Posts Tagged ‘Schloss Berg’

Schloss Berg, Nennig

janvier 14, 2010

La Salle

Returning to Schloss Berg just feels good. It is as simple as that, and one needs no further complications to express that feeling. There is the castle, the warm welcome, the great service, Britta Jäger the fantastic sommelier, Yildiz Bau, who leads the service perfectly, and of course the food. The food, the glorious, often unreal food of Christian Bau, who is easily one of the best cooks in the world.

La Table

A few words on the pricing. The menus go from ca 130 to 190euro  (although the prices vary a little. The wine list must be one of the most friendly-priced in Europe, which is always great to see. However, Britta Jäger always prepares some very interesting wines by the glass, which will not disappoint, and complement the courses perfectly.

After a very cold December day, I rolled up the hill and was directly greeted by everyone. After being seated I had a glass of Duval Leroy Premier Cru, which was very pleasant. With it came the first selection of nibbles.

On the first slate from left to right was a hamachi sashimi with tapenade, a tomato tartlett and the classic swordfish/oyster kroepok with wasabi foam. Behind it was a glass filled with melon soup and buttermilk foam, and a few chorizo cream filled brik-tubes. These all show what great effort goes into this food. From the first bite to the last, everything is of the highest quality, without any errors, not even slips. After all, the 8 chefs work 16-18hrs every day, just to prepare dinner for at most 32 people. Compared to the divisions of cooks toiling away in French kitchens, this is high-energy cooking. Back to the food, the hamachi was of great quality, slightly cured in salt and herbs, it was very tasty, even if the olive tapenade was a tad too powerful. However, that was really looking for some kind of problem with a microscope. The tartlett and little cup are classics and were as good as always. The soup was a little less intensive than the beetroot gazpacho I had last time, but was a fresh drop for the palate. Last but not least were the very good chorizo rolls. All of these are already very, very good and make you want to find out what the rest will be like.

Canapes

This little cornet, filled with shallot cream, on which beef tartare and a generous dollop of ossietra caviar sit is one of the most obscene bites in the world. When I first ate it, back in April last year (although with eel cream, not shallots), I was completely blown away by the incredibly precise tastes and powerful combination. A DIVINE bite.

Caviar, boeuf, echalottes

Next up was a little variation of foie gras. One spoon contains the foie gras sorbet with mango ragout and a green tea chip, whilst the other had a gateau of foie gras with green tea jelly. Bau knows his foie gras, and serves some of the finest in the industry. His sorbet is absolutely devilish, and has the perfect texture, temperature and seasoning to boost the foie’s flavour in a most pleasant way. The other, more classical preparation shows how good a craftsman he, or the garde-manger cooks here are. A perfect cube, of perfect foie gras. One need not say more. Excellent.

Foie gras

The first course was one from the Gourmet Vision, a project of Jürgen Dollase (Germany’s most influential food critic, and one who actually knows something about what he does, even if his judgement sometimes remains disputable). In a series of articles in the FAZ, he describes a menu of a chef in great detail, which is unusual for a newspaper, and thus creates quite a bit of interest. I was served a glass of 2008 Puilly-Fume, Jonathan Pabiot, Loire with this course. It was 2x Sepia/Hamachi/ Seegurke/ Austern. A salad of sea herbs, and other herbs served as the fil conducteur for the seafood on the plate. In the middle there was a marinated oyster, some cucumber, raw squid and sea cucumber, whilst at the sides of the plate one had a brunoise of squid with marinated hamachi. Wow. When I saw the pictures of this dish in the FAZ, I could hardly have imagined how good this could be. Every element plays a role, be it to bring a new texture, taste or seasoning. The sea cucumber’s texture is still amazing for me, as was the squid, which was much more tender than I expected. The dish managed to create a very full, rich and complex mouthfeel, without using a lot of butter, or other heavy elements. Excellent.

Sea cucumber, hamachi, oyster

The second course was 2x Blue Fin Tuna/ Pickles/ Japanische Essenz/ Rettich. This was a picture on a plate, even though it looked more classical than the rest, one can’t help but admire the incredibly precise plating here. The whole course was a play on a variation of tuna, I had eaten on a previous visit, and showed how quickly this kitchen moves. The seared tuna was meltingly tender and tasty, and the tuna tartare in the cup and on both sides of the plate was equally enjoyable. The beautifully rolled up pickled vegetables gave the plate a very subtle sweet/sour note, which complemented the tuna marvelously. On the side, the cup was more or less the same as the one I’ve eaten during my last visits. Very good.

Thon

Taschenkrebs Warm & Kalt/ Dashi/ Kaffirlimone was a complete re-arrangement of the previous version, which had included watermelon in two preparations. Now, the dish was much more focused on the salty elements, rather than the sweetness of the melon. I much preferred this version, as it brought out the slightly iodine taste of the crab, whilst giving (a less sweet) refreshment through the curry ice cream. Again Bau managed to deliver a stunning dish. Excellent.

Tourteau

For the following course I had a glass of 2008. Grauer Burgunder **, Alexander Laible, Baden. Blauer Hummer/ Quinoa/ Curry/ Passe-Pierre & Apfel is a dish which appeared on Bau’s menu during the summer, and which is growing on me. This is a course, which I didn’t enjoy that much on the first try, but which I loved this time. That’s how one can change his mind. The perfectly cooked and seasoned lobster works beautifully with the spicy curry, salty passe-pierre and slightly sweet apple. The crispy chicken skin gives the whole thing a little crunch, and the lobster jus finishes it all off. With the wine, this was excellent.

Homard bleu

Coquille St. Jacques/ Entenleber/ Schwarzwurzel/ Trüffel. Here I was poured a 1998, Riesling Zellberg, Domaine Ostertag, Elsass. This dish was stunning. Perfectly cooked scallops, pungent fragrant truffles, a foie gras cream, salsify puree and foie gras foam made one delicious combination of flavours. The somewhat classical combination was absolutely perfectly executed, and presented in a most contemporary and interesting fashion. You can hardly say more than outstanding.

St Jacques

Kabeljau/ Brokoli/ Aubergine/ Muschelkompott. Served with this course was a 2007, Cedre Blanc, Chateau du Cedre, Pays du Lot.

Having the great honour to be the first to try a new course was one thing. If that first try is that good, it is even better. A very fine piece of cod, poached in grapeseed oil, if I remember correctly was topped with a miso cream and then slightly gratinated. This was served with a little Japanese aubergine cream, broccoli with yuzu zest, and a razor clam filled with different mussels and a slightly acidified yoghurt. This dish was incredibly fresh, and light in both taste and appearance. If the presentation will certainly change over time, the flavours were already spot on. Here, on saw again, how careful Bau constructs his dishes, and how sure he is in matching flavours and bringing them together. The most striking fact in this dish, apart from the combination, was the texture of the cod. Despite being poached very gently in oil, it retained a deliciously firm texture. This really was a fine piece of fish. Excellent.

Cabillaud

Seezunge/ Artischocke/ Parmesan/ Jabugo Bellota. This dish was served with 2008, G.P.S., Domaine Pignier, Jura. A slightly modified version of a sole dish, I had eaten last December, the very thick double-fillet of dover sole was coated in a crunchy coating of dried Jabugo Bellota ham, sauced with a Parmesan foam, a Jabugo Bellota jus and served with an artichoke cream and pan-fried artichokes, parmesan ravioli and some spinach. A fairly classical dish, that was magnified by a most perfect quality of the products and the incredibly precise execution. The sole had the fantastic firm flesh that makes this fish one of the finest things swimming in the ocean, and the ham components gave it a richness, which complemented it beautifully. The new parmesan ravioli with a liquid farce were also very enjoyable, and great fun to eat. An outstanding dish.

Sole

Kalbsherzbries/ Yamwurzel/ Schwarzer Knoblauch/ Miso. Served with a great wine: 2007, Fossiles Pinot Blanc, Chateau Pauque, Luxembourg. A few words on Aby Duhr, who makes these stunning wines in Luxembourg. Of all the fairly good, and sometimes very good Luxembourgish wines, he makes the best. These wines can match some very fine German and French white wines in both intensity and complexity. For anyone who ever sees this stuff on a wine list, go for it. They’re a hell of a lot more expensive than the usual Luxembourgish wines, but really worth it.

Ris de Veau

The dish here was one more from the Vision, and really was an exemplar rendition of Bau’s theme: Japanese influenced French haute cuisine. The Coeur de ris de veau, the finest part of the sweetbreads, which sits at their centre was pan-fried and served with a few preparations of yam, black garlic crumble, a miso sabayon and veal jus. The pairing here was fantastic. The food too. Perfectly cooked, creamy, tasty sweetbreads worked beautifully with the rest. A truly outstanding dish.

Mieral-Ente/ 2x Sellerie/ Café/ Tamarinde. Served with a 2004, Morey-Saint-Denis, Domaine Charlopin Parizot, Burgund. This was a terrific dish. In essence it was the duck I had eaten in April, with the addition of a pastilla of the duck leg. The perfectly cooked duck breast, from arguably the Bresse’s finest producer, was served with a simple duck jus flavoured with tamarind and coffee. With it came a celery cream and a bit of pan-fried celeri branche. The pastilla was stunning. Crispy on the outside, perfectly seasoned, creamy leg meat and simply delicious. The duck too, had great flavour and represented another faultless dish, which was absolutely great. Excellent.

Canard

I had a selection of Bernard Antony’s fabulous cheeses, with which I was served a glass of 2007, Albersweiler Latt Gewürtztraminer Auslese, Weingut Rebholz, Pfalz. A great wine, with great cheese. That’s all one has to say.

Fromages

Joghurt & Olive/ Passionsfrucht/ Knusper/ Bonbon. Served with both desserts was a very, very nice 2006, Riesling Beerenauslese, Dr Loosen, Mosel. This first dessert was probably the best I have eaten here. The combination of the three elements worked marvelously. There was a tamed contrast, which led to an enhanced overall flavour. A great sweet, which was both incredibly fresh and pleasant to eat. Excellent.

Dessert I

Schokolade/ Bschibirne/ Pan-Dan/ Ingwer. A last course from the Vision was a “Japanised” version of Bau’s classic chocolate tartlett. Here, the Nashi pear, pan-dan ice cream and ginger spiced things up, and made the chocolate feel incredibly fresh again. Excellent again.

Choco/Poire

The last part here is always the very well made, and very large selection of petit-fours, which is always very very good. As is the coffee.

Petit Fours

This was yet again a world-class meal. No dish had the slightest technical mistake, let alone slip. Every single of these highly complex dishes worked brilliantly, and made it feel incredibly simple, which really is what makes Bau stand out. I still believe that Bau features amongst the very best chefs in the world and this meal solidified my belief once more. This restaurant really lives up to the Michelin’s description of 3*, both in the green and red guides, as the food here is always exceptional and well worth a trip.

GO, THERE!

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Publicités

Schloss Berg, Nennig III

août 29, 2009

 

I had the chance to spend a few weeks in Christian Bau’s kitchen lately and will write about my experiences, if time permits. My last meal there, a few weeks ago was as good as the one in April, and the restaurant is definitely among my top 5. 

 

La maison

La maison

A few words about the chef should be said. During my two weeks in his kitchen, he was there at every single service, during the whole 16 to 18 hours of the normal day and closed the restaurant every night. Not only was he there, but he also cooks most of the sauces, prepares and cooks the fish and many other things. Nothing leaves this kitchen without his blessing. I was certainly impressed when I stood in front of three boxes of tomatoes waiting to be peeled, when suddenly the chef came along and peeled them with me. Such things only show too well how much this man and his brigade work.

DSCN1184

Now, to the meal, which is the reason for this post after all. We started with a glass of the house Champagne, which is a very pleasant blanc de blancs and not too costly for a 3* (I think it is 14euro). The first nibbles that arrive at the table already show the immense attention to detail and complexity of the cooking here. The diner is presented with a few brik-tubes, filled with Parma ham mousse today, a cold soup with some air (today it was a beetroot gazpacho with buttermilk air), a few almonds and a little selection of canapés. The crunchy cannelloni were very enjoyable, as were the almonds. The soup, which at the last visit was a little underwhelming had great intensity and power this time. The combination with the buttermilk worked marvelously well too. The stars of this first round of treats are plated on the slate board though. At the top left, one has crab bread with swordfish/oyster tartar and apple foam. This is very fresh, with great textural (crunchy, creamy and airy) combinations. In short, a great little bite (and classic here). Also on the plate was a tomato, pesto, mozzarella tartlett, which was very good, as usual. The last part was a cracker with cream cheese, two kinds of tobiko caviar and a chicken skin crisp. This was not bad at all, but I don’t fancy cream cheese that much. Excellent.

 

Gazpacho, croustillants et amandes

Gazpacho, croustillants et amandes

 

Canapes

Canapes

 

Next up was a new version of the little cornet, I had eaten at the previous visit. Today it was filled with avocado cream, yuzu sorbet (a slightly salted one), hamachi tartar and wasabi foam. This was just one fresh, rewarding mouthful. Amazing in every sense, if a little less gourmand than the beef/eel/caviar version, I had tried in April. Excellent.

 

Cornet avocat, hamachi, yuzu, wasabi

Cornet avocat, hamachi, yuzu, wasabi

Moving on with the next round of amuses, we had a Bau classic: Two spoonfuls of foie gras. One was an ice cream with a little cherry compote and the other a gateau, with coffee, hazelnut and cherry. The foie here always impresses. This time it didn’t fail to do so neither. It was tasty, creamy, perfectly prepared and great with the slightly bitter coffee jelly. The hazelnuts gave it a little crunch, which I always adore. The ice cream of foie is another winner. It is very intense and unbelievably creamy. Once you have it in your mouth, you wonder how a thing this unctuous can actually stay in shape that well (on the plate). Outstanding.

 

Foie Gras, noix, cerises, cafe

Foie Gras, noix, cerises, cafe

Up next was another Bau classic, in a different version this time. The clarified gazpacho came with olive and mozzarella drops, cucumber sorbet, sea cucumber and carabineros. The flavour of every element was outstandingly present, fresh and clear and the combination of the different parts worked marvelously too. The stars of the show were undoubtedly the sea cucumber and carabinero. I had the opportunity to try a little sea cucumber in the kitchen a few days earlier, so I knew what amazing texture to expect, but I was still startled. It is only poached in grape seed oil, and thus remains very clean in terms of taste, and possibly the best way to discover a product such as this. This was one of the most interesting and satisfying, completely new textures I have come across up to now. The carabinero (large red shrimp that live off the Spanish coast) was as good as they get (which means very, very good). The only problem with such products is the exorbitant price. However, if the chef serves it, all you can do is eat it, no? Outstanding.

 

Gazpacho

Gazpacho

Another serving of spoons came right up. This time it was a langoustine variation. A base of tartar with trout caviar was topped with some deep-fried langoustine. The second spoon featured a “raviolo”: tartar wrapped in lardo di Colonnata and crowned with Ossietra caviar. This is an absolute masterpiece. One can’t say anything about this dish but note that it gets pretty damn close to what perfection could taste like. The deep-fried langoustine is coated in the thinnest, crunchiest of batters and gives the creamy, rich tartar both crunch and a different structure. This is really worth a trip on its own. This was one mouthful for which I wouldn’t have minded a couple of hours driving. I really can’t say just how unbelievably good this was. However, there was another spoon awaiting me. This one wasn’t exactly what I would call disgusting neither. Despite being based on the same tartar, the lardo/caviar combination gave it a totally different feeling. The melting lardo, the briny caviar complemented the tartar utmost perfectly. Another outstanding dish based on langoustines within a month’s time (after Hof van Cleve’s terrific langoustines). DIVINE.

 

Langoustines

Langoustines

Just to remind you, we are still at the amuses. Yes, maybe you can see how much effort is being put in to every part of the meal here. These creations are more complex than whole dishes at other high-end restaurants and don’t even make up a big part of the meal. The last plate to come as a “greeting from the kitchen” was a salmon/oyster raviolo with asparagus and wasabi/courgette cream. This was a slightly modified version of the version we had eaten in April. A subtle change can make a huge differnce, as we were about to see. The raviolo was lukewarm this time, which made all of the tastes come out beautifully (oysters are best eaten at 36 degrees Celsius as they have much more complexity). Also added this time was a wasabi cream, which I must say, was very welcome due to the spiciness of it. This was absolutely delicious again.

 

Saumon

Saumon

 

The first few courses were the same as the ones I had in April, so I will only give brief explanations about these.

 

The first was the Crab Marinated and Deep-Fried/ 2x Watermelon/ Dashi Jelly. It comes as a croustillant and as a salad. The watermelon is served in the form of a sorbet and as a grilled slice. As the watermelon is relatively sweet, this dish is a little too sweet for my taste, if eaten without the sorbet. The freshness of the sorbet however, balances the whole thing beautifully. The fritter is one adorable mouthful, which was the star of the dish. Excellent.

 

Watermelon

Watermelon

The next course was as good, if not better than last time. The blue fin tuna tataki/ Crispy & Sour Vegetables/ Ponzu/ Japanese Essence with Ginger Ale is a classic of the house, and rightfully so. The dish doesn’t only present you with the ever perfect quality of the ingredients, but is also very clever in terms of the construction. The tuna itself is slightly grilled, tender, tasty,… The vegetables (without the abalone this time, which I found a little annoying in the first version of it) were perfect, as was the soup with tuna/avocado tartar. The vegetables gave you a slightly acidic note, whilst the soup had a most complex taste, which complemented the tuna very well. Excellent.

 

Thon

Thon

 

Thon II

Thon II

 

Thon III

Thon III

Here comes a new one: Blue Lobster/ Tepid Quinoa/ Passe Pierre & Green Apple/ Cream of Corail/ Aroma & Oil of Curry from Madras. This is another accomplished dish. It is very complex as it features a salicorne puree, curry mayonnaise, pan-fried salicorne, green apple sticks and foam, the lobster, a lobster jus, the corail cream, cury oil, quinoa both popped and cooked with the lobster claws and chicken skin. Taste-wise the different aromas work very well, as each gives a little bit to the whole thing. One can mix the diverse elements in any way, and will never be disappointed. I particularly enjoyed the corail cream, which has incredible power and very pleasing texture. Another great dish. Excellent.

 

Homard

Homard

Up next was another classic. Coquille Saint-Jacques/ Seawater Tapioca/ Chutney of Carrots/ Foam & Aroma of Raz el Hanout. The scallops were of very high quality (as French ones are out of season, the chef uses Scandinavian ones) and were cooked perfectly. I was kind of sad about the fact that they were halved, but one can’t do much about it. This crime seems to invade the continent too. The tapioca has an interesting, but pleasing taste, which again, works well with the other elements on the plate. This was excellent (sorry for being repetitive, but that’s the way this food is).

 

Coquille St Jacques

Coquille St Jacques

Now came one of my favourites. A tempura of frog’s legs, with enoki mushrooms, a watercress soup, spinach and wasabi cream. The main part is made up of the deep-fried legs, with raw and deep-fried enoki mushrooms, spinach, wasabi cream, parsley and garlic. The little cup contains some of the smallest ravioli I have seen so far (they must be about as big as a 2cent coin), some boned frog leg meat and watercress soup. The legs were brilliant, crunchy batter, tender,tasty meat and a great cream to dip them into: all one can ask for. The spinach seemed to be a base for the little beignets to stand on more than anything else, but that didn’t matter at all. The wasabi cream was lovely and spiced things up a little, which isn’t a bad thing seeing that it was a dish which contained mostly deep-fried elements. Watercress isn’t something I have liked for a long time, but this soup was stunning. Every leaf is hand-picked to produce a soup of an intensity and tastiness that is unheard of. I guess a healthy dose of butter and/or cream helped to get to this, but I really didn’t mind. This was terrific.  Outstanding.

 

Grenouilles

Grenouilles

Turbot is a fish I particularly enjoy if it is very fresh (thus very firm). I know that most people will prefer it slightly matured, but that doesn’t interest me in the least, as I find this firm, meaty texture most impressive. The best piece of turbot I have tasted in my life was at ADPA, where the thick cut completely redefined what turbot should taste like. Here it was very good, but not quite there yet. Bau buys fish that are about 5,5kg and therefore deliver some meaty fillets. The current version is called Atlantic Turbot/ Smoked Eel Glazed over Charcoal/ Eggplant-Miso/ Shiso Pesto/ Deep-Fried “Ladyfingers”. This dish showed Bau’s penchant for Asian and Japanese cuisine in a good way. The techniques are clearly French, but the spices, condiments, and combinations are inspired by Japanese cooking. The turbot was, as I mentioned, of top quality and had great flavour and texture (not to mention the perfect cooking). The real star of the dish was the smoked eel. I absolutely adored its strong flavour, which was only enhanced by glazing it over real charcoal. The highly complex vinaigrette and aubergine miso cream complemented each element beautifully. Excellent.

 

Turbot

Turbot

Up next was a fantastic local product: Saddle of Venison from Eifel/ 2x Pointed Cabbage/ Apricots& Chanterelles/ Jus of Venison with Bitter Cocoa and Mild Chili. These are wild animals that are being brought to the restaurant by a game dealer based around 50km north of Nennig, in Trier. Bau served the rack covered with a slice of foie gras, which starts to melt as it is presented to the guest. This doesn’t only enhance the dishe’s flaovur, but also makes the fat-free meat a little more interesting. The cooking was perfect as always during the weeks of my internship. They hardly use any sous-vide  here and manage to cook every piece of venison or lamb to an exact temperature; every day. I must say that sous-vide is great for an amateur, but a 3* restaurant should take the effort to cook meat traditionally, which many, sadly, don’t do anymore. The perfect cooking results not only in very tender meat, but one also has the lovely gamey flavour, which worked beaufitully with the cocoa/Piment d’Espelette sauce. The garnishes were girolles with dried abricots, a combination I adore, as girolles smell of exactly these dried abricots. The cream and sushi of pointed cabbage were as good as in a hare dish I had eaten last December. All in all, this was another excellent dish.

 

Chevreuil

Chevreuil

 

To move to the sweet side of things, one is served lemongrass ice cream coated in white chocolate. On the base of the little bon bon, one finds zeta peta, which came rather unexpected for my companion, who couldn’t help displaying a bright smile. Very good.

 

GLace

GLace

Moving on, we had the first of three desserts. I must admit that I find the look of that spoon, crowning the “Small Iced Coffee” a little too classic, but the dessert wass highly interesting. First of all, it is nearly devoid of any sweetness. When one starts to eat it, a very strong taste of coffee dominates. As I progressed, I got to like it more and more, as the subtle sweetness of the mascarpone cream does come through eventually and balances the dish in a remarkable way. The spoon gave the whole thing some crunch and further sweetness, making this a perfect little pre-dessert. Very good.

 

Cafe

Cafe

 

The Gariguette Strawberry/ Mild Ginger/ Yoghurt/ Sorbet of Yuzu was a real winner. There is nothing in the dessert world that  I despise more than some kind of soup as a dessert. I just don’t have any good memories of sweet soups. This time, the story was a little different. The strawberry soup was spiced with a little ginger, which gave it a kick and made the whole thing delicious if eaten with the (sweet) yuzu sorbet. The little strawberries with their different balls on the side made me think of Hof van Cleve. On the other side sits the yoghurt bonbon, which is yoghurt sorbet, sandwiched between crunchy sugar. This was a most refreshing, spicy, interesting dessert. Excellent.

 

Soupe de fraises

Soupe de fraises

Nothing against the two previous ones, but the last one did steal the show. Chocolate & Passion Fruit Canache and Cream/ Salpicon of Exotic Fruits/ Marbled Coconut Ice Cream. It was a play on Bau’s classic, which I had in December last year. Today the chocolage ganache was paired with a passion fruit cream or jelly of sorts. A base of praline gives the dessert crunch, as do the tuiles. I was astonished how well the different pieces of fruit worked with the bitter chocolate. After all, such combinations are often unsuccessful, so to see one, that actually does taste marvelous was pretty much new to me. The little tower contained a brunoise of the same fruit, the marbled ice cream and some sort of chocolate cream. All in all, this was a fantastic dessert, which closed the meal more than beautifully.

 

Chocolat

Chocolat

To accompany your coffee you are of course presented with a few petit fours and mignardises. On the slate you see from the bottom to the top: An after eight Negerkuss, an olive pate de fruit, a cherry filled with some kind of rice and a lemon tart. With it come a few nuts covered with chocolate and two kinds of marshmallow. Also served, but not pictured was a wide selection of pralines. Out of all these treats I disliked the cherry/raspberry combo, but the rest was excellent. I particularly enjoyed the lemon tart, the Negerkuss, the pralines and the pate de fruit.

 

Petit fours

Petit fours

This meal only demonstrated too well how good Christian Bau cooks. Not only is there an immense amount of work in this food, but also a passion for cooking and gastronomy that is driving things forward here. He travels to restaurants, spends as much time as his cooks in the kitchen, closes the restaurant and doesn’t let anything happen without his personal ok. This is a serious cook, who deserves to get much more attention, not only in Europe, but also world-wide.

 

A trip to Nennig will always be worth any distance traveled.  The cooking and seriousness here is just mind-blowing. Coupled with the great service and fantastic sommeliere, Britta Jäger, your time spent here, will be time well spent.

Schloss Berg, Nennig

avril 30, 2009

 


Le chateau

 

 

 

Le chateau

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been 10 years now since Christian Bau and his wife have taken over the restaurant of Schloss Berg. The restaurant itself is set in a picturesque 12th century castle and is located a stone’s throw away from Luxembourg and France. The famous village of Schengen (where the treaty has been signed) is about 10km down the river.

 

le chateau-2

le chateau-2

 

 

Apart from a nasty little casino adjacent to the castle, the restaurant’s situation is wonderful. The vineyards are extending down to the Moselle, the weather is mild, sunny, nature is coming back to life…

 

My first visit had left me with the impression of Bau being a most intelligent, hard-working chef. Someone, who constantly seems to re-work dishes until they work, really work. The service back then was good too, only the horrible design of the room was a bit annoying.

 

Photo: Schloss Berg

Photo: Schloss Berg

 

 

Happily enough, they changed the whole interior a couple of months ago. Now, the diner is greeted by a light, warm, welcoming room, which suits the cooking so much better than the previous one. To get away from the international standard Coquet or Bernardaud crockery, Bau now mostly uses Stefanie Hering’s fantastic porcelain, which underlines his food beautifully.

 

 

The service, led by Yildiz Bau, the chef’s wife and Britta Jaeger, the sommeliere, has become much more personal, warm, relaxed, friendly, welcoming. They really know how to treat their guests. Put it in a few words: You feel very well there.

 

La salle

La salle

 

la table

la table

 

 

Bau’s concept of delivering perfection from beginning to end is already clear from the first bites that he sends each guest. In this case they consisted of a cracker with oyster and swordfish salpicon and apple foam; tomatoe/pesto tartlet; yellow-fin tuna with avocado cream. All of them already featured amazingly intense flavour explosions and showed how much effort is put into each element here. Bau certainly doesn’t take any shortcuts to achieve what he strives for. I couldn’t think of any better canapés, only those of Ledoyen come somewhat close, somewhat. Outstanding.

 

canapes-1

canapes-1

 

 

Following this came a melon soup, which tasted a little empty. Melon season isn’t quite at its height yet. It might have been the only miss of the meal, but one that isn’t too problematic. With it came very good chorizo cream-filled philo pastry cannelloni. The latter were excellent.

 

canapes-2

canapes-2

 

 

Still in the lounge, we were approached with a cornet holding a smoked eel cream, beef tartar and imperial ossietra caviar. It’s always nice to see someone use real caviar instead of the cheaper and less good, farmed versions from wherever they might come. Here the combination of flavours resulted in an orgasmic mix. You simply can not describe how perfect this little thing was: The crunchy cornet, smoky creamy eel, hearty beef and slightly salty caviar…heaven on earth. Give me ten of these and I’m fine for a (short) while.

 

canapes-3

canapes-3

 

 

One further little amuse came before we went to our table: A tomatoe and olive oil gazpacho with mozzarella and olive bon-bons, tomatoe sorbet and calamaretti. Having tasted this in December already, I knew what to expect. Not only was this as good as then, but it made much more sense as an amuse-bouche, being very fresh and light. A perfect palate-cleanser and starting point for the rest of the menu. Excellent.

canapes-4

canapes-4

 

 

After having been escorted to our table, we were approached with yet another amuse: A foie gras royale with a healthy serving of Perigord truffle and Parmesan air. Again, you simply can not describe how perfect the flavours were. The was truffle heated just enough to release its fantastic flavour, the royale smooth, silky and perfectly seasoned and the parmesan air just bringing both together. Another divine little creation.

 

amuse-1

amuse-1

The bread then made its apparition coming in various forms and varieties. All of them were very good, but the slice of focaccia served at the beginning, sourdough and the wheat baguette were by far the best.

 

les pains

les pains

The final amuse came in the form of a salmon raviolo filled with oyster, served with a salad of asparagus, salicorne, char-caviar and a wasabi/apple foam. I am no fan of salmon, but when it is used as well as in this dish, I’m happy to have it. The air deserves to be mentioned, as it was remarkably tasty for a foam. This could easily have been a whole course in any other restaurant, but here you get al of it as part of the prelude. Fantastic.

 

 

amuse-2

amuse-2

 

 

The first starter was Taschenkrebs & Melone/ Mariniert & Gebacken / 2x Wassermelone / Dashigelee. This was simply one refreshing, iodine dish, where sweetness, saltiness and acidity were balanced in the utmost perfect way. The marinated watermelon gave a little bit of crunch to the creamy crab salad and the dashi gelee a salty background, combined with the sorbet you had a piece of summer in your mouth. The little fried crab gave the whole dish a luscious, indulgent note. Excellent.

 

crab-1

crab-1

 

crab-2

crab-2

 

 

Following this came Gaenseleber aus dem Elsass / Gruener Pfeffer / Gelee und Knusper vom gruenen Tee / Mango. Well, what can you say about an ice cream made out of pure foie gras? Nothing. Only that it is out of this world. The texture is quite simply nowhere near anything I ever had before. I guess the Paco-Jet does help here, creating the smoothest, creamiest ice cream I have found so far. This however, should not make the little gateau stand back in any form. It was just as perfect and mind-blowingly well made. A slightly bigger portion would make it perfect. I do not like huge portions, but a little more can’t hurt. The appearance of the dish didn’t really appeal to me, but that is entirely due to personal taste. All in all, it was an outstanding foie dish.

 

foie

foie

 

 

Langoustine / Sushi / Tartar /  Spargel / Dashi. Lightly cooked langoustines, wrapped in spinach, with a tartar, dashi broth and asparagus resulted in a really well made fusion dish. The whole thing was simply centred around the amazing langoustines, which were of the same quality as the ones I had at Oud Sluis a couple of days earlier. Such products just dno’t need tons of butter or heavy sauces. A light broth suffices. Excellent.

 

langoustine

langoustine

 

 

To continue on such heights is a challenge, not many chefs would be able to live up to. Bau certainly can. Blue Fin Tuna / Tataki/ Gartengurke / Japanisches Gemuese mit Abalone / Kimizu raised the bar yet higher! Not only do I like to receive 3 different plates, but when they are all as perfect as these were, you simply can not argue. The tuna being as tender as Wissler’s but so much lighter and cleaner (taste-wise), the accompanying cucumber gave it some crunch and freshness and the dashi the great heartiness you sometimes miss in such light dishes. The little bowl of tuna tartar with apple/wasabi/sake sorbet and cucumber/tapioca soup was another little star. The third cup contained some thinly shaved vegetables and abalone. I didn’t really need the abalone, but can’t say it was misplaced neither. Divine.

 

tuna

tuna

 

 

Coquille Saint Jacques / gegrillt / Meereswasser Tapioka / Karottenchutney / Schaum & Aroma von Raz El Hanout. Now, you get some delicious scallops in London, Paris, Sluis, anywhere you like, but you rarely get some of this quality. The beast was of considerable size and perfectly, really perfectly cooked. Even if it was cut in half (oh oh oh), the reason here was clear: One half had to transport the carrot-chutney. The accompanying tapioca and quinoa (one crunchy, the other cooked with oysters) gave the dish a great textural stimulus and the raz el hanout foam some spice. Outstanding.

 

scallops

scallops

 

 

After all of these mind-blowing dishes, you wait for a less stunning one. Well wait my friend, wait for quite a while, because I haven’t come across anything that wasn’t 100% perfect here yet. The following dish too, wasn’t anything but perfect: Steinbutt aus der Bretagne / Sot-l’y-laisse mit Hoi Sin glasiert / Kraeutersalat / Anchoisaromaten / Krustentierbearnaise. A nice tranche of turbot, grilled to perfection came with a few spring onions, lobster béarnaise and chicken oysters. The absolute star of the dish were the chicken oysters. Just the absolute best piece of chicken you can find on these birds magnified in a most interesting way. The béarnaise, even if very classical, was a welcome partner for all of this. Wow, I don’t know when I had such a perfect meal since my last visits at ADPA or the Louis XV.

 

turbot

turbot

 

 

Hold on to your seats. I thought these dishes were good, but then came along a real beast. Blauer Hummer / in Butter pochiert / Spitzmorcheln / Dicke Bohnen / Vin Jaune. Breton blue lobster is probably my favourite ingredient. Morels aren’t anything I despise neither, nor are peas or green beans. The whole thing served with a little vin jaune beurre blanc makes it a nice little collection of some of my favourite things on earth. Good lord, this was good. Rarely do you get such perfectly cooked lobster, glased with jus and full of flavour. The morels were amazingly powerful as were the beans and the pea puree. All in all, I guess that this is as close to heaven as you can possibly get on this earth. Absolutely, outstandingly- divine (sorry for being repetitive, but go there and you’ll see why I am that enchanted).

 

lobster

lobster

 

 

Bresse-Ente von Mieral / Ravioli von der Keule / 2x Sellerie mit Orangenaroma / Entenjus mit Tamarinde & Café. This dish didn’t have the easiest of tasks. To follow a dish as perfect as the last one isn’t something I’d like to have to do. But, Bau being who he is, he managed to pull out another stunner. Jean Claude Mieral is probably the best eleveur in the Bresse region. He works with most of the better French 3* chefs and deservedly so, do they rely on his fantastic produce. It is from him, that Bau gets all of his poultry, to the great pleasure of his guests. The duck was cooked to perfection, both the breast and the braised thigh stuffed in the raviolo. The celery puree was a concentration of pure celery taste with a nice buttery touch too it. The rich jus had a slight hint of sweetness (from the tamarind) and a very subtle bitterness from the coffee. Divine quality, divine execution and divine conception and that’s it!

 

duck

duck

 

 

 

 

duck

 

 

But don’t think that we were done with our meal. The real highlight still had to be served. Golden Label Beef “Japan-Style” / vom Holzkohlegrill / Auberginencreme / Gemuesetempura. Now being served Wagyu beef is not something you are likely to get everyday. Here it was A10, American quality that was absolutely beautiful. Luckily enough Bau knows that such a product doesn’t need thousand bits and pieces to mask its outstanding quality. He simply grilled it over charcoal and served it with smoked aubergine puree, jus and vegetable-tempura. This must have been the absolute perfect piece of meat: Tender as butter, immensely  tasty, rich, sumptuously marbled and cooked to the utmost perfection (again). The very interesting aubergine puree gave it a nice background, as did the jus and the tempura. Such products just leave you speechless and stay in your mind for quite a while. I don’t think I’ll ever eat any other beef in Europe, that should say enough.

 

wagyu,pre-cooking

wagyu,pre-cooking

 

wagyu, post-cooking

wagyu, post-cooking

 

 

 

 

wagyu, post-cooking

 

tempura with wagyu

tempura with wagyu

 

 

 

 

 

The salty part of the meal being finished, we were more than willing to let the three desserts come. This concept of serving three little desserts instead of a big one, is one I really enjoy as it allows you to taste a much wider range of preparations.

 

But before this we were allowed a little ice cream. Some white chocolate-encased passion-fruit ice cream. Excellent.

 

pre-dessert

pre-dessert

 

 

The first one started on a good level:  Rhabarber mit Streusel / Mascarpone / Ingwereis. A perfectly made rhubarb-crumble, a little crisp filled with mascarpone cream and a quenelle of ginger ice cream provided a refreshing first step into the sweet world. Each element was well executed and had distinct textural aspects. Very good, even if it left room for improvement (taken up by the following two desserts).

 

rhubarb

rhubarb

 

 

The second part was a big step up the scale: Interpretation sauerer Zitrusfruechte.  The main plate featured a yuzu jelly and sorbet of dazzling cleanliness. To the left was a lemon tart and further left still, a kalamanci jelly on a bisquit, topped with different confit zests. All of these elements were of such clean, refreshing taste, with a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity that you only get in very, very few places.

 

citrus-1

citrus-1

 

 

With it came an Amalfi-lemon cream with some marinated blood orange. Here again, the bowl was just pure pleasure.  Such simplicity relying on spectacular products and great maturity from the cooks is something you would like to find more often. Divine

 

citrus-2

citrus-2

 

 

The third part featured some grapefruit espuma and salad. You won’t be surprised that this was another really well made little creation that simply is that much better than much else, even if it’s not as complicated as many other things.

 

citrus-3

citrus-3

 

 

The third and, unfortunately, last dessert was Valrhona-Schokoladen “Erde” / Maracujacreme / Knusper. Now this earth, which Ferran Adria and his brother Albert invented a few years ago in Roses can be very good, or less so. Here it worked beautifully with the slightly sour maracuja jelly and the coffee cream underneath it. The whole thing was an etude in bitterness and acidity. Not something the general public will enjoy, but I loved it, as it moves away from the sweet desserts you so often get. This and the citrus fruits were the better of the three desserts. Excellent.

 

chocolate

chocolate

 

 

To finish the deal, you get the obligatory petit-fours, marshmallows, pralines and cocoa coated, caramelized nuts. All of them show, once more, the incredibly high standards this patisserie has, as they were pretty much all perfect.

 

petit-fours

petit-fours

 

 

 

After having eaten at Oud Sluis, Vendome and Schloss Berg in less than a week, it was clear, that the last stop was by far the best. Whilst maybe not being as modern as the other two, Bau has the ability to marry tradition and avant-garde in a most impressive way. His dishes aren’t purely classical French, nor resolutely modern. They are much more a mix of the great combinations, that the classic French dishes use (the turbot, lobster, duck dishes show some of these), combined with some modern elements and techniques thrown in here and there for good measure (chocolate dessert, the various airs, slow-poaching of the lobsters). Also, it is great to see, that such a gifted chef is so open to new ideas. Having been to Japan recently, Bau introduced Japanese elements into many dishes in a most delightful way (dashi, yuzu, abalone, tuna).

 

One thing that struck me was the constant evolution here. From my visit a mere 4 months ago I certainly remembered a very good meal, but this was even better. It seems that Bau is going further and further in order to find the absolute perfect combinations. It is this hard-working, realistic, down to earth side to him, that makes him a most impressive chef.

 

After the refurbishment of the room, a meal here is simply a complete, rounded experience, as is Vendome. It is quite bizarre to see this place nearly neglected by the foodie community, whilst much less good restaurants are constantly in the spotlight.

 

 

 

Schloss Berg-Christian Bau

décembre 19, 2008

17th December 2008

 

Schloss Berg is a nice little castle in the Obermosel next to a horrible casino. 

The room itself is very classic and is not likely to get an award for interior design. However, the few tables are very nicely dressed and the friendly service makes the atmosphere rather comfortable.

We started with a glass of champagne, accompanied by a trio of little treats: smoked sardine with pear and aubergine, tomato tart with pesto and olive and kropoek with salmon and apple. All very refreshing and excellent little miniatures. Also served as canapes were very nice cucumber soups with soja air, chorizo rolls and some salted and sweetened almonds.

Similar to ADPA and Les Ambassadeurs, you don’t have to hold your menu yourself. It rests on a little stand in front of you so that you can continue to enjoy your aperitif. 

After having chosen 7 courses from the « Voyage Culinaire » we were served a variation of Tuna consisting of four mainly raw preparations, which were all excellent. 

The first course of the menu was « Tomate & Olivenoel ». A tomatoe gazpacho with little olive and mozarella bonbons and small squid. This continued with the very refreshing, clean flavours present in the earlier dishes. Also very good.

After this followed « Gaenseleber aus der Landes ». The Foie Gras was accompanied by some cherry and coffee  jelly and hazelnut meringues. Excellent Foie, smooth, rich in flavour and quite simply delicious.

We skipped a scallop course and came to a Langoustine dish. This consisted of langoustine sushi, with japanese rice, ponzu air, salicorn tempura and braised salicorn. a part, we were served an outstanding langoustine broth, with very subtle asian spicing. This was sushi of the best quality, with a perfect portioning of each component (as on all of the other dishes to). Again Bau serves a perfect dish.

As fish we had a Sole with Parmesan viennoise, Jabugo-Bellota ham juice and artichokes. This was one of the best dishes of the night. The sole was perfectly fresh, firm, with wounderful flavour, even though it could have been cooked a tiny bit less. If one takes into account that Bau’s cooking is realtively classic, it was perfect. One of the best dishes of the year and the best sole dish I have come across so far.

Main course was wild hare from Sologne with cabbage, topinambour and Mole. The star of this dish was a croquette of topinambour and delisously creamy boudin noir. The hare and rest were also outstanding and could hold the very high level of the meal. The sauce, with Mole was so good, that it had to be finished with some of the excellent bread we were served.

The only weak dish of the evening was « Lychee, Cassis & Joghurt ». It seemed like a combination of cassis sorbet, a creme with passion fruit and (supposedly) lychee and a crunchy bonbon filled with yoghurt. Each element was very good, but the composition looked a little out of place, especially if one considers that the rest of the dishes were perfectly planned. It looked like a nice pre-dessert, but appeared as first dessert on the printed menu.

The Chocolate & Peanut dessert was another highlight. A very good chocolate mousse, peanut cream and salted caramelised peanuts formed the centre part of this dish. A perfect Valrhona ice cream and some marinated mango accompanied it. All in all this was another outstanding dish, whith each element playing a very clear role.

THe petit-fours were as good as all of the rest and therefore our meal finished as perfectly as it had started. 

 

One problem I have, which doesn’t concern Christian Bau, but rather the Gault Millau and some other journalists is the fact, that he was reproached of copying the culinary trends of the day and lacking a personal style. My meal gave me the impression, that Bau has found a very clever style, focusing on the product as Ducasse or maybe Pacaud would do and sorrounding it with perfect, maybe playful garnishes, which one can find in Sergio Herman’s cuisine. 

Christian Bau along with Helmut Thieltges at Sonnora are the best chefs in the Luxembourg region and make it a must visit for anyone interested in contemporary classic cooking. If one is already in the region, the 8-course pasta menu at Mosconi, Erfort in Saarbruecken and L’Arnsbourg in Baerenthal could let you spend a few very enjoyable days.