Saturday, December 31, 2016

Restaurant: Trüffelschwein in Hamburg

Another recommendation from a friend for our Hamburg trip. Instead of doing a "normal" meal at the Trüffelschwein we booked a table for their New Years Eve event. The menu was nominally 8 courses (instead of their normal 9), started with a glass of champagne, and, as a special-occasion thing, included a higher percentage of courses with truffels. It was also considerably more expensive than their normal menu.

We didn't think this was great, but I could imagine eating here again on a normal night. The food was good, but definitely suffered in comparison to the meal at the 7 Seas. The unusual nature of the evening (at least I think it was unusual) where all of the tables were served at the same time distorted the experience and had a negative impact on the quality of the service. The restaurant was also quite loud (this may be normal since there seem to be people who like that) which didn't help things on the service front: the (overly quick and not particularly practiced) descriptions of the food and wine were often difficult to hear.

So mixed feelings. Under normal circumstances we might have quite liked the restaurant, but on this particular evening it was less than we were hoping for.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Restaurant Seven Seas, Hamburg

Another "let's do a fancy restaurant on greg's birthday" thing; I think this is becoming a tradition for us; a very nice tradition. This year we went to the Michelin two-star "Seven Seas" in Hamburg.

We actually had to make a decision this time: which of the three menus to select. We had made up our mind for the six-course empfehlungsmenu, but after the amazing amuse bouche demonstrated what the kitchen could do with vegetables, greg *almost* switched to the vegetable menu. In the end, the two fish courses on the empfehlungsmenu won the argument. We also punted on wine decisions and, after the champagne aperitif, went with the restaurant-suggested pairings.

Given that this was a classic luxury setting like Cheval Blanc, it was (and is) difficult not to compare the two experiences, but we did our best. Still: the food and wines were really good, perhaps not as over-the-top fantastic as last year, but really very happy making.

We both certainly had smiles on our faces as we walked back to the train station from the restaurant/hotel.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

This year's Christmas cookies

Here's what we did this year:

  • Zimtsterne (from Kaltenbach)
  • Totenbeinli (recipe here:
  • Honig Lebkuchen (from Kaltenbach)
  • Pains d'Amande (A food52 genius recipe:
  • Pepper and Cumin cookies (from the NYT cookbook, but here's the online version:

The last two are new for us. The almond cookies turned out ok, but the pepper and cumin cookies are really exceptional.

Some notes for next year:
  • Putting a pinch or two of salt in the Lebkuchen would probably be good.
  • More cinnamon in the Zimtsterne!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A dinner party

I had a craving to cook for a group, and a couple things that I really wanted to make, so we had some friends over for dinner on Saturday.

The menu:

  • Starter: pimiento cheese with slices of pagnol fried in olive oil. I made mayo for this using the Serious Eats two-minute mayo recipe.
  • Starter: parsnip chips (from the recipe in "Chez Panisse Vegetables"
  • Starter: pulled pork wraps with killed onions and chipotle mayo (the pulled pork, using the Serious Eats recipe, is from earlier this year, the onions were killed with red wine and cider vinegars, some bourbon, and chipotle powder) I sliced the wraps and served them with the mayo on the side
  • Salad: a slaw from spitzkohl, grated carrot, mint, and cilantro with a creamy lime dressing, topped with peanuts
  • Main: a boned out chicken (following Jacques Pepin's technique) stuffed with a filling made from ground pork, diced shitake, microplaned ginger and garlic, minced lemon grass, salt, and Shaoxing wine. I served this with a caramel-lime-fish sauce-butter sauce and sticky rice.
  • Dessert(!): Nigella Lawson's Aztec hot chocolate pudding. I served this with creme fraiche

Friday, January 01, 2016

Cinnamon rolls

This is an unusual one for me, but I saw this recipe on food52 and it gave me a powerful craving for cinnamon buns. It seemed like a good thing to have on New Years morning.

I followed the recipe pretty closely aside from making a half recipe, but I did deviate by adding finely diced apple (Pinova) to the filling. We had beautiful apples and it just seemed right.

These were awesome and need to be made again.