Two weeks ago I was invited to relish in some haute cuisine in the newly refurbished Restaurant Chateâu Neercanne in Maastricht. The ocassion was to celebrate their addition as a member to the Relais and Chateaux collection. Chef de cuisine Gilbert von Berg wowed us with an extravagant 4-course culinary feast in three different and unique spaces of Chateâu Neercanne. The authenticity and passion of the Oostwegel family and the staff were heart-warming and made a lasting impression. It was a memorable gastronomic experience in an idyllic location that generated a curiosity to more and bid to return in the near future.
Chateâu Neercanne – a treasure between two borders
The 17th century Chateâu Neercanne is a one-of-a-kind property. It is situated on the outskirts of Maastricht and on the border with Belgium. Perched on a terrace with beautiful panoramic views on the rolling hills, vineyards and the Jeker valley, it almost felt like being in beloved France. Chateâu Neercanne is the only terraced castle in the Netherlands. The lunch restaurant l’Auberge (Bib Gourmand) is located in the former stables. The property has various salons and marl rooms for parties, receptions and meetings. The beautiful baroque gardens, vineyard and vegetable garden are spread over four levels and protected by UNESCO. Although the gardens weren’t in bloom when I was there and the outside terrace was closed, I could imagine the splendour and ambiance in spring and summer.
Appetizers in the marl cave wine cellar
We started our culinary journey in the marl caves which functions as wine cellar. The cave is full with signature carvings of people who marked their visit to this historic spot, including international celebrities and world leaders. There’s also a plaque with the signatures of the former European leaders and former Dutch queen Beatrix who assembled for the Treaty of Maastricht. The Maastricht Treaty was signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Community in Maastricht to further European integration.
In the marl cave we enjoyed a sparkling Riesling Brut from neighbouring winery Apostelhoeve and several delicious appetizers, a.o. a spoon with calf tartar topped with crispy pork belly, king crab cocktail and oysters. This bodes well, I thought, as I savoured the harmonious explosion of contrasting and complementing flavours and structures.
We then moved to the castle’s sumptuous restaurant which is refurbished by Dutch interior designer Roelfien Vos. In the new decor she made use of gorgeous fabric wallpaper that ‘catches’ more light and she spruced up the restaurant spaces with silk window dressings with a print of 18th century floral embroidery. The reception area was modernized and is painted in a beautiful pale grey-blue hue.
The 4-course menu
There’s the saying that ‘the devil is in the detail’ which is certainly true for Chateâu Neercanne. The small mushroom-shaped brioche breads in reference to the mushrooms that grow in caves, the floral embroidery print of the curtains echoed on the menu and the flawless table decor were all subtle details that didn’t go unnoticed.
The first course was a Corvina ceviche with crayfish, myoga and sesame. Corvina is a white fish, often used in Latin American cuisine. Myoga are the young flower buds of Japanese ginger. A gorgeous combination of mildly sweet, nutty and pungent flavours. It was paired with a glass of pale pink 2012 Louis Roederer Vintage Brut Rosé which is 63% Pinot noir and 37% Chardonnay. It’s juicy but also has a nutty and mineral tone. Louis Roederer is one of the oldest and most renowned champagne producers in the world with the Crystal champagne as its most popular name.
The second course was my favourite; gnocchi with mimolette cheese, winter truffle and celeriac. I loved the crunch followed by the nutty and salty taste of the Mimolette cheese. Some say it origins in the Netherlands where, in medieval times, it was bartered with lords as commissioned cheese for boarding and protection. Others say it is French -from Lille- or from Flanders, that had strong ties with the Netherlands and was inspired by the Dutch Edam cheese. Either way, it is also known as vieux Hollande which speaks volumes. The wine paired with this course was a white 2017 San Marzano Edda partly Chardonnay, partly Muscat from Puglia Italy. An elegant wine with floral tones and hints of peach and vanilla.
The main course was a Wagyu braised oxtail with a gravy of beef and butter sauce, paired with brussel sprouts, red beet, black beans. The sauce made this dish to what it is in my opinion. Delicious! It was paired with a 2016 red Graggy Range Syrah from the Gravel Vineyards in New Zealand.
For dessert we moved to another space, a dreamy, peach lit cave where they host events, bridal parties and so on. There we could savour a crumble topped Poire Belle Hélène (in syrup poached pear with chocolate sauce). The dessert wine was so good that I can’t stop thinking about it. It was a French white 2018 Mas Cremat Muscat de Rivesaltes Roussillon. A sweet, juicy and fruity wine full of aromas and sweet tones of exotic fruit, pear and peaches. I think I found my most favourite wine in the world.
For a video impression of this memorable day, watch the video below. Can you spot me 4 times?
Thank you, family Oostwegel for inviting me to this unforgettable gastronomic experience and for your hospitality!