Vecchio Mulino Beach Bar and Restaurant, Peschiera, Italy – April 2015

Hey friends and followers. It has been too bloody long, but setting up a new company, finding wines, importing wines, and SELLING wines 🙂 on top of the daily tasks of life, has been a lot more work than I imagined, and the posts here have been very infrequently to say the least. Spare time has been used to recover rather than writing down memories and recommendations. My plan is to try to get back on track with this blog, inspired by a reader who said she missed my writing here. But good news is that the wine business is fun and doing very well and the customer base is rapidly growing with many new tastings and events coming up.

But I know – I have a lot of catching up to do, and I will start with one of the latest GREAT experiences I shared with my family.

We visited the Garda Lake area, which was a first for me by the way. It was out of season and therefore we had the chance to experience the area without the hazzle and stress that peak season brings.

I might come back to Garda later here, but will share with you an experience I got to choose, having googled and tripadvisored around to see what would be fun to visit. Few restaurants stood out. But this one certainly did. From the way their internet site is build up with photos and descriptions of all dishes (and may I add, the photos do not lie, that is actually how the food looked for real) to the funny comments made and the general vibe and humor in the text blew me away .

The chefs here do not try fancy cooking – but they cook with great produce and love for simplicity and make certainly great combos.

The Vecchio Mulino Beach Bar is run by a young couple, Fabio and Pamela. It is described by many as the best place to eat at the lake.

Mr. Bo

Mr. Bo

Arriving early, – we sat down and started with some water and a beautiful bottle of my new favourite white – Lugano grapes.

The bar, with the boys.

The bar, with the boys.

The missus, Emil and Oscar and the Garda Lake

The missus, Emil and Oscar and the Garda Lake

The service was not quite ready for us since we arrived fashionably early but the waiter made sure we were being served cold drinks with an eye for detail. Menus were handed and stuff explained.

Coolest menu ever :-)

Coolest menu ever 🙂

Do you notice something...Food Wine..:-)

Do you notice something…Food Wine..:-)

Crispy white.

Crispy white.

Even the coke looked great

Even the coke looked great

The food is mostly served Tapas style and priced at 4,50 to 13 eur per dish, most around 6 eur. Now that is a price level we would wish to have around here.

First we were served a home baked bread

Complimentary Bread :-)

Complimentary Bread 🙂

Food arrived, I will show you what we chose:

Best dish of the day...

Stunning…

Described as “Burrata Cheese on a red Pepper fondue with Porcini Mushrooms” – it was amazing. The creamy cheese hidden a bit here on the photo. That was a GREAT start – 9p.

Fish Balls

Fish Balls

We were sitting in the hot sun – so the basil leaf deco soon looked very tired 🙂 The dish – “Lake Fish Meat Balls with our Signature Fishermans Sauce and Salsa Verde”. More basic, and the sauce more chunky and not as liquid and smooth as on the picture in the menu book. And I think if its a signature sauce – then it should be same – or at least similar every time you serve it 🙂 Little complaint, taste was good 🙂 7p

Yummi

Yummi

Simple and impressive way of presenting it I think. “Grilled Vegetables with Thyme Oil”8p.

A southern touch...

A southern touch…

“Fried Anchovies stuffed with Pine Nuts and Sage”. 8p. Loved it, this was all doing the sun justice and another white – the same 🙂 was ordered.

Best Dish of the day !

Best Dish of the day !

“Shrimps and Tequila Risotto with a tender heart of Acacia Honey and Tangerin”. Best risotto ever, perfectly creamy, and the taste ever so delicate. Astrid was over the moon for this one – 10p.

Final Dish

Final Dish

Cooked to perfection on the grill. This “Pink Pepper Sea Bass served with a Fennel and Garda Olive Oil Yoghurt sauce” – a nice finish, but not hitting the top marks of some of the other stuff. The pink pepper a great combo with the rest. 8p.

My conclusion:

From the moment we entered till the moment we left we felt sure that this restaurant would provide us with a great lunch and felt at home in the laid back but attentive service level of the staff. The bar, the al fresco dining, the lake, the great tapas style food, which made room for many tastings. The wine list was a little on the small side, but I’m sure most of the wines are very carefully picked with an eye for detail and taste. Most bottles were 15-20 eur anyway, which is an outstanding price/quality level. The outside looked great, the inside was a bit disturbed by the “plastic” looking windows that were kept I guess only for the winter/spring season. I am sure they are gone come summer season. But siince we had 24 degrees we had only too much sun to worry about.

The high rating on tripadvisor is fully justified. This little pearler comes with our highest recommendation for basic, great food with fresh ingredients and freshly prepared ingredients and decoration. Small flaws like seeing the side skewer with lemon and what do I know on some different dishes do not change the fact that we would love to eat here once a week if we could. We wish Fabio and his team all the best and are sure they are looking for busy times and lots of success.

The boys had a final dessert, the missus broke a glass and I lost my credit card, but that is another story 🙂

As seen on the wall of the men's room

As seen on the wall of the men’s room

Oscar loves his strawberries...

Oscar loves his strawberries…

My quality / price rating for this visit:

Food 8p (10), service 4.5p (5), ambience 4.5p (5), 17p (20).

 

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Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 20 January 2012

“Home
Home again
I like to be here
When I can…..”

Time – 1973 – Mason, Wright, Waters and Gilmour

Dining with fellow idealist – “Culinary Suicide” – always means that you have to sharpen your sences and be prepared for good discussions about Luxembourg, The World, Books, Movies – and most importantly Food and Wines. We do not always share the same taste in restaurants or wines, but we do share the passion. Clairefontaine was where we had our first lunch together and it is always good to be “home”.  The smiles and warm greetings of all the staff gets to me everytime. The room makes you feel welcome, warm and well – kinda home. Especially on a cold winter day.

I got to choose the white, with the excact order from CS to find something nice. A Batard Montrachet 2003 did the trick. It was followed by his choice for red Domaine Peyre Rose – Clos des Cistes 2003

This one is for S. Lloyd...

First small taster...

See this is what I mean. This is what I complain about with tasters/amuse elsewhere. Why cant they all be like this and the following. This one was filled with a Choriza mash with langoustine in one third of it. Absolutely lovely taste.

Second round...

Just as lovely, I was busy choosing the wine and did not pay enough attention to the presentation…sorry Didier…. but I am sure it was a shellfish of some kind with a lovely foam to the right and to the left – a piece of deer…Bambi on a mash with a nice reduction and heavy on cinnamon. 6p

The starter was a winter classic of Arnaud´s. Risotto – Arnaud Style – which basically means that its done on Basmati rice – because he prefers that specific perfumed taste in rice – and finished of with whipped creme. In this version you are treated to a truffle explosion – with a smoked bio egg in the middle. It all becomes a delicate and roboust dish which I would LOVE to eat everyday for brunch. Can we arrange that Arnaud ?

Risotto Arnaud Style...all you will ever need.

For me, this is one of my all time favourites and especially the excact cooking of the egg yolk was incredible and the smell and generous portion of truffles to die for. 8.5p

CS opted for the lobster..

Homard Breton röti a beurre....

Now I would have loved this dish. I am sure I will take it the next time. CS found the preparation a bit on the heavy side, he prefers a lighter kitchen these days. I would give it 10 just for the presentation. Actually I think it was presented under a a smoked filled glass lid.

Monkfish slowly cooked in beurre noisette...

My choice, Monkfish (Lotte) with variations of carrot. My first impression was that the fish was too dry…but the Monk fish can have that texture, and cutting the pieces open told me it was cooked just about perfect. A typical Arnaud presentation, generous with 2 pieces, actually 1 would be enough for “little” me. If I have one complain of the dish it would be that the little cup on top of the picture – apart from the wonderful foamy creme-  also had pieces of monk fish in it. I found that overkill, and I would have left those pieces out. 7p

No room for dessert, “Time” had run out….

Sweets...love the posh presentation

My conclusion:

I hate to waste time with food that is not up to par. And therefore Clairefontaine is always a good choice. When Arnaud is good he is among the best. Today there was nothing new under the sun. It was as expected a great meal with generous portions and good wine. Best service in Luxembourg, Great selection of bread repeatedly served througout the meal, good wine list, I love Julien´s (the young sommelier) gentle style . I had barely sat down before he asked me if he could bring a glass of white wine (as usual) as aperitive. No fuss. It can be very easy to please me you know. What I also like about Clairefontaine is the fact that the amuses is almost always done with an idea or at least with great taste. And since this has been a subject in some of my last reviews, I will compliment Arnaud and his team for having meaningfull amuses. Good to see you all again, wishing you a Happy 2012, I guess I will be back a few times. Thanks to CS for your friendship. It is always quality time dining with you.

“When I come home
Cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones
Beside the fire”

Time – 1973 – Mason, Wright, Waters and Gilmour

My rating for this visit:

Food 7.5p (10) service 5p (5) ambience 5p (5), Total Score  17.5p (20)

Ill Riccio, Luxembourg – 30 December 2011

For many years this was among our top 3 picks in Luxembourg. But its small and does not leave much space for small children, – so when the boys were 1-3 and started to move around – we had to realize that ill Riccio had to be put a bit on the waiting list. But now all is well in Paradise. The boys have become experienced diners and so we are happy to find ourselves back here once in a while.

The entrance to a small part of Italy - in Luxembourg

Luca has slowly but surely taken over the daily management of the restaurant. Having known Luca for many years, its great to see him transform from a shy young man, to a full style service minded host. Tano remains in the house and often loudly shouts his orders through the room, like a true Italian. Tina, his beautiful wife – is working less – I guess lunches only. Most days you will see Tano come from church just before 6 pm, take his newspaper and sit in the corner and wait for the diners to arrive. I love that picture and it makes me feel transported to Sicily.

The proud host - good friend Luca.

A very romantic and "old fashioned" ambience. Some things dont have to change.

Beside the large menu, Ill Riccio offers a good amount of daily specials, either for the antipasti or mains. In the truffle season some white truffles are imported and most dishes can be enhanced with this delicatesse, and a wonderfull smell fills the room on many November days. In the summer on the other hand, there is even a few tables outside where you can have your aperitive or even dine.

Antipasti, Seebass, Porc...LOTS of great dishes...

So, the pasta dishes is great, the risotto is the best in town. All kinds of meat, some fish dishes….actually one can only pay respect to the 3-4 chefs in the kitchen who manage to perform – to prepare such a large number of different dishes. Great job.

On this day we shared a antipasti plate, the amuse arrived non-gluten for the missus and a wonder ful bread with tomato, garlic, capers and anchovis….damn Luca – I forgot the name…

Amuse...

Antipasti with carpaccio of beef in the front..

My choice - Ossobuco with risotto parmagiano

Porcini Risotto

 My conclusion:

Ill Riccio is easily my favourite Italian restaurant in town. Luca is working like a horse on the floor. The vibe in the room is 100% Italian. There is a vast amounts of dishes to choose from. Great wines, both affordable and also big names. The flexibility of the kitchen is outstanding. You can order just about anything you want. Its not the cheapest restaurant in town. I have often engaged in conversation with people outside when they have looked at the menu. I always disclaimed. “Yup, you pay 2-5 eur more per dish in compare to most Italians in town, but you know where the extra money went..and its worth every penny. There is plenty of crap Italian restaurants in town. This is authentical. This is what you want”. However, there is no pizzas on the menu. Its a trattoria. Love that word anyway.Luca – I thank you for your friendship. Rock on.

My rating for this visit:

Food 7p (10), service 4.5p (5), ambience 4p (5),  Total Score for this visit  15.5p (20)

A different take at Restaurant Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 5 March 2011

For a while this day had be in the planning, and Arnaud Magnier had finally agreed to take on the challenge of sharing his kitchen with 6 hobby chefs, who wanted to feel a little bit of the magic behind the curtains and maybe even learn a few tricks. To assist him on this beautiful Saturday was his second de cuisine William. Since they work hard 70-80 hours per week, it is understandable that he does not offer this service as a standard, but who knows, maybe he will consider it in the future.

Our expectations were sky high and it seemed the Day shared our feelings showing Luxembourg from its best side this beautiful morning. Walking towards the restaurant this was the squares I passed, the busy market square and the square leading me down to the restaurant.

Arnauld had had free hands putting a menu together, only request from our side was that the main dish should be fish and that we did not want to cook a dessert.

Here are some shots from the cooking of the amuse

William and Morten chopping the filet

Seasoning the Tartare, with freshly made mayonaise, scallots etc.

Mixing the tartare

Arrainging the amuse...

Beef Tartare with Caviar

Second up was the starter, Terrine du Fois Gras with Mango Chutney. The cleaning of the fois gras, the rolling, the cooking (13 min at 76 degrees in duck fat). After that it needs to rest 4-5 days in the fridge, so we had a prepared one for the dish, but here are some of the shots.

Arnaud with the raw liver, showing us the preparations

Torben preparing the rolls...

Slowly cooking, 76 degrees warm fat, 13 min for this sice....

Arranging the plates with the Mango Chutney...

Terrine of Fois Gras with Mango Chutney

Next up was one of the signature dishes of the restaurant, Arnaud’s take on risotto. He uses a Basmati rice, because he prefer the exotic perfumed taste. He uses white wine first, then adds chicken stock slowly. Towards the end, parmesan and whipped cream is added. This version included green asparagus and sol-y-laisse, dressed with creme of truffles and a parmesan bisquit

Susanne learning from the best...

William roasting the Sol-y-laisse

Dressing the plates...

Skovmand arranging and dressing...

The result, Risotto with Sol-y-Laisse and Asparagus

4,5 kilo of Cod

Milk with garlic, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves simmering away, to be used for the poaching later

The main dish was going to be Arnaud’s take on a classic – Brandade – somewhat – re-constructed.

A beautiful garlic simmered creme made up the base, on top the poached cod, topped with the “Spumante(?)” – potato/olive oil creme – as light as a cloud…..dressed with roasted pieces of bread.

Yup, we now need one of those in our kitchens...

William poaching the fish

Magic is produced...

Dressing the plates

Final touches...

and "voila" - Brandade - Arnaud's way

Happy faces all around - Job done - table's waiting.

Table one is ready.....our table, eating our food. What a day.

Conclusion:

Actually, the hours just raced away, it was so fun and cool to watch. To learn and absorbe from two true wizards – its the little things that make the difference.  Salt, butter, coorect cooking temperatures, the organization in the kitchen, the preparations.

Arnauld and William succeded in setting up a menu, which we all feel we can somehow re-produce one fine day…if not as perfect …at least we would be able to give it a go. At the table afterwards Michael had put together a wine menu which matched our dishes perfectly. Thank you for that Michael.

Arnaud and William, we cannot thank you enough for taking some of your precious spare time and use it with us. We truly enjoyed every minute and all went away with a feeling of  “wauuw – this was even beyond our high expectations”. Besides making it all look so easy, we all learned a few tricks – and rest assured – if you allow us…..we will be bacl for the second class after summer.

Now, how could I rate this day and the experience in any other way than the following ….

My rating for this visit: Food 10p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), total score for this visit  20p (20)

Clairefontaine, Luxembourg – 6 February 2009

Oscar had begged me for quite a while to go back to the “Ratatouille” restaurant which is his name for Restaurant Clairefontaine. I had not been there for a long time as well, so I was not unhappy to meet his request.

The usual amuse of three different tastings was accompanied by a glass of white wine which as tradition has it by now I had to guess blind. I could not. Not a chance. It was not a taste I was very familiar with. It was heavy and medium dark yellow and had a lot of power I thought. It turned out to be a French Chenin Blanc, I presume from Loire…but I forgot to note who was actually the producer etc. – not my favourite drop. On my last visit I guessed a Moselle Riesling and more or less a dry Juracon so this was a set-back. Give me an easier one next time please Samuel.

I ordered the  “Risotto my style with truffles and smoked egg” – as a starter. For main dish I opted for the Angus rib-eye entrecote.

Oscar could have anything he desired but was most interested in getting the longest piece of baguette – but his father insisted that he tried the suggestion of Arnauld – A piece of chicken breast with Ditali pasta and a rich reduction.

To accompany the dishes I chose a young red Burgundy  – the 2006 Mongeard-Mugneret Chambolle-Musigny – half a bottle since Oscar opted for juice.


img_39723

Risotto “à ma façon” aux truffes et à l’oeuf de ferme fumé 8p.

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Le “plein coeur” d’entrecôte Black Angus fondante et son Parmentier minute, tête de champignon farci sauce poivre flambée et pommes Dauphines 10p.

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Mongeard-Mugneret Chambolle-Musigny 2006 – A brilliant wine – young, almost blue in the corners, but what a nice nose and so full of raspberry and all that makes out a good Pinot Noir.

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Oscar and his dinosaur puzzle which kept him busy through-out the meal. Note the colour of the Chenin Blanc in the right corner.

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As it turned out…the dish of Oscar plus the following rich chocolate ice cream he was served was complimentary, so the bill clocked in at 78 Euro – a friends price I know…but anyway very cheap for the quality offered.

Highlight for me was the rib-eye – WHICH WAS TO DIE FOR – I hope the dish will still be on the menu when I come back. The risotto was al dente cooked as it should be, but it was not the best starter I have had in Clairefontaine. Service is still among the best in Luxembourg. Thanks friends.

My rating for this visit: Ambience 5,0 (5) Service 5,0 (5) Food/Wine 9 (10) : Score 19 out of 20.