We were supposed to go to Librije in December for our annual anniversary celebration, but due to the pandemic it was postponed until now. As usual we had a package with an 8 course degustation plus champagne and wine pairings, as well as staying at the hotel.
The first set of amuse bouche: a cauliflower ring, an edible rose, and tartare with curry spices.
Each quarter the Librije features three of its long-time suppliers with amuses bouches. This time it was crayfish, a shiitake mushroom ‘burger’, and deep fried seaweed with cod liver.
The first wine was a Riesling from Nahe, Germany. It was well balanced with some ‘petrol’ notes.
It was paired well with an oyster with blood sausage and kefir. The oyster was very delicate and elegant.
The same Riesling was also paired with foie gras and shrimp, with juice of tomato and kaffir lime. The Riesling had some trouble with the foie. It depended on how much of the foie I included in each bite whether the wine worked or not. A richer style Riesling would have been better.
The second wine was really nice, an oaked Grillo from Sicily. It had great balance and complexity due to the tension between the acidity of the grape variety and the nutty and oak tones.
Langoustine ceviche using kombucha has become a signature dish of the chef, but this rendition was by far the best one. The kombucha was made with grapefruit and less acidic than other years. The langoustine had better (more firm yet tender) texture than earlier versions, as well as better flavor (less acidic). It was paired very well with white asparagus, crème fraîche, and a reduction of langoustine bisque. The bisque was so thick and dark that it resembled chocolate sauce. The pairing with the Grillo was amazing. This was the best dish of the meal.
Next was a bonus dish that was not part of the degustation. It came with birch vodka instead of wine. I am not usually a fan of hard liquor, but this vodka actually had flavor.
The bonus dish was caviar with an egg yolk, pastry, and sunflower seeds. The sunflower seeds were arranged as petals, and so it looked like a reverse sunflower. This dish was a great combination of contrasting textures and flavors, and a great pairing with the vodka.
The next two dishes came with the same two Chardonnays, one a Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Referts 2016, the other from Central Coast in California. The Chardonnay from California was remarkably ‘cool climate’ for a wine from there, with great balance and minerality. The Puligny was amazing with great complexity and balance.
The first dish paired well with the Chardonnays was Romanesco green cauliflower, baked in clay in the oven, with a curry of Indian cress, coffee, and toasted cashews. Last year this was an experimental dish that we got as a bonus course, and this year it is on the menu. It was unchanged and as delicious as last year.
The chef’s signature dish from when he took over the restaurant in 1993 and got his first star, zander lacquered with apple syrup and soy, with bacon ‘cured in the attic’, crispy potato, chives, and a Riesling sauce.
The next wine was a Syrah from South Africa.
It was paired with backstrap of roedeer venison with leeks, black pepper, blueberries, and radicchio. The venison was very tender and perfectly cooked. A pairing of venison with black pepper and Syrah makes sense, but the wine had some green edges that didn’t go away with the venison and the creamy sauce made it worse.
So we requested another wine, and got this 2016 Barolo instead. 2016 was an excellent vintage for Barolo, and even though it is quite young, it was a great wine and a good pairing with the venison.
We decided to add the cheese cart to our meal, and asked for a pairing of wine and cheese. The sommelier showed some suggestions by the glass, and I chose the Vega Sicilia Alion 2009, a famous wine from the Ribera del Duero. The wine (100% Tempranillo) was great with wonderful depth and complexity, as well as velvety tannins.
We asked the fromagier and sommelier to pick cheeses for us that would work with the wine. All of the cheeses except the Epoisse were from the Netherlands.
They selected the Colosso from Cothen, aged Gouda, aged Gouda with cloves from IJsselstein, Epoisse, and a blue Sangles from Rhenen. The cheese with cloves was an amazing pairing with the wine and all of the others were very nice except for the blue cheese.
The wine for dessert was a Riesling Beerenauslese from Pfalz. Beerenauslese means that only berries that are affected by botrytis are included in the wine. The wine had great balance and complexity.
The first dessert was beans with very nice coconut ice cream and peanuts.
The second dessert was a ‘sweet rijsttafel’. A rijsttafel is a Dutch-Indonesian meal that is like a buffet of several Indonesian dishes with rice.
The friandises were again served on a map of the Netherlands.
This was another great meal at Librije. Food and wine were at a high level as always, and the hospitality is exceptional. We are already looking forward to our next visit in December, hoping there won’t be a lockdown like the previous two years.