BELGA @Sofitel

I got to know BELGA shortly after the opening on the recommendation of a good Bangkok friend. This Bar & Brasserie with Belgian charm, Belgian beers and culinary highlights of Belgian cuisine is the real address to feel good.

The BELGA is located on the 32nd floor of Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit and therefore offers a fantastic view over the entire city centre.

What makes the BELGA so special is its atmosphere – the moment you leave the elevator on the 32nd floor, you feel at home. The guest rooms have the cosy – inviting ambience of a Belgian guesthouse and the associated service is warm, courteous and very professional at the same time.

Of course, there is an almost unmanageable number of delicious Belgian beers here – both from the bottle and freshly tapped. A special highlight for beer lovers, the BELGA is one of the few places in the world where the Duvel is freshly tapped – a truly first-class and delicious beer. Peter Laird Restaurant Manager and among others “Master of Beer” will help you with his skills to find the right beer for you.

The menu of the BELGA is clearly arranged and full of culinary delicacies – so far, we have always placed ourselves in the hands of the chef when it comes to selecting food and drinks. Nicolas Basset (Chef Nico) – some time ago chef at the MGallery VIE Hotel Bangkok – is a down-to-earth but still very innovative chef. It is also thanks to him that BELGA could become such an authentic Belgian restaurant.

You can feel and taste the commitment of the chef and his team – no matter what you order it is always prepared with love and a high degree of craftmanship. The small culinary trips that we undertake from time to time are therefore particularly enjoyable.

As in the classic Belgian guesthouse, the BELGA is also a place for sharing – all meals are designed to be shared at the table, making the meal even more of a social event than anywhere else. This is why this location is also ideal for company events or ideally the conclusion of a team-building workshop.

As starters we had mussels in a wheat beer cream sauce together with half a lobster – accompanied by excellent bread – fantastic, especially if you are on the road in Asia for some time, as a European you especially miss good bread. In addition, there was a delicious Liégeoise salad with a beer vinaigrette and a hearty L’américain – a traditional beef tartar with mayonnaise and crispy baguette.

In addition, there was an excellent mayonnaise which was refined by Khun Min – according to their mark Maître de Mayonnaise and a wonderful person – live at the table according to our wishes – in this case with truffle. Crispy Belgian french fries, shrimp & cheese croquettes were served in the proper style.

In the main course we had an excellent grilled Côte de Boeuf (rib eye on the bone) of about one kilo. The meat was tender as butter, crispy on the outside and only seasoned with a little coarse salt and was served with a tiny pot of sauce béarnaise – an experience for every steak lover. We used Stoemp – a coarse potato mash with root vegetables with it.

Finally, at BELGA there are of course also the real Belgian waffles – but to be honest, after the rich meal we had hardly any room left for them……nevertheless we “had” to try at least one with vanilla ice cream, crumble and chocolate sauce – very tasty!

The prices in the BELGA are more than fair in Bangkok comparison – it’s hard to believe that one can still find such an upscale and high-quality cuisine at such prices above the roofs of Bangkok.

After dinner, the bar area with a live DJ invites you to linger and chill – you must definitely stop by here to let the evening fade away.

Under the direction of Christian Carminati (F & B director), Nicolas Basset (Head Chef Nico), Khun Thongpoon Siriying (F & B manager), Peter Laird (Belga Manger and Master of Beer & Ceremony) and his assistant manager Khun Jay the BELGA team has created a completely new place in Bangkok to feel good.

A clear recommendation on my part for a visit to the BELGA – it was just fun and it certainly won’t be our last visit!

Thanks to the team, you are doing a great job and this with full passion – you can feel and taste it!

Surf & Turf Phuket Town

On the Thai island Phuket there are countless restaurants – many of them do not survive a complete season after their mostly pompous opening. Those restaurants that have been in Phuket for more than two years can justifiably say they have made it. One of these culinary temples with a “stock guarantee” is the Surf & Turf in Phuket Town.

When it comes to innovative food and unique textures, Chef Tom Köffers from Surf & Turf is firmly established on Phuket. There may be many chefs who are able to convince in culinary terms – but Tom Köffers is able to do this even with the most minimalist environments.

The kitchen in the Surf & Turf is small and manageable but cannot be compared with those of other gourmet temples in which the appropriate tool and lots of helping hands are available for every move.

All the more it becomes clear that it is due to the innovative chef and his craftsmanship that such unique dishes are conjured up for us. The fantasy and the desire to try something new, coupled with the knowledge of the combination of ingredients, flavours and textures makes a great chef.

More than once I have seen restaurants disappear in insignificance, after the management felt such a chef would be easily replaceable. It is always the handwriting of a brilliant chef that breathes life into a restaurant – it is only after that that ambience and service come into play.

This time we were at the “Chef’s Table – Giving Back Dinner” and were again surprised culinarily. Tom Köffers wanted to give something back to his guests and he did so with this fine culinary highlight – and at a more than fair price – my respect & thanks for that.

The Surf & Turf is a place I would recommend to all my best friends and as you know you only do this with real pearls – this time a culinary one.

For me this culinary moment is always the focus – there may be many restaurants that have a charming and chic ambience, a great atmosphere and much more – but if the food is not convincing, or better surprising, all this is not really important, even if its view should be breathtaking.

So, if you’re on Phuket let yourself taste it at the Surf & Turf (book in advance by phone!) and please sent Tom my best regards!

In the following pictures you’ll find some pictures from the Surf & Turf as well as some from a restaurant project in which Tom Köffers was in charge in 2019. I have added those in addition so that you can see what this German boss is capable of.

 

Quelle: nerofermento.it

Black Garlic

Preamble

In the following we will talk about the black garlic. I hope that for all those who suffer from Alliumphobie (fear of garlic & onions) we at least be able to take the fear of garlic, because the black garlic is the clearly more compatible one!

I have contacted about ten different European producers of black garlic in advance to give you a good overview of the current range. Six candidates have kindly agreed to support me with their products, but above all with their expertise.

I am particularly pleased that, in addition to Spanish companies, there are also companies from Italy, England and Germany who have supported me regarding the article.

So many thanks to the manufacturers & suppliers who made this contribution possible!

The Origin

It is said that black garlic was first discovered in Japan as a result of the fermentation and maturation of ordinary garlic.

There is real evidence that thousands of years earlier garlic had been used as a burial ingredient in Egypt. Even then, not only the culinary benefits but also the health-promoting potential of garlic were said to have been known. The extent to which black garlic may already have existed there cannot be proven beyond doubt.

The vast majority of the sources I have researched indicate that the first black garlic comes from Korea – it will probably not be possible to clarify this exactly. However, it is clear that Asia has been ahead of the pack in terms of black garlic for many decades.

What is Black Garlic?

Black garlic is not a specific variety whose cloves are black by nature. Nor is it the classic smoked garlic – the colouring of the cloves is due to a fermentation process / Maillard reaction that takes different lengths of time depending on the manufacturer.

During the process, the amino acids and sugar contained in the garlic are converted into nitrogen compounds, which ultimately give the cloves their black colour.

Very important: When eating black garlic, there is no mouth or body odour – so you can “strike” without hesitation. In addition, effects on the gastrointestinal tract should be completely absent, as they are known from natural garlic.

Which products are available from Black Garlic?

Currently there are a variety of products, such as

  • Whole tubers
  • Unpeeled & peeled cloves
  • Mousse as a spread
  • Flavouring oils
  • Flavouring powder
  • Flavoured Honey
  • Creams
  • Tablets & Dragées

There are two independent markets – the culinary and the health sector.

Fermentation, Maillard reaction or Cooking

The fermentation period for most manufacturers is between 30 – 45 days. A few manufacturers give their Black Garlic up to ninety days to ferment at constant heat and skill.

Each manufacturer has to decide for himself whether this makes sense, because each manufacturer works with different apparatuses. The manufacturer’s specifications for the temperatures during fermentation range from 55°C to 85°C, and for the humidity offered from 70% to 90%.

It should not be forgotten that the initial product also has different characteristics. This concerns the types of garlic used, the size of the tubers and cloves but also the degree of maturity of the garlic.

Some studies show that, depending on the size of the cloves and the amount of raw material per appliance, the fermentation process is considered complete after a maximum of 40 days – what follows hardly changes the final product in their opinion. In contrast, there is the opinion that black garlic continues to ripen even after it has left production.

All kinds of products are offered on the usual trading platforms with which black garlic can also be produced in the local environment. Basically, the equipment is modified rice pots or fermentation machines – the products are not cheap, which is certainly due to the high price of black garlic itself. Here again everyone must know whether he would like to try by himself. On YouTube there are some videos, in which handling and procedure are well explained.

There are also some voices that say that the production of black garlic is not at all a fermentation process, but that the term Maillard reaction is more appropriate here – or the Maillard reaction is the most important stage of fermentation, and therefore the part responsible for the colouring.

Since the spirits differ here, I recommend you to visit Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maillard_reaction, so afterwards everyone can define the “chicken egg problem” for himself.

Last but not least there is also black garlic from China, which is produced by a cooking process. Here a large quantity of cloves is cooked for several days and thus reaches the black colouring. Certainly, a rather pragmatic approach, in which the temperatures decide which healthy substances are still to be found in the final product.

Texture, Taste & Benefits

Depending on the duration of the production process, the black garlic has a texture similar to that of the creamy tender flesh of dates. It is slightly oily when touched and depending on the firmness, it will be dyeing in a greater or lesser extent – so beware of using your good wooden boards! If the cloves are soft, they are even suitable directly as a spread without having to be processed into mousse. The longer the fermentation and/or the higher the temperature – the firmer the final product is and can then be used for example for spiking meat.

Garlic not only changes its texture but also its taste through production. The flavour notes of black garlic are described as

  • Fruity towards plum or fig
  • Sweet – somehow like vanilla or molasses
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Caramel
  • Truffle-like
  • Liquorice

Special astonishment usually arises when it comes to desserts. Due to its sweetness, black garlic is also excellent for desserts, cakes and creams – that has to be processed mentally, of course.

In contrast to natural garlic, black garlic does not have to be feared when consumed because of the smell of being exposed as a garlic lover. Even after the direct consumption of a whole bulb it is almost impossible to perceive a garlic note from breath or evaporation.

Storage

Black garlic is best stored in a “Tupper-Bin” in the refrigerator – this is where it loses the least moisture and thus retains its texture properties. If you need it a bit firmer, for example to use the cloves for spiking, you can let them dry in the air until the desired consistency is reached.

If you dry the cloves completely, you can also grind them to Black Garlic Powder or use them like dried mushrooms to refine stews or sauces.

In addition, it is also possible to freeze the black garlic – this is useful, for example, if you have produced a larger quantity yourself.

Health

In advance to the following lines I would like to say at that I am neither a doctor nor a scientist – I have merely compiled the following information in order to also mention the health aspects of black garlic in my contribution – for the sake of completeness. Those of you who really want to know whether the black garlic can be beneficial to their health in addition to the culinary aspects, please consult your doctor, your trusted pharmacist or scientific dissertations.

Some European universities have already devoted themselves to the subject of black garlic (Allium sativum). As a particularly catchy reading to the topic I felt the publication of Mrs. Professor Dr. Sigrun Chrubasik Hausmann, specialist for general medicine at the university clinic Freiburg / Institute for forensic medicine.

The author has here scientifically founded and very carefully, most aspects of the matter “black garlic” documented – the indication of the source used in this case took alone up to seven sides of the whole publication.

I won’t go into such depth here – but if you are interested, here is the link to the German PDF from 2016: https://www.uniklinik-freiburg.de/fileadmin/mediapool/08_institute/rechtsmedizin/pdf/Addenda/2016/SchwarzerKnoblauch.pdf.

Many of the Spanish manufacturers also reflect on research at the Universidad de Castilla La Mancha in Spain – but since my Spanish is not so well “developed”, the German publication was more useful to me while my research.

The “Journal of food and drug analysis” from 2017 could also be mentioned as an English source for further detailed information. Here, too, the sources are based on pages by pages, if you are interested, here is the link to the PDF:   https://www.jfda-online.com/article/S1021-9498(16)30172-7/pdf

As far as the health-relevant ingredients of black garlic are concerned, it is mainly vitamin C, A & E that are found here, with vitamin B also being represented in around 6 variants. Of course, each clove also contains phosphorus, calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium – in other words the black garlic belongs to the group of “natural supplements”, with which, thank God, you don’t attract much attention by “smelling” after use in the gym anymore.

In a nutshell, black garlic has the following positive effects on health:

  • An antihypertensive effect
  • A cholesterol-lowering and antiatherogenic (against the development of atherosclerosis) effect
  • A blood sugar lowering effect
  • An anticarcinogenic (against the development of cancer or at least delaying) effect
  • An anticoagulant effect
  • An anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant effect
  • An antimicrobial and antiallergic effect

The black garlic is considered antibacterial and, like the odour-intensive variant, good for the blood vessels and heart, is also said to have a greater radius of action for type 2 diabetics and is easier to digest due to the lower amount of fructans.

Due to the process of fermentation, the black garlic loses the substance allicin as far as possible and with it its olfactory intensity allicin is said to have a particularly positive effect on health, but as a result the black garlic has considerably more antioxidant compounds such as the bioactive alkaloids and flavanoids due to fermentation.

All these effects are naturally associated with the dosage. The effects mainly apply to untreated garlic, fermented garlic, but also to extracts of garlic. The intake of 1-3 cloves of black garlic per day should be the ideal dose to take full advantage of all the health benefits of the product.

Price

Consumer prices for black garlic in Europe are around 90.00 Euro/kg. This price structure is largely due to the length of production process, but also to the transportation affords. Since a bulb of black garlic is quite light, a large amount of it comes together until one kilo of weight is reached.

Supplier

The production of black garlic takes place mainly where it is currently used most – in Asia. China, Korea and Japan are particularly prominent. Some European companies – mostly as far as peeled garlic is concerned – are also supplied from these countries.

When it comes to whole tubers, however, most European distributors and manufacturers resort to Spanish garlic, especially that from Las Pedroñeras. The Spanish suppliers are of course the most represented in terms of numbers – but there are also suppliers from England and Germany. A supplier from Italy swears by his black garlic – this comes 100% from Italy – whether rightly, we will at least culinarily try to find out.

Here are the “fact sheets” of the suppliers who have kindly supported us with product samples, pictures and their years of expertise.

 

Salmundo

Salmundo

Christian Piekert from Salmundo is “The specialist” in Germany when it comes to salts. In addition, his company has also had black garlic in its range for over a decade. Mr. Piekert was therefore one of the pioneers in the use and sale of this aromatic ingredient, which originated in Asia.

Salmundo sells the Black Garlic in tuber form, loose unpeeled as well as peeled cloves of garlic in different sizes, as paste as well as in the form of Allioli flavoured with black garlic.

The unpeeled black garlic in the tuber is Spanish – more precisely, it comes from the town of Las Pedroñeras in the province of Cuenca. Here are some well-known Spanish producers who produce their “Ajo Negro” and sell it worldwide – including the Suárez family.

The unpeeled & peeled loose black garlic cloves of the label “Egarak” all come from Asia – more precisely from South Korea. Their texture and taste correspond most closely to that black garlic used in the kitchen there. The black garlic varieties of Salmundo were characterized by

The unpeeled black garlic from the tuber

Look
Evenly light brown tuber, deep black garlic cloves

Odor
Delicate, sweet aroma

Consistency
Medium firm, supple, with a firmer interior, dry to the touch, only slightly discolouring

Flavour
Very balanced, light & fruity sweetness with a distinct garlic aroma

Use
Suitable both for spiking and for the production of infusions
Good for processing in garlic butter & pastes
Ideal for direct consumption and refining of food directly before serving (cubes & slices)

The peeled cloves of the “Egarak“

Look
Deep brown to black garlic cloves of various sizes

Odor
Slightly smoky & ethereal scent

Consistency
Medium-strength, conditionally malleable, sticky to the touch, medium-discolouration

Taste
A restrained fruity note, somewhat smoky in the finish, hardly perceptible garlic aroma

Use
Ideal for spiking
For desserts only conditionally usable due to the low sweetness and the smoky aroma from our point of view
Suitable for refining food directly before serving (cubes & slices)

Both the unpeeled black garlic from Las Pedroñeras and the Egarak are completely natural without preservatives or additives.

Even though there is talk everywhere that black garlic is a fermented product, Mr Pieckert pointed out to me that it is basically the Maillard reaction that gives the garlic its colour. You can find out more about this at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maillard_reaction

Offers, information and recipes for black garlic are provided by Salmundo at the following URLs:

 

La Abuela Carmen

La Abuela Carmen

Natividad Vaquero Cabello de Alba is the marketing supervisor of La Abuela Carmen and supported me ad hoc with some products & recipe ideas for this article. La Abuela Carmen produces the black garlic itself – also organically grown. It is offered in many different variations, whether as a tuber, peeled loose cloves of garlic, as a paste or powder – La Abuela Carmen has the right product for every application.

The production of black garlic at La Abuela Carmen takes place through a natural ripening process. Over a period of 40 days, the garlic is brought to the desired ripeness in an environment controlled in terms of temperature and humidity – without the use of additives or preservatives.

As soon as the garlic has reached the optimum texture and taste, it is removed from the ripening cabinet and sold.

The black garlic from La Abuela Carmen has a strong aroma. The loose garlic cloves from the glass are quite soft and are therefore perfect for the production of garlic butter, infusions or directly as a spread.

The peeled loose cloves of black garlic

Look
Deep brown cloves of garlic of different sizes, slightly moist

Odor
Strong, sweet – slightly acidic with a distinct plum note

Consistency
Very soft – soft to spread, moist, slightly floury, sticky to the touch, strong colouring

Flavour
Strong, fruity aroma with a strong hint of molasses and a slight hint of garlic and plum

Use
Not for spiking – better suited for the production of infusions
Very good for garlic butter, pastes or also directly for bruschetta suitably
Due to its sweetness, it is also ideal for use in desserts and sweets

The paste

Look
Dark brown, moist & glossy

Odor
Strong, slightly sweetish with a distinct hint of garlic

Consistency
Creamy & moist, flowable almost liquid, non-floury, slightly adhesive and colouring, good spread ability

Flavour
Refreshingly fruity and very light, with a hint of molasses and a very light garlic aroma

Use
Very suitable for the production of infusions and salad dressings.
Ideal as a spread, e.g. for bruschetta
Due to the sweetish aroma & finish also suitable for the refinement of desserts & sweets

La Abuela Carmen is currently the only producer of black onions worldwide (ripe, very tasty) and also produces black lemons (also powdered), as they are commonly used in the Orient and the Middle East. A look at the URLs of La Abuela Carmen is always worthwhile, especially to look up the complexity of the products offered and their use in extremely interesting recipes.

A very special delicacy, which we unfortunately didn’t manage to prepare any more, is pork filet empanadas with black garlic – from our point of view it is recommended to use here Spanish Durcoc pork!

https://laabuelacarmen.com/pork-tenderloin-empanadas-with-black-garlic/?lang=en

 

NERO Fermento

NERO Fermento

Tommaso Pavani, is co-founder and commercial director of NERO Fermento – a company that produces and distributes black garlic. He was so kind to give me permission to use images from the NERO Fermento website as part of this contribution – and that’s why the wonderful main contribution image, which illustrates the way from the fresh clove of garlic to the end product, is so wonderful.

The Italians approach the black garlic somewhat differently than the Spaniards or the Asians. They mainly use the product as a seasoning aroma, which is added at the end of the dish’s preparation.

With many dishes such as risottos, noodles, meat, fish, vegetables or soups, the black garlic is then cut into small pieces and added “raw” just before serving – of course it is important that it got room temperature. The black garlic can also be dissolved in broth and then used as a marinade or for infusions.

NERO Fermento relies on a partner with many years of experience in the production of black garlic – Voghiera  (www.agliodivoghiera.it). As a result, NERO Fermento products always have a high and consistent quality, which also differs from the competition in terms of taste.

The unpeeled black garlic from the tuber

Look
Very flat, broad and deep black and large cloves of garlic

Odor
Strong, slightly sweet aroma with a hint of garlic

Consistency
Evenly firm & supple, mouldable, dry to the touch, almost no colouring, firm to the bite

Flavour
Strong & fruity, slightly acidic sweetness with an easily perceptible garlic aroma and a delicate plum/molasses note

Use
Very well suited for spiking (cut pins)
Ideal for direct consumption and refining of food directly before serving (cubes & slices)

The peeled loose cloves of black garlic

Look
Very flat, broad and deep black and big garlic cloves – partly still with a few fragments of the skin (good for the taste when frying)

Odor
Strong, sweetish with a distinct garlic note

Consistency
Medium firm throughout, supple, pleasantly dry to the touch, hardly any colouring, pleasant to the bite

Taste
Strong, very fruity aroma with a hint of molasses and garlic

Use
Good for spiking
Very well suited for refining dishes directly before serving (cubes & slices)
Due to its sweetness, it is also suitable for use in desserts and sweets

The paste

Look
Dark brown, moist & looks a little like “brown panna cotta”

Odor
Strong, sweetish with a light smoky note of garlic

Consistency
Soft, moist, slightly floury, non-sticky, non-sticky and good spread ability

Flavour
Refreshing fruity with a touch of plum & fig and a very light garlic aroma

Use
Very suitable for the production of infusions and salad dressings
Very suitable as a spread, e.g. for bruschetta
Due to the sweetish aroma & finish also suitable for the refinement of desserts & sweets

Also, NERO Fermento has a very appealing and interesting website with beautiful photos of black garlic. Above all, we were impressed by the many recipes that NERO Fermento has stored online – real professionals cook here!

 

BLACKLIT | KNOBLACK

BLACKLIT | KNOBLACK

BLACKLIT is a young German company that manufactures black garlic products in Germany and sells them under the KNOBLACK brand. Due to the elimination of long delivery routes for the end product, attractive prices can be realized within Germany for wholesalers, resellers and also end consumers.

For more than two years the BLACKLIT team has been working together with renowned university hospitals and doctors to offer KNOBLACK not only as a culinary but also a particularly healthy highlight. The basis for the black garlic products here is a Spanish garlic variety that is particularly suitable for production. Finding this variety took some time, but it was definitely worth it.

BLACKLIT was so friendly and sent us a sample of their loose and peeled black garlic cloves.

The peeled loose cloves of black garlic

Look
Deep brown to black garlic cloves of various sizes

Odor
Sweet, strong aroma

Consistency
Soft, supple, slightly moist, malleable with a firmer core

Taste
Very sweet & fruity

Use
Only conditionally suitable for spiking – better for the production of infusions
Good for garlic butter, pastes or also directly for bruschetta suitable
Due to its special sweetness, ideal for use in desserts and sweets

Of course, BLACKLIT also has its own website, whereby in terms of black garlic the KNOBLACK website is the most important. As this is a rather new website, many things are still in process of being created, but some information and recipes can already be found there.

 

The Original Black Garlic

The Original Black Garlic

The Original Black Garlic brand is at home in England – the producing company is a family business with about 12 years of experience in black garlic. It all started in 2008 when Katy got to know and love this garlic variety in Asia. Her brother Richard was quickly on fire for this project, and according to the FAQs he became the “Willy Wonka” of the black garlic.

Mark Angell, Managing Director of “The Original Black Garlic”, thankfully supported us with some rehearsals and his expertise.

The English work with Spanish garlic on the tuber – but with garlic from the Chinese province of Shangdong on the peeled cloves.

Both varieties are – with a certain lead time – available on request also as purely organically grown varieties.

The garlic cloves offered by “The Original Black Garlic” are produced in Bedfordshire the classic way using controlled, low heat and high humidity, for at least three weeks, to generate the Maillard reaction.

The unpeeled black garlic from the tuber

Look
Very large unevenly brown tuber, deep dark brown garlic cloves

Odor
Strong, slightly sweet smoky aroma with a hint of molasses and garlic

Consistency
Uniformly soft & supple, malleable, slightly floury, moist to the touch, very light to dye

Flavour
Very balanced, powerful & fruity sweetness with an easily perceptible garlic aroma and a delicate plum note

Use
Hardly suitable for spiking – better for the production of infusions
Good for garlic butter, pastes or also directly for bruschetta suitable
Due to its special sweetness, ideal for use in desserts and sweets
Ideal for direct consumption and refining of food directly before serving (cubes & slices)

The peeled loose cloves of black garlic

Look
Brown to deep brown garlic cloves of predominantly large size

Odor
Strong, fruity-sour aroma with a strong molasses note.

Consistency
Durable, medium soft, crunchy, hardly sticky to the touch, slightly discoloured

Taste
Very balanced, discreet & fruity sweetness with a delicate plum/molasses note, pleasant bite

Use
Very suitable for spiking.
Good for processing in garlic butter & pastes
Particularly suitable for direct consumption and due to its crunchy consistency for refining dishes directly before serving (cubes & slices)
Due to the sweetish aroma & finish also suitable for Sweets & Desserts

The paste

Look
Brown to dark brown, moist & creamy appearance

Odor
Strong, sweetish with a distinct garlic note

Consistency
Soft, moist, slightly floury, slightly adhesive & good spread ability

Flavour
Refreshingly fruity with a touch of plum & molasses and a subtle hint of garlic

Use
Very suitable for the production of infusions and salad dressings
Very suitable as a spread, e.g. for bruschetta
Due to the sweetish aroma & finish also suitable for the refinement of desserts & sweets

“The Original Black Garlic” is used & loved by Michelin stars and top chefs like Claude Bosi, Yotam Ottolenghi and Anna Hansen to name but a few.

The Original Black Garlic brand also has a chic website with some innovative recipes for recooking. We found the “News” section particularly inspiring – here you will find statements by experienced restaurateurs and chefs in profile design with breathtaking photos of culinary highlights using black garlic.

 

AMEFRUITS SL

AMEFRUITS SL

The Ajo Negro of the producer AMEFRUITS is one of the most famous products in the field of black garlic. The basis for the black garlic here is exclusively the purple garlic from Las Pedroñeras.

Many gourmet restaurants all over the world work with AMEFRUITS products – especially those from the excellent black garlic. AMEFRUITS is one of the most renowned driving forces behind the popularity of black garlic in Europe.

We were lucky that Francisco Giménez Imbernón of AMEFRUITS Marketing provided us with some samples of their products, which has been highly praised by chefs.

The unpeeled black garlic from the tuber

Look
Very large uniformly brown tuber, deep dark brown garlic cloves

Odor
Strong, slightly sweet aroma with a hint of garlic

Consistency
Uniformly firm & supple, malleable, medium-dry to the touch, only slightly discolouring

Flavour
Very balanced, powerful & fruity sweetness with an easily perceptible garlic aroma and a delicate plum note

Use
Very well suited both for the spiking
Good for processing in garlic butter & pastes
Ideal for direct consumption and refining of food directly before serving (cubes & slices)
Due to the fruity sweetness ideal for use in desserts & sweets

The peeled loose cloves of black garlic

Look
Deep brown to black cloves of garlic, mostly large in size

Odor
Strong, fruity aroma with a hint of molasses

Consistency
Soft, malleable, sticky to the touch, strongly discolouring

Flavour
Very balanced, medium-strong & fruity sweetness with an easily perceptible delicate plum/molasse note

Use
Suitable both for spiking and for the production of infusions
Good for processing in garlic butter & pastes
Suitable for direct consumption and refining of food directly before serving (cubes & slices)

Of course AMEFRUITS also has a website – but when it comes to the black garlic I recommend you to go directly to the blog (https://www.amefruits.es/blog/) where you can also buy something if you want.

 

Recipes with Black Garlic

We have tested some recipes with black garlic for you, you can find them under the menu item @erikskitchen in the category recipes.

  • Leg of venison with black garlic, root vegetables & mushrooms
  • Mussels in tomato white wine broth with black garlic
  • Turkey mallets with black garlic and jolly mushrooms
  • Penne Nere Rigate
  • Black garlic butter – a real eyecatcher

Conclusion

Some may consider the black garlic a fashion fad – but we find it an absolute enrichment for the kitchen. Whether Mediterranean, Asian or German – black garlic cuts a good figure everywhere.

Of course, there are many health aspects that make black garlic interesting, but for us the “culinary side of the coin” was particularly important.

There are few such subtle flavours that have their origin in something that many people hate when smelling it. Especially when it comes to spiking, the black garlic convinced us.

I must openly admit that despite everything, we still have some concerns about the use of the product in desserts – but that is due to our previous experiences. We can’t change mentally that well yet – but so was chili, salt & chocolate years ago.

We had a lot of fun researching, cooking and even more trying the cooked food for you. We have tried with all recipes we have cooked to use products of all manufacturers & suppliers to be able to compare. Unfortunately, this was not always possible, because for example some loosely peeled garlic cloves were just too soft to spick – which does not mean that they were less tasty.

Our culinary greetings go out to all of you who have enjoyed this article – even if it is only inspiration for the next dinner. Enjoy trying it out, maybe now the black garlic – Enjoy!

 

 

Recipes with Black Garlic

Leg of venison with black garlic, root vegetables & mushrooms

For 4 persons

Difficulty Level:                               Difficult

Expenses:                                           25-30 Euro

Time Effort:                                       2-3 Hours

                                                               Preparation takes 0.5 – 1.0 hours

Tools

A sharp narrow knife – preferably a boning knife, gastro rubber gloves, a good pan (cast iron grill pan) and two more pans, a meat thermometer and enough bowls for the other ingredients

Ingredients

  • One leg of deer, approx. 1,8 – 2,5 kg
  • ½ celeriac ball (dice)
  • 200g German Black Forest Bacon (dice)
  • 12 onions (dice finely)
  • 2 tubers black garlic / or 20-30 already peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 red ripe plums (dice)
  • 2 apples (sweet & juicy, cut into pieces)
  • 4 parsnips (peeled, fine slices)
  • 250g brown mushrooms (quarter the hats, chop the stems finely)
  • 250g white mushrooms (quarter the hats, chop the stems finely)
  • 1 stick of spring onion (slices of 3-5mm)
  • 5 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp goose fat
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper (quantity and grind to taste)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 0,3l port wine (to deglaze)
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Preparation

At the beginning it is important to set the venison legs to room temperature, unpack them and, if shrink-wrapped, dab them and put them aside. Until the meat is sufficiently tempered, we have enough time to prepare the remaining ingredients.

We start by cutting the celeriac, the bacon, the onions and the red plums into cubes and placing each of them into the bowls provided for later use. Then we peel the tubers of the black garlic or put the already peeled cloves in another bowl ready for spiking.

Now we can prepare the washed apples – is an apple divider at hand fine, if not please remove the core, cut the washed and unpeeled apples into pieces and also put them into a bowl as well. Now peel the parsnips and cut them into fine slices, as well as the stick of spring onion – put both in bowls aside.

There should still be enough time to clean the two kinds of mushrooms (Attention, only with a fine brush dry from the soil and remove impurities, never with the help of water!). Then turn the hats off the stems and quarter them – chop the stems finely and put them aside in a bowl.

The meat should now be ready for spiking – I recommend to salt it beforehand and season with plenty of pepper. Now take the boner and the bowl with the cloves of black garlic and start with the spiking. For this, fine channels are cut into the meat with the boner and before the knife is pulled out again, the flat side of the knife is used to push the garlic easily into the meat (if necessary, you can help by using some drops olive oil).

Be careful not to prick too deep, maximum to the centre of the meat. If you have placed the 20-25 cloves – of course you can also divide them – evenly “sunk” into the meat, the meat is sufficiently prepared.

OK, we are ready and can start cooking now.

First, we start to prepare the root vegetables. For this we put some oil in a pan and as soon as it is hot enough, the cubes of celeriac. Let them brown on a low flame, then add the parsnips and seasoning the taste of the mixture with some salt and pepper.

At the same time, we take a second pan and fry the Black Forest Bacon – as soon as it has got its roasted aromas, we take two spoons of it and add them directly to the root vegetables – the rest comes back to the side in a bowl.

In the same pan – where there should still be enough fat of bacon – fry the diced onions. As soon as they have a light brown, add the finely chopped mushroom stems. After 2-3 minutes add the sugar to the mixture so that the onions can caramelize easily. Then add 3 tablespoons of the onion-champignon mixture to the root vegetables and “store” the rest again in a bowl.

Now add the apple pieces as well as the plum to the root vegetables and at a slightly higher flame ensure that the apple also gets its browning – always season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary.

Meanwhile, fill the empty pan with the quartered brown and white mushrooms and fry them vigorously. If the remaining fat is not enough, a little olive oil or goose fat can be used. As soon as the mushrooms start to develop roasted aromas, please add the already fried bacon and onions. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Then deglaze with the port wine and simmer on a very low flame.

Heat the cast-iron pan with 1 tablespoon goose fat and fry the spiked leg of venison hot from all sides as soon as the temperature is right. Depending on the thickness of the meat, the cooking time may vary, so we recommend using a meat thermometer to ensure that “the deer” does not dry out. The core temperature should only reach a little over 80°C for a short time, so that the larded leg remains slightly pink and juicy inside when it is carved on the plate.

As soon as the meat is ready, let it rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing. During this time, we add the slices of the spring onion to the root vegetables and make sure that our mushrooms are well seasoned and enough liquid has remained – so make sure that it really simmers only, otherwise the result is too dry (if necessary, the flame can be switched off in between).

Now stir the root vegetables again and switch off the stove completely, put root vegetables and a slice of larded leg of venison on the plates and put a good tablespoon of mushroom pan on top – ready, enjoy your meal.

Always cover the rest of the leg of venison well so that it doesn’t dry out – this always happens quite quickly with venison and can be avoided – because even the second portion should still be juicy!

If necessary, potatoes, dumplings or rice can be served with this dish – but since we wanted to “circumnavigate” carbohydrates, we have decided against it this time.

 

Mussels in tomato white wine broth with black garlic

For 4 persons

Difficulty Level:                               Moderately Difficult

Expenses:                                           8-12 Euro

Time Effort:                                       2-3 Hours

                                                               Preparation takes 2.0 – 2.5 hours

Tools

Big sieve, big pot, gastro rubber gloves

Ingredients

For the broth

  • 5 celery sticks (slices)
  • 1 celeriac (with “green”, finely diced)
  • 1 bundle soup green (leek, carrots, celery, chopped)
  • 6 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 2 large vegetable onions (finely diced)
  • 3 fresh cloves of garlic (in fine slices)
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons thyme honey
  • 1 bunch parsley (smooth, chopped)
  • 2 parsley roots (peeled & diced)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • coarsely ground black pepper (quantity and grind to taste)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 juniper berries
  • 5 tomatoes (diced, can also come out of the tin)
  • 1 small tin of tomato paste
  • 0,3l water
  • 0,5l white wine (dry or sweet to taste)
  • 2 lemons (quartered)

afterwards

  • 2,0 to 3,0kg fresh mussels
  • 20-25 cloves black garlic (diced, add tempered when serving)

Preparation

For the broth, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the large pot and then add the ingredients in the following order:

  1. the vegetable onions
  2. the fresh cloves of garlic
  3. the parsley root
  4. the thyme
  5. the bay leaves
  6. juniper berries
  7. the celery of the perennials
  8. the celeriac
  9. the chopped soup green – except for the parsley

Up to this point make sure that enough roast aromas have developed!

  1. 4 tbsp olive oil
  2. the thyme honey
  3. salt & pepper
  4. water
  5. the tomatoes
  6. the tomato paste
  7. the white wine
  8. the parsley

Allow to boil down for at least 1-1.5 hours – best of all let it cool down completely in between and heat it up again.

While the brew is about to be completed, the mussels are washed and cleaned. The mussels should – if they are open – close with a light touch – if one or the other does not, please sort them out before cooking.

Now place a pot for the mussels on the stove and heat a large ladle of the prepared broth in it – when the broth is boiling add the mussels for about 10 minutes and close the pot with a lid.

Once the mussels are ready, portion them onto the plates (be careful to sort out any mussels that are still closed) and sprinkle with lemon juice. Then pour a small ladle of broth over each one and finally some of the chopped parsley before serving – ready!

Depending on your preference, the shells of the mussels can of course also be removed beforehand, but from our point of view it is more fun with the shells – don’t forget the bib!

 

Turkey mallets with black garlic and jolly mushrooms

For 5 persons

Difficulty Level:                               Difficult

Expenses:                                           18-25 Euro

Time Effort:                                       2-3 Hours

                                                               Preparation takes 0.5 – 1.0 hours

Tools

A sharp narrow knife – preferably a boning knife, a “Römertopf” (completely watered in advance for at least 0.5 hours!), gastro rubber gloves

Ingredients

For the Römertopf

  • A turkey leg with approx. 2,2 – 2,5 kg
  • 20 whole cloves of black garlic or an equivalent amount as infusion
  • 2 packs breakfast bacon
  • 1 soup green (leek, carrots, celery – finely diced & parsley in bunch)
  • 1 large vegetable onion (eighths)
  • 3 grains pimento
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 apples (sweet & juicy, diced)
  • 0,2l water or vegetable broth
  • Salt (salt as needed, but beware also the bacon is already salty!)
  • Pepper (as needed)

For the pan

  • 5-6 shallots (finely diced)
  • 1 tbsp goose fat
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 6 large “Herb Seitlinge” [kind of oyster mushroom] (cleaned, halved & quartered lengthwise)
  • 500g brown mushrooms (cleaned, quartered)
  • 0,3l port wine
  • 1 tbsp truffled butter

Preparation

Take the ingredients – especially the turkey leg – out of the fridge in time so that everything has reached room temperature as soon as it comes into use. If a “Römertopf” is available, it should be watered beforehand – to do this, the bowl and lid must be completely covered with water for at least 30 minutes in order to be able to degas properly. This guarantees that the meat remains juicy during cooking (if necessary, a casserole would also be possible, but then the meat in addition must be covered with aluminium foil).

Season the turkey leg with salt & pepper and then take the boner and the bowl with the cloves of black garlic to start spiking.

For this, fine channels are cut into the meat with the boner and before the knife is pulled out again, use the flat side of the knife to let the garlic slide easily into the meat (if necessary, you can use a drop of olive oil to slide in easier).

Be careful not to prick too deep, maximum to the centre of the meat. If you have 20-25 garlic cloves – of course you can also divide them – evenly “sunk” into the meat, the meat is ready to cook.

Here we have additionally pushed black garlic directly under the skin – a little like a “duck in mourning”. With this speciality, fine slices of black truffle are over the entire surface sticked between the skin and the meat of the poultry, which has the effect that the prepared duck appears completely black – just like “in mourning” – although of course it is not “charred”.

Now please take the bacon and wrap the turkey leg with it so that the skin of the poultry can profit from the fat of the bacon.

Now prepare the Römertopf and switch the oven to 180°C (circulating air) – the Römertopf receives a “bed” of vegetables & herbs for the turkey leg, which consists of the chopped soup green & parsley, the divided vegetable onion and the apples. In addition, there are laurel leaves, allspice and water, respectively vegetable broth – the turkey leg is embedded on it, the Römertopf gets its lid and moves for 1.5 – 2.0 hours into the oven.

After approx. 1 hour, a trained eye should check whether everything develops as desired. This is also the time to prepare the side dish – the tipsy mushrooms. For this purpose, please provide the previously cleaned “Herb Seitlinge” & mushrooms (Attention, only dry with a fine brush from the soil and remove impurities, never with the use of water).

Then fry the shallots with a little goose fat in the pan – as soon as they show a light brown, add the “Herb Seitlinge” & mushrooms. After 2-3 minutes add the sugar to the mixture so that the ingredients can caramelise easily and immediately add the last bay leaf. Then deglaze with the port wine and stir shortly before serving and add 1 tbsp truffled butter.

Now our turkey leg can be checked again. Ideally, the bacon has contracted crisply – in that case, put the bacon lid on a plate to the side and if the leg is not yet crisp enough you should move the Römertopf without lid at top heat briefly to “gratinate” – ready.

Arrange the slices of the turkey leg with the tipsy mushrooms and a few spoons from the “bed”.

If required, potatoes, dumplings or rice can be served with this dish – since we wanted to avoid carbohydrates, we have decided against it this time.

 

Penne Nere Rigate

For 2 persons

Difficulty Level:                               Easy

Expenses:                                           8-12 Euro

Time Effort:                                       45 minutes

Tools

A few small bowls, a large pot, a small pan, a plastic chopping board, a sharp knife, gastro rubber gloves

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 6 shallots (finely diced)
  • 8 tomatoes (finely diced)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pinch of cane sugar
  • 30 fresh basil leaves (finely chopped, 1-2 leaves per serving whole to garnish)
  • 1 scoop mozzarella (cut into fine strips)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper (quantity and degree of grinding as desired)
  • 250g rigatoni
  • 20 cloves black garlic (finely diced)

 Preparation

Cut the tomatoes and shallots into fine cubes and place them in a small bowl – the bay leaf can be placed under the tomato cubes. To prepare, fill the large pot with enough water for the rigatoni, salt the water and place the pot on the stove.

Then cut the mozzarella into fine strips, which will later melt on the hot pasta. The cloves of the black garlic can also be cut into cubes in advance and at room temperature (add 1-2 drops of oil, then the pieces do not stick together) – both can then also be provided in small bowls.

Switch on the pasta pot and bring the water to boil. At the same time, heat the olive oil in a small pan and add the shallots at a sufficient heat. Swivelling them on and lightly salt and pepper them and as soon as they start to brown add the cane sugar and then turn off the flame. Now chop the washed and “dried” basil leaves finely and put them aside.

Add the rigatoni to the boiling water and cook them until al dente. As soon as this becomes apparent, add the tomato cubes and part of the chopped basil to the shallots and heat the mixture slightly – just a little, because the tomatoes should keep their freshness – in advance they were already at room temperature.

As soon as the rigatoni have been drained, portion them onto the plates and place 3-4 tablespoons of the warm shallot-tomato mixture in the middle. Then apply the mozzarella in a star shape and as it begins to melt, add a little chopped basil to the plates as a colourful accent.

Finally, place enough black garlic cubes on each plate and garnish with 1-2 whole basil leaves. Serve immediately.

You can also serve ciabatta with black garlic butter with it – salt and pepper mill should be on the table, so that everyone can season as they like – ready.

On top a few drops of a good balsamic vinegar can be added to each plate, as an icing on the cake.

 

Black garlic butter – a real eyecatcher

Difficulty Level:                               Easy

Expenses:                                           7-7 Euro

Time Effort:                                       30 minutes

Tools

A bowl, a table fork, a sheet of backing paper, gastro rubber gloves

Ingredients

  • 250g butter (good variety, loose)
  • ½ tsp virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp good salt
  • Freshly ground pepper (quantity and degree of grinding as desired)
  • 6-8 soft cloves black garlic or correspondingly much paste

Preparation

Put the butter in a bowl at room temperature and mix well with the salt – we used the pink Himalayan salt – the olive oil and the pepper – try and season if necessary.

Then fold in the soft cloves / paste of the black garlic – just so that we can still see the streaks of the mixing. It doesn’t matter if some pieces of garlic remain – this only makes the result more interesting in terms of taste and appearance.

Then put the mixture on a sufficiently large sheet of baking paper and beat it together to form the desired shape. Of course, chic cookie cutters can also be used to respond to a motto, for example.

Finally, place the result in an airtight container in the refrigerator – after approx. 15 minutes the product is ready for use. Before serving, remove from the refrigerator sufficiently early so that the guests can use it with the ideal consistency and the aromas develop properly.

Variations which additionally got also some mousse of the black olive in addition, or herbs are always possible. But be careful that the result is not too salty! In our case we added some truffle butter, which was very tasty.

La Buca

The La Buca in Berlin Steglitz is a real intuition – already in my youth I was there before and after the visit of the Pop Inn – at that time the only disco in Steglitz – to get hold of one of the cheap and at the same time delicious mini pizzas.

The restaurant is located in the Sous Terrain – after descending the few steps you are right in front of the pizza oven and can quickly order something to take away. This pizza oven has been in use for many years and that makes the difference in taste – a new oven can never come up with such good flavours.

To the right hand, there is the first of two guest rooms, authentically and functionally furnished, so that nothing can distract from the delicious Italian food. In good weather, La Buca also has some tables right in front of the restaurant.

The atmosphere is inviting and La Buca is part of the Slow Food ideology – so every visit becomes a culinary pleasure without hurry, what more could you want?

Flavio, the boss and the good soul of La Buca, as well as his team always come up with new culinary highlights – so it’s always worth looking at the menu of the day or asking the waiter!  Especially with creative starters and desserts, we have often been surprised over the years.

The delicious beers of the Engel brewery are especially worth mentioning at La Buca – a good choice. I would also like to see the Engel “Radler” here – this is also very tasty.

The website of La Buca is appealing – but unfortunately not responsive, so that one can navigate on the smartphone only very laboriously – here there is need for action.

To our regret La Buca is closed on Sundays – but OK, at some point the employees have to have time for themselves and their family.

A clear recommendation from me to visit La Buca – here they still cook Italian and focus on food and drinks – as it should be.

Tampopo – It’s how I discovered my Love affair with noodle soup

Hello dear reader

Have you ever heard of the film “Tampopo” – It’s how I discovered my Love affair with noodle soup. Today I want to share with you my interest in noodle soups and street kitchens and why I love sharing my experiences with you.

To truly understand my passion I need to take you back to my childhood, as a child, I was very interested in food – at the age of 8, I was already starting to cook and try dishes for myself in mums kitchen – not everything was a success in taste, but from those small failings came some great knowledge and a lot of fun.

Where to find a good pizza or where to eat delicious Asian food was just as important decades ago as it is today – but restaurant tips back then were only passed on orally or through journals. So, it took much longer for people to appreciate it and potentially by the time they did know, the tastes or ownership may have changed.

With foodadvisor.de or tools like TripAdvisor, Google Maps, Holyday Check etc. I now have the right platforms to do this on a larger scale and fast. Finding great food experiences which are close to your location makes some tools unique and even I have benefited from your recommendations when in new destinations.

Fried garlic mixed with crispy pork skin.

Back In the nineties I discovered by chance the Japanese film Tampopo – from that moment my interest for Asian noodle soups was awakened. The film follows a series of satirical storylines, but for me, the question it truly asked was – “What does it take to create a great noodle soup” – which I found fascinating.

It was all about the individual ingredients, such as what noodle – the meat, the cooking times, the spices, the vegetables, the herbs, the sauces, the right temperature and even whether you should “petting” the pork before eating it.

At that time there was no talk of textures – only about the authentic flavours of the soup. To understand how a real noodle soup master created his soup the neighbouring business was the place to spy on his kitchen through an opening in the wall to get the secrets … if you have the opportunity to watch this movie – do it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampopo).

From that moment on, I have cooked a myriad of noodle soups countless times, and wherever my journeys take me, I have always tried the noodle soups offered.

In September 2018, I’ve started to be part of the Google localguides community. Since then I used in addition to foodadvisor.de every opportunity to add good noodle soup kitchens to that app.

I think it’s great that I have the ability to recommend very small, usually not easy to find places with Google Maps (and this is usually the case with most soup kitchens, especially in Asia) so that you can instantly find them through your mobile device.

In my public Google Maps list “Erik`s Steetkitchen Plus“, I have made most of the highlights I’ve encountered in terms of noodle soups, street kitchens and small Asian restaurants available to you at a glance.

Most of the street kitchens I’ve visited and reviewed are a long way from places where tourists are staying – unfortunately, there are often only a few locals who bother sharing their opinions and photos – hence sometimes there are only a few reviews of some of my “discovered places”, but believe me I would not bother to create a place and write a detailed review if I didn’t really have a special culinary experience – especially with noodle soup!

It also gives me great pleasure to photograph the food for you – you can describe a lot, but a great photo tells a thousand words and creates the desire to just want to “visit this place” once.

I have found the best noodle soup so far at J Nong in Thailand – in the village of Chumphuang near Korat.

J Nong street kitchen Chumphuang.

J Nong street kitchen (https://goo.gl/maps/hvyBaLCxxMTCzkf88), is a place located in the heart of Thailand, where you can taste some excellent and authentic noodle soup.

English is not spoken here and it is very rare to meet foreigners, but every day hundreds of Thais eat here their noodle soup – Kuatiu Nahm (Kuatiu = rice noodle, Nahm = water) is the most popular.

This traditional rice noodle soup, which has its roots in China has reached almost every Asian country with Chinese migrant workers – at J Nong it is offered with pork or duck – I recommend you to try the duck version.

@J Nong: pork or duck?

The soup itself is freshly prepared daily in a large pot and contains bone marrow, all sorts of spices, coriander roots and much more – every soup kitchen has its secret. It takes a while for the stock base to finish – but in the early morning, the first locals in J Nong sit in front of their soups ready to start their day.

One of the friendly and experienced “production lines” of J Nong.

When ordering, you first choose the size of the soup (Laotian pizet, means big) … then whether it should be fine, small or large rice noodles – whether you want pig, duck, offal, pork or Chinese meatballs – these are big decisions.

Some people love their Kuatiu in Nahmtok style – that version comes from Ayutthaya near Bangkok and it contains some blood from the pig, which makes the soup softer and a bit sweeter.

It is time for your choice…

The final seasoning is given to each soup at the table by you – for this there is always freshly roasted coarse chilli, sugar, vinegar essence, fish sauce, Sriracha sauce, grated peanut and sometimes Sambal Oelek and of course fresh chopped spring onions.

What should never be missing – of course only for those who love it – is coriander. Let them put a few freshly chopped stems of it into your soup – from my point of view that gives the decisive kick.

Fresh coriander doubles the taste experience.

However, when it comes down to what makes a great noodle soup the key is always the base – cooked too fast and carelessly, the soup cannot bring a smile to your face!

Enough said – after writing this post I now cannot wait for my next cup of Kuatiu Nahm…

Which one is for you?

Enjoy!

Oh yeah – I forgot – if you visit J Nong, you should order a Nahm Katjep (Cold Wild Rosella Flower Drink), you will love it!

A “must try” at J Nong – Nahm Katjep!

 

VERO @pullman Phuket Arcadia

The Vero is an Italian restaurant at the Pullman Arcadia – and I have to say even in Italy it would be difficult to find pasta & pizza that tastes as delicious as this restaurant.

Chef Roberto is a passionate Italian who loves his food, a true Italian with heart and taste – from the high-quality Italian classics to the new innovative cuisine, Chef has an eye for detail and the palate.

Vero offers in addition to the à la carte operation an excellent Italian brunch (first Sunday of the month) with a noteworthy good mortadella. In addition, there is an Italian LIVE cooking night once a week which has it all. All ingredients are of the highest quality, mainly imported for authenticity and you can taste it – my favourite pasta was the homemade ravioli and a sauce based on a homemade Italian sausage.

In addition, I had authentic Rigatoni Carbonare – of course with Pecorino, egg and a decent bacon (not with cream – never!), these tasted brilliant, my compliment for this marvellous Italian dish!

To top it off with culinary delights, I also had to try the classic Pasta Puttanesca in the Vero, and what should I say it tasted as well as home with “Mamma!

The service at Vero is excellent, you will always find them courteous and professional – but never intrusive – my compliment to the restaurant manager! Vero has a very well-stocked wine assortment – there are hardly any wishes left. The atmosphere is Rustic Italian – for me personally, it is a bit too dark in places to take a look at the great creations. The outdoor area invites you to linger over the sea and the backlit menus are a nice touch for people with bad eyesight.

Every first Sunday of the month, a very special brunch takes place in Vero – the number of participants here is limited and bookings are essential. In addition to a live DJ, all sorts of culinary delights are served in several courses and all beers, wines, champagnes and soft drinks are included in the price. For every gourmet who is within fifty kilometres radius must participate at least once – it’s no Ordinary Sunday.

I would recommend to every hotel guest, but also visitors, to be pampered in this Italian restaurant of the highest class yet casual setting.

Elements @pullman Phuket Arcadia

The Elements is also a restaurant on the ground of the Pullman Arcadia – it is the one where the morning breakfast takes place. The breakfast here is incredibly rich – there are the classics such as American or English Breakfast almost every type of eggs, there are salads, Sushi, fish and salmon, many Thai dishes, daily fresh ham from the oven, a large selection of homemade bread, sweet patisserie, fruits, and much more.

Chef Sorn is the lead chef in this area, a Thai with international experience and a true all-round talent. He is responsible for all the delicacies the Elements has to offer on the à la carte menu. It offers both Thai cuisine and some Western food such as spare ribs, César salad, burgers, sandwiches and much more. In addition, there are different theme evenings, such as the seafood BBQ or a special Thai dinner.

Since I have our daily breakfast in this area, for me at least, the atmosphere at night is lacking. However, the friendly and professional service of the many hard-working staff and the delicious food makes up for this. The prices for food and drinks are in the upper segment, which is completely justified by the quality of the ingredients and the loving handling of the food.

I can recommend to every hotel guest, but also to visitors who wish to be pampered in the Elements.

Pullman Phuket Arcadia

The Pullman Arcadia is one of the most impressive resorts I have ever had the honour to stay in. It’s not that everything is perfect here, but it’s the overall package that makes all the difference – you just feel good.

The best way to highlight this is with the help of a scene I experienced in the pool. There was a couple talking about the Pullman Arcadia and the man told his wife that he would normally need five days to a week to feel like he is on vacation – but here he already felt this after a day of arriving. That makes the Arcadia, you immediately feel that a real team is working hand in hand and at eye level.

All staff are extremely friendly and read your wishes from the lips, there is a totally relaxed atmosphere and that’s why the guests from all over the world quickly relax and connect with their loved ones. The Arcadia is fortunate to have a general manager – an Australian Brett Wilson – who knows what makes guests and staff happy. The always positive and constructive aura of the “captain” rubs off on employees as well as guests – this accounts for a large part of the hotel’s special informal atmosphere.

The location of the hotel is ideal, it is only 10 – 15 minutes to the airport – yet no aircraft noise. Depending on the traffic situation, Phuket Town is only 30-45 minutes away, and those who enjoy shopping will find some of the well-known malls and brand shops there to pass the time. If you prefer to relax, you can go to one of the two hotel pools, for example, the large infinity pool from which you can not only look at the sea but also on the Naithon beach.

The breakfast in Pullman Arcadia is worth mentioning – there is everything your heart desires in high quality which always gets the day off to a good start. There are two restaurants – on the one hand Elements, on the other hand the Italian Vero – since both restaurants in Google Maps have their own entries, I have placed the respective reviews there.

With the Dutch Food & Beverage Director Albert Jan van Beusekom all the threads come together, because he has the overall responsibility for the restaurants & events when it comes to the bodily wellbeing.

The Pullman also has a poolside bar and a lobby bar appropriately named C-bar with stunning sunset views – even better is social sunset where the General Manager invites all guests to cocktails, wine and soft drinks for two hours every Thursday. He is supported by the extremely charming Roxana Gheorghe, Director of Operations. Compared to many other hotel businesses this is a great feature, but certainly this “social event” is also one of the reasons for the success of the Arcadia.

The grounds of the hotel have been integrated in quite spacious and steep in the rock of the coastal headland, but it was very much in harmony with nature, which is why the system fits well here. The hotel offers 24/7 shuttle service to the rooms – in case of rain you have to wait a moment, but usually you are in your room after five minutes.

For many years now, the operator Accor has made strong efforts to adopt an ecological approach, which is why there are many elements in the Arcadia that help to protect the environment. This begins with the omission of the plastic straw, goes through the integrated “Organic Garden” as well as a proper service water management and much more.

There are a handful of different room types from the standard room to the villa with its own infinity pool – all boasting a similar upscale yet sleek design with marble, light lacquered wood, and beach house toned colour schemes. The beds are excellent – so good that you do not want to get out in the morning …

The rooms and the whole hotel area are extremely clean and well maintained – we have never encountered anything like mold or dirt within the last five years. Of course, there are a few leaves here and there in the pool and sometimes ants to see, but hello – we are in Thailand and surrounded by nature.

Naithon also offers one of the best beaches in Phuket but compared to Khao Lak this is not as nice, in my opinion, but that is not the focus for me – this time we wanted to relax in the hotel and escape the tourist hustle & bustle.

Of course, the Pullman Arcadia also has a well-equipped gym along with daily classes and a great SPA – but I have dedicated myself more to the culinary side of the holiday, with the “pounds off” I then start at home …

I particularly liked that in the minibar a daily contingent of soft drinks was left for free – a small gimmick but a feel-good gimmick! Then there were small surprises, which we found after returning to our room – chocolates, small chocolate works, fruits and chocolate puzzle for our daughter – everything prepared with love – these have sweetened us every stay in Arcadia!

I’ve already been able to visit a lot of good big and small hotels & resorts in Thailand, but I can say that over the years Pullman Arcadia and the team have grown so fond of me and my family that it has become our absolute number one holiday home. If you are looking for a relaxed, high level of relaxation away from the nightlife, I highly recommend this hotel.

The Grand

Reservation & Web

On recommendation we spontaneously decided to visit The Grand in Berlin. In the afternoon we were looking for a location in Berlin Mitte and made an ad hoc reservation by phone. A refreshingly friendly and courteous opposite took off – Daniela – she told us a bit about The Grand and immediately made us feel welcome.

The restaurant officially opens around 19:00, but we were warmly welcomed at 18:00 and bridged the time with two visually and tastefully impressive non-alcoholic cocktails…but more about that later.

Since The Grand is located very close to Alex, we had expected a longer search for finding a parking lot – but far from it, right next to the restaurant we were lucky to get a parking space on foot after successfully filling the parking ticket machine.

The website of The Grand is nicely done, but could be a bit more performant and the clicks to the menus could be less. The site is responsively designed and therefore also for mobile devices a fine affair – on the large monitor, however, font and graphics seem a bit “lost in space”.

Ambience

From the outside, the building of The Grand is quite reserved, only the two entrances, one to the restaurant, the other to the bar, reveal that there could be a restaurant here. This is perhaps due to the monument protection of the historic school building from 1842 or only to the understatement – in any case this is more appealing than a brewery sponsored neon sign – discreet lighting accents at the left entrance together with a golden sign revealed to us that we had found The Grand.

The Grand is also a club & event location next to the restaurant & bar. Stylistically, The Grand relies on a mixture of bare masonry, modern accentuated lighting scenarios and high-quality club furniture with chic. In the restaurant area, the food on the white tablecloths plays the main role – here, one still feels a little of the spirit of the East Berlin locations after the opening of the wall.

Up to 240 guests can eat and celebrate at The Grand, around 80 in the restaurant, 60 in the gallery just above the large guest room and around 100 on the terrace. In addition, the attached bar and some suites offer additional capacity for any events.

The “Business Card”

The toilets of The Grand are very stylish, spotlights illuminate everything important – the atmosphere is interesting in any case – club-like – and the quiet places were clean. Olfactory gimmicks could still make the difference here.

Service

When we entered The Grand we were welcomed directly by Daniela in the entrance area and immediately placed at a centrally located table in the restaurant area. We didn’t take the nice offer to leave our wardrobe this time – but we found the fact itself to be a pleasant and not to be found in many places anymore.

During our entire stay, every wish was read from our lips. We didn’t perceive this as intrusive or annoying, but as a constant and courteous companion. Many thanks for the great service – we enjoyed it throughout.

Drinks & Bar

As mentioned at the beginning, we were bridged the time until dinner with two great drinks. These were prepared in the in-house bar and tasted interesting & very balanced, one based on passion fruit with mint, the other with ginger & lime. We have rarely been able to enjoy such nuanced non-alcoholic cocktails – the bar understands its craft and offers a pleasant ambience. The air there is filled with the scent of different woods and I thought I had noticed a touch of patchouli while roaming through the room.

Appetizers

In the very beginning they served some bread. These were slices of baguette and a darker grain bread – both of remarkable quality – and each of us was given a small portion of well-tempered butter.

The appetizers were all worth mentioning, tasty as well as optical highlights, which showed the care & professionalism with which they had been prepared & arranged.

A real dream was the gratinated, extremely mild goat cheese on a slice of grilled watermelon, garnished with fresh lamb’s lettuce with a hazelnut-carrot dressing and thyme honey – this starter was a real insight – my compliment. The combination of textures was a great and unique treat for the palate.

Our second starter was The Grand Caesar Salad, consisting of Roman salad hearts, tomato crostini, bacon croutons, Parmesan cheese, a wonderful Caesar dressing salted with a hint of anchovy, served with half a lobster.

The salad was very fresh and crunchy, the dressing balanced and by no means intrusive, the Parmesan impressed and the lobster was cooked to the point. So also, this starter was of special quality and craftsmanship and with almost 30 Euro absolutely within a fair price range.

Main Course

Our choice fell on the Porterhouse (US BEEF) from the outdoor enclosure, according to the menu “corn feeding” and therefore with pronounced marbling and a deep, harmonious taste. The meat had matured for six weeks and the slice weighed 1200g. The Porterhouse has both a back and a fillet portion – visually similar to the T-Bone – and is served grilled on the bone and sliced served at The Grand. After grilling, the meat is given enough time to rest so that the juice does not run out when it is sliced. For this steak you have to invest 129 Euro at The Grand.

The Porterhouse was very tasty and certainly of high quality, but the barbecue taste should have been much more intense and the temperature of the steak much higher. After the overwhelming impression left by the starters, the steak wasn’t really something special – another dish from the rich selection at The Grand would certainly have been a better choice for us. But that’s the price if you’ve visited almost every steak house in the city in the recent months.

In addition, we were especially looking forward to the original Chimichurri Salsa. A Latin American sauce speciality based on a handful of green herbs, garlic, shallots and some more – unfortunately in The Grand it was only an interpretation of this actually green delicacy – miles away from the original. But then the Portweinjus was a real experience. In addition, we were served a Bearnaise sauce – it was quite tidy, didn’t come too “heavy” and the tarragon had been used with a sense of proportion.

Dessert

Unfortunately, the desserts disappointed us a bit, especially the crème brûlée which was too small and therefore hardly had room for the development of a proper consistency (Just visit the Ritz-Carlton at Potsdamer Platz and a little spiking – there’s still something possible – less is not always more).

The sorbet of the cherry was top, the sorbet of the raspberry was really boring and also the fruit salad seemed bland and loveless.

Here is air clearly upwards, the “sweet things” should be able to keep up with the appetizers, a little more love for textures and also the conclusion would convince.

Conclusion

We can make a very clear recommendation for The Grand. The flair of this location, the good service and the fine food invite you to linger. We will surely stop there again to try some more dishes. From our point of view a must for every guest, the goat cheese on grilled melon.

The prices are justified with the offered quality of the food in each case, whether it absolutely must be a steak, must decide everyone for itself. Our choice for the next time will surely be more refined dishes, such as the saddle of venison on the menu.

Especially to mention is the cordiality of Daniela, she made sure that our visit became an experience…and Daniela – I hope the photos are good – because of the Shiraz I will contact you again at the appropriate opportunity.