Ever since I made my first trip to Luxembourg, late last year to deliver an interactive culinary event aimed at employee development (ie. corporate team building program), I swore that if I had the chance to return I would spend more than the 20-hours I spent in country on my inaugural trip. A picturesque country, seemingly equal parts France and Germany, I had been intrigued by its claim to have more Michelin starred restaurants than cities (an impressive 13 stars by my tally). So almost the first thing I did after agreeing to facilitate another event in Luxembourg was make lunch reservations at the Michelin two-star Restaurant Mosconi (what better way to prepare for 18+hours of travel than a degustation menu?). Luxembourg city is a mid-sized metropolitan area of peaks and valleys, quite literally, as half the city is on the top of a deep vertical cliff, with much of the rest on the valley floor below. One of the venues that fill the valley, sitting along the very mellow Alzette river in the old brewery district, is the Restaurant Mosconi. A Relais&Chateau location that despite its prestigious recognition and slightly pretentious appointments (an elevator to take you up to the second floor while the Maitre de takes the stairs?), manages to be particularly friendly and approachable. This is not to say that Mosconi is not formal, after all it's the best restaurant in the banking capital of Europe (I intially thought they required gentlemen diners to wear coat, tie AND cufflinks). However, the food was anything but fussy. Nouvelle Italian through and through, I didn't have much luck finding an authentic Luxembourgeois restaurant (the locals I spoke with mentioned something about French food with larger portions and sausage added?). Mosconi ended up being one of those experiences perfectly suited for the time and place. After days of rushing to airports, meetings and events, it was really nice to settle into a very comfortable chair, on a especially rainy day and let the chef make what he would (a ten-course degustation menu as it happened). Particularly memorable courses included: Shooter of Cauliflower Soup with Black Olive, Grilled Squid Salad with Shaved Fennel and Preserved Lemon, Homemade Rigatoni with Lobster and San Marzano Tomatoes, Cinnamon Ice Cream with Shaved Parmesan & Aged Balsamic and Italian Cheeses (they had over 40 on a large cart to choose from!!!). The ice cream with aged balsamic and parmesan was especially memorable. When it was all said and done my lunch ran slightly over three hours, the perfect amount of time to eaves-drop on Luxembourgeois bankers, admire their cufflinks and appreciate my extra few hours in this charming country.
If you have some really good balsamic vinegar you've been dying to open, try it with a few shavings of Reggiano Parmesan over some homemade cinnamon ice cream. It's delicious and a little bizarre!
Cinnamon Ice Cream
Quantity Produced: Makes 4 Cups
Sugar 1 ¼ Cups
Milk 2 ½ Cups
Vanilla Bean, Scraped 1
Egg Yolks 6
Cinnamon Sticks, Broken 12”
Heavy Cream 1 ¼ Cups
In a medium saucepan bring milk, split vanilla bean, broken cinnamon and half the sugar to a simmer. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cream remaining sugar and egg yolks. Bring milk back to a boil again and use milk mixture to temper eggs. Add remaining milk mixture, whisking steadily, and cook over a double-boiler until thick enough to coat back of a spoon (10 to 20 minutes). Cool custard in ice bath or in refrigerator over night. Add cream and freeze in ice cream machine.