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Wine and Food

Alexander van Dülmen

Elements & DELI, Restaurant, Dresden

Elements & DELI, Restaurant, Dresden, Germany

5 points

Again Michelin…..don’t worry, there will be reviews coming about restaurants that are not connected with Michelin. However, when visiting cities where you don’t have the benefit of the friendly advice of someone you know there, the Michelin list can be a helpful guide. Visiting beautiful Dresden recently, I found out that there are three Michelin restaurants in Dresden, each with a star. With only one night, I chose a restaurant with the name “Element”. I am always, and here once again, surprised by the criteria for the awards given to restaurants. Is it a direct comparison of the restaurants in Dresden that leads the testers to such results, or is it truly an international rating system? The reader already suspects…! I’m not exactly thrilled with what I was served at Elements in Dresden, and would even venture to say that it was not worth a Michelin star, especially comparing it to other places.

Each course was somehow too much for itself. You also could say: much less would have done more for the taste combinations and the concepts behind them. I actually mean that in a friendly way, because I really liked the restaurant as such. It’s not in the center, where all the tourists crowd Dresden, but east of Neustadt, on a former industrial site, in an old and very pleasantly renovated factory. Quiet, spacious, modern – great atmosphere. Very friendly staff welcome you immediately and put you at ease, nothing like overkill or stiffness, but rather the opposite: casual and dégagé. Aside from the ugly pair of jeans he wore – but this a matter of taste and I apologize for the personal touch right away – the sommelier presented me with two wines I didn’t know:

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In particular, this sparkling wine with a great name, Chimäre Brut, was really very nice and recommendable. It is made by Frédéric Fourré, a French winemaker who ended up in Saxony (there are always such great stories behind winemaking, I love it). Should this Sekt not appear in Games Of Thrones – what could Daenerys Targaryen better drink?

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Skykitchen, Restaurant, Berlin

Skykitchen, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

7 points

Alexander Hoppe has Richard’s deer. Which is funny because a few days before I finally made it to Skykitchen Berlin, I visited Richard, another Michelin star restaurant in Berlin, and there was no deer there – see here my review about Richard Richard, Restaurant, Berlin

Not that you should get the impression that I go exclusively to starred restaurants, but Berlin makes it quite easy, given that there are a total of 21 restaurants with altogether 28 stars – more than any other city in Germany and currently in 12th place in the world, and in Europe coming in right after Paris, London, and Brussels at number four! This said, I do not think that restaurants are necessarily better just because they have a star. There are many I’ve visited in past years they would easily get one from me, if I were a tester. But there are many cities and places in world that Michelin does not even test. And since I’m not ruining the career of a chef or a winemaker because I may not like what I’m served, with my recommendations you can take them or leave them. A friend from Los Angeles recently visited Brawn in London (Brawn, Restaurant, London) and enjoyed it very much. It is not listed among the almost 80 restaurants with a star there. And it’s certainly interesting to see how different all of the Berlin Michelin star restaurants are – or what makes them similarly unique on the other hand. This kind of field research is best done in my current hometown.

Skykitche view

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Vieux Remparts, Chateauneuf du Pape, 2010

Vieux Remparts, Chateauneuf du Pape, 2010, red-wine from France

5 points

If you try to do a little research on the Internet, you won’t find out much about this wine. And then you ask yourself: why there is so little to read about this wine, since actually it’s not bad at all, in fact quite good. The bottle itself already says a lot — not only the world-famous name Chateauneuf du Pape graces the label — but the papal insignia is also molded above the label, imprinted into the glass itself. If you were to then read the label: Appellation d’Origine Controllée, at least wine experts know that this is not a special or noble wine of this exceptional provenance, but just a simple geographic denomination. And then it hits me: Mann (in English Oh man!), that’s the Aldi wine that I bought so many years ago! Now, I hope every reader knows what Aldi is: a German grocery discounter that expanded in most of Europe and even in the USA.  For Aldi prices, a bottle of this wine was really expensive, favorable for Chateauneuf-du-Pape numbers (not cheap!). Now I also understand why there’s nothing to read about the winemakers, about some great or boring family that has been producing this fantastic wine for centuries, with the unlikely sacrifice and long-standing faith, ever since the Pope built his summer residence in Avignon – of course because of the great vineyards at lower Rhone. How profane: Aldi has in fact let some unknown mass producers produce a large number of bottles of “red” (Grenache, Syrah, Merlot) at the local appellation. That it’s well packaged, as I said, not only makes things at Aldi interesting and eye-catching, but also does the trick in many fine wine shops.

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Crustaocean, Restaurant, Los Angeles

Crustaocean, Restaurant, Los Angeles, USA

6,5 points

If I told my friends in Los Angeles to come and eat in Beverly Hills, right on North Bedford Drive, shaking their heads would be probably the friendliest reaction I could expect. This is not a cool area, of ​​course, and most of the restaurants there are noisy, slick and simply characterless, or to say it another way, even more brutally: you really don’t want to spend your evening with the people here. Sometimes, though, it may be good to be a stranger in a city that you know quite well, but with far fewer prejudices than locals might exhibit. There are some people who would rather drive to Downtown LA, even though they live in Westwood, before deigning to eat out in Beverly Hills.

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Merlot, Stekar, 2013

Merlot, Jure Stekar, 2013, red-wine from Slovenia

7,5 points

Jure Stekar often reminds me that I should finally write about his wine. And he’s undoubtedly right, because he produces one of my favorite Merlots. Merlot is such a widespread grape that there are understandably many sommeliers and wine lovers who have no particular affection for this grape variety. Due to the worldwide cultivation of this sort we can experience many different good and interesting wines. In the meantime, there are more than a few wineries in Germany who produce Merlot, including some that make very good wines such as Aldinger from Stuttgart (Bergmandel, Lemberger GG, 2012, Aldinger). Their Merlot of course tastes completely different compared to an unfiltered Merlot from Newton, California for example. What connects the two wines, however, is the proud price, even if the German is much better off.

Jure’s Merlot is not only a very special one because it has its very own character and is made entirely biologically and naturally (even without sulfides), but it is also an inexpensive price for its great quality. Though I probably shouldn’t mention that here because the price of the wine could always go up. However, what might prevent a rise in prices would be the rarely ugly label.

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Layla, Restaurant, Berlin

Layla, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

6,5 points

6 by Alexander van Dülmen

Already the third time: another review by best friend Elisabeth Burghardt – this time about a new hot-spot restaurant in Berlin

It’s been a few years now that Israeli chefs have been leaving their mark on the international culinary scene, especially with their imaginative use of traditional oriental ingredients, spices and herbs. Foodies across the world have become devoted disciples of stars like Yotam Ottolenghi, Gal Ben Moshe or Meir Adoni. The latter, well-known for his hugely popular restaurants in Tel Aviv and New York, has just recently opened Layla, a new hotspot smack in the middle of Berlin.

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Katzebosch, Grauer Burgunder, 2011, Jürgen Leiner, (2nd review)

Katzebosch, Grauer Burgunder, 2011, Jürgen Leiner, German white-wine

7 points

I wrote about this wine three years ago when I started this blog: Katzebosch, Grauer Burgunder, 2011, Jürgen Leiner. Since I have stored some bottles and open one occasionally, not only to see how the wine has developed, but also simply because I felt the desire to drink this wine now, some thoughts about it could be interesting. Certainly not on every topic or wine, but if much has happened, much, as in the case it did with the Grauer Burgunder of Jürgen Leiner, then why not. I also write several reviews at restaurants each time I return. Just as I did the last with the Hisa Franko (Hisa Franko, Restaurant, Staro Stelo (3rd report))

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Richard, Restaurant, Berlin

Richard, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

Point 6,5

Having already heard several times about Richard, at some point it got through to me and I wondered why these mentions had actually intensified in the past few months. Perhaps it has to do with the innovations of the chef: Christian Schagerl has been cooking there since mid-2017 and changed (as it is described in some articles) the type of cuisine, and therefore the direction of the restaurant. Obviously very successfully, as he managed to avoid disappointing his audience while meanwhile the restaurant has steadily become more popular.

The best proof for this introduction is my friend Susanne Wuest (her main profession is acting). Popular restaurateur Sarah Wiener (from Austria, like Susanne) once told her that she was anorexic, which was really a remarkable insult, knowing Susanne’s sense of good food and the reliable joy she takes in sending me an sms once in a while with tips for good restaurants in London, Berlin or anywhere else she may be. Just two days before I finally went to Richard, she recommended it to me.

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Hisa Franko, Restaurant, Staro Stelo (3rd report)

Hisa Franko, Restaurant, Staro Stelo, Kobarid, Slovenia

8 points

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What should one write when one is utterly speechless from so many impressions and experiences? Sometimes it is said that a good meal or great wine brings one closer to heaven. Seen in this way, Hisa Franko is truly a temple – where one of the greatest goddesses cooks: Ana Ros. Now I do not want to pay limitless homage to her, but I have been to Kobarid again – this time with my partner Stephan Wagner – and it was simply most heavenly, absolutely everything that we ate and drank.

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Venissa, Restaurant and Vineyard, Marzzorbo (2nd review)

Venissa, Restaurant, Marzzorbo, Italy

4,5 points

Returning after ca. three years to Venice, I revisited the restaurant Venissa. Maybe my expectations this time were simply too high, due to my amazing initial experience there (see here: Venissa, Restaurant and Vineyard, Marzzorbo), but it was a real disappointment: in terms of both atmosphere and cuisine much poorer – and simply too expensive.

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To The Bone, Restaurant & Bar, Berlin

To The Bone, Restaurant & Bar, Berlin, Germany

6 points

4 points by Alexander van Dülmen

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I am very pleased to have Till Schmerbeck writing a review of one of our last dinners – this one at one of Berlin’s newest hot-spots called ToTheBone. Not only that he is a “to be on the go” producer – his latest success was German Horror “Heilstätten”, he is also someone who really enjoys food and wine. Here his review: 

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Today we meet in Berlin’s trendy Mitte district. Anyone who opens a restaurant here should have a clear idea that the audience in the tough selection of culinary options in this area may honor. TO THE BONE at Torstr. 96 stands fancy in red neon above the entrance. The room concept and interior are similar to the successful localities such as CORDOBAR and TORBAR, where an opulent counter hits in the middle and the dining tables are around or in the back. Here, too, a sense of community should arise and almost everyone is allowed to examine your plate. A flirt with the most international guests can be tried even from the table.

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Kreuzberger Himmel, Restaurant, Berlin

Kreuzberger Himmel, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

6 points

Kreuzberger Himmel: not only a commendable but also honorable dining experience, because this is not a classic restaurant, but a special refugee and integration project in Berlin. Getting to know each other and listening is certainly the basic requirement for understanding other cultures and thus not only tolerating other cultures, but also the basis for learning from other cultures. Those who are unwilling to learn will wither away, as we unfortunately must experience today, even to the extent that it becomes frightening and anxious. Even the AFD, a party of the mentally stunted, has moved into our parliament: the German Bundestag. Usually I only write here about the most beautiful and good things in our lives: wine and food. That’s how it will continue to be. Just as I once wrote a derogatory word about Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, I will not let it change my mind about another experience in Hungary (https://avdwineandfood.net/2017/10/13/magnus-merlot-2011-villa-tolnay/#more-6484).

The integration of more than one million refugees who came to Germany two years ago is undoubtedly one of the greatest social challenges of recent German history. There are certainly many ways that integration can work, but a few things are undeniably true: firstly, it does not happen as quickly as many might have wished or imagined. (I mean, one does not learn a foreign language in a few weeks.) Second, integration costs money, because all the measures that lead to integration cannot be provided by volunteers, in a number of areas of course professionals are needed.

It is all the more beautiful to see that there are many successful projects and initiatives that the irresponsible reporters and editors of the Bild newspaper seem never to have heard of. These kind of yellow press papers would rather report on the problematic cases among the millions of refugees, on individuals who’ve committed serious crimes or gone into criminality. In these papers I haven’t read  about any good projects, such as the Kreuzberger Himmel!

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It is a Syrian restaurant in Berlin’s district called Kreuzberg (https://www.kreuzberger-himmel.de/) and it is run by refugees from Syria: the chef and his team, the waiters, all have their own escape history and today present part of the culture of their homeland: Syrian food. This initiative is supported by a cooperative association with the fabulous name Be An Angel e.V., behind which is a selection of more or less prominent honorary volunteers (https://beanangel.direct/) .  Continue reading “Kreuzberger Himmel, Restaurant, Berlin”

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