Real car lovers know exactly what we are talking about when we mention the name Autostadt. This stadt is located close to the German city of Wolfsburg and is the beating heart of Volkswagen. It may not be the first place you might look for top gastronomy, but The Ritz Carlton disagrees. At the start of the 21st century, the ultra-luxurious Ritz Carlton Hotel rose up along the waterfront, overlooking the famous towers of this automobile manufacturer. Of course luxury hotels like these need luxurious restaurants, which is exactly what lured the young Sven Elverfeld as chef. At the time, he had no experience in the kitchen, and as he puts it, no pretensions either. Seven years later, he was awarded the highest possible accolade, with three stars in the Michelin guide.
When asked about veal, he responded: “It’s a fine and delicate product, normally less intense than beef, which is why I prefer to use the less common parts, such as the head, the cheeks and the tongue. You wouldn’t go to a three star restaurant for a beautifully grilled tenderloin, but you would come to our Grill! The lesser-known parts may not be to the taste of all of our guests, but then it’s up to us to prepare them in such a way, that everyone loves them. Take my veal essence for example. I make that using the tail, which is still veal, isn’t it? For me, this is the best example of how to combine the luxurious with the less luxurious.”
For the fond, brown the bones and trimmings well in clarified butter, drain off the excess fat and add the vegetables. Fry them briefly adding the tomato puree. When the puree has reduced slightly, douse with the wine, Madeira and port, and add the water and ice cubes. Bring to the boil slowly, constantly skimming off the foam. Add the herbs and spices and simmer for 3 hours. Strain using a muslin cloth and season to taste with sea salt. For the essence, brown the calf’s tail in clarified butter, drain off the excess fat and add the vegetables. Fry briefly, adding the tomato puree. Reduce the puree slightly, then douse with the red wine, port, Banyuls, Madeira and Cognac. Reduce down fully, and then deglaze with the veal stock. Bring to the boil slowly, constantly skimming off the foam. Add the spices and allow to simmer for 6 hours. Strain using a muslin cloth and reduce the liquid to the desired consistency, and until it has a beautiful shine to it. Add the sprigs of thyme and leave for another 10 minutes. Then put to one side to cool. Make the clarifique, add it to the cold liquid and bring to the boil slowly. Leave it to rest for 20 minutes, skim off the foam from the egg whites and strain it carefully using a cloth. Allow to cool and gel completely before pressing it through a potato ricer. Heat some of the essence and combine it with the puree creating a grainy consistency. Divide the crème fraîche into small glasses and spoon caviar on top. Fill the glasses with the ice-cold essence and serve immediately.
150g Imperial caviar, 100g crème fraiche.
For the veal stock
1200g veal bones (roughly the size of walnuts), 400g veal trimmings, 50ml clarified butter, 180g onion, 50g carrot, 50g leek, 30g tomato puree, 300ml red wine, 100ml red port, 50ml Madeira, 500ml water, 2kg ice cubes, 1/2 bay leaf, 5 crushed white peppercorns, 1 clove, 1/2 clove of garlic, 3 allspice berries, 2 sprigs thyme, sea salt,
For the essence
1200g calf’s tail (cut into pieces), 50ml clarified butter, 180g chopped onion, 50g carrot, 50g leek, 40g celery, 3 fresh bay leaves, 10 white peppercorns, 2 cloves, 3 allspice berries, 1 clove of garlic, 10g tomato paste, 400ml red wine, 350ml Banyuls red wine, 350ml red port, 350ml Madeira, 50ml cognac, 3l veal stock (see recipe above), 6 sprigs thyme.
For the clarifique
500g minced veal, 200ml egg whites.
Wash the calf’s head thoroughly and remove hair or any other impurities. Put all of the ingredients for the zult (except the head) in a large pan and bring to the boil. Add the head and simmer for 90 minutes, then cut out the tongue and cheeks (when cooked) and cool immediately in ice water. Leave the rest of the head to cook for another 30 minutes and then cool in ice water.
Clean the tongue and cheeks and cut roughly. De-bone the head and lay it out on a work surface. Season with salt and pepper, and lay the tongue and cheeks on top, dividing them evenly, and roll it all up tightly. Push the rolled meat into an artificial sausage skin that measures 11 cm in diameter and fill it up with the stock you have just made. Make sure there is no air left in it and allow to set for a minimum of 12 hours in the fridge. The next day, cut it into ultra-thin slices and season with salt, pepper and some white balsamic vinegar. For the Spätburgunder foam, or nage, reduce the alcohol down to 90ml. Add the veal stock and bring to the boil. Create a foam using ice-cold butter and a handheld blender.
For the turnip puree, fry the bacon in the sizzling butter, add the shallot and turnip and sauté for a few minutes. Add all of the other ingredients, except the nutmeg and turmeric, and cook gently until done. Remove the herbs and spices. Blend the turnip into a smooth puree using a Thermoblender and season with a drop of white balsamic vinegar, turmeric and nutmeg, and if necessary a little of the juices to make it creamier.
For the chard, sweat the shallot in butter, julienne the chard and add it to the shallot. Then pour on the vegetable stock. Season with salt and freshly-ground pepper and leave to drip dry on paper towel.
Finally, open the shells and remove the scallops; wash thoroughly and dab dry. Sprinkle with sea salt and lemon juice and sear both sides in butter. Put in the oven to give them a glaze and return back to the heat on the stove. Add the thyme and fresh butter and moisten the scallops with it. Drain on a paper towel. Put some of the puree in the middle of a plate, place a scallop on top and loosely garnish with chard. Cover with a slice of zult and allow it to slowly melt. Spoon the foamy part of the nage on top and serve immediately.
4 large handpicked scallops, 1dstspn clarified butter, 1 sprig of thyme, fresh butter, lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar.
For the zult
1 calf’s head, including tongue and cheeks, 300 finely chopped bouquet garni, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 sprigs thyme, 10 crushed peppercorns, 4 fresh bay leaves, 10ml champagne vinegar, 10ml Noilly Prat (vermouth), 100ml dry white wine, sea salt, freshly-ground white pepper.
For the Spätburgunder foam or nage
300ml pinot noir (not so acidic), 100ml Banyuls, 100ml red port, 100ml veal stock, 80g cold butter cut into cubes.
For the turnip puree
30g butter, 20g bacon, 400ml stock (poultry), 1 chopped shallot, 1/2 turnip (peeled and chopped), 1 bay leaf, 1 allspice berry, 2 juniper berries, 1/2 clove of garlic, 20ml Noilly Prat, 50ml white wine, pinch of turmeric, freshly-grated nutmeg.
For the chard
1 finely-chopped shallot, 80g washed chard, stems removed, 50ml vegetable stock, butter, freshly-ground white pepper.