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.

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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 Caves Gourmandes, Luxembourg – 22 February 2012

Thierry Duhr has now been in Luxemburg around 20 years. His top restaurant being litterally on top of this – in more than one fashion. Today I was invited to this business meeting by good friend Richard and new friend Andreas. Caves Gourmandes holds a Bib gourmand as far as I remember.

The entrance to "the dungeons"...

As you walk into the restaurant you pass the open kitchen and the smiling chefs. It must be very disturbing for the chefs at work, but they do not seem to mind. We said hello to Monsier Duhr who was in the kitchen today and his pretty female assistant.

As the name suggest, the restaurant is in fact a cave, with two semi-sized rooms, – as romantic as it gets with stone walls and electric chandeliers. The type of cooking is more “regional”, less gastronomic. You will not find any molecular cooking here. Claustrophobic people might miss a window or living daylight. But in the main season they can book a table on the small out-door terrasse. I missed some huge living candles.

I shall show you three examples of the food they serve at Caves Gourmandes. It´s food thats not pretending to be more than it is.

Salad paysanne - I think - with lovely fois gras

Great salad, I wish I could make the vinegar dressing like that. Note to myself – I will have to ask Thierry next time… Great quality fois gras, and the large butter and olive oil roasted bread pieces, wonderful. I think this dish comes at 18 eur. And for what it was it was perfect. 8p

Tartare de saumon

Again, right on spot. Generous portion. Great taste. Lacked salt and pepper, but we could adjust for that ourselves…and we did. 7p

Porc with potato mash

This cut of the porc was simply stunning. GREAT meat. The mash lacked a bit salt for my taste – again that can be adjusted for. The ratatouille was almost as good as it gets. There was a dash of lime in there to make it fresh, I almost found the lime too dominant. However, my fellow diners found it right on spot. 8p

We all opted for the same dessert – it was called Poire William and as you might know – it is served in small glasses. Great taste of pear. And not too aggresive.

My conclusion:

What amazed me on this visit was the quality of especially the young male waiter from Marrocco who seemed so much in his right element. And the female chef gave us big smiles whenever she passed the room downstairs. I like that. Smiling staff. I despise the opposite as you will know by now.

I will not call it outstanding service – but on this occasion it fitted the rest. And a smile often makes up for other short-comings. The food – with Thierry Duhr in the kitchen – was impeccable. And the concept very clear. The room for improvement lies in the wine list which is VERY limited. The candles issue is my personal suggestion, but then – I´m a sucker for romantic ambience. I cannot wait till summer, where I am sure one or two dinners will be booked on the outside terrasse.

Thank you for a great lunch Thierry, to you and your staff.

Here´s a shot of some of my best-looking friends. I hope they soon gain a few pounds. It does feel a little awkward to be a big fat Dane among you slim guys sometimes. But still, I love your company – thanks for being my friends.

We are talking Vogue material here Gentlemen...

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My rating for this visit:

I shall add a happiness point. Its not high gastronomy, but its regional food as good as it gets. On this occasion my mind wandered back to my last visit to Beaune and the two new restaurants I found there…and Caves Gourmandes was not far from that level on this beautiful day.

Food  7.5p (10) service 4p (5) ambience 4.5 (5), 1 Happiness point -Total Score  17p (20)

Le Bouquet Garni, Luxembourg – 2 December 2011

“This is the time to remember‘Cause it will not last forever
These are the days to hold on to
‘Cause we won’t – although we’ll want to”

Billy Joel

Thierry Duhr who has run this restaurant since around 2000 is a busy man. Apart from running this fine restauarant he is also holding the flags high in the Cave Gourmand in the same building and has recently opened a Brasserie – Schêiss – in Val St. Croix in another part of town.

Le Bouquet Garni was awarded 1 michelin star when it first opened up in Moutfort and he has kept that ever since. Its situated ever so beautifully just behind the Palace of the Grand Duke, in an area known as the Restaurant Quarter among locals.

The restaurant is as romantic as it gets, with raw stone walls – sometimes open fire, and old lamps and deco – all set for a romantic or quiet lunch or dinner.

I have visited this place a good 10 times over the years but it had been a while and therefore this was a natural choice when the date was set with good friend Richard who is more a regular here. Hopes is always sky high, both in regard to the food and wines, but also simply because I know Richard will provide the same interest and passion about food and wine and thus the subject of the hours ahead was already given – and being my favourite subject the day was bound to be a good one.

We started of ordering the wines – and ended up with a white Morey-Saint-Denis 2007 from Bruno Clair and a red Nuits-Saint-Georges 2008 – and this plate with a range of small amuses landed on our table….

Amuses - round one

The quality and the salmon and the tapenade outstanding, the olive cake in the middle a bit on the dry side and the pumpkin soup very nice. All in all good amuses. 7p

Second tasting from the kitchen....

This was a cold serving, surpricingly given the time of the year. The first impression was a slight bitternes, however when you misxed the “soup” with the crunchy bits the taste was in balance and very nice.7p It was consisting of “Granatapfel” – pornegranate – and the rest I dont know. And this was mainly because the missing presentation from the waiter. An irritating flaw at a restaurant with this level.

At this time bread was offered, not  a big selection but very good quality.

Lobster

This was a wonderful dish. I love lobster and here it was cooked to perfection. And the dressing, very simple and subtle – not taking away the focus from the lobster. The dressing almost had a light mayonaise feel to it. The fresh green herbs on top was maybe a touch too big a lump, giving the dish a more rustic look than the taste deserved. 8.5p

Hopes were way up high for the following dish. Richard had insisted we try it, because he had it before and was stunned by the quality of the salmon and presentation. Well as it turned out the presentation was new, and for our taste the green creme of cresse (and spinach ?) was too dominant on the plate taking away all the focus from the salmon and not really allowing the dish to shine.

Judge for yourself.

Green is the colour of hope....

No the dish didnt do the trick for us. No today. But on the positive side. The salmon was very good and the taste of the green creme actually very balanced and good. There was just too much of it. 6p

But it aint over until the fat lady sings….

Who killed Bambi...?

At this time of year you will find game in most of Luxembourgish restaurants. I personnally prefer a good piece of beef or lamb. But this dish was everything you could wish for. Served with fois gras and a nutty root – I simply cannot remember the name – this dish was in balance and a real pleasure. Best dish of the day in my book. 9p

Say "Cheese".....

Lovely selection. We were full and did not want any more, but simply could not refuse this selection. With great selection of nuts, dried fruits and marmelades..All you can wish for on a cheese trolley. (except for the missing Fourme d’ ambert – which is my favourite cheese……). 9p

Conclusion:

Le Bouquet Garni is an abvious choice for a romantic dinner in Luxembourg. The food is at a constant good level, among the best in town. Today there was few flaws, in the missing presentation of the amuses and in the – for our taste – wrongly balanced salmon plate.  The new and young sommelier looked like he was in the right place. I think he has a great future ahead of him. We did not need his assistance today, so I cannot judge his knowledge etc. But he gave a very good impression. So did the rest of smiling and calm staff. Calmness is a key-word here, you will know what I mean when you enter the salon. We spend an hour afterwards with Thierry Duhr at the bar across the street, discussing our day and how he is coping with running 3 restaurants. Respect for that. We thank you Thierry for your time – and Richard, I thank you for your friendship, – which I have the feeling has only just begun. Your eye for detail is amazing, even if you are sometimes being too critical lol. Its only food remember. Or as Rolling Stones would put it…Its only rock’n’roll but I like it….like it…like it. I shall finish with the wine that finished the day –  a wine that I chose and Richard offered, loosing a bet leaving the restaurant. It was a a great way to finish a great day.

A wine fit for "The King and I"...

“And so we embrace again behind the dunes
This beach is cold on winter afternoons
But holding you close is like holding the summer sun
I’m warm from the memory of days to come”

Billy Joel

My rating for this visit:

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