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Wine and Food

Alexander van Dülmen

Panama, Restaurant, Berlin

Panama, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

6,5 points

6 points by Alexander van Dülmen

IMG-20170509-WA0001I am pleased that my friend and acclaimed script-writer Elisabeth Bartel accepted my invitation not only for a dinner at Panama but also to write her first review on my blog. 

Working on a screenplay with the word “Panama” in the title, it was kind of obvious that “Panama”, a fairly new restaurant in Berlin’s center, would be the ideal fit for dinner. Already when you enter the enchanted back yard, off a busy stretch of Potsdamer Straße, you feel you have come to a special place. We were lead to the second floor, which houses the main part of the mid-size restaurant with the half-open kitchen behind large glass windows. The atmosphere is bright and easy going but also quite loud, catering to a younger, international crowd.

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Brunello di Montalcino – Madonna del Piano, 1993

Brunello di Montalcino – Madonna del Piano, Valdicava da Vincenzo Abbruzzese, 1993, Red wine from Italy

7 points

Drinking wine, enjoying wine is so often also an emotional experience. Particularly if it’s a good wine! There are these special moments in life when you know afterwards why life is so beautiful, sometimes so grandiose …. Berlin, one of “the” towns of the world, Friday night, finishing work late, hungry for a “platform” for the transition from a heavy working week to a weekend! Relaxation is needed, but you cannot simply decree this to yourself. Too hyper to sleep, but also too tired to sleep.

Music is another element of emotional cognition. Friendship, too. On a recent Friday night, I rang the bell of Nobelhart & Schmutzig after midnight – a nice welcome, without any attitude like “hey, we are just cleaning up, almost closed, it’s “nice” to see you, but…”. Crossed the cleaned public kitchen area, seated at the bar next to Billy, who asked what I would like. Red. I got Adrianna Occhipinti. Sicilian wine. Wine experts among readers know it, and probably also know that this is a very good wine. I need to write about it, as this is also one of my favorite Italian winemakers. More importantly, someone tries to describe your sentiment, combines it with their own, the wine is in the bottle, and it smells delicious – although you already know it, or is it because you know it?

The restaurant is almost shut down for the night, the rest of the staff leaving, saying good night. Reduced light, the blue reflection of the screen of your friend’s laptop and – excellent music! A conversation among friends is never something about only one subject but so many at the time. A mixture of private, professional, daily, but also long-term things, all at once, slowed down by every sip of wine.

Continue reading “Brunello di Montalcino – Madonna del Piano, 1993”

Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru, Nicolas Potel, 1999

Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru, Nicolas Potel, 1999, Red wine from France

7 points

For starters, here’s a link to my review of another Pinot Noir from Nicolas Potel – Clos Vouget Grand Cru, 1997: Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, Nicolas Potel, 1997. If you like, please read this review, perhaps even first, because I wrote about Nicolas Potel, his wine-making philosophy, and the area. So I won’t repeat all of that here.

This particular wine of his is from 1999 and comes from vineyards of the area in northern Burgundy called Gevrey-Chambertin, so, still very much in the middle of famous Burgundy wine region. Continue reading “Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru, Nicolas Potel, 1999”

Augustiner Klosterwirt, Gasthaus (Restaurant) München

Gasthaus / Restaurant Klosterwirt, München, Germany

Points 5,5

There are days when you just want  a nice Currywurst or a Doner, but not a great dinner at a Michelin star restaurant. Food depends on mood, as does what we drink, in many cases. Right after a satisfying soccer game played by my team, FC Bayern München, a friend invited me to a classic Munich Gasthaus: Augustiner Klosterwirt, right near Munich’s landmark Frauenkirche. This was a nice choice on his part: the mood of the place is very busy, almost like in a beer hall, but with excellent, fast service and perfect quality. Since my visit to Munich was at the right time, we had so-called Starkbier (according to leo.org the best translation aside from strong beer seems to be stout), a dark beer containing more wort and alcohol than usual. There are officially two weeks of Starkbierzeit – so two weeks of stout – during that time, Munich brewers offers this special beer; something very Bavarian if not very specific to Munich. These two weeks are not always the same two weeks every year – all linked to the catholic “Josefitag” – a day in honor of St. Josef, the husband of virgin Maria, mother of Jesus. Continue reading “Augustiner Klosterwirt, Gasthaus (Restaurant) München”

Mayacamas, Cabernet Sauvignon, 1979

Mayacama, Cabernet Sauvignon, 1979, Red wine from USA

7,5 points

The first thing my friend Grant said was that he doesn’t really like Cabernet Sauvignon and, in particular, the ones from California. The second thing he did was to put a bottle of a Cabernet Sauvignon of Mayacamas on the table. When I saw the vintage, I piped down for a moment: 1979. He had opened the bottle some hours before, so it had enough time to breathe.

I have never had such an old American wine. I also think that Californian Cabernet Sauvignon is vastly overestimated and certainly much too expensive. Most of the time, these wines are too heavy, too fruity, too oaky – plump and show-off wines. Continue reading “Mayacamas, Cabernet Sauvignon, 1979”

Bandol sur Mer, Restaurant, Berlin

Bandol sur Mer, Restaurant, Berlin, Germany

7 points

In German, we have the word „Kulinarik“. The German language contains so many substantives that describe a very specific thing very precisely. Translating this word into English is a challenge, and I am curious to know how any reader of this blog who speaks German and English would translate it. According to leo.org, one of the best online dictionaries, I should use the term “culinary art”. Although I don’t really think that this is a correct description of my understanding of “Kulinarik”, I like very much that it connects it with art. This said, Berlin’s Kulinarik has such great variety, incomparable with many other places in the world. Perhaps only New York and Chicago. A Michelin star punk restaurant, probably possible only in Berlin!

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Sushi Girl, Street Food, Hanalei

Sushi Girl, Hanalei, Kauai, USA

5 points

This Sushi place really represents the attitude toward life in the northern part of Hawaii’s greenest island Kauai. Chilled, relaxed, stress-free and unbelievably friendly. The real Sushi Girl is Taylor Lowe who runs this very tiny place, which is listed in many guides and has an impressive internet presence. Actually, there aren’t even many restaurants, food shops, or fast food places between Hanalei and Wainiha, the last housing estate before the Hanea State Park and the start of famous Kalalau Trail. You either own or rent a house in this area – most  people are there on vacation – or else you pass the place on your way along the northern coast of Kauai.

DSC_0479.JPG Continue reading “Sushi Girl, Street Food, Hanalei”

Melisse, Restaurant, Santa Monica

Melisse, Restaurant, Santa Monica, USA

7 points

Let me begin with perhaps an unfair quote: This restaurant is cursedly expensive. This is quite a controversial statement since passionate chefs, engaged restaurant entrepreneurs, and audacious sommeliers all have to calculate very carefully: top quality, super fresh, preferably organic vegetables, fish, seafood, meat and other ingredients, and exotic or rare fruits. Regional does not automatically mean less expensive, since the work and desire of farmers, fishermen, and cultivators is the same almost everywhere on the planet. Raising organic shrimp in Vietnam is probably cheaper than in Louisiana – but causes pollution due to long transport distances. And how many hours does a chef spend just on thinking, testing, and creating a new dish? And to what end? Isn’t it well known that salaries in the field of gastronomy are rather low? In the US, tips are a crucial part of the income of any server.

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Restaurant Sassafraz, Toronto

Restaurant Sassafraz, Toronto, Canada

5,5 points

Sassafraz is an intelligent combination of a French café and restaurant in the middle of Toronto’s affluent neighborhood Yorkville.

Due to my profession, I travel yearly to Toronto. This year I chose some restaurants for business dinners, but also to test them out. How did I found this place? It is listed on some internet sites as one of the best restaurants in Toronto. Of course, I could have asked some of my friends from Toronto – but I like to follow such recommendations although they are very often not the best ones. My visit to Sassafraz was not a bad experience, although it was not superb either.

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Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, Nicolas Potel, 1997

Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, Nicolas Potel, 1997, Red wine from France

7 points

I’ve hesitated to write about Nicolas Potel since there are already so many interesting articles and reports online about him. I also missed two chances to meet him in person. I’ve appreciated his wine-making for a long time, although it has to be added that I haven’t tried any of his wines younger than five or six years. Part of his biography is quite affecting as – according different sources – he experienced the early death of his father, whom he was meant to succeed as the operating manager of the Domaine de La Pousse d’Or in Volnay. He made his way and actually became one of the most relevant and legendary winemakers of Burgundy. His name on any label ennobles excellent reds from the Cote d’Or vineyards. He did not become owner of his “own” vineyard or winery, but, since very the end of the nineties, he’s been producing his wines from purchased grapes and wines. Someone called him a négociant – although I guess the real meaning of this description would fit the wine “dealers” in Bordeaux better than the passionate winemaker  Nicolas Potel certainly is.

Continue reading “Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, Nicolas Potel, 1997”

Quán Cơm Gà Thượng Hải, Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City

Quán Cơm Gà Thượng Hải, Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

6,5 points

Food in Vietnam is wonderful and much more diverse than you might experience traveling through this Southeast Asian country. In particular, as a tourist you may end up in rather – from a touristic perspective – popular locations. I guess travel agencies and hotels have arrangements with certain places, like for instance one of my favorite restaurants in Hanoi, the Four Season (https://avdwineandfood.net/2015/04/15/four-season-restaurant-hanoi/). However, there is obviously much more to discover. All kinds of street food anyhow. Restaurants meant only for locals, for the establishment, some with a modern western style, others more like a typical cantina (the Vietnamese version of fast food). Aside from of all these, there are a few around the country with particular traditions – sometimes because they offer specialties that you cannot find anywhere else or because of their concept and simply, how long they have been around. Remember my review about Bánh tôm Hồ Tây (Bánh tôm Hồ Tây, Seafood Restaurant, Inn and Biergarten, Hanoi) at the West Lake in Hanoi. This is one of the oldest and most famous places in Hanoi.

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Nhà Hàng Hương Xưa, Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City

Nhà Hàng Hương Xưa, Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

5,5 points

While writing this review, I am expecting protest. I had the turtle! Yes! It is taboo and forbidden in many regions of the world. Actually, it depends on the species of turtle – certain types are strictly protected; for others it seems that eating them is allowed. Like many other countries, Vietnam has implemented official protection and prevention programs due to the fact that authorities, left to their own, don’t enforce their own laws strongly enough. Poaching is also certainly an issue in Vietnam in particular, since there is such a great demand in China for forbidden and really exotic animals.

Continue reading “Nhà Hàng Hương Xưa, Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City”

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