In Wormeldange, the Koeppchen honours what many consider to be the best terroir in the country. You know what you are going to find there: friendliness, authenticity and a wine list geared totally to Luxembourg wines. With no fewer than 140 listings! But it is the 11th-generation Riesling from Clos Mon Vieux Moulin that Metty Krack has selected to serve with a blanquette of veal.
Even if the Koeppchen is already an institution on the Moselle – the restaurant has existed since 1907 – it has taken on a fresh, younger look in recent years. Since 2014, Metty Krack (31) has been taking a mischievous delight in playing with the codes of convention there, enabling regular visitors to still feel at home whilst newcomers can discover a cosy setting with absolutely no hint of clinging to the past, and with the necessary modern touches to offer a welcoming liveliness to all. If this description could almost be that of a wine, that is not simply by chance. You should know that the Koeppchen is in fact the restaurant offering the widest selection of Luxembourg wines… in the world! You might say that’s not difficult, given the scale of winegrowing in Luxembourg, but a list with 140 wines from this country (and 200 in all) nevertheless demands respect!
This too is not a matter of chance. For a long time, Metty Krack has known where he wants to get to. A high school education in Echternach, studies in economics (specialising in finance) in Innsbruck and then Melbourne, the École Lenôtre in Paris to learn the basics of cooking and pastry-making, followed by another year in the kitchen as an assistant chef, a diploma from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) obtained in London, before arriving in Wormeldange… that’s the CV of someone who knows what he wants!
The spirit of the Koeppchen lies in classical recipes perfectly executed, with the boldness here and there to incorporate those little changes that give a delightful lift to the whole. It’s craftsmanship that does not rest on its laurels: alongside classic Luxembourg dishes, there are offerings which change with what’s in season, a list of bistro burgers… and all putting an emphasis on the most local produce possible. Where’s the point in serving local wines if the food comes from somewhere else? “We are an authentic restaurant, simple and not pretentious,” smiles its young owner. To definitively establish this definition, he explains that the dish which has been most successful is the fried fish from the Moselle. A classic, indeed, but how many restaurants still have it on the menu?
“Nothing is dominant, everything is in balance. Fantastic!”
For this food/wine pairing, we will leave the fish where they are in the water, and embrace veal. The blanquette of veal, as a typically welcoming recipe, sits perfectly with the location. Not fussy, but accomplished in no time at all, and a winner! The recipe by chef Yves Hecht works and goes admirably with the owner’s choice: the 11th-generation Riesling from Frank and Luc Duhr (Clos Mon Vieux Moulin, in Ahn), 2014 vintage. “This is the type of Riesling I love,” smiles Metty Krack: “A hint of maturity, sophisticated, pared back, very dry: nothing is dominant, everything is in balance. Fantastic!”
This vintage is only produced in the best years, as this style of wine only permits the use of outstanding grapes. The 11th-generation comes exclusively from one of the best terroirs in the country: the Palmberg, situated right behind the pleasant tasting room of the Clos Mon Vieux Moulin. The estate only releases the wine after two years in storage, because it is a wine which demands having the strength to forget about it in the cellar. Its potential for development is huge: Rieslings of this calibre are crafted to take aging.
It’s true that with a creamy dish such as blanquette of veal, where the sauce envelops the palate, choosing a Riesling of remarkable tightness is a wonderful idea. The wine cuts through, reinvigorating the taste buds and sparking as much of a desire for a second mouthful of food as for a second sip of the wine. Let’s eat – what more could you want?