Dining in the Netherlands: Da Vinci**

There are not many female chefs with Michelin stars. Probably the best known in the Netherlands is Margo Reuten. Together with maître and sommelier Petro Kools she runs Da Vinci in Maasbracht in the south of the Netherlands in the province of Limburg. I’ve been curious about this restaurant for a while, and last night we finally went there. We arrived in style in a 1958 Rolls Royce, a hobby of the hotel we stayed at. We were welcomed by Petro and notice that Margo wasn’t around. Later we found out that for personal reasons she’s away from the restaurant for quite some time. Chefs have an important role in their kitchens, and we usually notice it when the chef isn’t there. That also seemed to be the case this time. Continue reading “Dining in the Netherlands: Da Vinci**”

Dining in Amsterdam: Bord’eau**

After eating at Bord’eau in July I wrote “I wonder when chef Richard van Oostenbrugge will get his well-deserved second star. We’ll be back!” in my blog post about that wonderful dinner. I didn’t have to wonder for long, as Bord’eau has indeed just received its second Michelin star. Van Oostenbrugge was also announced by Gault Millau as “Chef of the Year 2014”. All of this calls for a celebration, or a good excuse to go eat there again 🙂  Continue reading “Dining in Amsterdam: Bord’eau**”

Dining in Amsterdam: Ron Gastrobar*

Chef Ron Blaauw gave up his restaurant with two Michelin stars (at which I never dined) and replaced it with a “gastrobar”, which after its first year received a single Michelin star. Ron Blaauw wanted to create a more accessible restaurant, and I think he has succeeded. At Ron Gastrobar you can order as many dishes as you like for 15 euros (about US$ 20) each. They are of an intermediate portion size: not as big as a main course, but not a small bite either. Three or four dishes are enough for a meal. The term  “gastrobar” also means that there are a lot of tables and quite close together. The restaurant is a bit like a “grand café”.  I was curious about this new restaurant, and so I went to check it out. (Photos taken with my iPhone in bad lighting conditions.) Continue reading “Dining in Amsterdam: Ron Gastrobar*”

Dining in Australia: Hentley Farm, Barossa Valley

After our camping adventure with simple but tasty food our trip to Australia ended on a gourmet note with a visit to Hentley Farm in the Barossa Valley. Hentley Farm is a winery that showcases its wines in a gourmet restaurant. The restaurant is open for lunch Thursday – Sunday and for dinner Saturday. We had the Discovery menu with paired wines for AUD 210. The menu took us about 4 hours, so it is quite substantial for lunch. There is also a smaller Du Jour menu. All the wines are from Hentley Farm. Continue reading “Dining in Australia: Hentley Farm, Barossa Valley”

Dining in Amsterdam: Bord’Eau*

Hotel de l’Europe is one of the best known luxury hotels in Amsterdam, located by the Amstel river. Since a few years a new restaurant has opened in the hotel, called Bord’Eau with a nice wordplay on the location as well as the famous wine region. We’ve had dinner there when it had recently opened and really enjoyed it. Meanwhile they have gotten their first Michelin star, so it was time to pay another visit. Continue reading “Dining in Amsterdam: Bord’Eau*”

A Culinary Experience in the Netherlands: Librije***

Every year since De Librije has been awarded its third star (in late 2004) we have celebrated our wedding anniversary on June 15th with a dinner at De Librije. The first time in 2005 was very special, as it was our first dinner at a three-star restaurant and we were completely blown away by both the food and the wine. As I’ve written before, follow-up visits to a restaurant are like sequels to a movie: it is hard to beat that first great experience. But De Librije has held up quite strongly, and that’s why we keep coming back. Soon De Librije will be the only three-star restaurant in the Netherlands, as Oud Sluis is going to close. Continue reading “A Culinary Experience in the Netherlands: Librije***”

Dining in Sicily: La Gazza Ladra*

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The final stop in our Sicilian food tour was La Gazza Ladra, a restaurant with one Michelin star located in the hotel Palazzo Failla in the Baroque town of Modica. The hotel and the restaurant are situated in a historic building.

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On the Tuesday night when we visited there were only two other tables occupied in the classy dining room. The competition is stiff in this region of Silicy with La Madia and Il Duomo (in Ragusa) close by. The wonderful dinner we had at La Madia was a tough act to follow, and we only visited them in this order because that fitted with our itinerary. Besides à la carte there are two degustation menus, one for 80 euros and one for 95. As such, La Gazza Ladra is cheaper than La Madia and only half the price of Il Duomo. Continue reading “Dining in Sicily: La Gazza Ladra*”

Dining in Sicily: La Madia**

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The chef checking his e-mail before the first guests arrived. From the outside the restaurant looks very small, but there is a spacious dining room behind the facade.

Licata is a port town in southern Sicily near Agrigento that doesn’t have much going for it except for the fact that Pino Cuttaia was born here and opened up a restaurant, La Madia. On a Monday night in April the restaurant was full, and I am pretty sure that most of those people came to Licata just to eat here (like we did).

I wrote before about Gambero Rosso and how to rate trattorie with 1, 2 or 3 prawns. Similarly, they rate restaurants with 1, 2 or 3 forks. There is only one restaurant with 3 forks (tre forchette) in Sicily, and this is it. The restaurant also has two Michelin stars. I tend to agree more with Gambero Rosso’s judgements in Italy than I do with Michelin’s, and that holds up in this case as well. Continue reading “Dining in Sicily: La Madia**”

Dining in Sicily: u Sfizziusu

We ended up in the nice sea town of San Vito lo Capo, on the northern coast of Sicily near Trapani, by accident. We were supposed to go to the island of Pantelleria, but our flight got cancelled and we decided to go here instead. It was raining when we arrived, so we decided to have a full pranzo (lunch) like the Italians eat, rather than our usual snack for lunch such as a slice of pizza or  Sicilian rice balls (arancini). Continue reading “Dining in Sicily: u Sfizziusu”

Dining in Sicily: Officina del Gusto Bye Bye Blues

Bye Bye Blues is a well-known restaurant in Palermo with a Michelin star. We didn’t go there but to their trattoria called “Officina del Gusto” (Taste Workshop). We didn’t go to the restaurant so it’s hard to compare, but the prices are lower and I expect the restaurant to be more formal than the trattoria. Continue reading “Dining in Sicily: Officina del Gusto Bye Bye Blues”

Dining in Sicily: Nangalarruni

Our next dining stop in Sicily was in Castelbuono, a charming little town in the Madonie mountains in the North of Sicily. Even though it’s only half an hour from the sea, it is very much a mountain town and the restaurants here have meat on the menu rather than fish. The speciality of Nangalarruni are even mushrooms, which unfortunately our out of season at the moment. Continue reading “Dining in Sicily: Nangalarruni”