After-work at El Barrio, Kirchberg, Luxembourg

One of the nicest things about working in Kirchberg is that, during the week, after work, I have often the possibility to visit places that I would normally not, as totally opposite than the area where I live now .

Over the week of Holy Mary, in August, I had some friends visiting from Italy and as I could not take all the week off – even if I would! – during the working week one evening they came to pick me up at the office and we decided for the first round of drinks to stay around there. We took the opportunity to visit for the first time El Barrio, the Spanish restaurant that recently replaced La Boqueria.

If you remember my previous reviews, La Boqueria used to be one of my favorite places for food and ambience and I had also a private dinner there with Sergi Arola and was awesome. On the other side, it was coming pretty expensive (that generally for me it is not necessarily a negative point but I could see where the comment was coming from) and, above all, the last couple of times I have visited it, the service was not memorable – well, I would say, it was awful. In particular, I have been there less than 10 days before the final closure and I remember I had the clear feeling things were going downhill – while we spent more than 200 Euro only for drinks and some tapas and even if the place was completely empty, we have been relegated to the smallest table in the room and we were ignored for all the time of the dinner.

Anyway – this is history now and I was happy the place found quite soon a new investor.

The location of El Barrio did not change much and it is still stunning. Again, one of my favorite place in Luxembourg for ambience. We didn’t reserve and we understood in the future this might be a bad idea, considering it was a Monday night the place was really full already at 7:30 pm. Luckily they were able to find us a spot.

We were accommodate at the first floor, that, even having an open view on the restaurant, it is slightly less formal.

We went right for tapas and sangria – what else? We ordered octopus (clearly one of my favorite dish), cod fingers, patron peppers, garlic bread and tuna fish filled peppers.

Pictures of our after-work (and of our silly pose in their unique bathroom) followed by my impressions about El Barrio.

What I liked about El Barrio:

  • The food was delicious: we had only a small selection and I definitely could not judge the whole menu at this stage, but what we had was really, really tasty. My favorite bite was definitely the octopus – if it was not for my friend to stop me, I would have ordered other 3 portions. So if octopus is your thing, I would recommend to order it. Also the patron peppers were yummy and this is a dish I failed to find authentic out of Spain – not in this case.
  • The place, once again, is lovely: if you are fed up of the standard minimal black and white decorations that are being cool in most of the new restaurants in Luxembourg now, if you are looking for a place that brings you joy and light, this is definitely the place for you. This is not the kind of place where you can be in a bad mood. I bet you will smile as soon as you enter the door.
  • Last, but not least, the service: as I said before, the service was a big NO for me at the previous restaurant and I was a bit afraid of seeing how service would have been managed in a place so big, as I understand it might not be easy. Indeed, we could have not been happier: we had only one server for the night – that to me is the best choice – and he was one of the most amazing server I had ever encountered in my “blogger career” – no jokes. He was nice explaining us the dishes and the formulas, to address our doubts without being pushy, great to ensure our night was going well and finally to accompany us to the stairs when leaving. Very good job!

What I liked a bit less about El Barrio:

  • So, as per above, our evening was very pleasant and I look forward to come back again to try the full menu. If I have only to find couple of notes: it was August and the weather was cloudy but not that bad. We want to eat on the terrace (that is covered, so not a big issue) and we couldn’t, as it was closed. We couldn’t even smoke there and had to go each and every time downstairs. I think one of the nice things of El Barrio is definitely the terrace and it is a pity to keep it completely closed for the clients.
  • Regarding the food, it was all tasty and well presented. The only dish I would not order again and I would not recommend would be the garlic bread. I was expecting some hot and salty grilled bread, what we received was a plain baguette accompanied by aioli sauce. Reading back the menu at home, it was clear that my expectations were wrong (and it says bread and garlic mayo), but still not worth it to me.

In conclusion: I am happy to say that for what I have seen so far El Barrio really improved the general standards compared to the previous brand. Food is delicious, portions more than fair as well as prices and our service was amazing. To that, you have to add this is one of the most stunning location in Luxembourg and your view is completed. I would say this is perfect for an upmarket after-work, for a business event, a girls night out and definitely a date – in that case, if you invite me, be aware I would go for the Royal Sangria 😛

 

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Cineast Festival: the 11th edition

Participating in a press conference always allows you to get in the mood that the event intends to transmit. This was the case of the presentation conference of Cineast, the Central and Eastern Europe Film Festival in Luxembourg held last week at the Cinématèque, that this year celebrates its 11th edition.

Together with Corie on my side and with a pen and paper (I had not done it for quite a while), I took notes 😉 to give you some more excitement and insider tips regarding the Festival.
In the warm atmosphere of the main cinema room and after a hot tea with croissants, the speakers told us with great humor the strong motivation that led them here.

“An X-ray of the former communist countries, a story of their sociological ghosts, traditions and history through a selection of the most beautiful films from Central and Eastern Europe expressed through a new wave of Czech, Polish, Romanian cinema and in general European Middle Eastern cinema “. The words gave us an idea of the main focus of the Festival, that will kick off on October 4th and will invade the Grand Duchy (so not just Luxembourg city, but as well other areas, as Vianden and Esch and off the boarder in Saarbrucken) with its events until October 21st.

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We will see film contaminations and new trends that mirror the multiculturalism of the countries left by Communism, but also of their search for identity.
No iconic characters, but power of images and dialogues to celebrate with this edition the centenary of the independence of the Baltics.
On the menu, at the Cinemateque, Neimënster and Ciné Utopia, but also all around the capital, more than 100 films between movies and short films with a new entry: a film from Georgia, a novelty of this edition.

7 films in the race:

Ága / Ага, by Milko Lazarov

Alice T. by Radu Muntean

One Day / Egy nap by Zsófia Szilágyi

Take It or Leave It / Võta või jäta, by Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo

The Load / Teret, by Ognjen Glavonić

Silent Night / Cicha noc by Piotr Domalewski

Winter Flies / Všechno bude, by Olmo Omerzu.

An international jury will award the “Grand Prix” and the “Prix Spécial du jury” while the jury will award the “Prix de la Critique”. And the public? It will also be protagonist with an important role: the spectators will be called to contribute with the “Prix du Public”. The awards ceremony will be held on October 19th at the Cinématèque.

The festival will be not only an occasion to go to the movies, but also an opportunity to party, Luxembourg certainly does not pull back and will honor the countries represented with gastronomic evenings, photographic exhibitions and musical events, all to remember the precious link between
film and music.

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The musical program starts on Friday October 5th at Melusina with the traditional Balkan Party, hosted by the Macedonian brass band Džambo Aguševi Orchestra and DJ Tagada. A few days after the Polish group Pasimito will accompany live the classic silent film Battleship Potemkin at the Cinematheque (11/10). The Baltic Party at the Rotondes will be headlining the Latvian indie rock band Polifauna (13/10) and the next day the Slovak legend of the jazz trumpet Laco Deczi will perform at Neimënster during the Jazz Apéro (14/10 in 11:00). To finish in style, the closing party will be hosted by the French group Attoft Fanfare (Melusina 20/10).

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The cineart program is centered around the great photographic exhibition “Identities” (4-24 October), which will take place on Thursday, October 4th from 5:30 pm in the vaulted cellars of Neimënster, festival also offers two exhibitions of film posters: Polish Film Posters: Kliś Kubica Urbańczyk at the Ancien Cinema in Vianden with modern creations for well-known Polish films (October 4-20) as well as Art_Desire_Freedom: Czech Film Posters at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Luxembourg with original posters for films of the Czechoslovak New Wave (October 10-18).

Finally, the cinema-gastronomy program consists first of all of the gastronomic evening with a large selection of Eastern European dishes and drinks on 9 October at Brasserie Wenzel. In addition, there will also be specialties and snacks available during the concerts as well as special evenings dedicated to certain countries: the evening Georgian (6/10), Latvian (8/10), Czech (9/10), Slovenian (13/10), Slovak (13/10), Bulgarian (15/10) and Lithuanian (16/10).


Enjoy the show and find the detailed program here.

TramCrawl: we have been to the 1st Edition!

Pub Crawl Luxembourg started its first event in November little over a year ago with the idea of bringing party people together every month. Due to its great success and the need of constant improvement – indeed, in Luxembourg it gets easily repetitive to browse around same bars -, the concept changed recently and was transformed in the very first Tram Crawl, which took a place for the first time just after the Christmas holidays. I was very curious to see how this event looks like and be among the first people to witness this craziness. Also it was the first time for this kind of events to cross the border of the very city center.

As opposite to previous Pub Crawl events, the Tram Crawl was organized in cooperation with Manso group and had an entrance fee between 27 and 37 EUR, depending on how fast you were to get the early bird ticket or if you got yours just last-minute at the door. To be honest, I was quite surprised to see how quickly the event got sold out and saw a lot of people looking for last minute tickets on different Facebook groups – I admit I was also one of them but was lucky enough to also find a ticket on the “black market”!. The ticket price included drink tokens, free finger food at every bar and free entrance to Limbo, which I found a rather good deal.

The idea of Tram Crawl was to discover 5 different bars around Kirchberg ending at Limbo. I arrived 18.30 at Chimi Churri to meet up with my friends.
Upon arrival, we were given bracelets and divided up into different groups. The restaurant got quickly very packed and I went to order my glass of wine. On the event description, it said gathering time at the first place was until 19.45 but soon enough there were guys with the loud speakers ordering the first groups to leave already for next stop. I then rushed to ask what was going on and was told that different groups would visit all different locations at different times due to capacity constraints. This totally made sense but I wished this had been more clearly informed to avoid all the hassle at ChimiChurri.

The second place was The Game, where we received some fried finger food: mozzarella, calamari and onion rings. I again felt that we were rushed out to the next place way too soon (not sure if this was a fact or just my own impression as I didn’t keep track of the time).

This time we actually took the tram to the JFK restaurant where they had an indoor terrace set up for us. I remember it was super cold and the wind was blowing very heavily. To compensate this misery, we were offered free Jäger shots together with mini-burgers and fries.

Before leaving Kirchberg we visited next door, the Manso restaurant where it felt amazing to be inside. There we were offered mozzarella and tomato sticks and some other small tapas. I bumped into a lot of friends from the previous group who just had stayed to ”hung out” a bit more before moving to the next place. I guess it wasn’t a very big sin if you didnt follow your initial group all the way through 🙂

On the way from Kirchberg to the city center it was only like 21.00ish but we had already enough alcohol in our blood to sing Barbie Girl and make every other tram passenger to stare at us. Most of them probably found us just funny…right?

Limbo was practically empty when we arrived there as normal as I consider it as a place to go after everything else is about to close. Some brownies and a chocolate fountain with fruit sticks were waiting for us at the entrance. Despite the club being empty (ish) at arrival, it quickly got full when the rest of the groups reached us.

Over all, I had a lot of fun. I went there with a group of friends but also made some new acquintances (I noticed new messages from people whose numbers I hadn’t even saved the day after LOL). It was a very casual though a lot of people had made an effort to dress up since the majority of the bars were anyway a bit nicer. Most people were around 30ish but it was the first time I saw also some older people attend.

Personally I think the deal with food and drinks were great especially since you could have a lot of shots as well (if you want to, but who doesn’t?!). The only thing I liked a bit less was the beginning, when it wasn’t clear that the departure time to the next place was much earlier than 19.45 and caused some confusion. I also found the time spent in each bar a bit short and I think we could have stayed there just a bit longer especially as we arrived to a night club then very early. But for being the first time it was normal to have some small areas to improve!

I loved the Tram Crawl and I’d recommend the event for anyone who likes to party and wants to try something out of the ordinary!

Next Tram Crawl will take place on January 27th: check here.

Bee Famous: Tasty, Affordable and Organic Wine Available at Auchan’s

As autumn is approaching, Barefoot in Luxembourg was invited for a wine tasting at Beef-Bar at Auchan’s to have a sneak peak of the shop’s new wine season range. “Foire Aux Vins” is in fact an annual event taking place in September ( this year from September 20th to October 3rd) in several supermarkets in Luxembourg, including Auchan, where winemakers introduce new wines and also offer special deals for products already on the shelves. You can check out Auchan’s website for more information about products and discounts.

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I had a pleasure to get to know Bee Famous, an organic wine brand from South France. I have shared my impressions below.

 

White wines:
Bee Famous Organic Cévennes

  • Fresh and fruity
  • Excellent choice with spicy and Asian food

Bee Famous Organic Chardonnay

  • Very rounded, well structured, crispy
  • Goes well with grilled fish, and sushi

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Bee Famous Organic Viognier

  • Rounded, easy to drink
  • Great for appetzers and cheese

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Bee Famous Organic Sauvignon

  • crispy, quite strong after-taste of blackcurrant
  • To be paired with goat cheese salad or appetizers

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Red wines:
Bee Famous Organic Syrah

  • Fruity, spicy
  • Try it with mediterranean or oriental food, mild cheese or drink it as aperitif

Bee Famous Organic 2015 Cevennes

  • Complex, fruity, spicy, hint of pepper
  • Herbs of Provence
  • Perfect form meat dishes, especially pork and chicken

Bee Famous Organic AOP Costières de Nime Sans Sulfites

  • No sulfites; this wine is recommended to be drank within 1-2 years
  • Try with pork, paella or Mediterranean cuisine

Bee Famous Côtes du Rhône 2016

  • Round, long, well structured
  • Serve it with a selection of chacuterie or other meat dishes

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Bee Famous Côtes du Rhône Plain de Dieu

  • Plain, easy
  • Goes well with chocolate dessert, meat, lamb, pork, steaks

Bee Famous Organic Languedoc Rouge 2013

  • Elegant, silky structure
  • Great with ratatouille

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Leonidas: More Than Just Chocolate

Leonidas chocolate shop recently opened its doors in the heart of Luxembourg on Grand Rue 99. This famous boutique selling exclusive chocolate pralines,  truffles, orange peel, marzipans, macaroons and other small sweets was located at Station district before moving to this more customer friendly location.

 Leonidas celebrated its official opening a few weeks ago by giving its customers a chance to sample several different kinds of chocolates and enjoy bubbles while having the professional explain the secrets of their products and answer any question the potential customer might have had. Personally I’m a huge fan of anything sweet, and I go crazy when I see chocolate especially. Leonidas didn’t disappoint me with their selections as the delicious flavours of chocolate exploded on my taste buds. My ability to eat chocolate is amazing and I probably tasted each one of the different chocolates available. Finding a favourite was more tricky as they all were really excellent quality and I liked many of them for different reasons. Leonidas’ probably has something for everyone.

Besides buying ready-made assorted chocolate boxes, there is a possibility to pick pieces on your own and customize the box according to your preferences. Leonidas is also a great choice for presents for all different occasions. Their boxes are nicely wrapped, chocolates nicely formed and the taste is mind-blowing.


Now that the location is closer to the city center, I’m sure the shop will enjoy more customers  as the clients can include Leonidas on their city shopping routine in an easier way.

 

Leonidas

86, Grand Rue L-1660 Luxembourg

T: + 352 22 44 50

Let’s Cook Something Luxembourgish!

On June 10th, the morning of my birthday, I attended a show cooking event organized by well-known Luxembourgish chef Anne Faber together with kitchen store Eggo in Howald.
Eggo is specialized in customized kitchens and focuses on creating tailor-made kitchen solutions that are simultaneously fresh, practical, ergonomic, chic and ergonomic. Their store offers multiple models of different styles depending on your taste and budget and is worth of checking out if this topic is relevant to you.

Anne Faber welcomed me and the other guests with a glass of cremant as we arrived at the venue. She had also prepared some cheese biscuits that paired well with sparkling wine. We had some time to mingle around before the actual event started.

The idea of the show cooking was to explore some of her new recipes that are simple and fast to cook for a big crowd of people and yet are tasty to munch away during the Duke’s Day for instance. Summer is an excellent time to invite friends and family over and try out some typical Luxembourgish food which foreigners, such as myself, have very limited knowledge of. These recipes are also going to be part of Anne’s new cook book that’s scheduled to be out some time in autumn. All recipes can be found here.

The first dish we saw being prepared was Mettwurscht Muffins. Preparation didn’t take much time nor seemed to require much of special cooking skills. The key was to throw all ingredients in a bowl, blend and mix everything well together, pour the dough into muffin tins and voila, the mixture was ready to go in to the oven.

The second dish and the main course was Rocking Kachkeis Pasta which was noodles with Kachkeis, German “cook-cheese”, arugula and nuts.  The preparation of this dish wasn’t that complicated either and the end result reminded me of American mac and cheese dish though this was the local version of it. Kachkeis definitely gave a bit of a more intense taste and adding in some arugula and nuts gave a nice touch and balanced out the flavors. This was especially an interesting combination and definitely something I could imagine cooking in winter time. Kachkeis can be bought in any supermarket in Luxembourg.

For dessert we enjoyed some Spiced Orange Crème. I’ve always been a big fan of desserts and quite critical to judge them as well. This version of orange crème was very much like a mousse when it came to consistence and was much better in taste than I expected. I think I was expecting the type of orange crème that was served in my school canteen when I went to primary school and that was nowhere close to what I was eating on that Saturday. The recipe she was using was originally her grandmother’s well-kept secret that she had only recently shared with Anne. This dish required 3 freshly pressed oranges, whipped cream, eggs, sugar and cornstarch; the key was to make the dessert already one day prior to serving it in order to create right texture and soak up the flavors.

Get more info!

Overall the event was a lot of fun. It wasn’t at all as formal as I had been afraid of but it was in fact, very casual. Anne was cheerful while she was demonstrating how to create these wonderful mouth-watering portions and we even had a chance to come and feel sauces and creams in progress.  Everyone had also a lot of time to talk to one another and make new contacts. I had great time and couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday.

White Dinner 2017 is approaching…

As each and every year, the White Dinner is one of the event I am waiting most during summer in Luxembourg. I think it has a special allure and the fact that every person is basically responsible for the success of his/her table makes it for me even more interesting.

In order to get ready for this year edition, we propose an article we published already some year ago – slightly revisited.


Did you ever heard about the White Dinner?

This is a truly amazing event organized in several European cities during summer (check some pictures of the one in Paris here).

The rules are more or less always the same: the dinner is taking place in a public place that is kept secret till the very last, everybody should be dressed in total white and you must provide for everything for your group (table, chairs, food, etc.).

It is actually less complicated than it looks and having been to six White Dinners in Luxembourg already, I can ensure it is definitely worth the effort – and each and every year you want to improve!

It is just important you try to plan a bit in advance the event and to share the tasks with your group of friends.

Keep the group limited, above all if you are inexperienced. A table of 4 or 6 is easier to manage and you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Previous White Dinners in Luxembourg took place among all at the Roses Garden in front of Arcelor Mittal building, in Rue Philippe II, on the Corniche, at the Lycee des Garcon.

Some suggestions on my side, based on what my personal experience at White Dinners has been:

– Normally you receive indications regarding the “meeting point” on the morning of the event. The “meeting point” is at a walking distance from the place where the White Dinner will be actually taking place. Therefore, start to wonder where the dinner could be and above all try to find the closest parking place/bus stop. You can share the easy things to transport with your friends (have backpacks, boxes and cooler bags ready and filled). Have just one friend with the car that could move heavy stuff and tables when the X location is announced. Use foldable tables and chairs for garden that are lighter and easy to clean.

– If you are afraid of taking china with you, check at shop like Hema or Ava, in Luxembourg city. They have wonderful catering items at small price and some nice decoration solutions. We did not take china with us until the very two last editions and honestly don’t regret it.

Coordinate the food and the drinks, to avoid ending up with ten red wines bottles and nothing else. Take in consideration that, from the announcement of the “place”, it takes some time to arrange the tables and collect people, so be ready with an icy cold champagne bottle or a nice aperitif for your friends, while you are setting your table. We like to already mix our aperitif in nice plastic bottles at home, filled as well with flowers and fruits.

Go cold (pasta salad, raw fish, cheese and charcuterie) and simple (what about a bento box for your friends?). If you are afraid is going to be too complicated, you might consider to take something take away (Sushi shop box, for example).

Don’t forget ashtray if you have smoking friends, big bin bags to clean everything at the end and eventually some rags/cleaning paper as disaster recovery option (open Aperol bottle overturned on the table anyone?)

– If it is your first year, don’t bother too much about the appearance. Try to be clean,  have a nice organized table and above all to enjoy. You might see crazy stuff that night, like people having their own butler carrying them stuff around, but White Dinner is not about the best table. It is about having a different special night, about a secret place, about being thrilled of organizing something with your friends and enjoy this special and lovely moment.

Have fun!

Some pictures of my previous editions are following:

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PS As the event is secret we cannot disclose more than what we have already done, but should you be interested, send a private message to Barefoot in Luxembourg on FB and we will try to help you out..