Schloss Berg, Nennig, Germany – 14th December 2012

“You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town”

So Christmas came early this year, both the snow as well as the invite to join two of my best friends for a pre-Christmas lunch at our beloved Schloss Berg. Jörgen had not been here since he celebrated his 50th birthday here a good 4 years ago. And of course the development of Christian Bau has only just begun it seems.

Expectations were sky high and the dull cold weather and the boring Riesling we had in the neighbouring hotel, did not spoil our moods.

The beautiful Schloss Berg

The beautiful Schloss Berg

Schloss Berg had decided to open the doors for Friday lunches during the month of December this year and with a Duck theme to fit the season we were ready to meet Santa. It was good to see Daniel Kiowski – the best sommelier I have ever met, and I met a few – and Steffi, the prettiest waitress in Germany – among others familiar faces.

The two elderly gentlemen awaiting the amuses…

Good friend Jörgen...

Good friend Jörgen…

IMG_3836

and good friend Torben.

What then follows is among the best range of amuses you will ever find in any restaurant. I dare you. I double dare you….”Kulinarische Einstimmungen” for sure.

Tartare...

Tartare…

A classic by now, this time with a creme of smoked eel in the cornet.

Red beet

Red beet

Amazing shrimps

Amazing shrimps

Crab...

Crab…

Green stuff...

Green stuff…

I loved the grilled avocado – this amuse was amazing (if not  overly winterly !)…

The fois gras creme with parmesan...

The fois gras creme with parmesan…

Also a classic with bits of truffels – LOVE IT.

The bread....

The bread….

The crust and quality of this bread is so good…..and also the Foccacia (not on the picture) – one can say that the bread alone is worth a visit….

So, having enjoyed all this – a first moment of being happy and impressed occured. Jörgen with his usual dry humour claimed that until now he had nothing to complain about. It is really amazing, both the number of amuses but also each single one of them are justified and still not taking the focus off the menu. And what I like is that some of these amuses you will be happy to find again on your next visit, and some have been replaced.

So – the menu as such was ready to begin….

Fois Gras from Alsace

Fois Gras from Alsace

The fois gras being matched with raw langoustines, green apple and smoked almonds. A great dish. As good as it gets.

Duck "Bouillon"

Duck “Bouillon”

With a chinese touch, the “Dim Sum” lovely the bouillon of course very tasty and powerful with a hint of asian spices I think.

Black Halibut

Black Halibut

Great dish, nothing to complain about here. The sheer quality of the oyster on top…the citrus and the cauliflower.

Duck Supreme "Mieral"

Duck Supreme “Mieral”

I guess you can tell by looking at the picture that everything on this plate was cooked to perfection.  Top of the pops.

Time for sweets….not that we were hungry at this point…but also not overly full. The lightness of the dishes makes you cope “with all this food”.

Chocolate and Banana

Chocolate and Banana

One of my all time favourites from the kitchen. Their updated Banana split is so so good.

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Sweets two…

This little crunchy thing was a bit like your breakfast serial….Jörgen was really impressed by now. And just when he thought the dinner and the amusement was over, this little devil made him smile just one more time.

Sweets three..

Sweets three..

Sweets four...

Sweets four…

And it was over and out for these fat Danes.

Conclusion:

As you can tell, I was as always, and we were as always, mighty impressed. And it is hard not to be, The wines that Daniel found for us, included a GREAT crispy 2011 Silvaner from Rheinhessen, a 1999 Riesling Auslese from Saar, A 2009 Meursault from Louis Jadot, A 1998 Chateau de Fieuzal, and a Beerenauslese from 2006. His confidence, his style, his calmness. Daniel I love you.

And Christian Bau, once again – we thank you and your team for the outstanding level of the dishes, service and ambience. Nothing is left to coincidence, and nothing can be done better. Duck not being my favourite product, I must say that still you managed to impress me and us. And Jörgen has already asked when we are going back.

Rock on Christian Bau – wishing you and your dear ones and all the team at Schloss Berg a wonderful Christmas, see you in 2013

My rating for this as all other Schloss Berg visit. As good as it gets, like a Christmas evening – top of the pops.

And if you are not in the Christmas mood, then check Bruce out on the link below….

A different take at Restaurant Clairefontaine – Take 3, Luxembourg – 22 September 2012

1 year after our first cooking class at Restaurant Clairefontaine, Arnaud and William again opened their doors and there “Little box of secrets” for us.

This time around we were 7 students and the menu apart from the requested beef was a secret to all of us.

What was on the working and dining menu today was:

Amuse – Tartare of Tuna with a wasabi/soya dressing
Starter – Lobster carpaccio with redish
Main – Filet of Beef with pepper sauce and a potato mash
Dessert – Creme Brullee

So a very classic menu, – again with a lot of focus on our chances of re-producing most of it at home without too much of a fuss.

After a small briefing and a cup of coffee for those in need of that, it was cooking time,

Cutting the tuna, scallots, choriander…

voila…at the end finished of with olive oil with a touch of lemon, salt and pepper

Cherry tomatoes with a twist…

Finishing the dish…

The finished result…

The “wasabi” sauce was made of wasabi paste, soya sauce and a touch of homemade mayonaice to make it smoother in both taste and texture. A great amuse that you can make in 5-10 min.

Next up – the lobster.

A view to a kill….

Anyone up for a 69 ?

Now at this point we close the cameras and have a moment of silence. 9 lobsters were used – and killed in that process. Yes, Susanne – I shall spare you the details.

Busy hands…

Dirty work…

What followed next was the slizing of a monster redish, and explanation about how to do the lobster reduction to enhance the flavour of the dish, crushed dry rosemary as well as the crushed dried orange skin added the “genious” factor to the dish. The cleaned lobster cut into carpaccio style slices, the salad bowl on top done with a thai tempura flour.

Great little extras for an outstanding dish

Mind your fingers…

Put aside to rest for a while…

This ones for you Susanne

Making a salad “bowl”..

So three-4 steps of arranging the dish

Step 1 – arranging the sliced and boiled redish over the lobster…

Gijs adding the classic vinegar/honey/oil dressing

Adding the crunched dried Rosemary and Orange – with a touch of chives…

The salad bowl on top – inside the salad a claw of the lobster….

Now this dish might seem a bit complex for amateurs like us… with the homemade little extra seasonings, the killing of the lobster, the tempura salad bowl, the wonderful lobster reduction etc. etc. But I think that even if one cut some corners here and there -it can be reproduced at home. And it for sure was a dish to die for. Or to kill for. In this case the lobsters left the world for a good reason. Susanne, I am sure they went straight to lobster heaven. I know we did. The blanched cruncy redish mixed with the texture of the lobster and the tempura on top….Arnaud and William. I loved this dish so much.

Next up was the slowly cooked beef. After preparing the whole filet of prime Luxembourgish caddle, it was quickly sealed and put into a vacum to cook at 48 degrees in slightly over and hour. Finished off at high heat. Peppersauce was done with a pre-produced reduction, and man what a sauce it was. The mash consisting of potatoes, butter, butter, butter and chives.

Heres a few shots of that preparation

First cleaned, then strapped up, then cut into 250 gram pieces…

Sealed off and with butter, herbs and garlic into the “solarium”….

Pepper and scallots braised off, cognac added and after a small fire, the pre-produced reduction was added. Man what a sauce….

The mash…

arranged in a genorous way….

and table 1 was ready to go…

To say I love this dish would be the understatement of the year. Perfectly cooked prime beef. The worlds best sauce, and a simple mash. What more do you need ?

To finish of a classic menu, you off course need a creme brulee. I shall not bother you with all the details of that one. Just say that from the two variations we made – one with burned sugar and one where rhum was added and lit to make a more fun presentation – I prepared the classic bunselbrenner version…but the flamy one of course makes a nicer picture

Arnaud showing how to prepare my favourite dessert..

Creme

– Brulee

So – looking back at now 3 sessions and a good 11-12 dishes…which ones stands out. I am actually not sure. I know for sure that the 4 dishes we had today all ranks up there with my overall favourite classic dishes in the world. But then there was off course also those pork cheeks, that fois gras, – that cod – etc. etc. etc. too praise. But most of all, what I appreciate the most in these cooking sessions – and I think I speak for the whole group is the little things we learn. Extra salt, extra butter, the small tricks – that all improve a dish in so many ways. So Arnaud and William – we especially thank you for that. We also again thank you bot for your precious time, what a wonderful way to spend “A day in the life”.

We also thank Julien, who always amazes with his choice of wines. Today it was absolutely on top. Each wine a perfect match enhancing our FANTASTIC dishes…

Session 4 already seem to far away.

Smiling faces all around…yours truly smiling only behind the camera.

“Just one of the guys” – Schloss Berg, Nennig, Germany – 21 October 2011

Hey, Eddie, can you lend me a few bucks
And tonight can you get us a ride
Gotta make it through the tunnel
Got a meeting with a man on the other side

Bruce Springsteen – Meeting across the river

*

Some of my friends had never tried Schloss Berg before, which is why this lunch was arranged. Christian Bau had agreed to open the restaurant just for us. I think it was a perfect way to do it, because this way 8 “loud” gentlemen had no worries in regard to disturbing other guests with our laughter or dirty jokes.

Since I have just made a review from Schloss Berg – see 18th December -I shall just recap that it was a perfect lunch. One guests was not so impresssed by one dish, one maybe had reservations about another, but in the end we got outstanding food, and perfect wines to match. Daniel engaged again in storytelling and opinions on the wines chosen. And I promised the guys to put of a little something so we can always remember this very special afternoon we spend “across the river on the other side…”.

Here it goes…

Tasters…

So of all these…I think the white truffles/chestnuts creme stood out. What a feast for your nose and palette.

And the menu could start….

Fois Gras - Bau style...

I love this. Having had it before here in more or less the same presentation, I think actually that Bau had been TOO generous with the amount of Fois Gras today – it was ALMOST more than one could handle. Off course only almost.

Scallop with Pumpkin - what a beautiful dish !

Fish, Langoustine and shrimps....

Some of the “audience” wondered why the presentation was done like that. I mean, we amateur chefs all learn daily from television or books etc. that a real gastronomic dish is naturally centered in the middle, and you avoid the ring around the plate. So what does Bau do ? He avoids the middle and place everything in the ring. Maybe he just wanted to remind us all that there are no rules in good food.

Nebraska beef

Some discussion here, one of the guys was not too impressed with the meat. I think it was just about lovely. But I do prefer the presentation from 18th December – where I forgot to take a picture – sorry. But the standing slimmer pieces worked better than this.

Re-take on a classic - Banana split !

Simply loved it…..The desserts here NEVER lets you down. Explosions of taste in your mouth.

Sweets...

Non-alcoholic (!!!) 😦 Mojito shots...great colour.

So….thank you guys for joining me, I think we had a blast. And again I thank the wonderful staff on the floor and in the kitchen for having us, and for performing at such high level always. We especially thank you for opening the doors at a time where the restaurant is normally closed.

Happy faces and full bellies....

I cant wait to be back in Spring. I wish you a all at Schloss Berg a Happy New Year.

If you have the time, take a moment to read this wonderful post by a good friend. he visited Schloss Berg for the first time, and he puts it in top 5 of the world. And he has tried many along the way….

http://michelinstarfinedinings.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/victor%E2%80%99s-gourmet-restaurant-schloss-berg-perl-nennig-german-cooking-precision-oriental-inspiration/

Hey Eddie, this guy, he’s the real thing
So if you want to come along
You gotta promise you won’t say anything
‘Cause this guy don’t dance
And the word’s been passed this is our last chance

Bruce Springsteen – Meeting across the river

Gut Lärchenhof, Düsseldorf, – 18 June 2011

I got to choose this one – going together with good friend Jerome and his friend Jean-Jaques to the highly acclaimed Roger Waters performance of The Wall in Düsseldorf in the evening – we needed a good lunch to fill our tummys and free our minds. By coincidence, the menu had the same colours as most of the stage and scenery art work later had at the show. Red, black and white. The Chef Bernd Stollenwerk holds 1 michelin star and 18p Gault Millau.

The menu

The great building and a touch of blue sky on a rainy day

Located at a golf club, the beautiful building contains the club house, golf shop, and the restaurant – divided by some plants and boxes – in a brasserie and the 1 michelin starred part we opted for. Two lunch menues comes at 65 eur and 115 eur. The a la carte menu is very limited, but I am sure you can choose from the two menues.  The wine list is among the biggest I have ever seen outside France and apart from a huge number of German and French wines, it has the biggest selection of Italian and Spanish wine I have ever seen. All in all there is around 3000 numbers (!) , and having a sommelier dining with us, made the choosing  a tough job. As it turned out I chose the first and third wine, Jerome the second and 4th wine.

Jerome doing what he does best, choosing a wine.

The sommelier quickly understood that there were professionals at play, and participated in both presenting all the wines blind, and in the discussion at the table. He was a truly passionate person, with a great knowledge – (and French speaking to the delight of my two companions). His second in command – a young waiter also very friendly, correct and easy-going.

The beautiful – (open ceiling up to the roof ) – room with the view to tee-off and a putting green, fountain etc. was somewhat disturbed by the horrible carpet and the descision to incorporate both Brasserie and Gastronomic restaurant in one room.

Outdoor terrasse for warmer days...almost on the green.

We ordered the small menu and the following wines…while sharing a chilled Budjweiser – the original European one.

A nice drop - 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Pfalz.

Jerome guessed this one, stating a young Sauvignon Blanc from outside France. A bit too rich to be French according to him. I loved it.

The amuse - tasteful

I will rather have something small and interesting than two or three rounds of nothing. This was acceptable, small – but especially the wasabi ice very nice. 6p

Tartare of Beef with a crispy pepper roll and raspberry.

Best dish of the day. Only complaint was that the pepper roll tasted of sugar and not pepper. The raspberry/raspberry vinegar being the PERFECT companion to the delicate meat. But since the pepper roll did not really bring any spicyness to the dish, the dish lacked pepper or a kick. But still we were all very impressed. Beautiful presentation too. 8.5p.

Second wine - a 2006 Riesingfrom Schäfer-Fröhlich, Nahe

The sommelier chose this one according to the instructions of Jerome who wanted a dry Riesling with some age, but still with an edge and some minerality. And Jerome was happy. It was excactly what he wanted.

This is how Jerome looks when he likes a wine...

Dorade from Brittany, with a Aioli Ravioli and an eggplant creme.

The highligt of the dish being the ravioli (mentioned as a raviolo on the menu, maybe there is something I am not aware of ?). The fish perfectly cooked and the sauce a tad boring. 7p

My choice for red....what a drop.

Jerome guessing party right partly wrong. Nevertheless he guessed a great Bordeaux, – and it was a great Italian on Bordeaux grapes. I have a long story with this wine, by now it had topped and was starting too lose the tannins and fruit. But what a full-bodied, smooth and delicate wine it was.

Slowly cooked breast of veal with leek and "Pfifferlinge".

The weakest dish of the day. The meat having being cooked I think for 48 hours at whatever. No taste whatsoever, and the meat not as delicate tender as you could have imagined and hoped for. As you will know by now I am not always a big fan of slowly cooked meat  – but especially this cut is normally born to be cooked that way. But something went wrong. Maybe the temperature was too low ? My best guess. 5p

The dessert from the menu was swapped to a cheese plate without a fuss...

Great, great selection of cheese, really, selected by the waiter, – all tasty and wonderful. 2 different kinds of bread was offered, 1 serial and 1 with added dried abricots etc. 9.5p

Conclusion:

We all agreed what made the menu and the visit worthwhile – there was no doubt. The starter and the cheese. The top service. Very friendly and very correct. At all times we had water, wine etc. Wines were discussed, opinions presented etc. Throughout the meal a selection of bread was offered repeatedly. We did experience a little too long waiting period after the main dish.

Flaws, few in the dishes. I rate the food to be in almost the same league as Babette in Denmark or Der Butt in Warnemünde. The latter two slightly ahead on the food and Gut Lärchenhof miles in front on the wine selection. So I shall add a bonus point for one of the best wine selections I have ever seen outside France. In fact two more wines landed on the table. Choices of Jerome. The first one was totally gone, nothing more left of anything, a 1997 wine from Languedoc (I think) which Jerome adores and knows very well. One can argue that we ordered the wine and there was no apparent flaw – but maybe the restaurant should have recognized that this kind of wine, which was clearly over the top some years ago, should not even be on the wine list. The sommelier agreed to the surprice short-comings of the wine. But did nothing in regard to removing it from the bill or what would have been correct reducing the price of it to real cost price. I would have done that.


My rating for this visit:  Food 7p (10), service 4.5p (5), ambience 3 (5), total score for this visit  14.5p (20) plus the added bonus point 15.5p (20)