CHEF TO CHEF
In our Chef to Chef series, chefs visit each other’s restaurants and report on their experiences. In the first edition of this series, QL Chef Peter Gertenbach (De Lochemse Berg, Barchem, the Netherlands) and his wife Caroline van der Vlies visited Harald Rüssel of RÜSSELs Landhaus (Naurath Wald, Germany). In this edition, Harald pays them a return visit.
Left to right: Harald Rüssel (Rüssels Landhaus), Bernhard Kirsten (Weingut Kirsten), Caroline van der Vlies (De Lochemse Berg & Peter Gertenbach (De Lochemse Berg)
HARALD RÜSSEL VISITS DE LOCHEMSE BERG
It’s a beautiful June evening. In an idyllic landscape of farmland, woods, hills and stately country houses, De Lochemse Berg stands proudly on top of what to us as Germans is a gentle hill, but here in the flat landscape of the Netherlands counts as no less than a mountain. Lochem is a genteel village in the countryside, not far from the German border, where in the 19th and 20th centuries, wealthy Dutch families built their country residences. Most of them had made their fortune in the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, and in the centre of the village there are still grand houses with names that are a reminder of this colonial past, such as Java, Borneo, Celebes and Sumatra. What’s more, we taste this Indonesian heritage at the restaurant later in the evening.
There are four in our party: I’m visiting with my wife Ruth, who is also the sommelier and hostess at RÜSSELs Landhaus, and our winegrowing friends Bernard and Inge Kirsten, owners of Weingut Kirsten winery, and now also partners at Weingut Liebieg.
What immediately strikes us about De Lochemse Berg is the love that has gone into creating this fantastic QL Hotel and Restaurant. In a house dating from the beginning of the 20th century, each room is different, stylish and contemporary, yet preserving a sense of the past. Contemporary art hangs on the walls, from Joseph Beuys in the entrance hall to a local artist in one of the charming guestrooms on the top floor. The restaurant is styled with a mixture of retro design and modern art. Everything is carefully considered, no detail has been overlooked, and what makes it so appealing is that this is not the work of a designer, but of the family itself.
The dinner service - usually a strong point in the Netherlands - is a beautiful blue, a blend of tradition and modernity.
The chairs once belonged to the managers of the Deutsche Bank! For us, this makes a nice connection with home. We embark on an exciting culinary journey through the past and present of the Netherlands. The Dutch have been travelling the world for centuries, and so eastern spices are very familiar to them. We have eel, wonderful vegetables from De Lochemse Berg’s own garden, beef entrecôte and pork belly from the local butcher and Dutch lobster from Zeeland, all beautifully prepared, and incorporating Indonesian flavours: we taste bumbu spice mix, besengek curry sauce, and rempeyek peanut crackers. We savour wonderful wines from Italy (Grattamacco 2014 and a Valpolicella Dal Forno 2015), France (Château Carbonnieux 2016) and Portugal (Quinto do Vallado 2014), topped off by a Vierpass and Wolkentanz from Schloss Liebieg. The meal ends with delicious Dutch cheeses, accompanied by a Chateau d’Yquem 1993, which only emphasises the richness of our surroundings.
De Lochemse Berg has its own vineyard, and our friend the winegrower Bernhard Kirsten had a wealth of advice for the Dutch hoteliers. We look forward to returning soon and tasting the first bottles of Cuvée De Lochemse Berg.
Text: Harald Rüssel
Photography: Mathijs Hanenkamp
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