Bastian Fiebig is a restaurant critic and keen cook. He’s editor-in-chief, and head of Frankfurt’s Genussakademie (Gourmet Academy). He knows every restaurant with a star rating, and has eaten in the region’s most sought-after establishments. Fiebig knows a lot about wine and is also a passionate host. At Ambiente, we caught up with him as he browsed cast-iron cookware and paper-thin glass and learnt a lot about handy and sturdy kitchen equipment and tableware.
Glasses have never sounded so good. We all clink glasses, but is it just superstition to ward off evil spirits? Gourmet expert Bastian Fiebig believes this gentle sound is all part of the sensory pleasure of wine drinking. He’s part traditionalist and part trend-seeker tracking down new, exciting wines to make food even more fabulous.
So, Mr Fiebig: what would we always find in your fridge?
“French cheese. I grew up as a Francophile and my wife is half French with many relatives throughout France. We often bring culinary delights home with us when we visit the different regions.”
- Manufacturer: Staub, Le Creuset
You have a reputation for creating simple dishes using heavy-duty cookware.
“I have a casserole fetish, I really do love cooking casseroles. Why, you might ask? Well, as the lamb ragout gently cooks and fragrances the whole house, I have time to look after my guests. Instead of standing in the kitchen, I can devote myself to conversation and wine. I work with a classic roasting dish and smaller cast-iron pans for foie gras or a gratin starter. The experts currently disagree about who makes the best enamelled casserole dishes. All I can say for sure is: I’m happy with anything as long as it’s not green, the colour takes away my appetite. Casseroles go well with good wine. Oh, and I do choose what to cook depending on the wine, not the other way round.”
Wine is a science. What’s your take on wine glasses?
“If you really want to investigate a wine, you absolutely need a stem. I’m not a fan of tumblers where wine is concerned. It’s very simple: your hands always have a scent, whether it’s the soap or your own odour. These aromas interfere with the wine, while a stem creates the necessary distance.”
- Wine glasses from:
- 1 Riedel
- 2 Villeroy & Boch
- 3 Ritzenhoff
- 4 Holme Gaard
- 5 Schott Zwiesel
What are your wine glass favourites?
“I like classic goblets, preferably without a lip, this has olfactory advantages. For tastings, it should be a particular range of glasses made in France – known as ‘Les Impitoyables’, or ‘the merciless’. They have an elongated shape and are narrow at the top, thus directing the aromas of the wine to your nose. This glass enables the taster to detect even the tiniest wine faults.”
What do you make of the new mouth-blown glasses with a decantation sphere? They’re being described as a design revolution.
“You don’t commit to the sort of production process necessary with this ultra-thin glass if you don’t have a culinary aim in mind. The glass sphere facilitates an extra decanter effect, which means it allows the wine to breathe better. It’s certainly an exciting way for wine buffs to get in closer to the wine. The same is true for the carafe from this range. A carafe should be as slim as possible, otherwise the wine gets too much air. It’s designed by Prince Carl Philip Bernadotte of Sweden and Oscar Kylberg.”
- Manufacturer: Zwiesel 1872 “Air Sense”
Let’s finish off with something stronger. Bars often serve short drinks in heavy crystal glasses. Why?
“Alongside the trend towards whisky and gin, facet cut glass tumblers are back, a bit like those you’d see in the hand of oil baron J. R. Ewing from the 80s TV series Dallas. Their heavy crystal bottom helps retain the coldness of the ice cubes. The younger generation in particular really like these retro glasses as they represent a particular cosmopolitan bar culture that has never gone out of style.”
- Whisky glasses from:
- 1 Iittala
- 2 Versace by Rosenthal
- 3 Schott Zwiesel
- 4 Spiegelau
How did you like it?
… Bastian Fiebig is often asked this question after a meal. The restaurant critic would choose to raise a toast with a particular light Pinot Noir. He recently discovered a young grower making this in the Southern Palatinate region of Germany and keeps a supply in his wine cellar. We’d really love to come round and join him in a toast to good wine, health and happiness.