about. Was it too weird. Did he like it ? I think his first words were something like “Oh my God”. He loved it. It was clear that this was probably a dish with a VERY high wauw factor. This was a dish to kill or die for. A medal to the guy who created this one. And can we please have another round ? 10p

Jerome then claimed….this is so good. I HAVE to tell somone. As it turned out Sandra, the wife of Paul van de Bunt just passed our table. I said – Excuse me – my friend would like to say something about this dish. She was very curious – Jerome then mumbled a bit, struggled to find the words – but in the end came out with a very nice explanation and judgement of the dish – giving it the highest praise one could imagine. And by doing this – his voice almost broke and he had tears in his eyes. It is so great when a dish can do this to you. I have tried it once at Schloss Berg. It is like if you leave this world for a moment. And see it all from out of space – a level of extasy which you normally only find with your partner doing – you know – other stuff.

So – Paul – to answer your “after dinner” question – where there any wauw factors – yes. This was THE one. There were others – I shall get back to those in my conclusion.

Sandra – our host – then presented the next dish – which was not in our normal menu, but as she said, the kitchen was so happy and inspired by the praise from Jerome that they decided we had to see and taste this one.

A signature dish of Paul

The presentation of course faboulous with the morning fog floating around the table to a large extent. Revealing an Oyster shell filled with good stuff.

Below the “morning” fog…

Great presentation, great taste – 8.5p

Entrecote of Beef

My choice for main dish – the menu saying Hare – and the kitchen showing flexibility in my request for changing this. I loved it. Great arrangement. Great taste. Stunning potato and yummi peppers “mash”. The parmesan creme served as a side dish wonderful. 9.5p

The hare with red beet

With the sauce royal a very classic dish. The taste of the meat (which included a piece of lead from the bullet that brought it down) – amazing. The red beet out of this world. Just a red beet !!!! How can they get so much taste out of that simple root. I just dont know.

Say cheese pretty Claudia !

We felt priviledged in being offered a cheese “wagon” t like that one. And with beautiful waitress Claudia presenting it – what more do you need ? 10p

Jerome´s choice.

Loved the wooden plates, Loved the selection, maturity and taste of the cheeses. Special dried fruit bread was offered along different kinds of sweet or pickled fruits. Jeromes request for more of the same darker bread was met without a fuss.

Celary

Celary ice crem etc….different textures. I did not think I would like this one. The celary was a bit too dominant, but it worked surpricingly well. 7.5p

The hand of a magician – beautiful Claudia.

Chocolate, Passion fruit, Mango, Banana

A perfect finish – to an almost perfect menu – 10p

We were at the end of the road. Normally coffee, sweets and etc. would follow. But not for us tonight.

My conclusion:

What I said to Paul after the dinner when he asked us if we had any wauw factors …I said – the biggest wauw factor was in fact the constant high level of all the dishes. It was truly a 3 star experience tonight foodwise. The service and sommelier had a few flaws during the evening, but it did not prevent us from having a VERY SPECIAL evening we will treasure always. The service is in fact very laid back, like you would find it in Denmark. And that has it charm too, and maybe make it easier to live with certain short comings.

The wines in the the prestige wine menu was all drinkable, some were very good, none were amazing. I think in a  wine menu – especially when you call it “Prestige” – well you need to put some prestige into it.  And that we did not get tonight. Neither in presentation nor in the wines selected. But – most wines were very nice and easy pleasers. And maybe we are a bit spoiled in that respect being a sommelier and a wine merchant. We opted for an 99 Beycheville to match the level of the food and finish off an amazing evening. The wine was not available – but a higher priced similar Bordeaux was then offered at the same price. Nice touch.

Leaving the room, we got the two signed and billed books by Paul van de Bunt – Reiss naar de Sterren – which I guess translates to – “A travel to the stars”.

Our final request for a taxi to bring us home – was met – Paul had again opened the doors of  his Bentley.  And on the way back to the hotel, we got the opportunity to discuss the dinner and to thank him for a wonderful dining experience. And any short-comings mentioned in this review did not change our feeling of having experienced something way up there among the best.  A travel to the stars.

We thank the whole team, especially Sandra and Claudia and Paul for making us feel special.

I give De Leuf my highest recommendations, and hope to be back one day.

I thank you Jerome for the invitation and for your friendship. You are my star.

Food 9.5p (10), service 4p (5), ambience 5p (5), 1 Bonus point for a wonderful warm and human experience. Total Score  19.5p (20)

I shall leave you with a shot of pure class

Dearest Jerome, wonderful Paul and a Bentley…

Mark Wright – Live in Luxembourg 9 June 2012

So – celebrating our 10th Anniversary, the upcoming birthday of the missus and life in general, I had booked Mark Wright to come and play for us. Old and new friends were invited and around 40 people gathered in our garden on a sunny day – if not hot.

The idea was the food wine was offered and that our friends would chip in to pay for the performance of Mark Wright and hopefully that would leave a little something for donating money to Dan Harrison, who was the reason I originally met Mark at a memorable evening in 2011 in Birmingham, where the online Bruce Springsteen fan community had put together a fund raising evening for Dan´s treatment in Graz, Austria. Please do take a moment to read the story of Dan here helpdan.com

Back to our party here are some shots of happy people – our friends.

Mark warming up in our living room – with an Astrid favourite “Two Faces”….I wept.

Torben preparing the BBQ. He did a GREAT job. Thanks Torben – again.

Jesus, Marianne and Jörg….

Music to hold hands to…

– or dance to.

Mark did two sets. The first one he performed Springsteen classics among some of our obscure Springsteen requests. The River, Thunder Road, I wish I were blind, 57 Channels and nothin´on, Paradise, The fuse, Born to run, Reno, One step up, Tougher than the rest, Tunnel of love, Red headed woman, Fire . Because the night…the list goes on. I cried – as Mark stated it – to every second song. But it was very emotional to have a lifelong list of your best friends sitting there listening to the music that have meant so much to you over the years – in your own backyard.  And Mark´s voice, performance and storytelling was just as good as I had hoped it would be. A hilarious moment in the video below occured at 0.10 when Torben cannot seem to hide his excitement over Denmark´s goal in the opening match of their group in the European Football Championships…..check it out.

The second set of Mark was changed from a pure Elvis set – to a set including classics from the 60´s up through the 90´s. It started by my request with Here comes the sun – included Vienna, Comfortably numb, Rocket Man, Streets of Philadelphia, In the Ghetto, Suspicious minds, Ring of fire, Not fade away, Blowin´in the wind etc. – and it ended with a mindblowing version of our wedding song – If I should fall behind. All in all Mark performed close to 40 songs, I am happy to have captured most of those songs on video, and the rest deep deep deep in my heart. The missus and I was so happy that most of our friends took the effort and time to spend the day with us. This day ranked emotionally way up there with our wedding. And since many new friends have come along since 2002 – it meant even more sharing all those beautiful song on this day.

We managed to pay Mark and to be able to send a little something to Kev Harrison, for the upcoming treatment of Dan. We wish him all the luck in the world.

Mark will be back next year in July if we find a way – we will simply have to.

So – thank you Astrid for all those years and love, thank you dear friends for being such a prominent part of our lives, thank you Mark for making this day a day  we will never forget.

Speaking of forgetting…..We forgot to sell some wine, but luckily a few orders have come in afterwards – we thank you for those and hope for your ongoing support in that respect as well 😉

I shall end this little private review with Mark´s perfect version of one of my favourite ligther Bruce songs…

My rating for this day. As good as they come.

Restaurant Becker´s, Trier, Germany – 18 February 2012

Objective:

Just to make sure everyone knows and understand. I was not invited to this dinner by the restaurant. My sentiments and conclusions are subjective, which is the idea of my blog. I am not an expert, but visit restaurants as your average customer – a customer with some extra kilos on the back though. I hope the restaurant can use my experience and sentiments as input in their efforts to achive what they aim for.

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Wolgang Becker is holding on to his 2 star Michelin rating. In compare to my last visit the prices has gone up a bit, but thats three years ago so I guess time does not stand still. Not even in this part of the world.

At Becker´s you have the choice between a 5 course and a 8 course menu. The last one having one extra main dish, cheese and 1 extra dessert. They come at 105 and 125 eur respectively. And with the amount of amuses and tasters, and later chocolates and sweets you are spoiled with thats actually still around the best price/value in the area.

The wine list is medium sized, with a heavy overweight on German and Bordeaux wines, – there is very few Bourgogne and even less Rhone wines. The price policy are amazing for local standards. Top Bordeaux wines from 1999 at a bargain…super Toscany´s the same. So the wine choice is not easy….We could have chosen at least 5 different reds to go for. But it did seem a little short on Rhone wine, which chance will have it – is among the favourite wines of best friend Jerome.

We let the young nice female waiter choose the first Riesling, great choice by the way –  Mrs. Becker chose the second white and dear friend Jerome and I opted for the 1999 Cos d´Estournel.

Nuts and crackers greeted us in the beautiful room. Great large table, unfortunately a little in the dark. So photos were a challenge. But I will share my experience anyway.

3 Amuses started the evening…

Small yellowfin tuna “fastfood” – 5 different tastings of Tuna, 3 of them being good 2 rather boring. 3 would have done the trick I think.

Warm goose liver flan coffee & cinnamon cherry – Great

Tartare of beef  – VERY GOOD

The best one the tartare of beef, which was simply stunning. Delicate. Amuses – 7 p.

Menu

3 kinds of salmon, hazelnut, pork breast, caviar

I think the weakest dish of the day, so it was nice to have it up in the front. The pork seemed a little out of place, but I know Wolfgang Becker has used this combination before so I am sure he knows what he is doing and that there is and idea behind it. I would have liked it be be a bit more crispy to make a contrast to the soft salmon. 6p

Grilled scallop, lime leafs & couscous

Great dish, I can still smell the couscous. I love couscous. This one was done with more curry aromas than I normally do it myself. It worked great with the scallops that were cooked perfect, if not grilled as described. But that was a great comeback after the first dish. 9p

Steamed Skrei with pickled vegetables, bacon and pommery mustard

We did not quite agree on this one. I thought the dish was ok, if not overwhelming, my friend did not like it. He did not like the mustard sauce at all. The fish was cooked perfectly, and of great quality. Stunning fish the Skrei – and the pickled vegetables was a daring match. I do not think the baby sweet corn belongs any way near a gastronomic dish. But this was the last downs of the evening. 6p

Braised waguy short rib, perigord truffle and jerusalem artichoke

One complain here would be that the perfect meat was too small. You never wanted this dish to end. That was really fab, both in taste but also a step up in presentation in compare to the starters. 9.5p

Variation of mineral pigeon

The kitchen kindly swapped this dish for me. I am not a big fan of pigeon, but I did try the dish of my friend. And he was one big smile. Great taste, great presentation. Best dish of the day.9.5p I was treated to two different kind of cuttings from again the waguy – and one can off course complain that I just had a different cut. But no one would complain about this dish or the repeated waguy. It was to die for. 9.5p

Selection of raw milk cheese

We skipped – we had to. Food was beginning to fill our bellies. I did not see the cheeses presented, so I cannot give you an idea about the selection, but it was presented from a waggon, to choose from.

Refreshing mandarines

I love mandarines, I loved this dish. Good pre-dessert. 7.5p

Pina colada dessert

It was my lucky day. Pina colada being my favourite cocktail – not very masculine, I know.. Small complaint, The big piece of cake – was too big in compare to the rest of the dish. But the general idea and the molecular efforts and ingredients worked well. 7.5p

Chocolates and friandises

Good selection, great taste. 2 rounds of different kinds were served. 9p

My conclusion:

2 stars michelin restaurants can be difficult choices. Not as good as 3 stars, but normally almost as expensive. Well in this part of Germany, we have the best price level available in the Western World for gastronomic dining I think. So a dinner here will not set you much further back than your average Sunday dinner in Luxembourg.

On this evening we got an ecxellent menu, with some ups and downs. When the dishes was good they were almost as good as it gets. Two or 3 dishes were really up to 3 star level. But then some where not. But when u have a big menu like we had all dishes do not have to make you sing and shout, not in my book. You get the feeling that the kitchen knows what they are doing and the quality of the used produce are impeccable. We had wonderful service throughout the evening. Engaged in small talk with the young female waiter from Leipzig as well as Mrs Becker who was shining and charming. That was good to experience and made you feel at home and welcome. The redwine we choose was met with the inquiry if we wanted it decanted, and we let that up to her to choose, she chose not to – and we both agreed and understood why.

The main dishes out-shone the starters…but thats better than the other way around.

The bread was better than on my last visit, but I still think there is room for improvement here. As I claimed above and told Mrs. Becker the menu was a bit more “shaky” than last time.  But man, the tops were really way up there among the best food possible. The wine list might be heavy on Bordeaux, but let me just repeat – the price level is amazing. So food quality wise, you are in good place here. I am looking forward to being back next year for sure with you Jerome. Thanks for joining me – and for your friendship. I love you – always. I apologise to my readers. Our table was really a bit dark, and the photos I shot was not up to par. I have chosen to include a few though. If you really want to see the dishes – well check Becker´s out…..

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My rating for this visit:

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

My favourite restaurants 2011 !

And the FWRR awards 2011  goes to….

The below list is most likely also my all-time favourite list. But I will update the list next year and see if there are movements. Most of the restaurants on the list all gave me some memorable lunches or dinners in 2011. Some are still so present in my memory from earlier vistis that I cannot disregard them. So if I had 10 restaurants to re-visit on this planet, this would be my choices today.

1. Schloss Berg, Nennig. Bau continue to improve his cooking to perfection. I like everything about this place, the ambience, the service – the food and wines top notch.

1 - Schloss Berg - The Champion

2. Sölleröd Kro, Copenhagen Now had this pearl been in France it would be a 3 star michelin – but as it is – its in Denmark and thus “only” have 1. Jan Restorff is the best maitre in the world.

2 -Sölleröd Kro - runner up

3. Lameloise, Chagny Frederic Lamy and his team in the service makes sure the perfect food from the kitchen is delivered and presentated to perfection.

3 - Lameloise

4. Le Cinq, Paris. Not visited this year, but I cannot and will not leave it out of my list. Its simply too good. Maybe in 2012. One can always dream. 2 star michelin rating. No food photo – but a photo I never get tired of. Oscar and the missus meeting Bruce Springsteen, just outside Le Cinq.

4. Le Cinq - well actually Bruce Springsteen meets Oscar...

5. Restaurant Babette, Vordingborg – Henrik and Brian in the front and Vivi and her team in the kitchen make sure your dining experience is close to perfect. Being in rural Denmark, 1 hour from Copenhagen i.e. it has no michelin star rating but I am sure it would have at least 1 in France.

5 -Restaurant Babette

A shared 5th place go to

5. Der Butt, Warnemünde. 1 Star michelin rating. Tillman Hahn in the kitchen and all is well in the world. The dinner we had here last summer was outstanding, and even better than the years before.

5 -Der Butt

7. Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg. When Arnaud Magnier is good, he is really good. He is for sure the best chef in Luxembourg, and he often surprices you with combinations or presentations you would never dream of – but afterwards you will. Take a look at the the Cordon Bleu Revisited below and you will know what I mean. 1 star michelin rating.

7 - Restaurant Clairefontaine

8. Restaurant Rosin, Wulfen. Visiting Frank Rosin in his newly awarded 2 star michelin restaurant was something else than expected. Very down to earth cooking. Beautiful settings, and a wine list among the best I have seen in Germany.

8 - Restaurant Rosin

9. Bouquet Garni, Luxembourg. Thierry Duhr is among the best chefs in Luxembourg, and this adress is probably the most romantic gastronomic restaurant with its stone walls, and open fire in the evening. 1 star michelin rating.

9 - Bouquet Garni

10. Hotel Marbella Club, Marbella. For sure worth a visit. Javier Doncel, or the other waiters will treat you as a king, And you will be stunned by the quality of the food and surroundings. No michelin rating.

10 - Marbella Club Hotel, The Beach Club Restaurant

Enough gastronomy….

I shall finish the list of with some Brasserie style restaurants – but they all managed to impress me – some of them once some of them repeatedly..

1. Bullerei, Hamburg. Tim Mälzer and or his team, produces simple food, but with an outstanding price/quality, super friendly staff and an ambience I simply fell for. A surprice on the list, but the evening I spend there was really something. No michelin rating.

        1 – Bullerei – perfect beef

2. L´annexe, Luxembourg. Award winning in two categories, Jerome with J.P., Sebastien and Christophe in the front and “Miche” and his team in the kitchen provide you with super Brasserie food and you always feel welcome no matter how crowded the place is. And believe me, it can get very crowded. No michelin rating.

                       2 – L´Annexe

3. Ill Riccio, Luxembourg. Tano and Tina holds this restaurant in firm hands. Luca is slowly taking over the responsibilities, and he is everything you could wish for in a host. Its a TINY restaurant with a large menu, good wine list. The kitchen is very flexible and will cook just about anything you ask for. Easily my favourite Italian restaurant. No michelin rating.

3 - Ill Riccio

I am thankful forall the good friends that shared the moments with me along the way in 2011. Rock on….