Kolja Kleeberg is the creative Chef and Owner of the Michelin-star restaurant, VAU, in Berlin. This inspired chef "pushes the envelope" and makes it work with his anything but traditional recipes.
While I was in Berlin in March 2006, I met with Chef Kolja Kleeberg of VAU to gain some insight into his vision as well as the Berlin culinary world. This award-winning chef originally from Köln, Germany has worked in Bonn and St. Moritz before creating VAU in December 1996. He believes that the Berlin restaurant scene is returning to its former status. 15 years ago there were 3 Michelin star restaurants and now there are 9 in Berlin. Berlin has a long history of international influences after 1871, and even the esteemed Auguste Escoffier once worked in Berlin. It is now like the 1920's with people coming from all over to Berlin; it's a moving city. As Tolstoy said, it is "never being, always becoming."
Kolja has his culinary roots in French, Italian and German cooking, and likes to use organic products as much as he can. His lobster, turbot, meat and vegetables are organically grown, and he works with 95-96% of organic products, including pike perch, trout and char from the rivers, and organically raised pork from the south of Berlin.
He has a relaxed attitude towards cooking, and describes his food as "cuisine without attitude." Everything is made in-house including the bread, rolls and crostini that arrive with a delicious mixture of cottage cheese, paprika, gherkins, capers, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
Chef Kolja Kleeberg graciously shares three of his tempting recipes this month in English and also in German.
Kartoffelschmarrn mit gehobelter Gänseleber
(Scalloped Potatoes with Sliced Goose Liver)
Recipe for 4 Persons
100 grams (3.53 ounces) boiled and mashed potatoes
150 ml (5.07 ounces) milk
1 egg yolk
25 grams (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) flour
10 grams (2 teaspoons) melted butter
15 grams (1 tablespoon) cottage cheese
1 egg white
50 grams (1.76 ounces) cooked and thickly grated potatoes
Method: Mix the mashed potatoes with all of the other ingredients (except the egg white, salt and the grated potatoes), and fold in to mix. Beat the egg white with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Fold the grated potatoes and the stiff egg whites carefully into the mashed potato mixture.
Pour into a lightly buttered large pan, and bake at 250° C (475° F) on the middle rack of the oven. The "schmarrn" will be ready after 4-5 minutes.
200 grams (7.05 ounces) Goose liver
Make a reduction of:
50 ml (1.60 ounces) white Port wine
30 ml (1.01 ounces) mixed berries
20 ml (0.68 ounces) Cognac and some Madeira
Method: Take the chilled goose liver and using a truffle shaver, shave the goose liver onto a pre-chilled plate. Reduce the marinade to half, season to taste with salt and pepper. Marinate the chilled goose liver in half of the reduction. Heat the remaining reduction and add a little olive oil a drop at a time and mix to bind.
Presentation: Divide the potato mixture in half and place on 2 room-temperature plates. Add the shaved marinated goose liver in the middle of the plate and sprinkle some olive oil marinate over it. Decorate the "schmarrn" with some fried flat parsley leaves.
Pochierter Wildlachs mit gegrillter Avocado, Limonenmarmelade und Limonenbooster
(Poached Wild Salmon with grilled Avocado, Lime Marmelade and Limebooster)
100 ml (3.38 ounces) water
8 grams (1 ½ teaspoons) cornstarch
100 ml (3.38 ounces) lemon juice
300 grams (10.58 ounces) yogurt
sugar to taste
juice of 3 limes
juice of 10 limes
75 grams (5 tablespoons) sugar
15 grams (1 tablespoon) glucose
100 grams sliced toasting bread
15 grams (1 tablespoon) ground coriander
½ garlic clove
freshly ground white pepper
30 grams (2 tablespoons) parsley leaves
30 grams (2 tablespoons) green coriander
400 grams (14.11 ounces) wild salmon, skinned and boned
200 ml (6.76 ounces) fish broth
500 ml (2 cups) dry Riesling
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 ripe avocado
some cold-pressed olive oil
For the limebooster: In a pan, add the cornstarch with some water and stir, bring to a boil. Let cool, and then add the lemon juice, yogurt, and sugar, stir and place in a cream siphon. Make 2 portions.
For the lemon marmalade: Blanch the zest twice. In a pan, add the lemon juice, sugar and glucose; cook to reduce to a syrup. Add the blanched zest to the syrup and let cool.
In a food processor or small grinder, add the bread with the ground coriander, lemon zest, garlic, pepper, salt, parsley, green coriander and process finely.
Cut the salmon into 4 pieces and put it together "like a butterfly." Put the wine in a pan and heat, add the fish broth, and let it cool. Add the salmon pieces and bake in the oven at 60° C (140° F) for 15-minutes.
Serve with the avocado (sliced into 6 pieces) that was grilled with some olive oil, and add the sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Allerei von der Bressetaube mit Kopsalat, Erbsen und jungem Knoblauch
(Mixture of Pigeon with Cobb Salad, Peas and Young Garlic)
Recipe for 4 Persons
2 400-500 grams (14.11-17.64 ozs.) Pigeons (with innerds)
some celery stalks
2 garlic cloves
150 ml (5.07 ounces) red Port wine
100 ml (3.38 ounces) pigeon broth
hearts of bibb lettuce
40 grams (1.41 ounces) young peas, blanced in salted water
1 clove young garlic
thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, juniper berries, black peppercorns, cloves and paprika
Method: Cut the pigeons in pieces. Leave the breast with skin and remove the heart and liver and set aside. Clean the thighs and put in a pan and roast. Chop the vegetables and add to roast with with the thighs. Add red wine to degrease the pan. Add the pigeon broth and the spices.
Place the breasts skin side down in a hot frying pan for about 1 minute and then place in the oven at 250° C (475° F). Remove from the oven, turn them over and cover loosely for approximately 10 minutes and keep in a warm place.
Add some butter to the frying pan, heat the pan, and add the unsalted innerds ans cook over medium heat. Add spices.
Divide young garlic into cloves (with skin on) and place in hot salted milk and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove skin from the garlic cloves. Add butter to the frying pan and the cloves, cover them and brown the garlic and let them sweat. Clean the hearts of lettuce and the peas. Mix and season to taste.
10117 Berlin, Germany
Telephone: +49 (030) 2 02 97 30
Fax: +49 (030) 2 02 97 311
Please read the in-depth article on VAU in the Restaurants section, the German version of the recipes in Chefs' Recipes section, and other articles on Berlin in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, and Music Scene sections.
© June 2006. Luxury Experience. www.luxuryexperience.com. All rights reserved.