August - 2005
& 6 Stripes
Overall - 'Hotel & Service'
Seven Stars and
|His Highness Prince Hans Adam II, the hereditary ruler
of this pocket sized Principality, has made this restaurant one of his favorite
haunts as a way of enjoying the state-of-the-art preparations of the fruits of
his domain. It's all because of the natural born talents of Hubertus Real, a
local boy who's on the cutting edge of sophisticated home grown cuisine and who
is doing his thing directly in the spotlight of international recognition.
We first became acquainted with the Parkhotel Sonnenhof when the Seven
Stars and Stripes American team paid a visit in March of 2004. It was clear to
us then that we had stumbled upon a quiet gem tucked away on a lovely tree
lined street leading up to the Prince's fairytale castle residence. Our
experience then was quite impressive and upon being invited back for a second
time we decided to send our pre-eminent team from Germany to see if the
excellence could be duplicated. As president of our company, I took it upon
myself to lead the review of Sonnenhof using our uniquely developed standards
of service, hospitality and cuisine criteria.
Chef de Cuisine Hubertus
Real would not disappoint us! Our night began like all others in this pristine
Alpine environment, encircled by jagged mountain pinnacles between which
stretched a carpet of a zillion sparkling lights as if anchored in place by
each peak. We had to tear ourselves away from this apparition as we were led to
our table next to a window with a similar view.
| Chef Hubertus instructed
restaurant manager and sommelier Joachim to do away with menus and prepare us
for the onslaught of what was to be a delightfully creative evening. Joachim
approved of Hubertus's suggestion of an aperitif in the form of two micro-thin
crystal stemware filled with Laurent Perrier Champagne flavored with Holunder
|The fine bubbles and delicate
mousse seemed to enhance the floral scent of the elderberry juice but not so
that it became overpowering. There was an acceptable pause while we savored the
essence in our glasses when shortly thereafter Marc our waiter appeared with
the 'Greetings from the Kitchen", a sort of welcoming appetizer of Ravioli
Emilio with Spinach. We felt contented and well on our way to a remarkable
experience as we savored the tender veal and spinach filled pasta somehow
reminiscent of the finest Bolognaise specialties of Italy.
|It was Joachim who approached this time with a well
chilled bottle of Basa 2004 Verdejo, Viura, Sauvignon Blanc, Telmo Rodriguez,
Rueda from the winemaker's family estate in Spain. It offered melon and citrus
aromas while gooseberry and lemon lingered from the artful blending of the
three varietals. This was followed by our first appetizer of Airy Symphony of
Tomato in Chilled Sweet Basil. Juicy slices of heirloom tomatoes dressed with
sweet chilled basil foam thereby heightening the already fresh pronounced
flavors of the tomatoes.
Our server Marc had conveniently placed a
basket of the house-made specialty breads of which my personal favorite was
infused with rosemary and added depth to the garden fresh tomato appetizer.
This was followed by Roasted Goose Liver with caramelized Cherry Vinegar and
Breath of Elderberry Blossoms which in turn was paired with a very appropriate
Amignez de Vetroz 2003 Cuvee du Maitre de Chais. A special old varietal wine
grown in a microclimate near the Rhone River that gets its character from the
Föhn (southerly wind) and relatively dry conditions.
precise moment that we were savoring the cacophony of flavors and textures our
server returned to prepare us for the next eye-opener from Chef Hubertus. This
was to be Tuna Tatare with Lemon Zest over Mango Chutney; a rather playful dish
of diced raw Ahi tuna timbale perched precariously over tart mango and topped
with a lemon zest nest.
|We couldn't resist the
temptation to second-guess what wine paring was in store for us from the
cellars of Sonnenhof. This time Joachim delivered a Burgunian specialty of
Macon-Milly-Lamartine 2002 Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon. This Chardonnay
is refined and steely with smoke and oak on the palate. It is well balanced and
reveals a citrus finish proving to be just the thing for the appetizer at hand.
|The wine had nice body with some flamboyance, so we
decided to savor it for the next course after consulting with Joachim the
sommelier. He reminded us that it would acquire more character with age but we
stubbornly insisted not to wait. Our next course was brought before us and it
couldn't have been a better match for the fleshy Burgundy. Roasted Jumbo Shrimp
and Diver Scallops served with Mediterranean Vegetables, Sweet Balm Vinaigrette
over Indian Basmati Rice seemed to levitate in a three-dimensional apparition.
Luscious fresh ocean aroma proved to us that sea products are shipped fresh and
quickly to this landlocked country. Large scallop discs topped with roasted
shrimp lay on top of concasse of locally grown vegetables. It became obvious to
us that we were in the care of an architect expertly crafting his passion for
|An intermezzo was in order now, but it was not to be.
Instead, Joachim approached the table caressing a Château Poujeaux 1998
Cru Bourgeois Appellation Moujlis controlee, a fine Cabernet style wine
produced between Margaux and St Julien in Bordeaux. A soft delicate texture
combined with a melting pot of red fruit flavors ranging from dark cherry to
bright red plum. This wine will do well in someone's cellar to offer delight to
some future dinner. All this would have been enough except that our next course
was in the offing. Tender Breast of Pigeon with fresh Chanterelles and Cherries
and roasted Potato Gnocchi made its debut to the table. I must admit that I
would never have thought of ordering pigeon breast prepared in any fashion, but
my curiosity got the best of me. Now that it was in front of me I decided to
dig in and I was not disappointed. What impressed me the most was the delicate
earthy flavor of the forest contained in the mushrooms that complimented the
meat-like texture of the pigeon breast.
| Chef Hubertus has ratcheted
up the competition by his innovative and intensive flavorful preparations of
the raw materials and their subtle garnishes. It wasn't long before we were
drawn near to the end of our spectacular dining experience. Another server
named Anke worked her way over to our table with a large garadon piled high
with cheeses produced locally from raw milk of sheep, goats and cattle. We were
mesmerized by the huge selection of all shapes and sizes, of fresh and aged
cheeses and couldn't make up our mind. Anke made the selection of ash covered
fresh goat cheese and we relished each bite over a bowl of fresh fruits.
|We ordered double espressos while we waited to be
presented with the grand finale, a dessert of Nougat-Parfait with Marinated
Cherry Tatare. Needless to say it measured up to the fine quality and ingenuity
displayed by Chef Hubertus and his team and we became children again offering
each other bites from our spoons as a testimony to the great culinary
experience that we have just had.
Thorsten Piosczyk & Sascha Derschewski
|© 2005 ~ Seven Stars and Stripes, Inc.