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Wine and Food

Alexander van Dülmen

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”

Veritas, Restaurant, Naples

Veritas, Restaurant, Naples, Italy

5,0 points

Maybe you travel to Naples with false expectations, but unfortunately, the image of the city is bad. Trash, mafia and a pretty dirty bay with high pollution. Much of this is probably even true; otherwise it likely would not have stuck as Naples’ reputation over decades. Indeed, the city looks dirtier than other Italian cities; the area around the huge harbor is rather run-down. Perhaps the story of Naples’ tramway mirrors the chaotic, but perhaps not even scandalous condition of public services in this Southern Italian city. Because the street in front of the tram depot is under construction (according to different internet resources – including Wikipedia – the size of construction is only 40m long), not one tram has driven in the city since 2016!!!! This is crazy, isn’t it? I can imagine that the Neapolitans are quite used to this, they don’t trust politics – and for good reason – and if there is something behind all this that is really powerful,  it is the Camorra. You can be sure that they earn on every little “error.”

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“P”, Guccione

“P”, Azienda Agricola Guccione, Perricone, Red-wine from Italy

5,5 points

Uh, this one is sour. Really sour. This is, frankly speaking, the first reaction upon tasting this wine. But you could probably also just call it: “I wasn’t expecting that.’

“P” by Francesco Guccione is an extraordinary, if not an unusual, wine. Not a wine for beginners, as I provoked on Instagram when I posted a photo of the label. P stands for the Perricone grape variety, also known as Pignatello, which, as far as I know, only grows in Sicily. Find out more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perricone.

The wines of Francesco Guccione are perhaps the most radical organic wines from Sicily, where you can find some “world-famous” organic wine producers, such as Occhipinti and COS. Everyone who read my last post about COS (Zibibbio in Pithos, COS, 2016), knows about my friendly acquaintance Joanna. When we spent a very nice evening in the wonderful garden of Bar Sabadi at Modica, she introduced me to Francesco Guccione’s Trebbiano, which is truly wonderful – such a fantastic wine. Because of this, I decided to order two or three bottles of each of his wines, and I tasted “P” in recent days.

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Fresco, Restaurant & Pizzeria, Naples

Fresco, Restaurant & Pizzeria, Naples, Italy

2.5 points

The very beautiful receptionist Valentina at the highly recommended Hotel Excelsior advised us to have dinner at a place close by called Fresco — saying that there was not only excellent pizza, but also many other good things. Asked if she would go there with her family, she said yes. Our experience there ended up being rather disappointing, unfortunately, and maybe Valentina has not been there for a long time or maybe she has no family – who knows.

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