A coffee with… Enza Fuzio

When I discussed with Corie next interview to publish on the blog, the one you are about to read today, I was initially perplexed. Corie in fact proposed me to meet Enza Fuzio, the owner of Ottika Enza. I was told that even if she is neither a chef nor a restaurateur, she is still a very central figure in Luxembourg lifestyle (and nightlife). Enza was born here in Luxembourg, by Italian parents, Corie added, she might have many things to tell you, “I am sure you will enjoy meeting her!”

I trusted her and went straight to Rue Aldringen. Finding my way around Royal-Hamilius construction site, that is evolving visibly every single day and totally changing the skyline of the city. Arrived at Ottika Enza, the first question that comes to my mind is “how did I manage never noticing this shop?” – indeed I pass here in front a thousand times per day.

Ottika Enza is a small but cozy space where the original mood of the glasses blends with the passion that its owner, Enza Fuzio, has for pop art – and you definitely cannot miss it. It is also the only eyewear store in Luxembourg to sell the Italian Independent brand. And Enza, around it, has created a community or, as she loves to say, a fan club, built up around the passion for glasses that are a bit special. Just like her.

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Angela: – Enza, good morning and many thanks for having accepted our invitation. Do you prefer to speak in Italian or in French?
From this question we move straight forward talking about orecchiette for a moment, as Enza, like me, is from Apulia.

Angela: How was your interest in glasses born?
Enza: It was my vocation since I was a child. When I was 10, I had to put the first glasses. I went to buy them from Ackermann, in Place de Paris, that does not exist anymore. I was so fascinated by those white coats and their know-how that at the age of 12 I told my parents “I want to be an optician when I grow up.” At the age of 19, after completing my studies and internship, I came to Optique Berg, where I worked for 28 years as if it was my own shop. Until 2 years ago, when it closed.

A: A year ago you opened this store, Ottika Enza, which is your own, this time for real. And which has a very strong personality. It is colorful, effervescent, and modern. What is your philosophy behind?
E: My shop must be like I am, I told myself before having clear ideas about how I would personalize it. I looked inside and I realized that I wanted to propose something different that would reflect me, which would bring out my passion for creativity and art. A passion dormant during the years when I was married. My then-husband did not believe in art and this curbed me in expressing myself to the maximum. Thank God he left…

A: Do you want to keep this part or do you prefer I cut it out?
E: Oh, you must include it for sure. Everyone tells me “you’ve become another person” (after he left). This is totally incorrect: it just came out who I really was. All the path through the difficulties I’ve had to face in recent years has led to what I am today. A rebirth.

A: Tell me more about all these street art works displayed here in at the shop, in “your home”. Especially that giant mural!
E: I love photography. When the demolition of the old Hamilius area begun, I started taking pictures, I documented all the demolition, I had a huge archive at home and many people asked for it. So I was printing these pictures and putting them on display on the window of the other shop. The owner of the LTL, the company that made the demolition, passed casually in front and complimented me.
When they finally dug and they went more than 33 meters below ground, I was able to go down 2 times with them. They gave me a helmet and a vest and I was taking pictures. When down there, I saw all the graffiti that were there and they were going to be destroyed. At that point, I had a heartache. Center Aldringen has always been a meeting place for young people for ages; after school, we were meeting with friends to spend there our spare time. So it has been a crossroads for many generations who have left them the signs of their passage. So I asked if I could keep a small fragment of the wall to preserve a piece of art and to remember the past years…

A: Very brave! But I suppose it was impracticable, wasn’t it?
E: This is not over yet, listen! One day a guy who was working on the excavations sent me a picture of a fragment 2 meters long asking me if I wanted it. I wondered how he could take off the graffiti. End of the story, a few days later I got in the shop the whole marble plate with the amazing graffiti on it and that’s the original that you see on that wall. It is the only piece that has been saved from that underground gallery. It is also signed because I contacted the artist Alëxone Dizac, who now lives in Paris, and when he came to Luxembourg at the opening of an art gallery he passed by to sign it.


A:
This is a beautiful story! Thanks to your sensitivity you have given new life to this work of art that would have been destroyed! What about all the other works you have here?
E: Here in the shop there are works by Daniel Mac Lloyde who last year received the first prize Young Street Artist in Rotterdam. A work by Thomas Iser, realized a few days ago: it is a window with clouds, behind the window everyone sees his future, the one that he / she dreams, his / her dreams. Madeleine Putz realized my portrait. And then there is also a work by Jacques Schneider.

A: And from street art to design, tell me about Lapo Elkann, who brought you so much luck.
E: I met Lapo Elkann at a fair in Milan and I was the first to export his brand (Italian Independent) outside Italy. Now they tell me that I was their brand ambassador. I believed in this design, I wanted it and I promoted and still promote it. Now there is a wonderful relationship with all of them.

A: I know that there is such an interest in your choices that you even manage a community on social media.
E: Yes, when people are interested in a brand then they follow you, and for Lapo brand I created a small fan club and I often organize events in store. I love to invite my clients in a festive situation, allow them to see glasses without the obligation to buy them, drink some bubbles together. On those occasions, I choose a complete collection, I display it, then there is a DJ, prosecco, photographer … people come to drink a glass, look at the collection dancing at the rhythm of music.

A: I know that in December you celebrated the first year of this eyewear boutique. Too bad not to have attended, but thanks for the invitation. How did it go?
E: It was Saturday and it was beautiful. I had the opportunity to show the glasses of Italian Independent collection made especially for me: a Unique Edition, 50 glasses with the skyline of the city of Luxembourg, as per their tradition when they open a single-brand store in other major cities of the world. On the frame there is written Unique Edition Ottika Enza Luxembourg. A hit. I have 25 pieces left.

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A: These glasses are beautiful. They really suits me as well J Let’s go out for a moment here. Royal Hamilius Project. How do you see it? What do you expect? Will Les Galeries Lafayette be a positive or negative news for the commercial activities around here?
E: Absolutely positive! The whole area will become a point of attraction, will be made totally pedestrian, other shops will move or come here; I do think it will be the most beautiful area in the city. They will open at the end of the year, November, and I cannot wait.

A: Not afraid of competition?
E: No, because my shop is not like the others. I have my clients who have been following me for years. Moreover, the spaces inside the Galeries Lafayette will not be easily accessible from an economic point of view and therefore I do not think that my small and independent competitors can afford those costs. And then I believe that healthy competition is only good.

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A: I agree with you. (We move back inside). From what I can see on social networks you are very involved in the nightlife of this city, you were born here and you have certainly seen its evolution. They tell me that Luxembourg was quite off before. Is that true? What has changed?
E: When we were young, we said that Luxembourg was dead. The places for “going out” were very few. Then, over time, there was a mega revolution. When I was a teenager, there were only 3 or 4 bars, Clausen was not there like we see it now. We had to travel out of Luxembourg most of the time for having fun. All the bars you see now have perhaps opened in the last 10 years.

A: What do you expect then between 2 or 5 years? Will it become a more attractive city?
E: Yes, thanks to the arrival of the University center. This has allowed the birth of many activities related to leisure, nightlife and catering. First the city center was dead because the youth was missing. Now it’s different. Too bad that the university center has developed in Belval and for me it was a huge mistake, but still an improvement that will bring so much more movement. Luxembourg is reborn!

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A: And now a ritual question for us: what are your favorite places in the city? And in what genres, styles and tastes do you recognize yourself?
E: If I go out to the restaurants, I eat essentially Italian or French, I do not like exotic tastes.

A: So you’re not a sushi lover like me?
E: No no no!… (laughing) I love going to the Essenza restaurant, the owner is very special, I like him as a character, I like his restaurant, I like his cooking. He’s a bit crazy, like I am!

A: Coffee, ops, pardon, espresso, where you drink your favorite one?
E: At Caffè Torino. No doubt. We support Juventus in my family and in Turin we visited the original Caffè Torino, we became friends with everyone in Turin. When they opened here for me it became a little bit like home. Every morning I take the cappuccino there, the only one for me.

A: Enza thank you for this nice chat. Before going to drink our cappuccino at Caffè Torino which is nearby, tell me, when will your next event be?
E: Follow my Facebook page Ottika Enza and you will discover it.

Brilliant!

Here with this wonderful woman, sparkling, avant-garde, I go to warm up with a good cappuccino. I remained to chat with her twice as much time as was used for the interview. About restaurants, family, the courage of women, the power of awakening!
I know that this new friendship will bring me much more than this interview!

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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)

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.

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.

Naturalia – A new Organic Grocery Store

For a long time, Luxembourg Gare area has been a very shady one but recently there have been a lot of improvements and new businesses have opened up. In the end of September, I attended at the opening of Naturalia at Luxembourg Gare. Originally from France, Naturalia is a  specialized in selling organic food items  such as vegetables and fruits but also cheese, wine, bread, rice and pasta. They also have a big selection of hygienic products, vitamins and food supplements.

Their new store is quite small but very bright and attractive. Presentation of fresh veggies and fruits at the entrance is lovely and the store even makes fresh “smoothies to go” in the morning. At the event, I had a possibility to try some of the different combinations they make and also some vegan raw cakes and other appetizers. I also liked the idea of them selling seeds, nuts and cereals from plastic containers from which you could choose the amount of each item you want to have  without additional waste or packaging.


The proximity to the train station certainly attracts many clients, especially because there are no other organic stores with a similar concept nearby and they have long opening hours. Even on Sundays. As ecological lifestyle is starting to be a growing trend in Luxembourg, I’m sure that once the possibilities for buying organic gets easier, people will also be more interested in green eating.

Naturalia Luxembourg
Address:
12-18 rue Joseph Junck

Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday: 8.00-20.00
Friday: 8.00-21.00
Saturday: 8.00-19.00
Sunday: 9.00-19.00

A Drink at Brasserie Philippe, Luxembourg City

Being in Luxembourg for almost 12 years now, I noted that there are restaurants/bars that have been the same for ages – notwithstanding the quality or level of prices – while there are some places that changed management / name / kind of activity very often in a short period of time. I can name few, but one example I had in front of my eyes recently was the brasserie located on Rue Philippe II almost at the cross with Avenue Monterey.

It used to be for long time an Italian bar – I remember I was going there to watch football matches when I did not have TV at home! – but after that it lost a bit the plot – ice cream parlour, brunch place, restaurant, after-work.. it was not really clear to me what it was and it looked in all the cases a very touristic trap. During one of these changes, I got in to have an ice cream and prices were mad and service unbelievably rude.

Anyway – the place I am talking about now has a new name, Brasserie Philippe and look more one of those neighbhood places you can find in Limpersberg or Belair, a nice, refined one.

It was not on the top of my “to try” list, but it happened that on December 26th I got back to Luxembourg in the afternoon. I was a bit too cold to stay at the Christmas Market – well, just the addendum in Place Guillamme was still on -, it was too early for dinner and I was not in the mood for getting into one of the usual bars in the Old Town.

As Brasserie Philippe was open and not empty, we said, why not to try.

The menu out of the meals’ hours reads several kind of drinks and some snacks. We started ordering two glasses of Montepulciano, followed by a charcuterie platter, a wine refill and a further platter of cheese.

Find quick pictures of our afternoon treat followed by my general impressions.

What I liked about Brasserie Philippe:

  • Service was very nice. As per above, you have more the feeling of being in a local brasserie than in a bar in the very city center. It was public holiday and it was over week end, so they had finished the normal bread, but before taking our order the waiter informed us, saying they had just industrial bread and if it was fine. I am sure in some other places they would have not cared.
  • Prices are extremely fair: wine glasses were between 6 and 10 euro while the shared platters were in a range of 8 / 12 euro. Definitely more than acceptable for a downtown bar!
  • Location is cozy and warm. I also spied a lovely mezzanine dining room.
  • Choice of wine and drinks again is pretty wide (table next to us had gin tonic prepared in the big glasses with cucumber) and reasonably priced.

What I liked a bit less about Brasserie Philippe:

  • Let’s face the thruth: while the place is very nice, due to the location the client basis is very mixed – hence you have tourists and families, nothing too posh or sophisticated. So the perfect spot if you are around for shopping and you want to have a drink / a snack, not the place I would plan in advance to go for a night out.
  • My mum is always saying: If you don’t spend much, you cannot expect much. So, while I definitely appreciated that the shared platters were pretty cheap compared to the Luxembourg average, at the same time you cannot say they have an amazing quality – and cheese was mainly just brie. Still, while kind of commercial, they were fresh and tasty.

 

In conclusion: The renewed Brasserie Philippe, in the very city center, is the perfect place for a stop during a shopping afternoon or in-betweens errands. The selection of drinks is wide and prices are extremely reasonable compared to the location. Bonus point: a very kind service.