Author Archives: dilipvw

Quique Dacosta 2017: Terroir and history

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DNA La Búsqueda, that is the name of the new culinary proposal of three Michelin starred chef, Quique Dacosta, for 2017 at his restaurant in Denia. It fully puts the attention of his clients on his terroir. And boy do we know how much Quique loves his terroir! From flavours of his childhood to typical preparations of local shepherds from the hills behind Denia to the delicious rice from the region, and of course the magnificent seafood, with the absolutely queen, the Red Prawn of Denia… Taste combined with ancient techniques with a personal Quique twist, that is why you should travel to this restaurant! A unique cooking style with a razor sharp view on how a plate should look, smell, taste…

To make things complete, there’s a magnificent wine list with really interesting price levels and the exceptional service by Didier Fertilati and his team.

In a world were trends and techniques are copied and duplicated at warp speed, it is so satisfying to see a chef with a clear vision, with respect for his terroir and culinary heritage and most of all, with an almost obsessional love for his profession….

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(pictures courtesy of Quique Dacosta Restaurant)

 

Porte 12, Vincent Crepel: Creativity and structured culinary rock and roll in Paris

Boom Badda Bing…as a trained foodie, that is what comes to my mind after my meal at Vincent Crepels Porte 12 in Paris. Creativity and structured rock and roll…

Behind a discrete door you enter into a world of light and culinary enlightenment. Set in a former lingerie atelier, this restaurant is another great example of how Paris can be the ideal environment for scholars of great European chefs to set up shop on their own. Do note how the tailor-made lamps are a creative ‘clin d’oeuil’ to the past as they are shaped like ‘corsets’, pieces of fine lingerie that used to be made here.

Vincent, a scholar of the late Benoît Violier and André Chang, and his team work in a tiny open kitchen overlooking the light flooded dining room. He creates dishes that are surprising, perfectly balanced and tasty. If you eat out a lot, like we do, then this type of restaurant is exactly what you are looking for… It’s so satisfying to be surprised with original creations and new angles on ingredients, like the Jerusalem Artichoke consommé which was served with the brilliant Comté/Viande des Grisons dish…Probably one of the best cheese dishes ever for us, together with the epic Stilton dish at Restaurant Vrijmoed by this other natural talent, Michaël Vrijmoed.

Swift service and adventurous wine list complete the experience…a must do in Paris if you want to push your culinary boundaries in the most pleasant of ways.

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PREMIÈRE ÉDITION DES «SUCRÉS DU LUX»

Hier, lundi 28 novembre, La Cristallerie restaurant gastronomique de l’Hôtel Le Place d’Armes a eu l’honneur d’accueillir la première édition des «Sucrés du Lux».

A l’initiative d’Yves Jehanne, Chef Pâtissier du Place d’Armes, «Les Sucrés du Lux» réunit des pâtissiers passionnés et passionnants autour d’un thème précis afin de partager, d’échanger et de promouvoir leur vision sucrée en repoussant leurs limites mais sans compétition aucune, hormis celled’épater les copains !

• Benoît Leitchnam
Chef Pâtissier de la Hôtel de préfecture de Moselle, Ambassadeur au championnat de France de desserts

• Liberty Ducarme
Fondatrice Sweet Factory // Come à la Maison

• Lionel Marchand
Chef Pâtissier de l’Hôtel Le Royal

• Jonathan Schneider
Chef Pâtissier du Pain de Mary

• Youri Neyers
Chef Pâtissier du Restaurant Schéiss
Champion du monde de pâtisserie en 2003

• Yves Jehanne
Chef Pâtissier de l’Hôtel Le Place d’Armes

Yves était soutenu dans ce projet par 5 amis de la profession: L’idée leur a parlé tout de suite, car ils ont tous un objectif commun, faire grandir la pâtisserie au Luxembourg; un art précis et distinct de la Cuisine.

Il est coutume que l’hôte choisisse le thème, ainsi pour le lancement du club Yves avait challengé les pâtissiers avec l’Exotisme.

Benoît Leitchnam a concocté un Choco/Coco/Citron, Liberty Ducarme un magnifique Sweet Brésil, Lionel Marchand une superbe Piñacolada, Jonathan Schneider la Passion de Mary qu’il déclinera pour les fêtes en bûches de Noël, Youri Neyers nous a gâté de succulents Fingers
Mojito et Yves Jehanne a préparé le Retour de Bali et la Mangue Poivre rouge du Cambodge.

Accompagnés pour la plupart de leurs proches collaborateurs ou amis du métier, les échanges respiraient la transmission et le partage, dans l’unique but de faire progresser la profession.

Il y a plus de 10 ans, en 2005, Christophe Michalak et Christophe Adam lançaient le «Club des Sucrés» pour rassembler chaque trimestre l’élite de la pâtisserie française, autour d’un theme donné par l’hôte du jour, allant de “voyage” à “fraise” en passant par “mojito”, ou encore “lait sucré”.

Cette idée a été perpétuée dans plusieurs régions de France et nous sommes fiers qu’elle s’établisse aujourd’hui au Luxembourg.

(source: communiqué de presse de l’Hôtel Le Place d’Armes)

MICHELIN 2017 BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG…WHAT DO WE THINK

Pleasantly surprised by GaultMillau Belgium 2017 where we saw seriously accrued interest and appreciation for young, talented chefs who focus on delivering delicious food made with quality ingredients, often sourced locally. Inspired by what Michelin has done in the UK, where pubs get stars these days and even more inspired by some Asian Michelin editions where streetfood was awarded a star, we very much look forward to what Michelin will hold in store for us coming Monday when the new Red Bible of fine dining will be revealed for Belgium and Luxembourg.
The restaurant environment in Belgium, even across Europe, is changing. Chefs find themselves confronted to several challenges:

• finding good staff is difficult, staff loyalty tends to disappear

• fiscal changes (witte kassa) are pushing chefs to rethink their business model, even more so for young chefs trying to open their own place

• the profile of the clients is changing, expectations are being altered, clients choose food quality over formal details, creativity over classical cooking, value over nametag for wines…

• tv shows, blogs, social media, Tripadvisor, cooking and opinions about restaurants are everywhere, this creates constant pressure on chefs to perform, to push their limits. The world is watching…day after day

Another important conclusion after the release of the Belgian GaultMillau guide 2017 is also that a lot of the chefs who got promoted have not recently changed their cooking style in order to obtain this or that award. They are passionate about their job, determined to achieve their goals, keen to bring plates to the table that are the perfect expression of their cooking philosophy, their vision. Quite often these chefs have adapted quite well to all the limitations mentioned above, working with small teams, often focussing on relatively limited à la carte choices and one or two set menus.

So what do we expect from Michelin 2017 for Belgium and Luxembourg? We hope for recognition of the chefs described above, they are the future of fine dining. Of course, the ultimate top, the Champion’s league of eating will always be the 3* restaurants but here also, we see that in this segment, creativity is coming under pressure. Dishes stay on the menu for quite a long time and/or come back on a seasonal basis. First of all, because the plates that come out of this type of kitchens are the result of a long and intense creative process. Also, they are often very technical and labour-intense so chefs are almost forced to keep them on their menus. Secondly, the pressure of a 3* status has an undeniable influence on creativity. The risks and consequences of losing that precious 3rd one are so immense that (un)consciously creating new dishes creates pressure. A last observation is that 3* restaurants become more and more destination restaurants, where you go for a total concept, built around recognisable creations, expressing the well-known style of the chef. The ultimate example of this is, of course, the restaurant of Monsieur Paul near Lyon.

This being said, the future does lie with the upcoming generation of chefs who trade in formalism for an open mind, tablecloths for locally sourced produce, expensive winelists for craft beers and upcoming winemakers… In order to achieve this ‘renewal’ it might also be time to re-evaluate the exisiting list of restaurants with a star. If you remember from last edition over 11% of the featured restaurants in the 2016 guide have at least one star, this is immense. As such, this is not necessarily a problem but if you take a good look at the list, then the proverbial eyebrow could be raised quite a few times. In fact, the only restaurants that lost their star did so because they closed or because their chef left.

Let’s not forget that Michelin stars, or any other awards for that matter, should be about the food and nothing but the food… Food as the ultimate expression of the chef, his vision, his terroir…

Geographically, and we’re not being chauvinist here, we hope that West-Flanders get’s some well-deserved attention this year as the previous edition was a bit of a disappointment for this part of the country. Luxembourg is also something to watch as with Ma Langue Sourit and Mosconi two restaurants are more than ready to bring home two stars after a long period of absence of 2* places in the Grand Duchy. And finally, will Brussels get a new 3*?

Bon appétit and see you tomorrow for Michelin Belux 2017!

Culinary yours, 

Where to Eat and Sleep….


Michelin predictions BELUX 2017

Wild guesses for Michelin BELUX 2017 this Monday, based on my visits and ‘expert’ opinions from my network 😂😂😂 (have no idea for Wallonia, sorry):
3* 

Bon Bon (Stéphanie Christophe Hardiquest)
2* 

Boury (Tim Boury)

Table d’Amis (Beudaert Matthieu)

Vrijmoed (Michaël Vrijmoed)

La Paix (David Martin LA Paix)
1*

Castor 

Willem Hiele

Bruut (Bruno Timperman)

Souvenir (Vilhjalmur Sigurdarson)

Oak (Marcelo Ballard)
This is totally unreliable and unimportant but soooo much fun…. Let’s hear what you guys think….

EXCELSIOR GALLIA Milano, Italy, 5*

Second stay at this beautiful Starwood property in the center of Milano, Lombardia, Italy. Conveniently located next to Milano’s central railway station it benefits from a straightforward connection to Milano’s touristic and shopping city center, either by underground or by foot. 

Great design and immaculate conception of this 5 * property, offering all services and amenities you may expect at this level. Swimming pool, spa, rooftop bar and restaurant, excellent concierge and front of house staff. Close collaboration with Maserati adds a very special touch to the experience. 

Modern, spacious rooms with large bathrooms. State of the art electronic equipment and perfectly quiet. 

Delicious and varied breakfast buffet with a possibility to make tailor made juices. Love it!!!!
My favorite when traveling to Milano. Will be back. 

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