Passion with a capital P

I finally found some time to write another blogpost. After 2 weeks of Easter holiday with a 10 month and a 3 year old 🙂  relaxing was not part of the daytime tasks, I can tell you that. But luckily some evenings I was raised from my function so I could relax a bit 🙂 . The last few years I have been fortunate enough to have had great meals in extraordinary restaurants. When I say extraordinary I don’t necessarily mean awarded restaurants, but rather restaurants that have built a very good reputation over the years and who’s reputation travels from mouth to mouth. A few weeks ago I ended up in one of these kind of places. We ended-up in wine restaurant ‘De Notenkraker’ (The Nutcracker) situated in a ‘lesser known’ neighborhood  in the ‘suburbs’ from Antwerp. Besides the refined food, the restaurant thanks its reputation to the incredible wine assortment they have (at affordable prices). De Notenkraker might ‘only’ be a neighborhood restaurant to many people, but I know many high-end restaurants that would be jealous of this wine list. It is the perfect restaurant for a wine lover, not a label drinker… as the owner’s opinion is (and I agree) one has to drink a wine because it is good and not just because it has a particular label. What makes this restaurant so special is that you can feel the passion. When you hear Donald (owner) speak about food and wine, it feels like he takes you on a trip  … Donald always  knows many anecdotes, interesting facts and details about all the wines and their wineries that are very fascinating. The reason he knows all of this is, besides having build up lots of experience over the year, he tries to visit most vineyards of the wines he serves.

As we knew the chef’s (Donald) reputation, we gave him carte blanche. Something when looking back we don’t regret!!

To start we were served home smoked salmon that got accompanied by a 2009 Pierson-Cuvelier Champagne Grand cru Millésimé. A very nice champagne that hadnotes of pear and star anise. Nice acidity on the mouth with fruity pleasure with a tight and lively bubble.

The next dish we were served, was one of those dishes you want to ask another plate of 🙂 . We were served river eel (smoked and glazed) with foie gras and poached quail eggs(and as little extra we got some hop shoots, mmmmm) HEAVENLY. This combined with a 2016 white wine from Rias Baixas (Spain) , Cies by Rodrigo Méndez made it even better. Later I found out that  Cies obtained a score of 92 at Parker (that is the only wine critic without commercial interest in the wine industry) which is very high score. The wine has a beautiful mineral nose, which is a bit atypical for Albariño, less exotic, more tight with nice acidity in the nose. This is also the same sensation I had in the mouth. Much content and length. Superb acids, guarantee for longevity. A true gastronomical wine.

But the best was still to come… Danish codfish with a raw chicory salad, a homemade remoulade sauce and our crispy U-fries. Simplicity itself, but oooh so good!! The cod fish got served with a 2011 Grand Cru ‘sommerberg’ Rieseling by Albert Boxler(Alsace). Albert Boxler is a winery that until recent nobody knew, but now everybody wants… A small family owned winery that works traditionally using techniques and ‘savoir faire’ that got passed down across multiple generations with beautiful end products as result. The wine had very deep, complex aromas of ripe citrus fruits, underbrush and sweet spices. Fresh and tactile, with a rich mouthfeel to its yellow plum and ripe grapefruit flavors. Finishes full and long. Real beauty!!

I can say for a fact that I had a very pleasant evening with great food and wines topped with the passion of Donald (owner and chef). A restaurant that serves honest food and wines without make up for honest prices… a recipe for an incredible evening! I’m sure our path’s will cross again.

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