“We want to remain what we are.”
It’s the motto of Luxembourg, a small landlocked country bordered by Belgium, Germany, and France. Luxembourg is heavily influenced by its neighbors, as is evident in the cuisine and in the country’s official languages — French, German, and Luxembourgish, the latter of which is perhaps an attempt at remaining what they are.
While many think of Switzerland as the ideal neutral country, Luxembourg also has a history of keeping the peace.
The country was repeatedly invaded by Germany during World War II, and Luxembourg very much wanted to mediate circumstances between Germany and France. These efforts were one of the largest contributions toward the creation of the European Union, and Luxembourg City is one of the three official capitals of the EU and the seat of the European Court of Justice.
Luxembourg City’s old quarters and fortifications are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact, the city was considered impregnable by early Industrial Era standards. So formidable were its ramparts that after the Treaty of London in 1867, many of the fortifications were dismantled so it couldn’t become a stronghold if it ever fell into the wrong hands.
We spent a day exploring Luxembourg City, but we chose to stay in Biekerech, just 40 minutes away. It’s a beautiful drive, filled with peaceful farmland and interesting architecture that blends the old and the new much as the capital city does.
Our wonderful Airbnb was within walking distance of Restaurant an der Millen, located at an old mill that also houses a brewery.
We found seats on the comfortable patio, and while the staff did not speak much English (and we don’t speak either German or Luxembourgish), they were incredibly friendly and hospitable.
The menu was nothing short of inspired. We started with an amuse bouche of local goat cheese on toast topped with fresh rosemary, followed by sautéed trout over fettuccini for Mike and, for Ben, the daily special of grilled chicken stuffed with prosciutto and local cheese. I chose sautéed red snapper served over saffron risotto and a peppery Spanish tempranillo to drink.
As if the entrees weren’t amazing enough, Ben’s dessert was truly a work of art. A fresh berry gazpacho topped with vanilla bean ice cream and garnished with red currants and a triple-chocolate pirouline.
While we were enjoying our food and drink, a group of people rode down the street beside the restaurant riding llamas. And why not.
We walked back from the incredible dinner and made some friends of our own on the way to the Airbnb.
But none compared to Ben’s favorite friend of the stop, Charlie the golden retriever. The companion of our Airbnb hosts, Charlie was as sweet as they come and was Ben’s constant companion during our stay. In fact, Ben sketched her portrait as part of our guest book entry, which was accompanied by a Polaroid that our host, Joëlle, took during breakfast.
Next stop, Germany!
Two years ago I spent a few days in Luxembourg, visiting a couple of friends. The husband, an Englishman, told me the first 30 seconds of any conversation in Luxembourg will be spent establishing in which language the conversation will continue. I thought he was exaggerating until it happened to me. A woman approached me on a train platform and started a conversation in Luxembourgish. I replied with a blank stare. After a few moments, she suddenly switched to French. Ah, comprehension! Sadly, all her effort was to find out I was an American who knew less about buying train tickets in Luxembourg than she did.
How funny, Curt! And how true.
Magnifique. Merci beaucoup 😀
Merci à toi, Mazoli!