Archive for April, 2009

Victor’s Gourmet-Restaurant Schloss Berg, Perl-Nennig

Schloss Berg - das Schild

In one of Germany’s most westerly corners, where France, Luxembourg and the federal republic collide, resides a Renaissance castle amidst the Mosel vineyards. Dating back originally to the twelfth century, Schloss berg in little Nennig, a village literally leaning against Luxembourg’s border, is more schloß than it is berg – the latter generally being medieval, defensive structures whilst schloßes were later-built luxuries inspired by fairy tales and the like.
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Vendôme, Bergisch Gladbach


Vendôme is the capital of Loir-et-Cher in northwest France. In the sixteenth century, the encompassing county was made a duchy and bestowed upon César, the illegitimate son of then king, Henri IV. César – thus the duc de Vendôme – had his private residence in Paris, at what has become the Place Vendôme.

To discover then that the restaurant boasting so French a name as this really resides in Germany – in Westphalia on the outskirts of Köln to be exact – may be a surprise. However, it is a fact that Germanic fine dining is firmly founded on classical cuisine française – a convention started with the restoration of formal court dining when the nation’s Emperor and Empress, King Wilhelm and Queen Augusta of Prussia, hired legendary French chefs and co-collaborators on the culinary magnum opus, la Cuisine Classique, Urbain Dubois and Émile Bernard. This custom was then compounded over the next century with young Teutonic chefs moving to France to learn to cook the French way in French kitchens.
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Oud Sluis, Sluis

 Oud Sluis - l'Enseigne

Some might be surprised to read that over four hundred years ago, the southern provinces of the Netherlands, along with all Belgium and Luxembourg, were under Spanish rule for nigh onto a century and a half. Indeed, although not a historic amount of time, it was long enough to leave a mark on the tiny town of Sluis, which rests on the south-western rim of Holland, snuggling the Belgian border.

The subtle Spanish stamp that remains can be seen in some of the ongoing onomatolgy of the area; Josés, Marcos and Marias still litter the telephone book. One named in the same vein is native Sergio Herman and he is chef-patron of the three Michelin starred Oud Sluis.
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Ubuntu, Napa

Ubuntu - Placard

On 28th September 2006, Bill Clinton, addressing the Labour Party Conference, introduced the idea of ubuntu to the British public: ‘society is important because of ubuntu…If we were the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the most wealthy, the most powerful person – and then found all of a sudden that we were alone on the planet, it wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans,’ said the former president.

A couple of years on, Archbishop Tutu reminded them of it, explaining that this Bantu word from South Africa – its literal translation, ‘I am because you are’ – ‘speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness.’
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Manresa (the return), Los Gatos


On Friday, Aaron and I had shared a remarkable meal at Manresa. On Saturday, we returned…
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Manresa, Los Gatos


René Redzepi, Alain Passard, Mauro Colagreco…this may appear to be a shortlist of world’s most exciting chefs, but their names also comprise a checklist of those who have recently made their way across the world, from Europe to little Los Gatos, to cook at one specific restaurant – David Kinch’s Manresa.
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Urasawa, Los Angeles


Irashaimase! This is the traditional welcome with which Hiro-san greets the guests that enter his eponymous Los Angeles restaurant.

It is a restaurant with a short story that starts with a notorious Japanese chef who, born in Tochigi, moved to Tokyo to work at the legendary Ginza Sushi-ko. In 1980 he left for LA and, after a few years there, he opened, with his former mentor’s permission, his own Ginza Sushi-ko. He became the most famous sushi chef in America with a reputation for superior sourcing – much of his ingredients were flown in straight from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market – and for superior prices. He soon gained a name, fame and widespread following. One fan was Thomas Keller, who happened to be opening a second venture in New York City’s new Time Warner Centre and, through an agreement with the site’s developer, was able to hand pick which chefs would be permitted to share the building with him. He was Keller’s first choice and, in early 2004, was convinced to trade in Beverley Hills for Manhattan and a spot conveniently doors down from Keller’s Per Se. His name was Masayoshi Takayama (affectionately known as Masa). However, Masa was unable to manage two residences, so sold his former sushi-ko to his former ‘sous chef’. His name was Hiroyuki Urasawa.
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