Le Bistrot de Flandre, Compiègne, France

On Thursday evening last week, our global team took a brief tour of Compiègne (a charming city in Northern France) before heading out to have a nice team dinner.

Here’s a shot of City Hall, a beautiful illustration of the extraordinary architecture found throughout Europe.

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After walking around the city for a bit, we headed to Le Bistrot de Flandre for dinner.

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One of my colleagues, Benoit (who was not mentioned directly, but was one of the “thorns” in this post), led us into the restaurant and was met with a friendly and familiar greeting.  This must a spot he frequents in Compiegne.

Nicolas, the other “thorn” in the previously referenced post, and whom I’ve mentioned here and here, knows my dining out behavior quite well by now.  He graciously informed our server (a young and “all in” guy whose name I never caught) that I wanted him to choose my meal (and keep it a secret), based on what he thought was the best offering on the menu.  Upon listening to the request from Nicolas, he looked us each in the eye, nodded his head, and gave a big smile.

I liked this guy already!

It turns out he had chosen a three-course menu option for me, although I didn’t know that at this point.

The first course was gently seared salmon bites with pistachio and goat cheese over greens.  As I’ve mentioned before, salmon is not my favorite seafood, but this was fresh meat which was prepared beautifully. And, I do love goat cheese! This was a pretty large appetizer, but I managed to finish most of it. And, I enjoyed it!

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When the main course was served, there was a bit of confusion.  A different server delivered our table’s meals, and one of my colleagues was away from the table (taking a phone call), so we really weren’t sure where she should set one of the dishes!  After a minute or two, our server came back and cleared up the confusion.

I was presented with roasted duckling over vegetables.  I will say that the flavor was quite nice, but the duckling was a bit tough for my preference. I had to “saw” at the meat a bit in order to take my bites.  I may have been spoiled at Odd Duck (and other establishments).

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I also tend to like my vegetables on the crispy side, but surprisingly, I was more than okay with these “limp” vegetables. I liked them so much that I finished my veggies!

Following the entrée, I was provided new silverware (thank you France for swapping out utensils regularly!), indicating that I was going to be served dessert.

My teammates were all served desserts at the same time, and my place-setting remained empty.  And, remained empty.  And, empty still.  I’m not sure how long it was, but it felt like ~10 minutes, and Nicolas asked the manager and another server what was taking so long.

We started joking about “just how special this dessert must be”, and…SURE ENOUGH…When the dessert my server had chosen for me was delivered, it was quite simply – superb (and not part of the standard menu).

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Strawberries, cream, and flaky pastry – can a girl ask for more??

I loved that this dessert was as light and refreshing as the appetizer was. The appetizer and the dessert were delicious bookends to an “average” entrée.

While this doesn’t rank as my favorite meal since I started this blog, the dining experience was really enjoyable, and the server’s response to the request was awesome!  I do wish I had asked his name so I could give him proper credit for his superb attitude and solid recommendations (for me, the salmon and dessert trump the disappointment of the duckling).

I must thank my European colleagues for being extremely gracious hosts during our weeklong visit.  It’s hard work to be responsible for foreign visitors, and they never showed fatigue or irritation.  I feel truly lucky to work with these folks.

I hope you enjoyed these few posts from my recent trip.  If you’ve got recommendations or experiences you’d like to share from Europe, please leave a comment!

Cheers!

Ker

Delicious Dining at Restaurant Hôtel du Nord, Compiegne, France

In this post, I’m combining a couple of meals that we had in the restaurant in our hotel in Compiegne, Francethe Hôtel du Nord.  We arrived into France late on Tuesday evening and decided to have dinner at the hotel rather than going out.  It was a very good choice!  We also had lunch there on Thursday because we were meeting in the conference room at the hotel all day.

At dinner, we started with a les amuse-bouches (appetizer) of Brussel sprout mousse.  It sounds strange, and it was a bit peculiar, but it was also surprisingly tasty! But, then again, I love Brussel sprouts!

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Then, I had a traditional Filet Mignon with crispy polenta and mixed greens.  It was nothing fancy, but it was a good, solid, and well-prepared meal.

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I didn’t partake in any extra appetizers or dessert, but I thought I’d share pictures of my coworkers’ dishes, because they are so beautiful!

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Appetizers: vegetable torte on the left and avocado and green pea starter with a mint jelly base on the right.

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Dessert: Tiramisu

The French certainly do know how to innovate food with flavors and design!

For lunch, we had a set menu which was all a surprise to me because I don’t understand French!

We started with a layered carrot mousse with ginger cream.  Again, it’s an interesting flavor and texture, but we all agreed that we liked it.

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After the small plate (errr, shot glass!), we were served the classically French appetizer of Foie Gras.  We were all a bit surprised by the chocolate crust, and my French colleagues thought it was too sweet and overpowered the flavor of the Foie Gras.  They all ended up removing the crust and focused on enjoying the center.

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The dish was served cold and almost tasted like an ice cream to me.  I’m not sure I would order it on a regular basis, but I did enjoy trying a new appetizer.

Our main course was roasted cod, served over broccoli puree.  I truly enjoyed this dish.  The fish was light and flaky (and the knife the French serve with fish does a fantastic job of peeling the skin right off the meat), and the broccoli puree had a thick and somewhat chunky texture.  It felt like a substantial meal, but not overly filling – which is good since lunch in France is a four-course meal!

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The dessert we were served was not only beautiful (again!), but light and delicious!  I didn’t finish the dessert, but I did try each component and loved the flavors.

This was a coconut mousse served over a small muffin (almost banana-nut-like) with a crispy wafer over it.  Isn’t it lovely?

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To say that this lunch is way more fancy than I normally have would be an understatement.  It’s also more food than I would normally have!

I’m excited to share another great experience in Compiegne with you shortly.  I had a wonderful young server who was all-in on the surprise, much like Ralph was in Bocholt! Please stay tuned!

Cheers!

Ker

 

The #SizzlingSummerBlogHop winner is…

I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to leave a comment about his/her favorite thing about summer.  The comments were such fun to read, and inspired me to try some new things this summer too!

I utilized Random.org to choose the winner of the Sizzling Summer Blog Hop giveaway.  Comment number 169 is the winner.

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“Congratulations!” are in order for Kayla Britt, who will win the napkin rings, the toe ring and the Essie mini polish collection.  Giveaway2

Kayla, please send me an email (kerkilbourne@gmail.com) with your contact information, and I will send the prize pack to you.

I hope everyone continues to enjoy summer!

Cheers!

Ker

Breakfast for dinner at lunchtime at Siebelt’s, Bocholt, Germany

On Sunday afternoon, three colleagues and I left Milwaukee and flew out to Düsseldorf, Germany to attend manufacturing trials with a European customer.  We arrived into Germany on Monday morning at ~7:30AM (local) and drove almost 90 km directly north to the facility in which we’d be working all day in the charming city of Bocholt.

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Side note: I was quite excited to drive a rented Volkswagen with manual transmission, and on the Autobahn!  My first several cars were manual transmission, but recently, I’ve been “stuck” with SUVs with automatic transmission (vehicles which I really love(d), but I do miss the manual transmission). It was fun to be engaged with the vehicle and to drive along the highway at rather fast speeds (at times)!

We were at the facility until approximately 4PM and then headed over to our hotel, the Hotel Residenz Bocholt, for a quick nap and then dinner.  All four of us Americans were in dire need of a bit of rest prior to having dinner with our European colleagues, vendor representatives and our customer contacts.  We were also in need of showers after having been on the road/working for 24 hours or so.  :-)

Feeling refreshed, we met as a group of 14 on the garden patio for pre-dinner drinks.  I was glad that I chose to start with water (although I was teased a bit for not having had a beer).  Our patio time lasted well beyond the time at which we were supposed to have dinner at Siebelt’s inside.  The four hungry Americans were the first folks to leave the patio and head to the dinner table (subtle hint to our European friends).

The American contingent...

The American contingent…

The hotel is a charming space, filled with fresh flowers and pleasant staff members.  Part of the charm was demonstrated as the gentleman who checked us into the hotel also served as our bartender as well as our maître d’ / head server and photographer.

After we sat down, we were presented with a limited / fixed menu:

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After reviewing the options, I decided that all of the dishes looked quite nice.  I advised Ralph, aforementioned “Mr. Everything”, that I was quite hungry, but that I would like him to choose his favorite dish for me. After double-checking that I wanted him to choose and surprise me, Ralph broke into a big smile and said he would be happy to do so.

We were first served a “small taste” plate which consisted of melon and prosciutto.

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And, of course, we ordered German (and French) wine.  Nicolas, whom I have mentioned once or twice before, always takes the lead when it comes to ordering wine.  He’s never done us wrong!

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The first dish Ralph had ordered for me was the Tomaten Consommée mit Basiliken-Ricotta-Nocken (tomato broth with basil and ricotta gnocchi).  I’ve never had a broth-based tomato soup, so I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but it had excellent flavor, and the few gnocchi added to the broth gave it just enough substance for an appetizer.

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For my entrée, Ralph chose the Westfälisches Krüstchen mit Schmorzwiebeln und Bratkartoffein (pork cutlet with braised onion and fried potatoes).  He made sure to mention to me that he chose this dish because it is a very traditional regional dish and he wanted me to experience that (love that!).

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There is pork under those eggs!

The pork itself didn’t have much flavor – a traditional pan-fried crust, but with fried egg, braised onions, and a few dashes of black pepper, I found pork to be really nice.  And, the potatoes…those potatoes were excellent!  Very full of flavor and nice and crispy.  I was laughing with my colleague about the fact that we were essentially having breakfast for dinner, during lunchtime (in the US).

It was a lot of food, so I declined to order dessert when asked.  I had, however, forgotten that I had turned my meal decisions over to Ralph!  When everyone else at the table was served their desserts, I was served the Siebelt’s Dessertvariation (a medley of desserts).

Strawberry rhubarb tart, rum pudding, raspberry sorbet, strawberry cup, fresh fruit, and Tiramisu (clockwise from top)

Strawberry rhubarb tart, rum pudding, raspberry sorbet, strawberry cup, fresh fruit, and Tiramisu (clockwise from top)

Wow!  Every bite was so good.  I simply couldn’t take more than a bite or two of each.  My belly was full!

The entire evening was enjoyable.  We were a multicultural group, consisting of folks from Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the US, and we had a great time interacting (“talking shop”, talking World Cup, talking food and wine, and talking about this blog!).

I was really pleased with how open Ralph was to taking control of my dining experience, and I think he chose very nicely.  I felt as though I had experienced the food of the region and had nice variety of flavors and textures.

If you’ve dined in this region of Germany, or in Germany in general, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Stay tuned for a post about my next adventure in France…

Cheers!

Ker

Germany May Have Defeated France in the World Cup, but…

Germany will only get me for a day and a half this coming week. France, on the other hand, has me for three and a half days.  France wins! (I think)

I’ll be flying out to Düsseldorf on Sunday, for a weeklong business trip in Europe.  One of the many perks of working for a French-based company is the “required travel to Europe”.  On Tuesday, I’ll fly from Düsseldorf to Paris and will be spending most of my time in Compiegne.

You may recall my visit to Brussels last fall, and then a short train ride over to Paris from there.  I had a couple of excellent meals during those trips, and I’m hopeful for more delicious dining adventures this time around.  My colleagues are aware of my approach to dining out (well, most of them are), so rather than being an awkward experience, it’s fun to grab meals with these guys.

I’ll be sure to post about my European adventures, so please keep an eye out!  And, if you have recommendations for any must-visit restaurants, please leave a comment!

Cheers!

Ker

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