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)

Let us never forget the good times in Paris…..

Paris is for lovers, you will breathe love as soon as you put your feet on the streets of Paris.

At first I did not get it. Paris – the fuss – the vibe. But having returned a good 10 times I can honestly say its the best city in the world….next to Sydney, but thats another story. I have so many good memories of Paris that I hardly know where to start.

Top of the pops you will find a lot of possibilities, …but my favourite is George V (Four Seasons). Everybody should be allowed to indulge in the history, the luxury and the service – the vibe – that is second to none – just once in their life. You might find better rooms in Hyatt, Zürich – more charm at Falsled Kro, Denmark, – more relaxed atmosphere in Hohe Dühne in Rostock, but the sheer level of service and attention from all staff is second to none. Add rooms of 80 sqm. plus – which over the years has been occupied by anyone from Marilyn Monroe, over Bruce Sprinsteen, to Rolling Stones or Bill Clinton  – and you will find yourself as part of history. The restaurant Le Cing (having lost it third michelin star) is still a favourite of mine. Its not cheap, bring the big wallet, but forget about the rest of the world while the staff make sure you have the time of your life. I have been disappointed way to many times with other hotels in Paris – and have you once been at George V., you dont wanna be anywhere else. It is expensive, but its the best. You are greeted throughout your stay by most staff with your sir name once you have checked in. If you do go, try their lobster club sandwich in the bar or in the tea room, last time it clocked in at around 60 euro. Add a glass of wine or Champagne for 25,- and you are on a roll.

Heres a few shots to get you going…

The lobby...

The Tea room, have a piece of cake or a Lobster sandwich!

Sleep tight...

Getting around in Paris

The problem with such a huge city is that you are only there for a few days, and there is SO much to see. I hate subways/metro. Too many people, being underground, finding the way, Im just not a metro person. I shall introduce you to two very different ways of travelling Paris.

The best 200 eur I ever spend was when I booked a private limousine/driver with Baron´s Limousine – google it. I opted for the “Paris by Night” version and upgraded the tour with a nice chilled Chardonnay which came at 20 eur extra. The English speaking driver, asked for requests as in regard to what we wanted to see. We requested the Eiffel Tower which explodes in lights every evening at 8 pm, and after that we let him choose the tour. And what a ride he gave us. To see all these old and illuminated buildings – with stops – would NEVER have been possible by metro or foot. The drivers storytelling and charm was amazing. The hours flew away. As I said, best money ever spend. Do not book the stretch limousine as we did, it prevents you from going “deep” into some areas.

The limousine in front of Notre Dame - one of many stops.

If you think thats too much money (you are wrong off course – but given the crisis I can understand) – and luckily there is a very well functioning alternative. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to experience Paris is on a hop on hop off Paris bus tour, which stops at all the must-sees, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and Montmartre.”

Check it out and book directly here –

http://www.localparistours.com/paris-hop-on-hop-off-bus

http://www.isango.com/france-tours/paris-tours/paris-sightseeing-hop-on-hop-off-tour_3733

Paris offers so many different areas, different styles, different vibes, my favourite places is the obvious Montmartre and the busy ChampsÉlysées. Dont forget the Latin Quarter.

Paris, Bruce Springsteen and I

Now I am a huge Bruce fan and, I have been lucky to watch 5 shows over the years in Paris, twice solo in 1997, with the E. Street Band in 2002, again solo in 2005, and with the Seeger Sessions Band in 2006. My family and I have met Bruce and Patti twice in Paris, heres the best shots from those encounters.

The missus, Oscar and Bruce Springsteen

Yours truly with beautiful Patti Scialfa !

Thank you Bruce and Patti. Rock on.