Monday, May 28, 2012

The Luxury of Travelling For One Meal: Giant Garlic Prawns

Yes, I have done it. Since the sustainability and food miles and all the media about how bad the air traffic is for the planet I have carried a bit of a bad feeling in my conscience. The primary reason for the trip was to experience one more time a pleasure of one single meal and introduce this most pleasurable and hopefully equally unforgettable experience to my friend. I got to know this restaurant during one of the business trips and that evening left a haunting impression in my food memory bank.

The second trip was taken under a considerable risk. I did not know and could not find the name of the restaurant. At that time in the early years of the 21st century not all searches on the internet gave results. I knew from memory that it was down at the river and they had just one specialty. 

This all happened during the time when Estonia was not yet part of the European Union and Schengen agreement and it was not uncommon to be asked for the reason of the visit by the entry guards at the airports. And so did the border guard at Luxembourg airport. I answered: “Holiday” and the guy in the uniform looked suspicious. It was probably unusual that Luxembourg, a tiny country with a Duke and lots of banking and steel industry and some European Union/European Commission sessions going on, attracted tourists. I wonder if the border guard would have been less or even more baffled if the answer would have been “A meal in the restaurant down by the river that serves big scampis with copious amounts of garlic”?
Garlic Scampis

The air in the restaurant was hazy with the thick smell of garlic like in the past places used to be grey from cigarette smoke, the fact that almost everyone in the restaurant was eating the same thing and the meaty prawns dripping with garlicky oil got me hooked for life. They were brought to the table flaming in the baking dish. Now I have two very clear memories from that place. We have a saying that two will not stay without the third…I am so hoping for that to be true.

I was relieved, to an extent, when I saw that the editor of the Food & Wine Magazine in the May 2012 edition declares that she took a trip to Copenhagen just to eat at Noma. Makes me feel a bit better. I do think this is luxury and am grateful for having been able to do this.

Where have you travelled for the ultimate food experience?

Garlic tiger prawns
Ingredients: (makes 2)

Olive Oil (a few knobs of butter optional)
1 head of garlic
3-4 tiger prawns per person
Sea salt
Wedges of lemon
Crusty bread and/ or fresh green salad

Heat the oven to 230°C. Cut the crust lengthwise with scissors on the back side up until the tail. Then cut the meat lengthwise for 2/3 into the depth to make the butterflies. Crush the cloves of the head of garlic with a pinch of sea salt with the mortar and pestle.
Crushing the garlic with sea salt

Spread garlic on prawn butterflies
Place the prawns in the baking dish and spread the garlic on the prawn butterflies and generously cover with oil.
Bake in the hot oven for ca 10 min. Be careful not to overcook to avoid the prawns become chewy.

Serve with wedges of lemon, crusty bread and a green salad.
Tiger prawns with garlic in oil

The restaurant in Luxembourg is Chez Bacano. They serve steak as well but if you truly love garlic and scampi I recommend you try this flagship dish. If you do not like garlic and scampi I suspect the steak would not taste what you are expecting and the whole garlicky experience may possibly not provide and equally positive unforgettable experience. The atmosphere is casual. Be prepared that you smell garlic in your clothes for some time.