Date: June 1st, 2008
Place: Restaurant Da Vinci, Maasbracht, The Netherlands
Chef: Margo Reuten, the only ladychef in the Netherlands with one Michelin star.
We started off with an apéritif of DUTCH(!) white wine (Apostelhoeve) and a round of appetizers: The jelly cube of tomato, mozzarella and basil, a marshmallow with 'white beer', a rhubarb bonbon with rhubarb juice inside and finally a snack made out of green herbs. (no pic unfortunately).
Next, we were brought from the appetizer lounge to our table, seated, received bread, butter, black hawaiian sea salt (to go with the butter), wine and water. Soon after, appetizer round two:
A mousse of cucumber on top of a single rolled up cucumber spaghetti strand, and on the right a salad of king crab with a foam of apple on top, wrapped in a thin layer of spun sugar. And just when we thought we were done with appetizers.... another one came:
Cream of asparagus with a marinated green asparagus on top. Wow. Everything was so absolutely delicious! But at that point the chef decided it was time for the real thing. No more little bites, bring on the first course!
On top: a fresh green salad with river lobster. Below: more pieces of river lobster on a bed of finely chopped potato, half an egg, homemade cocktail sauce and grilled asparagus. Nomnomnom. So, time for the next asparagus dish, right? Wrong! The staff had overheard us, talking about our brother's birthday and we were treated to an extra surprise course!
Moans of ecstacy all around. Red mullet on french brioche bread served on a bed of spinach with a saffron bouillon, diced and skinned tomato and drops of lemon oil. To the right: a fennel salad and a skewer of breaded, deepfried river lobster, complete with spicy dip. My goodness! We were still busy dreaming about this heavenly dish when the next course arrived, this time with asparagus.
Mmm, halibut! With asparagus, creamy sauce and ... white summertruffle, freshly shaved at the table. But there was more, believe it or not!
A tiny macaroon filled with creamy gooseliverpaté, in the middle a scoop of gooseliver and Armagnac icecream, and a cupcake with marinated and dried prune inside. All four of us were tempted to lick the plate clean, but we managed to keep ourselves composed. In the mean time, the wine also kept flowing and mom (who had double her normal 'allowance') was quite giggly by now. OK, we all were. In that deliriously happy and slightly intoxicated mood, we laughed a lot, bringing back old memories of all the embarrassing moments we ever endured. That way time flew by, and before we knew it, the main course was served.
Oops, that stuff looked so delicious that I'd started before I took the picture! More asparagus, this time with filet of lamb, mousseline of potato and a red wine sauce, french beans and HUGE peas. Then - on the plate above - cutlet of lamb witha pesto on top, a deepfried ball of dough filled with creamy eggplant (aubergine) and a glazed baby carrot. I'll stop repeating myself in saying how delicious everything was now. After the main course, our host came to the table and asked if we preferred cheese or something sweet for dessert. We unanimously chose for sweets. And we chose correctly. Check this out:
Strawberries! Mmm.. with strawberry liquor, and puff pastry, and vanilla-laced whipped cream, and strawberry spaghetti! And now I can hear you think: Rob, is that all? NO, of course not!
More strawberries, with Romanoff (a mix of cream, vodka and strawberry puree), crispy sugar biscuit ("kletskop") and on top:....... Black pepper ice cream. Eat with strawberry and your mind goes poof. Double NOM! By then we couldn't eat another single bite! Luckily the host offered us a tour of the restaurant and the kitchen (it was a quiet night, only 4 tables), we gracefully accepted. We saw the winecellar, the entire restaurant, the bar and then: the kitchen. This was the perfect opportunity for my bro (Who's a chef himself) to get his picture taken with the chef.
We asked a few questions, gave compliments and thanks to every member of the kitchen and waiting staff, then were sent back to the lounge where coffee and tea was waiting for us. As an extra gift, there was a signed copy of the restaurant's menu as well, especially for my brother. Coffee and tea were served, along with .... MORE SWEET STUFF! Thank you, sweet Jeebus.
Homemade bonbon filled with red fruits, sugary orange jelly cube, a 'pearl' of Baileys and cream and finally a cup of 'crème brûlée' with another crispy sugar biscuit on top. We were happily munching on all that sugary goodness when our host came up with ... a tray. Death by tray. Or what was on it.
Chocolate! And hazelnut praline inside. Please, Mr. Host, it's too much. Don't tell me you have more? We surrender. "Oh." said the host "Then I suppose I'd better not put this jar with Grand Marnier marshmellows on the table?"
Too late. We tried them too. By that time it was past 11pm and we were sitting in our lounge chairs, practically glowing with happiness and content. Dad and I looked at each other, nodded and signaled the host. Not for the check, no, for a nightcap. Dad: Macallan Fifties. Me: Glenfiddich 21 year old.
And in the end, we thanked everyone again, paid the check, left a big tip and went home, savoring another memorable experience. Next year: De Librije in Zwolle.