Friday, May 11, 2012

Librije - an unbelievable culinary experience

     Most of you now know, that we are aspiring culinarians, which is an uppity word for cooks. During the wedding ceremonies in Amsterdam our guests presented us with a coupon to enjoy a dining experience in the 33rd best restaurant in the world, at least so voted in 2011.
     The Librije (phonetically - Lee-bray-ye) situated in a sleepy town in the eastern part of the Netherlands called Zwolle is one of two three star Michelin restaurants in this country. The there reigning chef Jonnie Boer and his front of the house sommelier wife Therese dabble with success in molecular adventures for one's palate and she provides beautiful matching wines.
     Their restaurant has 40 seats in the remainder of a former castle, which is packed every day with guests who are eager to shell out whatever it takes to have the dining experience of their life. A few lucky ones can descend to the catacombs below and watch from the chef's table the kitchen at work. We were not so lucky. But to make this adventure a fairy tale we booked at their own 5 star hotel the last available suite for Saturday night April the 14th and booked for Sunday a cooking lesson in "amuse bouches" or in dutch "mondvermaakjes".
     Non Dutch speakers can give that term their own sounding effort. At the end of this blog we will pass on to you in silence the sequence of chef Jonnie's food plating efforts. We were so indecent to taste them instead of bringing these pieces of art home to a shrine. We arrived mid afternoon at the doorsteps of the smallest 5 star hotel in the Netherlands, a women's jail converted to 19 luxurious cells each with their individual names woven in the hallway carpet runner in front of the cell doors through which one enters the well appointed rooms and suites.
     Ours was the "berkenboleet", where we found a rather strange black box for sale to possibly amuse our selves, something never to be expected in a five star hotel being ......... an "erotic box". We were told that the clientele had been asking for such service.
     At this stage I have to admit that I must have gotten Americanized, because I was shocked, never expecting this type of (be it overly expensive) "self service".
     However the culinary free welcome present was two oranges that weren't oranges at all, a teaser for what was to come that night.
     Jonnie Boer is a chef that uses his own suppliers from neighboring farms. He constantly experiments with flavors and techniques. Who would think of deep frying panko covered olives incorporating pesto flavors or serving red pepper ice cream, red beet granitas all of which are tasting sublime. By the way, we got none of the above served that night, so it is story telling that I pass on to you just like in biblical days.
     That evening an electric Mercedes limousine drove us from the hotel to the restaurant, where we were seated at 7:30pm, we left at midnight, during which time we savored 8 amuses and 8 tasting dishes, whose pictures to avoid visual overload follow much further below, after that dessert pictures ending with coffee and in good old dutch fashion an edible joint although without the hallucinogenic effect.

PS The moment we sat down at our table we noticed a glass dome with sourdough which we were told was presently rising and would later return properly baked as our table bread. Cute isn't?

Back in our hotel suite we found pearls as a good night present. I don't think many of you ever got pearls on your pillow.
      Breakfast was an equally visual ecstasy with colorful juices, grand egg dishes and other delicacies never experienced before.

You guys must be by now bored to death or disgusted to see so much food pass you by, but here follow the 8 main tasting dishes to feast your eyes on:                                                                                                                                      

After these come the desserts: look below

The next morning we got into the big teaching kitchen of the Librije to start our lesson in Mondvermaakjes where we met six other students in the culinary arts. We enjoyed three hours of unbridled fun with a young chef who has worked three years under Jonnie and apparently was allowed to entertain us. For proper disclosure we drank wine while cooking and still managed to create the visual result below which we then ate before leaving home sated and satisfied to the core.