Three Stars go to…. MAAEMO!

Very seldom I have been more enthusiastic about a meal, my one and (sadly) only time (so far) at Maaemo in Oktober 2014 was stellar in every respect – fantastic company, chef’s table and an outstanding meal accompanied by great (honestly insane) wines…

So, today, Maaemo received its third star – well deserved and rightly so. So, time to sit back and let my impressions from this meal speak… ENJOY – can’t wait to be back!

It’s authentic, honest, driven by curiosity, telling a story, emotional, and all tastes simply OMG!

MAAEMO welcomes you!
MAAEMO welcomes you!
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Snacks to start with

Nyr from Grandalen farm with vendace roe
Nyr from Grandalen farm with vendace roe
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Savories and sweeties:

Emulsion of raw Norwegian oysters from Bomlo with a mussel an dill sauce
Emulsion of raw Norwegian oysters from Bomlo with a mussel an dill sauce
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Maaemo
Schweigaardsgt. 15b
0191 Oslo Norway
Phone:  +47 221 79 969
Web: www.maaemo.no
Mail: booking@maaemo.no
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Klaus Erfort – Purism at Its Best

It’s been a long time since I last visited the Gästehaus Erfort in Saarbrücken, and in my view the changes are subtle but nevertheless fundamental. To be sure, the wonderful Saarberg Villa is still a gem, especially in Summer when it allows you to start the meal on the fantastic terrace. Also, the service under mâitre Jerôme Pourchère works seamless but also with great respect for the diner and authentically warm-hearted. But Klaus Erfort himself, despite his other projects like the Hotel Fuchs oder the Schlachthof Brasserie, he is really ‘present’ in the kitchen and has further refined his own style: first and foremost it’s puristic, it is sooo focused that the flavors are razor sharp and one cannot augment or reduce the dish, it’s near perfection.

Gästehaus Erfort
Gästehaus Erfort
The entrance to the villa
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Amador 2014 – Impressive!

Juan Amador is one of Germany’s greatest chefs. Naturally so, you could think, as he carries three prestigious Michelin stars. But, there is more to it – he is emotional, controversial, thought-provoking and strives for perfection. Moreover, his cooking shows a unique handwriting… Let’s see how he is doing these days….

After the closure of his Langen restaurant, he moved his whole team to Mannheim in August 2011 where he had been operating his second restaurant Amesa. Located in the former Schildkröt area, the restaurant is a bit hidden and only accessible via the Metro parking lot. Entering from there the restaurant is in the left right corner…

Enter the Amador world…

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Can Roca – Less Magical

”There were once three brothers who were traveling along a lonely, winding road at twilight. In time, the brothers reached a river too deep to wade through and too dangerous to swim across. However, these brothers were learned in the magical arts, and so they simply waved their wands and made a bridge appear across the treacherous water.“

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Hof van Cleve 2010

In culinary terms, speaking of Flanders clearly means much more than just the Belgium region. In the former County of Flanders that encompasses parts of present-day France, Belgium and the Netherlands many interesting “modern” restaurants have mushroomed over the last couple of years that resulted in the formation of the Flemish Primitives named after Northern renaissance painters inspired by various arts. There are many reasons for this development – on the one hand the Flemish tend to be curious and open towards new ideas and dining has always been an important part of their culture. On the other hand, such an evolution needs some spearheads that pave the way for a next generation of chefs.

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Oud Sluis 2010

In August 2009 after a splendid diner at Oud Sluis I asked Sergio Herman what he still strives to achieve after being awarded three stars (since 2005) and 19.5 points in the Gault Millau. He paused and stated that first of all he wants to give the best every day (and for his highly artificial cuisine that’s a lot of work given the incredible booking situation and opening times serving lunch and diner during the week). And, then he added that he is eager to continuously reinvent himself. At the Flemish Primitives 2010, he stated more precisely that he wants to spread the “Sergio feeling” creating an overall dining experience working together with various artists (e.g. tattoos, porcelain, photo) to express his personal style.

Sergio Herman

In the summer break of 2009 this development had just begun as he had completely renovated the interior of the restaurant into a very modern black and white “salle de noir”, combining the previously separated rooms and painting even the homey wooden ceiling white. When we dined there, the white brigade still needed time to feel comfortable and the whole setting seemed to lack the warmth and authenticity of previous years.

Already in this very 2009 diner, the style of the cuisine had slightly changed as the style-defining presence of international, especially Asian flavors was less apparent and some dishes showed more looks than substance.

The iFoie (top left) is a brilliant idea but it’s just apple and foie mousse with a sherry jelly which tasted good but did not create the most interesting interplay of flavors and textures that is one of the cornerstones of Sergio’s cuisine (thank god I added the brilliant textures of foie gras as a second foie serving (top right)). Similarily disappointing in this respect were both the tattoo dessert (bottom right – Sergio had created two tattoos with the legendary tattoo artist Henk Schiffmacher, one for the lady, one for the gentleman) and the LOVE dessert inspired by Robert Indiana. To be sure, most of the other courses were outstanding to divine, but the overall level of the meal was below my previous Oud Sluis experiences which showed more overall consistency.

Then, end of 2009, the big bang happened: Gault Millau awarded 20 points to Oud Sluis, an honor previously only given to Marc Veyrat who has closed his three star venue due to health problems. So, there is one answer to my question – at least now, there are no further promotions possible☺

I expected the booking situation to worsen (and it did) but as I was invited to a wedding of dear Facebook friends (a blind “date” in 2009) I could book a weekday lunch table for September in May…

We opted for the six course (three desserts are counted as one course) Père et fils menu and asked for an additional course – in the end, they charged €185 for the enlarged menu. This is exactly the price for the now offered seven course menu.

2007 Leányka

This parade did already show the direction of Sergio’s further development: an utmost precision even in the tiniest detail let the amuse (and later the petit fours as well) look like art in itself, like little sculptures. Although this sculptural touch had been present in Sergio’s dishes before, it was definitely some notches up for the amuse/petit fours. And, they did taste: mussels / almonds / oyster chips were perfectly fresh and crisp and the macaron with salmon and yoghurt was intense, yet showing a bit too much meringue (but half the macaron would do for many many other macarons as it can become far too dominating).

Wonderful structures of carrot with amazingly tender pork belly, crab and miso followed by eel with beet root, sour cream and hamachi with sprouts, horseradish and soy formed the first phalanx of incredible amuse which certainly showed that there is no better way to start a meal – well, only they could have been served a bit more chilled (but this is a surely a tribute to the full restaurant and the immense workload necessary to prepare them).

The wine pairing with a 2007 Leányka from Hungary (christ, I simply cannot read the producer’s name on the bottle and forgot to take notes) was very successfull – the grape Leányka means ‘maid’ in Hungarian which is programmatic for this floral and rosy wine with enoght structure to accompany the various ‘nibbles’ and the first course

The second part of the amuse was also impressive: a very genuine salad / tomato cracker and goat cheese ice cream demonstrated how refined even the simpliest ingredients can taste if treated with utmost care and respect. Last but not least, a delicate and very Sergio-like interpretation of thinly sliced Wagyu with spring onions, chicken skin cracker, avocado crème and Tomkagai jelly and a new version of the signature variation of local mussels: razor clams, small crabs, mussels with kaffir lime and dried soy jus. Outstanding and a big applause for this craftsmanship and parade of ideas.

The first course took us back on the ground and we wondered whether this Stockman bowl of Greenland prawns was really served at Oud Sluis. Already from the appearance one can tell that this creation is less dense and complex than “usual”. Of course, the prawns were of outstanding quality and nicely marinated in soy and some lime vinegar, the accord with the fresh and intense cucumber and the slight temperature contrast with the granite of bergamot worked perfectly. Yet, I missed the textural accentuation that normally emphasizes exactly the right elements of the plate. Moreover, the many prawns seemed a bit repetitive although they were each individually aromatized by different wild herbs but this was more like Aduriz and less like Herman, somehow too subtle for him. For every other chef this would be excellent but Sergio can clearly do better.

From a menu dramaturgy point, clearly more refreshing and a better start than before – maybe that’s his rationale behind this dish… Unfortunately Sergio had left to look after his kids after we finished, so I couldn’t ask him

2008 Eisachtaler Riesling Kaiton, Kuenhof, Alto Aldige

Next up was our inserted second preparation of langoustine: a carpaccio of langoustine filled with intense north sea crab meat surrounded by an archetypical langoustine jelly and a very intense lime/verbena-gel. Whereas the prawns had shown at least some texture, this was texturally too one-dimensional. And it was a bit rich – something I never experience before at Oud Sluis. But, the taste was incredible, the carpaccio showed an amazing product character and the interplay of the langoustine, more rustic crab and the jelly and the herbal gel in combination with the shiso cress was a masterpiece. Sometimes, textures don’t seem necessary. Excellent.

2009 acústic blanc, acústic celler, Monsant/Spain

Ahh, finally, a typical Sergio dish: a benchmark species of roasted langoustine served with different tomatoes and courgette emulsion, spring onions and fresh almonds accompanied by a wonderful almond and tomato vinaigrette. As “simple” as it seems, this is Sergio at its best: perfect dimensioning with the almonds providing the essential unexpected kick, light, fresh (abandoning with heavy sauces but using light transparent vinaigrettes), product-focused and a nice textural overlay using the natural and pure courgettes, almonds and the thin toast. Pure pleasure – bravo!

2005 Crémant d’Alsace, Audrey et Christian Binner, Alsace

The next course was again most unusual as I never had a warm gooseliver dish at Oud Sluis before. A first dish to criticize also from a non-Sergio perspective: the hazelnut and goose liver emulsions made the dish overly creamy, the peach was a bit isolated and could not show its full potential such that the whole dish was not in equilibrium of sweet, sour, rich and earthy flavors. And, it’s hard to stand up against the quality of Anne-Sophie Pic’s roasted foie gras – nowhere in the world (except maybe for Troisgros) can this foie quality be found. So why serve this slightly inferior product? Overall, a very good dish and maybe one of the only dishes at Oud Sluis not at three star level.

My dining companion got the eel with quinoa, a far more satisfactory endeavor as it again was pure Sergio and nice interpretation of the sweet-sour duality. Especially the marinated eel really added nice counterpart to the almost pure other elements as it grounded the dish. A textural balance act, perfectly constructed. Outstanding.

2008 Chardonnay Cuvée du Pape, Chateau Ksara, Bekaa Valley/Libanon

A second divine dish: perfect loup (of the necessary thickness!) combined with surprising smoked lobster as indirect aromatization, some beet root and radish variations. Interestingly, one of the rare occasions where Sergio used a kind of beurre blanc that carried slightly smoky notes to add acidity, and balancing out the dish. Nothing else needed, nothing redundant… Amazing pairing with the Libanese Chardonnay!

2006 Coteaux du Languedoc “Clos Maginiani, Domaine Zumbaum Tomasi, Languedoc

Pigeon is, among lamb, one of favorite protagonists for mains at Oud Sluis. Irrespective of the premier pigeon quality, the interesting sea kale salad and the galangal, this dish seemed a bit bland as there was too less on this Stockman plate to counterbalance the sheer amount of the pigeon. Tasty, yes, nice textures, yes, nice interplay of acidity, spiciness and fruitiness, yes – but it could not quite live up to the divine pigeon dish with solid/liquid foie spheres and the sushi of cabbage served in 2008. Nevertheless excellent…

The first part of the desserts: contrary to last year’s only visually appealing dishes, this “mouth” delivered and showed the full spectrum of OS’s pastry mastery, artistically playing with the cherries theme with some mascarpone mousse and yoghut ice cream underneath. Not like an improvisation but like a cleverly arranged variation, never boring, texturally diverse and just to the point. Outstanding.

”Bugs buggy” was along the same lines – a variation of carrots in a dessert, particularly the cakes were astonishingly good. Visually and taste-wise stunning. Maybe a bit repetitive…

The third divine dish of this lunch: “berries in a leading role” showed how modern pastry can create new worlds to be discovered. A benchmark vanilla flan, different berries, various textural elements served with an incredibly sweet broth of berries and lime. Chapeau!

As I had not eaten the tattoo coins created by Sergio and the industrial designers of studio Job, he inserted them after the dessert parade. A bit reminiscent of last year’s visual phase, it is just chocolate, nothing else. Admittedly presented in an appealing way but not a proper dessert course as which it had been used end of last year. Simply too “boring” compared to the other desserts.

The parade of petit fours repeated the artistry of the amuse – a delicate combination of verbena and aloe vera, passion fruit and white chocolate followed by a masterly miniature of a modern tiramisu with grenadine, milk crunch with yuzu and a fruit soup with mint.

The Verdict

Overall, this lunch was much better than the 2009 experience, but not quite at the level of 2007 and 2008. The complexity of Sergio’s style is still very present and in way the he has taken the next step towards integrating visual dishes and filling them with more “content” and delicacy, especially the pastry is back on the block and has left its merely visual phase of 2009. Maybe the integration of both approaches will yield the “Sergio feeling” in the end.

Interestingly, in my previous reviews I praised that Sergio exposes the diner to a new world of textural suspense and of unknown flavors/ flavor combinations. In this very respect, this lunch did not create that much sensation as in 2007/8. There are two reasons: on the one hand I have gained more exposure to fine dining and thus experience such that it is harder to really wow me. On the other hand, the competition did not sleep in the meantime – others have somehow tried to replicate Sergio’s structuralism (but most failed) or enlarged their spectrum of flavors and products. For example, whereas the gap between Sergio and the top German chefs was quite substantial in 2008 it subsequently narrowed down and chefs like Wissler, Bau, Elverfeld and Amador are at a similar level, yet with a distinct and different style. (On a side note, the whole modern Benelux “school” seems heavily influenced by Sergio’s (and also Jonnie Boer’s) work and thus seems repetitive from time to time. Only Peter Goossens has found his unique way in integrating both modern and traditional aspects and thus stands out (more to come soon on my Hof van Cleve visit)).

So, keeping that in mind it is hard to judge Sergio by comparing him to his previous work – in a way, this makes him his own benchmark but makes further development difficult – at that level, that is. Subjectively, the cuisine is more “back on track” after the “disappointing” 2009 experience and maybe the trajectory will lead Sergio towards a cuisine with is both visually stunning and pure delicacy keeping his key strengths. So, to be sure, this is still a benchmark experience and every foodie should have eaten here, enjoying the unique atmosphere and impeccable service (interior, brigade and cuisine seem more balanced out now)! I, for myself, can’t wait to see where the journey goes.(1)

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(1) I only hope that Sergio can deliberately diversify to obtain other funding sources in order to be able to cut down opening times and stress for his brigade… For some very good impressions see the following vidao (still the old interior) above

Restaurant Oud Sluis
Beestenmarkt 2
4524 EA Sluis
Tel:  +31 (0) 117-461269
Web: http://www.oudsluis.nl
Mail: contact@oudsluis.nl
Opening Times:
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[wpmaps company=”Restaurant Oud Sluis” street=”Beestenmarkt 2″ city=”4524 EA Sluis”]

Amador – The Next Step

Clearly, Juan Amador is one of the best German chefs of the third generation and maybe the one whose cuisine has been most frequently misinterpreted and even misunderstood. Quite often, he was labeled as a „molecular“ chef. Some spoke of gimmickry or even a Kindergarden menu dramaturgy thanks to his opening and closing tapas comprising some liquid nitrogen here and there or the Szechuan button reset at the beginning, to name just a few ‚gags’ to entertain.

This had essentially two effects: on the one hand, he received more press attention than the other three star chefs and could also build up a kind of personal brand that mainly stands for innovation. On the other hand, however, in the perception of the normal diner the tapas often overshadowed the ‘real’ menu that has always been a showcase of how serious a chef Juan Amador indeed is. As I wrote in an earlier post, he shows how an essentially product-oriented cuisine can be modernized and taken to a higher level by combining seemingly unrelated flavors and using modern techniques only if they add value. Signatures like carabineros with nougat and cauliflower or the ingenious pigeon with mango, cocos and purple curry demonstrate that he is a master of flavor combinations, proportions and textures resulting in partly subtle and partly punchy dishes. Moreover, his plates speak a very unique language – it is quite easy to recognize an Amador plate. The overall result is a modern product cuisine of its very own distinct kind!

After some time I felt an urge to revisit Langen – from the menu on the website there were quite a few new dishes. Sitting at my table and seeing the actual menu, I was quite surprised: Mr Amador has changed the menu dramaturgy – some appetizers up-front, then five mainly cold courses followed by five warm ‘main’ course and five desserts, with a twinkling eye called Les FroisLes Chauds Les Desserts to emphasize the French roots of his cuisine.

Marinated Tomatoes - Sweet/Sour

Focaccia with Pancetto Iberico / Pillow filled with Cabrales

The appetizers (no, not the Micro Menu) were really delicious: sweet/sour marinated tomatoes of amazing intensity, a sashimi of Lomo Iberico (not pictured) that was salty and just yummy, a foccaccia served with Pancetta Iberica and some “pillows” with Cabrales, a Spanish blue cheese. I thought that the Cabrales would ruin the start as it is normally very strong but here it was in wonderful balance with the crunch of the pillows and had just enough strength not to dominate and yet set a first attention step. Excellent start.

Les Froids

Iced Beurre Blanc - Caviar, Hazelnut Milk & Malt Bread

Les Froids started with the Iced Beurre Blanc that is more and more becoming an Amador classic. Although I was never really fond of this dish due to the fatty and dominant character of the beurre blanc ice cream, this time I was surprised how well it worked because of re-dimensioning. The smaller overall portion made the beurre blanc less dominant and yielded a nice accord of textures (malt bread, caviar and ice cream) and flavors (iodic, tangy, nutty and slightly sweet/sour). Excellent.

Oyster Raviolo - Algae, Soy, Sesame & Yuzu

When I first ate the Oyster Raviolo in April the proportions didn’t work that well as the soy was quite dominant and the whole dish turned out to be quite one-dimensional iodic. What a difference even small changes can indeed make – this time the yuzu air could kick in and brought balance to the dish. The oyster was rich, fatty, salty and truly outstanding whereas all the iodic character was repeated once in the algae and the oyster herb, sesame added some texture and the soy served as the grounding element. Outstanding.

Neck of Müritz Lamb - Smoke & Rhubarb

The neck of Müritz lamb is another classic Amador dish that was previously served as a pre-course before a lamb main. The tender lamb was incredibly tender (cooked sous-vide and the smoked with hay) whereas the combination of grassy and smoky notes with the sweet-sour rhubarb works amazingly. That’s a premier example of the successful marriage of not that familiar flavors. Excellent.

Gazpacho Andaluz - Langoustine, Strawberry & Mint

The Gazpacho was a showcase of Amador’s product-oriented cuisine: an amazing quality of the langoustine was coupled with an intense gazpacho (one of the Amador recipes from the beginning in Langen) and flavored with mint and strawberry. As an almost “easy” and uncomplicated dish, this was really refreshing and served as a small palate cleanser after the strong and intense lamb. Here, Juan Amador shows a clever variation of the course sequence as most chefs would have served this before the lamb. Here, this works quite well and because it changes the order of savory and sweet dishes and makes the whole experience lighter and more enjoyable. In itself, Les Froids become a small menu within the menu.

Tartar of Hessian Ox - Jellied Soubise, Beetroot & Pommery Mustard

Amador had served both the tartar with mustard ice cream and the Strammer Max element (a quail egg wrapped in a small slice of toast) separately in the Micro Menu. The combination is simply ingenious but needed additional elements as the jellied soubise on the bottom, the intense and creamy terrine of foie gras in the middle of the tartar tower. Together with the slightly sweet beetroot as the bridge between the former two dishes this was simply a masterpiece.

Every single combination works, this dish simply had everything: a suspense-evoking gradient in temperatures (an element often neglected) between the warm quail egg, tartar and foie at room temperature and the cold mustard ice cream. Of course, various textures were involved and the aroma combination of foie, tartar, soubise and ice cream was just ingenious whereas the beetroot brought in some earthiness. Most interestingly, I found the different shades of richness quite surprising and maybe the central element of the dish: the egg yolk, the foie and the mustard ice cream, yet all creamy and rich per se, played ping-pong with other: ‘neutral’ egg, sweet meaty and not overall fatty foie and slightly spicy ice cream. Overall, despite the various elements, the brilliant tartar was still king in the ring. DIVINE!

Les Chauds

Virtual Asparagus - Carbineros, Watercress & Caraway

Served for the first time in 2009 (yet in a quite different version), the virtual asparagus is a showcase of intelligent modern cuisine as it uses molding where it really enhances the culinary experience besides the spectacular look. An intense asparagus cream soup is served in the form of an asparagus that intensifies the asparagus flavor immensely.

This time, the combination with the splendid benchmark carabineros, Bachkresse (herbal and refreshing), small pancakes (Kratzete, a traditional side for asparagus in southern Germany) and especially the interesting slices of radish with added a slightly crispy texture and a sour counterpoint to the creamy asparagus and intense shellfish. Moreover, the small caraway caramel balanced out the dish in terms of texture and flavor. Last but not least, the interplay of the main plate with a bowl of an amazing asparagus flan topped with Amador’s intense shellfish bisque was truly noteworthy: as the main dish had no sauce and thus appeared really light, the creamy à part acted as the backbone and binding element of the dish that also ‘repeated’ the main flavors in different form. It is really imperative to eat both elements together. DIVINE!

Mar y Muntanya - Scallop, Foie Gras, Tuna & BeefTea

A new dish, yet the Mar Y Muntanya (sea and mountains) theme is very characteristic of Juan Amador’s cuisine. Here, he presented a very unusual dish construction: the fatty tuna belly on the bottom together with the beeftea serves as indirect aromatization for the protagonists foie and scallop that got along very well with each other. Notwithstanding, the foie was of excellent quality and impeccably prepared: cooked sous-vide and the Bunsen-burned to induce some roast flavors the result of which was crisp on the outside and firm on the inside. Excellent.

Turbot Parfume De Siam - Cocos, Green Curry & Duck Tongue

At first glance, the Turbot Parfume de Siam is a very familiar flavor combination of green curry and cocos as served in many Thai restaurants. But Amador managed it to elevate this to three star level by sensibly working with the green curry as a basis note, enrich it with the cocos and then adding duck tongues as a surprising element that provided some slightly sour contrast and interesting texture. Needless to say that the turbot was perfect. After the complex two starters in the main menu this was just to indulge without overly analyzing each element. Excellent.

Black Cod - Bell Pepper, Veal Sweetbread & Pimenton

Next up was one of my favorites of the night – black cod: what a punchy dish, a real winner. The bell pepper jus is the real star here being of amazing intensity and combining the sweetbread and the black cod that was slightly roasted on the outside. Outstanding.

Mieral Pigeon - Charcoal-Grilled, Marinated Apricot, Chanterelles & Nougat

The ‘real’ main dish arrived as the last of Les Chauds, a wonderful pigeon from Claude Mieral (the best in the Bresse). Charcoal-grilling becomes more and more en vogue these days even at the very top restaurants. Amador just got his new toy build-in and really pays off: I must say that this pigeon was one of the best mains in Langen for some time. Especially the accord with the marinated peach worked very well whereas the pigeon was of superb quality and masterly prepared. The interplay of the different sweet notes of peach and nougat (in the jus) was enlightening with the pigeon serving as the centre of this nice improvisation and the chanterelles bringing in rustic and earthy counterparts. Perfect and in equilibrium – outstanding.

Les Desserts

My Black Forest - Coeur de Guanaja, Marinated Cherry & Black Forrest Ham

Maybe the most surprising and unconventional part of the menu: A small piece of Guanaja ganache, marinated cherries wrapped in smoked ham from the Black Forest. Unusual but it worked very well and yielded a refreshing, intense and just yummy small bite. Outstanding.

Blanc Manger - Almonds & Redcurrant

Beautifully arranged (do you recognize the small mouse?), this first main dessert is quite delicate but a bit one-dimensional as the blanc manger and the almond ice cream are too similar in texture and flavor. Moreover, there is not enough redcurrant to counterbalance the richness of the former two protagonists and to enhance the dish by adding more of a fresh touch. Very good.

Fürst Pückler I - Manjari, Strawberry & Vanilla

A nice interpretation of the famous Fürst Pückler ice cream combination of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate normally served as an ice cream cake. In a white Amador box he served a frozen vanilla air and dehydrated chocolate and strawberries in a separate small bag. To eat this one needs to spill the bag in the big box like cereal. The whole experiment is not only entertaining but also simply delicious as the flavors were really concentrated and intense whereas the vanilla air light and refreshingly cold. Excellent.

Fürst Pückler II - Manjari, Strawberry & Vanilla

Cheesecake & Cookies Nitro

Liquid nitrogen again – this time used in the anti-grill. A nice gag with a compelling palate-cleansing effect, but hopefully one of the last ones of this kind in Langen;-)

Hommage to Paul Haeberlin - White Peach, Iced Riesling Espuma & Pistachio

Paul Haeberlin created this seminal dish in 1965 whereas he poached the peach gently in vanilla sirup, paierd it with pistachio ice cream and topped it with Champagne sabayon. In Illhaeusern, this classic is these days served as a pré-dessert in a slightly modified, i.e. re-dimensioned version. Still delicious I must admit.

Amador, on the other hand, replaced the Champagne with Riesling and filled a frozen ball of Riesling espuma with a wonderful white (!) peach mousse and paired it with a pistachio jus, vanilla ice cream and pistachio crumble. The riesling worked much better than the more astringent Champagne yielding a more harminious flavor combination. The texture of the frozen espuma and the peach was a bit too similar, maybe a third more crunchy element would elevate this dish even further. Nevertheless, an excellent end of a outstanding menu.

Petit Fours

Some “petit fours” accompanied our coffee: tingly virtual raspberries, sour “french fries”, rich and yummy hazelnut cookies with wonderful Milchmädchen (sweetened condensed milk) crème, Joghurette and milk rice with glowing cinnamon.

The Verdict

The new menu dramaturgy allows Juan Amador to focus the diner’s attention to the real menu, tell a story in one go and, for himself as a chef, to concentrate more on the individual dishes that turn out to be more puristic, reduced and to the point. With this ballet-like succession of well-placed sometimes subtle and sometimes punchy dishes in one menu he has successfully further sharpened his profile.

Interestingly, the portions become bigger in course of Les Froids, and Les Desserts show an interesting line-up of small and large courses. In effect, the latter is similar to what Grant Achatz does at Alinea to keep the diners attention. Maybe the next step would be to introduce more variations between savory and sweet dishes on the one hand and small and bigger dishes on the other hand also in the Les Chauds part. This could make the whole experience even more interesting…

Overall, Juan Amador has entered a new phase in his development – the creative “result” is very compelling and I must admit that never before I had such a virtuous, playful, delicate and at the same time light dinner in Langen. Mr Amador is in top form! Genial, señor! A must for every foodie!

 

Restaurant Amador
Vierhäusergasse 1
D-63225 Langen
Tel:  +49 6103 502713
Website
Mail
Opening Times:
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Sunday
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[wpmaps company=”Restaurant Amador” street=”Vierhäusergasse 1″ city=”63225 Langen”]

Maison Troisgros

France has a rich culinary tradition – shining names like Carême, Escoffier and the protagonists of Nouvelle Cuisine (most importantly Michel Guérards und Fernand Point) have left most important marks on Haute Cuisine all around the world. Michelin and Gault-Millau are the guidebooks for any foodie… And, there are places of culinary pilgrimage with a long tradition, most notably L’Auberge de l’Ill (the third star sind 1967), Maison Troisgros (three stars since 1968) and Maison Pic (where three consecutive generations were awarded three stars). Truly impressive, given that outside of France Winkler held three stars for highest number of years…

My affection and love for these ‘great houses’ began in Alsace at the Auberge de L’Ill where the atmosphere, the pride of the culinary heritage, the dedication to the diner and, most strikingly, the implicitness of being top-notch without being arrogant was just impressive. The whole gastronomic theatre is celebrated in the best possible way. For me, the overall experience was just moving.

Being infected with this virus I planned to visit the other ‘great houses’ to see whether they can live up to their reputation and manage to create special moments. Last autumn I finally got the opportunity to do so… Somehow I feel that a report about my lunch at Maison Troisgros should come first…

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Joachim Wissler – Up to New Heights?

Vendome (thanks to Food Snob)

Vendôme (thanks to Food Snob)

A new menu concept? Interesting. Exactly when I dined at Aqua I received a mail about a new menu concept at Vendôme – 8 courses (plus desserts) at €150, 12 courses (plus desserts) at €190, and finally 16 courses (+ 8 desserts) in the grand “explorative voyage” at €245 – full stop.

Well beyond the price point of any other German three star restaurant (Amador is second with €209 for his 20+ course menu including micro menu and dessert tapas). In the midst of a quite substantial crisis which has hit the high-end gastronomy worldwide. Brave?

On the other hand, the old menu consisted of 7 courses together with some amuse, pre-dessert and petit four priced at €185. So, more value for money in the end?

Or does it only mean that all “extras” ar listed including amuse etc.?

Besides the numbers, what’s the philosophy behind? Surely, this can’t be about simply serving more courses. When introducing the menu concept on the website Joachim Wissler talks about “development” and that his menu is more than just serving small successive courses combing nature’s best products. He stresses that “the “how” and “what” are the aspects that truly characterize this new step. In it more attention is also placed on some of the treasures of our own neglected cuisine, which is generally referred to as “New German Cuisine”.

Enough questions, time for answers. Booked a table for four, but unfortunately Steve P and Mrs P could not accompany us. So, only the two of us went end of May.

Our menu:

Our Grand Voyage

Our Grand Voyage

Somehow, the layout immediately struck me as something quite familiar having dined at Alinea… And I could not figure out the meaning of the bubbles here, but never mind.

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Aqua – Play it Again, Sven!

After all the recent praises you might wonder whether I would ever again report about bad meals (remember King Kamehameha and Can Fabes!). Contrary to professional restaurant testers I can choose the restaurants I visit and most of the time I choose wisely, especially in the last months :-) So don’t be disappointed that another highlight will follow now… (Actually I had two quite dissatisfactory meals whereas I will not report on the first as it is not worth the effort and maybe needs some double-checking on the second).

In the last months a lot of foodies approached me to get insights about how Germany’s new three star chef Sven Elverfeld is doing at Aqua. Although I had been to Wolfsburg in November last year for the International Food & Wine Festival (a very good diner of Passard by the way) I had not eaten the creations of Sven Elverfeld since November 07 when the third star was clearly in sight. Time for an update…

The Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg

The Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg

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