Jazz Night at Come à la Maison

It has been quite a while since we had a girls’ night out and the perfect occasion came last week, when Come à la Maison organized a Jazz Night at dinner.

The restaurant Come à la Maison is located just between rue de Hollerich and Merl and have lived over the past years an incredible ascending parabola, starting as an informal Italian eatery inside a furniture shop and expanding its activities in the same building, diversificating the offer, with a seafood corner (Come à La Mer), a wine corner (Come à la Cave) and more recently a pizza and a winter corner (Come à la Montagne).
I admit I have been there only couple of times for the brunch, which was and continues to be one of the main feature of the restaurant. The brunch offers a unique and amazing selection of dishes, from fresh oysters to homemade pasta, in a buzzy but posh atmosphere, perfect above all for a celebration or if you feel you want to have couple of prosecco to spice up your Sunday – and if you are hungry, as definitely does not come up as cheap.

Finally – it was the time to try Come à la Maison for dinner. We got our reservation at 8.00 pm and we arrived quite on time despite the light snow. The concert was already on in the main dining room, where you get through a labyrinth of accesses. The restaurant, the whole one, including the other rooms and annexes, was packed.
We were given the menu and took our time to decide while enjoying the music. Finally, we went for a shared board of charcuterie and cheese with truffle. As main, I had a “Focaccia Burger”, Angela a pumpkins soup and Annamaria a beef tartare. We drunk a bottle of Valpolicella Ripasso Giusti and concluded with espresso and Amaro del Capo.

Now it is time for the pictures of the dinner, followed by my impressions of Come à la Maison.

Things I liked about Come à la Maison:

  • The atmosphere is mint, really. I can definitely understand this to be one of the main success factor of the place. It was kind of noisy, but in a positive way, very Italian, warm and pleasant. Perfect to unplug after a day at work and have fun.
  • I found the food offer to be nice, far from the boring “already seen” in most of the Italian restaurants in Luxembourg, but without being too edgy. Mostly classic dishes but made modern and appealing, at list in the presentation. Also the wine list proposed fairly priced bottles next to great labels.
  • The service is very informal and perfectly in line with the place, waiters are smiley and kind and even if as said the place was packed we never felt forgotten.

Things I liked a bit less about Come à la Maison:

  • We had an extremely funny evening, made even more pleasant by the vibes of the Jazz Trio. I was positively surprised by the restaurant and above all by the atmosphere. Said that, would I come to Come à la Maison only for its food? Honestly not. Food was definitely not bad, but was nothing too special that you feel the urge to eat again tomorrow and my friends shared my same view. In particular, the selection of cheese and cold cuts with truffle was delicious – with basically zero input on the restaurant’s side – while the main was slightly disappointing – bland taste, zero fantasy, plain ingredients.

To sum up: I was positively surprised by the lovely atmosphere at Come à la Maison. While, to me, the food is not the main reason to visit the restaurant, the combination between the music, the atmosphere and the service makes the restaurant perfect for a night out or a celebration, where food might definitely not be the priority. Moreover I definitely love the events they propose, so watch out their Facebook page if you want to spend a different evening accompanied by good music.

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Frida Cantina Mexicana, Luxembourg City

I have started 2019 with the resolution to try as much as new restaurants I can. Finally I got the first chance yesterday night and, even if I have still quite a backlog of reviews to publish, I decided to write about Frida Cantina Mexicana immediately today, instead of waiting any further.

So if you follow my stories on Instagram, you might have seen I planned to go to Tom Odell concert with Federica at den Atelier yesterday night. As the weather was incredibly cold, we decided to have a quick dinner in a place nearby den Atelier and unfortunately options on a Monday night are quite limited. So, as Frida Cantina Mexicana was already on my “to try” list and it is just few steps away from den Atelier and from where I live, we decided to go straight there – without reservation, but, again, being a Monday night, we supposed it would have not been an issue.

We arrived at the door at 7 pm, with the restaurant busy but not particularly packed. We waited good 5 minutes on the door, with the two waiters in front of us at the bar totally ignoring the world outside, until the chef, from the kitchen window, noted us and called them. Not a good kick off, but after that we were seated.

The atmosphere was nice, colorful and informal, even if not particularly distinctive. We were handled the menu and made quickly our choice. We ordered one margarita and one beer, with a Mexican mix as starter to share, followed for me by an enchiladas with roja sauce (marked as extra spicy) and a chilaquiles for Federica.

From that moment on, it started be more a nightmare than a proper dinner. As said, we got in at 7 pm and got our food ordered by 7.15. While Federica’s beer and water were taken at the table after fair 10 minutes, my margarita took more than 20 to arrive. Finally, at 8.10, so almost one hour after we ordered, we got our starter to share: a basic dish of commercial tortilla chips, guacamole, pico de gallo and re-fried beans. The dish was cold – as it should have been – with beans probably just out of the can (I can suggest you also the brand, as I buy the same at home). Would this kind of dish need one hour to be prepared in a restaurant not full? I doubt. As we were starving, we finished it in less than 5 minutes. I ordered a second drink – that again, took 15 minutes to be ready – and we waited for our main course, starting feeling pretty nervous about the time, as concert was supposed to start at 9 pm. We also were very surprised to discover that the table next to us, arrived when our starter was out, were served cocktails and main courses in less than 5 minutes. At that point, very nervous, we called the waiter to cancel the order and he promised us that the main course would have arrived in 2 minutes. So finally, after 1 hour 40 minutes in the restaurant, while served only a commercial dish of tortilla chips, we got our dinner.

I said to Federica: I would have easily forgotten about the wait, if food was worth it – you can clearly remember from some recent reviews. Unfortunately my dish was probably one of the most disgusting thing I have ever had in Luxembourg. This soggy wrap – where you cannot even taste the chicken – totally covered up with this that was far being a homemade roja sauce, but was more a mild-spicy watery ketchup. I got to half of the dish only because I really needed some food, but in other circumstances and without a gig to attend, I would have left the dish and have gone somewhere else to have proper food.

Total bill for 2 margarita, 1 beer, 2 half-liter bottles of water, 1 starter, 2 main read 75 Euro (37 Euro each).

Pictures of my dinner followed by my final impressions.


What I liked about Frida Cantina Mexicana:

  • This is probably the first review were I can honestly say: nothing at all. It was one of worst dinner I had in my life. I might have said that the margarita was pretty good, but if I have wait 20 minutes every time I rather have something else to drink.

What I didn’t like about Frida Cantina Mexicana:

  • Service was horrible. It was not only a question of wait, 1 hour and 40 minutes to have a dish is already a great support to this evaluation, but also the attitude of the waiters was awful. They were both walking with their chins down, avoid the eye contact with the clients… how are you supposed to ask for another drink or whatever? Not to mention, when clients were leaving, dirty dishes were remaining on the table forever, basically until the next clients would have been seated.
  • Food was horrible. 12 euro to have a dish “to share” composed by a bunch of commercial tortilla chips, guacamole and pico de gallo (plain ones) and beans out of a can. Main course was something I want to forget as soon as I can: watery sauce and a soggy wrap that you cannot even understand what you were eating. I am not a fan of franchising, but I honestly can say that at the Tex-Mex in Place d’Armes food is way better (while still on the bad side) of the one I had at Frida.

In conclusion: my experience at Frida Cantina Mexicana was personally bad. While I can tell you that on the service side they might have been understaffed and having hired (very) inexperienced servers, on the food side there was nothing I would say it can be saved or improved. This is definitely on my list of places I would not go back even if it was the only restaurant open in town.

Luckily Tom Odell concert was amazing, so our night was not totally ruined.

A coffee with… Remy Manso

Sitting in a quiet restaurant off the station for a dinner-briefing, Corie asked me:  – What about Remy Manso for next interview?
– Who? -, I replied – clear signal I have moved to Luxembourg only very recently.
– He is the owner of numerous and interesting restaurants in Luxembourg. It manages at least a dozen, mostly Latin, including El Barrio.
– I love El Barrio. – I suddenly replied, after that name caught my attention  – So, of course I’m in -.
I followed up Corie’s contact with Remy and took an appointment with him – guess where? – at El Barrio, which, at 11 am, had a surreal calm atmosphere – if you have been there in the night, you will definitely understand what I mean.
After few minutes into our talk, I’ve found out that there could not have been a better chance to meet Remy, since he just opened his thirteenth place. Yes, you read that correctly. Piri Piri is number 13 restaurant of Manso Group. And it is a Portuguese restaurant, that aims to become the top of its genre in the city – but we will get there later.

Angela: I am so pleased to meet you, Remy, I cannot hide that I imagined you to be older. How can you be so young and have all this responsibilities? And managing so many restaurants and being so relaxed?
Remy: I work in a structured way, starting at 8.30 am with reservations and finishing at midnight after going around all the premises, or almost. I try to be present here and there every day, except one: Sunday, that for me means football… (laughing) …And then I surrounded myself with trusted collaborators, without them I would never have arrived here. You need to invest in reliable people, the best ones and I have chosen them among my old friends. We grew up and evolved together. It’s not only me to succeed in the business, but the whole team.
A: Do you give me a few names of your children?
RDäiwelskichen, Batucada, Chimi Churri, Manso, JFK, The Game Utopolis, The Game Downtown, Toro Toro, El Barrio, El Gato, Boca Loca in Echternach, Gringo’s and Piri Piri, the latest born.

A: Wow! So many! So we can talk about the plans for the future in a while. Now I’m curious to know how you started. Can you tell me more about your takeoff?
R: After school, I went to work with my father, who is no longer there. I learned a lot from him because he was a self-made man, really starting from nothing. He arrived in Luxembourg from Portugal in 1982 and in the evening, after work, he slept in the car. I owe him everything. I started out as a dishwasher, then as a cook and then, together, we managed Daiwelskichen and Batucada, both of which still exist. Growing up without skipping steps is very important. Only in this way can you learn to know how to really manager your business. There are many people who come from a completely different background and want to open a restaurant. They believe that it is enough to put their banner outside the door to make millions. It does not work like this. I have the notion of reality. I study the market and try to understand it, without ever believing I have fully understood it.

A: On the other hand, how do you choose what and where to open?
R: Here we are neither in Paris nor in Milan or New York. The population is limited and you have to study the territory and the public well before opening a gastronomic point of any kind. The people of Luxembourg invest a lot of their free time in the gastronomic circuits or in the cocktail bars, but, even if it is high-handed, they do not like to be fooled. The Luxemburgish do not give a second chance. So I open a new place only after doing an X-ray to the market. At that point, if I decide to start a new adventure I choose the best, point to quality, adequate and valuable interior design and I pay attention to the quality / price ratio. I do not mean to be a perfect owner, but I always work very honestly and this allowed me to get to the number 13 🙂

A: Yes! Quite right! You mentioned that with the new entry you are at a peak of 13. Tell me about the newborn!
R: It’s called Piri Piri and it’s a bomb. The kitchen, for the first time for my group, is Portuguese, like my homeland, but far from the one already proposed here in the city. Our culture is melancholic and evokes calm and sadness. This is why I have always preferred to open local Brazilian, Argentinian, Mexican and Spanish. I like to dance and also mojitos 🙂 But it was time to do something to pay homage to my father, who would have wished to open a restaurant with the flavors of his land. I also wanted to do something for the Portuguese community that is very large here. With my partners we had a lot of fun choosing the pottery and furniture, and I tested all the dishes. It is a restaurant completely different from what is already there in Luxembourg. Beautiful inside, with attention to the smallest details, with a traditional touch, but with a modern, refined and very rich design. Even the cuisine has its roots in Portugal, the flavors are authentic, but pervaded by a new twist. Some hints? The cod ceviche for example.

A: What does Piri Piri mean?
R: (Laughing). It’s a curious name, isn’t it? It is a spicy pepper typical of Portuguese cuisine. I chose it because it is very evocative.

A: Good luck then! So now we got a bit on the personal side. How can you be sure you differentiate one place to the other and you just don’t “copy paste”? I want to say: out of 14 restaurants, it takes imagination to avoid the same concept from happening again, doesn’t it?
R: Since working with my father, we have always chosen to address to an audience that loves the “Latin fiesta“. And so from the local Brazilian, to Argentine meat, passing through Mexican cuisine, without forgetting the Mediterranean area, one thing is certain, in my restaurants there is always a common factor that is the caliente style and typical of the Latin culture, but with an always different menu. I choose some detail that differentiates them, so that each place has its own identity. And where the food proposal looks similar, it is the location to be different – in the city and out-of-town for example. Said that, I believe that El Barrio is the strongest of all, is the “maison mère” because here everything has been done to perfection, just thinking about the fact that we have chairs for 400 Euro each, we have 20 people only in the kitchen and we have a kind of meat that is the top: the wagyu beef. Maybe I will seem arrogant, but I think there is nothing better in the city for quality / price ratio. I must also add that a great job had been done before I arrived, when it was still La Boqueria. I’ve always been fascinated by this place, in fact I wanted to direct it many years ago, but I was too young and they did not take me seriously. Better like this! Now I’m more mature and able to manage it.

A: Tell me the truth Remy, do you have a place in your heart among all?
R: Yes, Manso Restaurant occupies a special place. That’s where I put more about myself! The concept and the menu talk about me. Before and during the opening, in every place of the Mediterranean in which I went on holiday, I identified dishes that excite me most and put them in paper. Some dishes are Spanish, some Italian, some still Greek, and Portuguese and French are not lacking. But this choice was a mixed blessing! Do you know why? The “Mediterranean Cuisine” category is too vast and does not allow the Manso to have a well-defined identity. Usually the identity makes it the nationality of origin of the gastronomic proposal or the main ingredient of the menu. This is missing at the Manso. In the eyes of the public you can eat anything and everything, which is equivalent to nothing precise. So if at lunch I have a good customer basis mainly due to the offices nearby, in the evening we are penalized because people choose to go there they know exactly what to expect.

A: Oh, I’m sorry. Do you have a plan B?
R: Of course! Despite being in my heart, I will soon say goodbye to it!

A: Ah no, it was your favorite! And then will they become 12 again?
R: Noooo! Not at all! They will always be 13 because Manso Restaurant will turn into something else. And here’s the news for the year 2019 😉

A: Are you telling me that you have another opening in mind when you just opened Piri Piri?
R: Yes, yes. And yes, this will be an absolute novelty because for the first time I will be completely different from my kind to open a restaurant serving Greek cuisine. On the other hand, half of my members are Greeks. And we want to do it well! In the best way. We will also go to Greece to get ideas, so we will gain in authenticity and ideas.

A: Fantastic Remy. And when do you intend to open it?
R: We will start work in January.
A: Wow. I’m afraid that if we stay here to talk a little bit, you can make me a program of openings until 2030 …
R: Hahah no. I do not intend to reach 20, but creativity and the desire to do are certainly not lacking.

A: Thank you for your time Remy. It was a true pleasure meeting you.

I greet my interlocutor, but before going he shows me something that I adore. A nice piece of wagyu beef comes out of the kitchen to finish immortalized straight in my hands. Ok, I do not know what to put on my 2019 to try list first: Piri Piri or wagyu here at El Barrio. What would you say?

Pictures: Giacomo Salvemini (instagram.com/slv)

Trattoria da Gino, Luxembourg City

The story is the same: you see “work in progress” on a window in the city previously occupied by a restaurant you walk by and you start to wonder which kind of food you are going to eat there next. And then, when the sign unveils, you discover that it is, once again, an Italian restaurant.

The question is: do we need another Italian restaurant in town? This was the same I might have initially crossed my mind when I discovered that, at the place of a lunch eatery next the station, an Italian trattoria was going to open, Trattoria da Gino.

My curiosity has never been stopped by a cliché, therefore I decided anyway to try the restaurant – well, I said, even if it was just another boring Italian night, would still be Italian.

I could have not been more wrong.

The place itself, to start with, it is quite different from most of the Italian places I have been in the city: bright is the first adjective I would use to describe it, cozy, relaxed, with a clean and open kitchen on view at the end of the main room – open kitchen in an Italian restaurant in Luxembourg for me is a first time.

First time I visited Trattoria da Gino was a very calm Saturday night at the end of August, during the Fair, and the restaurant was full but not packed. We have been welcome by the owner, Gino – you have probably seen him already around as he has an astonishing experience in the food industry in Luxembourg.

While drinking an aperitif, I discovered the lovely details of the place. The restaurant embraced perfectly the concept of Italian “trattoria” : there is not a menu, but the dishes proposed a la carte change on a daily basis for dinner, are limited to a few and are written on a huge chalkboard on the wall.

We decided to share a starter (“vitello tonnato”, a North Italian cold dish composed by tiny slices of veal and a tuna fish sauce). For main, I went for “Fusilli Calabresi con Sugo di Porcelletto” – homemade pasta from the South of Italy with a piglet sauce, while my friend had Roasted Duck with Plums sauce.

During the meal, we drank one of my favorite wine ever – Marina Cvetic Montepulciano. The list of wine – as the food card – is limited but has indeed some extremely interested items.

Our dinner and our entire evening were amazingly pleasant: I was surprised above all by the fact that, even if the place is low key and casual (exactly a “trattoria”), ingredients are gourmet, dishes are polished, wine list has a lovely selection and the dish presentation is definitely very refined – more like a high end restaurant than a casual eatery.

I did not mention the taste of the food, which was amazing.

I did not miss the chance to come back to visit Gino very soon afterwards – fact is, they are publishing the daily menu on their FB page and when I am leaving the office and I see something I like, as it is very close to where I live, I just ask myself: do you want to cook or do you want to have …? Well, you know already the reply.

On my second visit, I had another succulent dish – “fregola” (an Italian small type of pasta typical from Sardinia) with sea food followed by a delicious Baba’ with rhum – still dreaming about that. Another time, I had a sandwich with octopus. Then I lost the count…

Well – actually I have been there on a wine tasting night – but I am happy I did not have many pictures about that, but only blurred memories and a memorable headache to follow 🙂
Indeed, Gino is also organizing special nights that are just a good excuse to try the place – on a regular basis, there are wine tasting events and after-works. Watch out the Facebook page for more update.

To conclude, the striking contrast between the concept of the restaurant – a low key Italian trattoria – and the result they obtained – a fine-dining selection of dishes and ingredient, special wines and sophisticated presentation – is making Trattoria da Gino a unique place in its style on the Luxembourg scene – and therefore a must to visit.

This article has been adapted from the one we originally published as contributors on the new Editus website.

An der Villa, Steinfort, Luxembourg

If you have lived in Luxembourg for more than couple of days, you must have heard the name of Thomas Murer, who became a local celebrity in 2016 when he got to the semifinals of the cooking-show Top Chef. After this experience, Thomas worked for Aal Schoul, in Hobscheid, that was on my “to try” list for long time, until finally he left to open its own restaurant, An der Villa, in Steinfort. This time I did not want to miss my chance and through a bit of help (thanks Sandra!) got my table booked couple of weeks after the opening.

As said, the restaurant is located in Steinfort, 30 minutes drive from the city off peak hour, in this magnificent white villa – that yesterday night, with a light rain and a soft fog, had the fashion of an Agatha Christie novel.

Angela and I made our way through the candles at the entrance around 8 pm. There was not a formal welcome or a clear way in and the door accessed in the middle of the dining room. One polite lady took us through the tables to check our reservation and finally accommodated us to our place. The dining room is wide and bright, with smaller areas only slightly separated. The white is predominant and almost the unique decoration, together with minimal balloon lamps, sepia pictures without frames and light brown wooden tables – no cloth and a basic ampoule with simple white flowers.

We ordered a cremant as aperitif and were given our menu: the food proposal, as expected, is centered on the territory, with several fish, meat and veggie choices, plus two suggestions of the chef out of the menu (one meat and one fish). Should you wish, you can order a tasting menu (65 Eur, to be ordered by the entire table) that is composed by 5 courses and it is presented as the suggestions out of the menu. The menu is fixed (yesterday it included trout, foie gras, veal, beetroot among the others) and as we were not completely agreed on the items included, we decided to order a la carte, ending up to take the same dishes 🙂

We were introduced to the dinner by a delightful amuse-bouche (it was foam with a kind of arancino), remind me of the cordon bleu my mom was preparing when I was a child. As starter, we both had the fried egg in breadcrumbs while for main we had the scallops – that were among the Chef suggestions.

We drank a bottle of Alice Hartmann Riesling and concluded our dinner with a plat of cheese (should I specify it was for me?) and a dame blanche with speculoos and salted caramel for Angela.

Total bill read 201 Eur (out of which 60 Eur were for the wine).

Pictures and then my impressions of An der Villa.

Please sit down, as this is going to be a long, controversial one. And I am going to structure it a bit differently compared to the previous ones as it would be too complicated to distinguish between “like” and “don’t like”

Food. Food was in average good. I said in average as it was a bit of a rollercoaster.
The amuse-bouche was spectacular.
The fried egg was fairly good but the accent on the sweet note was too bold for me – it was prepared with langoustine, honey and a mousse with carrots and pumpkins. The salted element – herrings caviar – was too limited and it missed a balance in the consistency with a crunchy element (should have been given by the fried langoustine, but again, it was not enough).
The scallops were heaven. In this case, to me, the dish was perfectly balanced in consistency and taste, the sweet element of the Jerusalem artichoke cream, the crunchiness of the fried mushrooms, the herbs, the truffle scent (but why not the shaved slices?). I loved the dish and would have been ready to have a second portion straight away.
Finally, the cheese plat. Now – you would say, cheese is cheese, what can go wrong? Right, but only partially. To me the dish lacked totally in presentation – and slightly in content. There was no effort whatsoever and it was a pity, as the chutney that accompanied it were delicious. The effort was not even in explaining which cheese the dish was composed of – you can guess, but why you should?
The thing I appreciated most about the food I had, was to remind me of tastes of my childhood, with very local and seasonal ingredients.

Service. Our waiter was smiling, polite, lovely. He was doing his job with extreme passion – you can see it – and even if under pressure, was able to give us further information on dishes and ingredients. I really appreciated, above all in consideration of the fact that, to me, it looked the place was quite understaffed. Waiting time was a bit too long and we felt forgotten couple of times – my point is: if you decided to have the wine kept far from the table, you should monitor it very closely. If you are not in the service condition to do it, you keep the wine at the table so customers can help themselves. Our glasses were empty for most of the second part of the meal, to be filled up only when we were almost over with the dessert and we are about to order coffee. It was not a matter of carelessness by our waiter, he did not just have physical time to do so, poor thing.
The other significant item to me was the missing of a “welcome area” and a formal welcome in the restaurant: you get in the middle of the dining room, I don’t say you have to have someone to open you the door but at least a corridor / alley to wait, instead of doing it among other people eating. Similarly, the reservation sheet was on a shelf in-between tables.

The Place. Minimal atmosphere, you love it or you hate it. While I generally prefer more baroque settings, to me the ambience was really in line with the kitchen and therefore I loved it  – you had this impression to eat at newly renovated countryside house of your youngest aunt and I liked the effort of matching the spirit of the territory in the food with the shell of it. On the negative side, the acoustic of the place is horrible: while the restaurant was full but not packed, above all on our side, it was to me almost impossible to hear the waiter describing the dishes and very difficult to speak with Angela.

Finally, what Angela called the “human” element. At the end of the dinner, she told me she was fine but not impressed. And that she would have expected the Chef to come out of the kitchen to greet his guests. She told me: at that point, maybe if I shared a quick chat with him, I would have forgotten the things I did not enjoy about our dinner. I share this view. I think that, above all at the beginning of an experience, the personal element of the Chef might be able to cover those lacks or gaps that are normal when you open a new place. Well, this was not the case yesterday.

To conclude and sum up, as it was a pretty lengthy review this time. I had a pleasant dinner at An der Villa with Angela. I appreciated the strong presence of local elements in the menu of this very minimal – but noisy – restaurant out of town. I loved my scallops dish. Basically, there was nothing extremely wrong in our dinner, only couple of misaligned elements. Still, as probabily my bar of expectations was set pretty high, I was still not 100% satisfied and missed my WOW factor: food was fairly good – with some peaks up and down – but everything else was not. So at this point, my question would be: is this place worth the ride? I would say no at this stage, but I would probably give it another try in the warmer season to check if it was only a matter of time.

In the meanwhile, if you want to try it, it is perfect if you are looking for a local cuisine with an innovative accent. Great for dinner with friends or girls night out.

Expogast 2018 – It’s a wrap!

It has been a week, now, since Expogast, the most relevant gastronomic exhibition in the world of cooking, closed its doors and it is then time to make a quick summary, in the wait, not that short, of next edition, in 4 years time.

Our “Barefoot in Luxembourg” team spent much intense and funny times behind the doors of Luxexpo The Box, from the first day of the opening ceremony, with its fires and drums: we interviewed the chefs, photographed every corner and, of course, tasted the amazing food!

The Villeroy et Boch Culinary World Cup / Expogast 2018 in Luxemburg – that this year had a specific focus on respect for food and was particularly attentive to the fight against food waste – went finally to the Swedish National Team, the silver medal to the Singapore National Team and the bronze medal to Denmark. This is to talk merely about the final results, but if you had attend the Expogast during its 5 days kermesse you probably knew it was not just that bit.

Many other gold, silver and bronze medals have been awarded in the five days at Luxexpo The Box.

If we focus on the competition of National Teams, leaving aside minor competitors such as Juniors, Community Catering and individual Chefs, they participated in two different main categories:

– the cold food competition, “Show Food”, where cutting-edge techniques are used to achieve culinary design works for exhibition (preparation is not visible)

and

– the “Hot Food” category, where a 3-course menu had to be prepared in 6 hours  during spectacular show cooking, and then served to 110 people. Indeed, it was possible for the visitors to seat down and taste these fabulous 3-course menu, but – here come the trick – you should have booked your ticket well in advance through the Expogast website – at least, we know for next edition.

In both categories, National Teams received their scores by an international jury of chefs and industry experts.

For the “Show Food” the jury’s score was based on a visual examination of the final work. For the “Hot Food”, the judges observed the work on the team also during the preparation time in their boxes and evaluating through several different criteria: method, technique, innovation, cleanliness, agility, concentration, taste, aesthetics, presentation.

Among many we talked, we were impressed by the words of Chef Gaetano Ragunì, general manager of NIC, Italian National Chefs, who explained us that there are no big differences between cooking and soccer competitions. Cooking is as well a sport discipline in all respects, completed with sacrifices, study of new techniques, night tests, long years training, mental and physical concentration and, above all, a life around the world to support the team.

This comparison left me stunned, but with one new sport to support in my life: competitive gastronomy, of course.

Aside from competitions, the Expogast consisted as well in three main halls of food products and wines, that visitors can taste during the exhibition as well as buy. So next to stands selling Turkish sweets scented of orange flowers you can taste the excellence of Italian wines, choose your oysters and lobster, try Spanish ham and drink Luxembourgish cremant.

On the last day of the Expogast, after an electrifying dance and light show, in front the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Sweden raised the well-deserved prize: a cup that is a symbol of chefs around all the continents raising the earth towards the sky.

This was my first approach to the world of cooking in Luxembourg and left me enthusiastic, I am already counting down for next edition!

Les Jardins D’Anais, Clausen, Luxembourg

Some days ago I was about to publish this article related to Les Jardins D’Anais – it was pending from the end of the summer and it was finally ready to go. As indeed I have already planned and booked to come back there next week, I decided still to keep it on hold and to go ahead with other reviews, to add some more pictures and a more detailed description. In the meanwhile, the restaurant has been awarded with its first Michelin star, so I changed the plan and decided it was a good moment to talk about my experience there.

Over summer, I was lacking inspiration for places for taking visitors when, suddenly, the opening of Les Jardins D’Anais came to rescue me – thanks Marco for the suggestion!

The place is not totally new: the location, in fact, is the same than the old Les Jardins du President and, then, Maho, just a short walk from Rives de Clausen.

I used to love its first version, as it reminds me of my arrival in Luxembourg. One of the first company I worked for used to organize very swanky Christmas parties and, at some point, in my earliest years in Luxembourg, one was at Le Jardins du President. I was quite young at the time and so was the silly boy I was dating, who was totally unused to a corporate environment and its rules. So after (more than) couple of drinks – as the open bar was an unexpected experience for him – he was jumping in the middle of the main restaurant room like I would probably do only at 7 am in front of Marco Carola. My colleagues slowly started to leave, including this very old guy who was the companion of one lady in my team. We were seated next to each other over dinner, so my boyfriend retained it was appropriate to say them farewell properly. Boyfriend complained they were “already” leaving and when the guy mentioned the fact he was not young like him, boyfriend replied “tell me the truth, now she (his wife) is tipsy so at least you will have  good f*ck at home tonight”. Wonder they did not catch his Italian humor. I just wanted to disappeared and dragged him to the taxi line without even say bye to the others.

It seems ages passed since that moment. After the period of Maho, that was not my favorite, the location has come back to Le Jardins d’Anais with some significant interior design changes and a more sophisticated, light allure.

I took our lawyer visiting from the US there right at the end of summer, as said – those pretty warm weeks we had and a place with a lovely garden seems to be a perfect bond.

We dined in the veranda – that was a great compromise to enjoy the weather without the night peak in temperatures – and we chose our dishes a la carte – even if the restaurant proposes couple of very nice set-up menus.

I went for the egg and caviar as starter followed by turbot. As it was a business dinner, I did not take pictures of my guest meal, but she had beef filet as main course and, trust me, it looked very tasty.

Pictures of the dinner (mine), followed by my impressions about Les Jardins D’Anais.

 

What I loved about Les Jardins D’Anais:

  • The place is perfect: the structural changes that has been done made it really bright and peaceful – I remember at Maho I had issue to understand what was in my dish as it was too dark. At Les Jardins D’Anais you will not have this issue. The tract I appreciated most is that the ambience is so reserved and quiet you will feel kilometers aways from the noisy of Rives de Clausen. It is a fairy tales’ heaven in the middle of the city.
  • Food was just wow. I am not in the position nor I have the knowledge to say more than what the Guide Michelin has already said, but I appreciated in particular the complex composition of dishes, all made by different textures, perfectly combined. I also liked very much that tastes were really light, perfectly balanced, soft.
  • Service is in line with the ambience and cannot be differently. We felt pampered the all night since the first step into the restaurant – just to mention one small detail: I went out to have a phone call in-between courses and the waiter accommodated me at a table in the garden and went even inside to take my glass of wine.
  • Lastly, they have an amazing wine list – that to me is a quite important detail -. We had a remarkable Barolo and my guest was amazed by the whole dinner experience.

Nothing to note on the downsides, our dinner was to remember. Still, I was happy it was a business dinner as with 4 glasses of Champagne, 2 starters, 2 mains, 1 bottle of Barolo, 2 coffee, we hit almost the 400 Eur bill – said that, the Barolo was also the pricey part.

In conclusion: I am very glad Les Jardins D’Anais was awarded with its first Michelin star. My experience there was delightful and I look forward to come back next week. The place is very calm, bright and heavenly, even if just in the middle of the city. The food proposal, ca va sans dire, is amazing and it is perfect for a business dinner, a romantic date or a special celebration. During summer, the garden is definitely an unbeatable asset.