The “philosophers fish” with a St. Urbans-Hof Riesling

April 17, 2011

I love fish in all variations. “The Philosophers Kitchen”, a cookery book by Francine Segan offers great fish recipes. The red snapper in parchment recipe you can also find in my blog entry of 2007 titeled: A philosopher’s lunch.

Fish with olive and capers

Potato wedges

I had brought from Germany a great wine for exactly such an occasion, a ‘2009 Laurentiuslay GG Riesling’ by St. Urban’s Hof Estate in Leiwen, Mosel.

Refreshing 2009 Laurentiuslay GG Riesling

This grand cru Riesling is just wonderful. It not only scores high on Parker points but is a great example what top Riesling producers from the Mosel can do with this grape variety. The 2009 Laurentiuslay Riesling GG was one of the five best Riesling wines I tasted in 2010.

I can do only one more thing: suggest to you to get a bottle, soonest I would say.

The front label

The good news is that I have one more bottle in my fridge here in Bangkok, reserved for another special lunch with great food. Unfortunately, my fridge has no “magical properties”. I will have to bring more bottles from Germany via suitcase which is not very commodious.

St. Urbans-Hof Estate
Urbanusstraße 16
D-54340 Leiwen/Mosel

Tel.: +49 65 07 / 93 77-0
Fax: +49 65 07 / 93 77-30

Winery’s opening hours:
Monday – friday: 9 am – 5 pm
Saturday: 9 am – 3 pm (on appointment)
Sundays and on holidays: closed

From Shakespeare’s kitchen

May 11, 2010

Today I will share a recipe with you. Francine Segan produced this marvelous cookery book titled: “Shakespeare’s Kitchen – Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook”. We cooked from this book the most wonderful fish.

Red snapper with Caviar is the dish called.

From the outset I have to admit that our supermarket had only sea-bass on offer and instead of caviar we had to be content with ordinary fish roe. Indeed, Francine remarks that the original recipe was based on roe, not caviar, which was not well understood in Shakespearean times.

– 4 small red snapper or trout with head on
– 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
– salt and freshly milled black pepper
– 12 dates, minced
– 1/4 cup finely grated fresh ginger (cam from my own production on my terrace garden)
– 8 ounces of caviar or roe
– 8 ounces fresh red currant or barberries
– 1 table spoon sugar
– 2 table spoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

How it’s done:

– Preheat the grill, brush the fish inside and outside with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, combine the dates with the ginger and gently fold into the caviar/roe, spoon the mixture into the cavity of the fish, grill of about 405 minutes on each side until the flesh is firm
– Place currant, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan, simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened, puree until smooth
– Place the fish on a plate and serve the sauce in a small dish next to it. Finished. Enjoy.

And this is what the dish may look like:


Beautiful roe

The side dishes came also from the same cooking book. They were sweat onions (six different kinds of onions) and artichokes in vinegar with herbs.

The sweat onions


The wine we had with the food was not Shakespearean. Instead, we had a very simple wine with it, a ‘Frascati superiore’ from Rione. Ever since we lived in Rome about 20 years ago, I love the young white wines from Frascati,especially on hot days, the wines are refreshing and uplifting. It was a good complement to the “heavy” Shakespearean food.

Italian wines for Sunday lunch

September 23, 2009

Sundays in Bangkok is usually fish day. There are many beautiful fish for sale in the markets. So for lunch we select a fish and a white wine. Often I choose to have a Riesling with the food. This time we went “Italian” and bought two bottles of white wine, one on the cheap side, the other a bit dearer. The former was a ‘2007 Montecelli Soave Classico’ from Piave in the Veneto, the latter a ‘2008 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio’ from the Trentino, in Alto-Adige, Italy.


2007 Montecelli Soave Classico


2008 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio


The Soave might costs about 3-4 Euro in Europe (or less). If I would buy the Pinot Grigio in the US I would have to pay 25 to 28 US$ for the bottle. In Thai Bath I paid about 500 for the Soave and about 1,000 for the Pinot, which corresponds roughly to 10 and 20 Euro respectively. We liked both wines. The Soave is a bit edgy and had a salty/oily after taste. The Pinot Grigio from Santa Margherita is just great, light bodied, spritzy with crisp acidity and a light lemon-citrus flavour.


Fried potatoes, zucchini and onions


Red snapper in caper and olive marinade

The food was simple. Red snapper is a beautiful fish which I like very much. The recipe is from the Philosopher’s Kitchen by Francine Segan. I have written about this fabulous cooking book in earlier entries of my blog.

I just love lunches like this one. We all relax, enjoy the food and the company. This was the first time we moved away from the dry Riesling-fish pairing and moved tp the Italian whites. We will repeat this, for sure.
And as Epicurus said: “Pleasure is the beginning and end of living happily”.

The good life – country living in Glenburn

July 25, 2009

We are having such a wonderful time in Glenburn, on our small vineyard cum farm. One of the highlights are the meals with friends and family. Ken Mountain, our neighbour and friend (we bought our land from him 15 years ago) invited us and Michael and Helen for a country dinner in his Adjinbilly home in Glenburn, just a stone through from Two Hills Vineyard.


vltr.: Lucy, Charlotte, Margit, Michael, Helen and Ken

We had a wonderful time and great food. Winter is ideal for any kind of roasts. In this case it was lamb and the “usual” vegetables: potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, carrots and onions. The fireplace provided warmth and heat, and the cosy atmosphere of a country home.


Ken does not drink red wines, only whites. So he had Giessen Sauvignon Blanc. For us, he choose a Shiraz. Ken selected a ‘2006 Mount Langi Ghiran Billi Billi Shiraz’. This is a beautiful wine, with fine tannins, lots of fruit (mainly blackberry) and a spicy character.

The Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz was a great choice and it went very well with the hearty country food, Ken had cooked for us.


The next day we had Brett, Eve and Shea for lunch up the vineyard. Michael and Helen were also there. Family complete, so to say. Margit had cooked ‘Ossobucco’. The recipe came from Francine Segan’s book “Opera Lover’s Cookbook”, which is a magnificent book.


The dinner table is set and various “anitpasti” are ready for consumption


Shea, Eve, Brett, Margit and Michael


The ‘ossobucco’


Also dessert was provided: chocolate mousse, strawberries and cream

The entrées were consumed with a ‘2007 Windy Peak Cabernet Rosé’ by De Bortoli, a ‘2005 Murrindindi Family Reserve Chardonnay’, and a ‘2007 Allira Sauvignon Blanc’ by Elgo Estate Winery (they are not yet members of our Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association).

This time we drank with the main course various vintages of Two Hills Vineyard Merlot wines and a bottle of Brett’s home made Cabernet Sauvignon. The lunch lasted until about 10 p.m. (nobody wanted to go home) and I did not count the bottles consumed, but for sure we all loved the company, the atmosphere and of course the Two Hills wines.

The recipe for the “Ossobucco” can be found on page 105 of Francine Segan’s “Opera Lover’s Cookbook”. You need the following ingredients:

– 4 to 6 (or more) bone-in veal shanks (about 3-4 cm thick)
– salt and freshly milled black pepper, two bay leaves
– all purpose flour
– 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 2 small carrots, one stalk of celery and one large onion, all finely minced
– garlic (as much as you like but a minimum of 5, also finely minced)
– marjoram, either dried or fresh
– 1/4 cup of white wine
– 3/4 cup best-quality beef stock
– 8-9 tomatoes, peeled and halved
– lemon juice
– one or two anchovy fillets, finely mashed
– fresh rosemary leaves

The oven should be pre-heated to 180 degrees Celsius. The shanks should dreadged in flour and seasoned with salt and pepper. Sear the shanks in a casserole with medium heat filled with olive oil until browned. Remove them after 2 to 3 minutes and let them rest. Then prepare the sauce.

Add the minced vegetables to the above casserole and cook them in medium heat for about 6 minutes until tender. Add the garlic, and the other herbs for about one minute. Then add the wine and simmer for a couple of minutes. Now you add the stock and bring it to a boil, then remove it from the fire.

Put the shanks in a large casserole in one layer, top with the sauce and the tomatoes, cover and bake. After about 2 hours you add some more tomatoes and cook for another 30 minutes. Turn the shanks during the cooking regularly after about 30 minutes. You can serve rice or potatoes with the beef shanks as well as green vegetables. It’s a great traditional Milanese dish. What a wonderful hearty-rustic dish this is. Enjoy

Riesling-Traminer Cuvée from Saale-Unstrut, Germany

April 6, 2009


“In all things there is something of the marvellous”, Aristotle, 384-322 B.C.

Four days ago my colleague and friend Christian brought us a bottle of Riesling Cuvée from Saale-Unstrut, the most northern wine region of Germany. It did not last long. The first occasion was excuse enough for us to open this rare bottle of German wine. The ‘2007 Riesling Traminer Saale-Unstrut’ from the Winzervereinigung Freyburg-Unstrut (a type of co-operative) was a most amazing wine, a treasure here in Bangkok.


Saale-Unstrut is not only the most northern wine region of continental Europe but also one of the smallest in size (below 700 ha). It takes it’s name from two rivers: Saale and Unstrut. Grpae growing and wine production, though, go back a long way. The earliest prove dates from around 998 A.D. and covers the wines from Memleben Abbey.

The climate in the region is generally rough and very cold. Only in very warm years can good wines (Spaetlese, Auslese) be made. Yields are usually very low in comparison with other German wine regions. About 75% of the grapes grown are white varieties, among them Mueller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Traminer and other white varieties. However, given global warming more and more wines from Saale-Unstrut are of outstanding quality and find eager consumers.


We had this Riesling-Traminer Cuvée with Sunday lunch. I must admit that I never before heard of such a cuvée blending Riesling, my favourite white wine, with Traminer. Both are aromatic varieties but of a very different nature. The Cuvée displayed a honey aroma and tasted like peaches and apricots. The finish was acidic and sharp but not unpleasant. The wine has 12% alcohol, is very young but well balanced. Unfortunately, we had only this one bottle. It matched the food perfectly. So what was the food?

Well, it was a recipe from my favourite cooking book, the Philosopher’s Kitchen by Francine Segan which contains recipes from ancient Greece and Rome.

“Grouper with herbs and pecorino” (originally the fish in the recipe was ray fish, Francine uses skate, but any white fish will do) was the plate of the day.

The dish is accented with fresh fragrant marjoram, a herb that “Aristotle believed was an antidote to most poisons”. You take the following ingredients:

– 1 ½ cups of white wine
– 2 pounds skinned grouper, cut into 4 pieces
– Salt and freshly milled pepper
– 2 tablespoons minced assorted fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, dill, and chives, lots of majoram
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– 2 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese

How is it done?
Well, first bring white wine to a boil over high heat until reduced to half (5-6 minutes); season the fish with salt and pepper.
Then add marjoram and minced herbs, oil and mix with the hot wine, add fish and cook until firm, about 3 minutes. Serve topped with the cheese and a sprig of marjoram. The recipe can be found in the above book of Francine Segan page 97 (From Life of luxury, Archestratus).

We had it with potatoes and a salad (cucumber with orange and walnuts).


The potatoes


The fish with the herbs


On the plate

Needless to say, the food was very yummy. The four of us gobbled it up in no time. Especially my children were amazed (usually they prefer meat) that fish can taste that good. It is only the second recipe I know of where fish and cheese are successfully matched together.


After lunch it was espresso and Averna and some Belgian chocolates. I followed up with a cigar (a Casa de Torres, CT, Nicaragua, hand made).


What a beautiful smoke!

A philosopher’s lunch

March 30, 2007

What a beautiful lunch we had the other day. I have to give away the secret of the most delicious dishes we enjoyed last Sunday. In fact it is not a secret at all because the recipe is from a very well known and very beautiful cookbook, the Philosopher’s Kitchen by Francine Segan.

This cookbook’s subtitle reads, “Recipes from Ancient Greece and Rome for the Modern Cook”. Nothing sounds better to the ear of a Celtic Treverer who had enjoyed Roman cuisine for a couple of centuries. We had a fish dish and afterwards a salad, that’s all, but what most delectable food this was. I would have loved to have Sucellus, Epicurus and Lucretius over for lunch that day. Only on the wine side I would have made concessions to modernity. A Sauvignon Blanc from the new world vineyards I find much more appealing than a wine of Roman times which would have needed mixing with water and honey to be drinkable at all.

Wine god

On a portal in Trier: Bacchus and vine leafs

And here is the recipe: red snapper in parchment. The ingredients are as follows:

– juice of freshly pressed lemons
– 2 garlic gloves, minced
– ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
– 4 bay leaves crushed
– 1 ½ teaspoons whole pink peppercorns
– 2 table spoons of capers, rinsed
– 15 oil-cured black olives, pitted and halved
– 2 red snapper fillets, without skin
– Salt and freshly milled pepper
– Lemon wedges

Mix and combine the lemon juice, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, capers and olives in a large bowl and soak the red snapper(in Bahasa Indonesia: Kakap Merah) in this marinade for about two hours in a cool spot. Then put the fish into the oven (up to about 200°). We put it into aluminium foil and topped it with the marinade; then closed the foil and baked it for about 10 to 13 minutes. We served the fish on a plate. We had just plain baguette with it but you can add all kinds of things, eat it with rice, potatoes, and with various vegetables. It was such a wonderful dish, mouth watering. The capers in the marinade give it a spicy edge, and this complements the white flesh of the fish. The olives and the capers take you to the Mediterranean. I could see the ocean, the sand, the beach…and taste the salt, the smells of the water….

After the main course we had a warm spinach salad. The recipe is also in the above cookbook and is called, “Baby Greens with Caper Vinaigrette”. The caper vinaigrette is similar to the marinade, just that no olives and no garlic is added. It goes as follows:

– 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
– 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
– ¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil
– 3 tablespoons of capers
– Salt and freshly milled pepper
– 3 cups of assorted green vegetables

As I said, we used spinach (Bahasa Indonesia: Bayam Hijau) which we blanched before adding the vinaigrette and the warm salad did in fact complement the first dish and harmoniously end this philosopher’s meal. I highly recommend the cookbook. It makes a wonderful gift. If you love the classics and you want to delve in the past of these two great Mediterranean cultures, you should get it (

You will have noticed that I did not yet mention any wine so far. Well, the wine I chose was a disappointment. I though a Sauvignon Blanc would go well with it, and this is certainly so. I chose a 2006 Sauvignon Blanc from Giessen of Marlborough, New Zealand, of which I had fond memories. But what a surprise. It was stale, oily and did not display any of the varietals’ characteristics of a cool climate Sauvignon Blanc. With sadness and melancholy I thought of times gone by and our own 2002 Two Hills Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and it’s brilliant taste. Unfortunately, we were down on white wine and we just ended the meal with a port and an Italian coffee. I might have to consider buying a special wine fridge so that this cannot happen again.