The Grund has something of a Latin feel to it. The Latin quarter of Luxembourg. Winding little streets-if only a few of them. Small houses. People walking around. Somewhat of a night life. And a true taste of Italy….
Da Mosconi is not just any Italian restaurant. It is a vibrating expression of the place where authenticity of tradition and purity of future meet. Some of the finest Italian cuisine I have tasted.* Marrying the best of the freshest Italian ingredients (which is one of the strengths of Italian cuisine) with the precision and rigor of Northern Europe.
The first amuse-bouche was a crème of Parmesan with balsamic vinegar. Not a unique combo, but perfectly executed-mainly because the Parmesan did not dominate but was very subtle. Like a suggestion of Parmesan with the airy neutrality of the cream and the slight sweet aromas of balsamic.
The 2nd amuse bouche was a crème of carrot soup with liquorish chantilly. This was perfect! Even though the description sounds like it might be heavy, it was not at all. The carrots were not creamy and very gently sweet. The liquorish tasted as if it had been made to go with these carrots. Both roots. Both slightly sweet. Just perfect.
The 2003 Poggio Antico Brunello we ordered was served a little too warm at first. The wine was very spicy with creamy tannins, tamarind, chocolate and coffee notes (all roasted aromas) The sommelier appeared surprised by my request to chill it down. But a little cooler the fruit came soaring out and the wine tasted half way between a Bandol and a Burgundy and the marriability with food was heightened.
Hot foie gras, more cooked than usual on a crostini toast with white bean sauce and a touch of the best balsamico possible. Perfect mixture of textures-soft with crunchy and bitterness with a sweet fattiness. The harmony made the dish perfect.
Scallops- cut in half –well grilled on one side and barely grilled on the other side. Crème of beets and crème of artichokes with artichoke chips. A dish built to walk the fine line between the sweetness and the bitterness of every ingredient in the dish. Perfect cooking times.
Stuffed pasta with pumpkin on the inside with cherry tomatoes and parmesan on the outside. The pumpkin absorbs the excessive Parmesan aromas. Sweet and sour Italian…sort of like new world Italian cuisine given the spiciness of the pumpkin filling in the pasta and the sweet tomatoes. (Maybe a little too sweet? But maybe that is what people want-the future.)
Parpardelle with sweet garlic, rosemary, rabbit ragu and girolle mushrooms. Big soft noodles like some Chinese noodles. Not too aldente. All of the ingredients melted together in perfect harmony.
Risotto with white truffles from Alba. The truffles came out in a big box and were shaved generously in front of our eyes. White truffles are more animal and sexual than black truffles. The risotto acts as a creamy background for the enhancing of the aroma and almost fleshy-ness of these white truffles.
Bar de ligne (Sea Bass, wild, not farmed) on a potato pancake with red wine sauce and a little caviar. The fish was cooked with a little grilling on the outside (which brings a little bit of bitterness) and made it go well with the bitter caviar and the red wine. Well executed but not the best dish on the evening.
Pre-desert was a cinnamon ice cream with a prune sauce and shavings of Parmesan with a few drops of balsamic vinegar. The cinnamon brings spiciness. The prune sauce brings creaminess. And the Parmesan brings a salty kick that gives balance and brilliance to the whole dish.
The Sicilian pastry were simply perfect. A true taste of Sicily with orange flower water, pistachios and candied orange rind. How simply wonderful to have this taste gorged with sunshine and flirting with exoticism here in this blustery northern city!
Before leaving, we were offered chocolates. And I discovered that white chocolate and white truffles were made to go with each other. Unico! And with that taste lingering on my tongue, we walked out of Italy back into to the Grund.
*I worked in the kitchen in a two star restaurant in Rome