Interview with Chef David Wagger

Hirsch2 Brioche, Kerbelknolle, Karottenmousseline, Maulbeerenglace Venison2 Brioche, cervil root, carrots mousseline, glaze of mulberry; Hotel Gasthof Post, Familie Moosbrugger, Lech am Arlberg, Österreich

As a lover of fine food one of the greatest pleasures in my life is meeting the masters in the art of culinary. The best dishes, I’ve experienced, have always been those which reflect the personality of the chefs who create them. 

Chef David Wagger, from The Gasthof Post, is the latest to head the kitchens at Hotel Post Lech, Austria. With a younger, innovative approach to cooking and a perfect background in Austrian cuisine it’s an exciting appointment for guests. The five star hotel, with 46 rooms ranging from single rooms to chalets, is a surely an exciting place to make a mark given that the region has the highest density of gourmet restaurants in the world. Post is also part of the select group of hotels which belong to Relais & Châteaux founded in 1952. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Chef Wagger to chew over (ha!) all things culinary for the upcoming season. Read on to find out what we talked about. 

GTW: What do you find most exciting about cooking here in Post at Lech?

Different restaurants and menus we offer at the Post from the ever changing half board menu to the a la carte menu and my two special gourmet menus in the Jägerstube.

GTW: Postblick in particular looks like an incredible setting for your food. How inspired were you by your surroundings when you created the new menu?

DW: The Post is a very traditional Austrian hotel and has the personal touch of the family in management. It was and still is very inspiring to me to create dishes that combine tradition with modernity.

GTW:  Have you been surprised by the positive reaction to your appointment here at Lech as a young chef

DW: The level of culinary is very high in Lech. Lech has the highest density of gourmet restaurants in the world so the competition is very strong. Therefore, it’s a real challenge to raise the standards. The greatest joy is when I receive positive feedback from our guests and also from other chefs in Lech.

GTW: What’s the focus on your menu in terms of flavour? What would you say are the best examples of this on your menu?

DW: As mentioned before I like to combine tradition with new and modern aspects so a lot of my creations combine the Austrian kitchen with the Mediterranean kitchen. I really like the taste of tomato and basil.

GTW: Lech attracts a group of varied international guests so how do people who’ve never experienced Austrian cuisine react to it?

DW: Those not familiar with the Austrian kitchen are surprised by the variety of flavour and just after a few bites they are already fans! Especially the classics like the Wiener
Schnitzel or the Kaiserschmarrn; they are very popular among our guests.

GTW: What do those acquainted with your cookery make of it?

DW: My two gourmet menus are all my personal creations and interpretations. One of my personal highlights is the white tomato soup served with a scallop. They are what I would always bring to a dish.

GTW: What are you most looking forward to showcasing over the coming festive and ski season?

DW: This year I am very much looking forward to our special New Year’s Eve gala dinner. In particular I am very excited to serve the ibex consommé from our own hunt with cranberry ravioli and small curd dumplings.

GTW: That sounds delicious! Finally, where do you stand on the quail versus veal debate? 

DW: I would not put them against each other as they work very well together. You can see in our gourmet restaurant how we combine quail and veal with rosemary polenta soufflé and kohlrabi.


Post Lech opens for winter from 30th November to 22 April 2019 and for summer between 21 June – 30 September 2019. For bookings and more information on gourmet dining at Post visit:


Ten ways Lithuania will stir your wanderlust

With over a third of its land covered in forests, a culture deeply rooted in Paganism and a history of resistance Lithuania offers the most discerning traveller a rich travel experience. From foraged fine food to imposing street art here are ten ways Lithuania will stir your wanderlust.


Cold War history

It would be foolish to visit a Baltic state and ignore its past. The Cold War Museum, in a former missile base, in Plokščiai, is a poignant reminder of a dark age within our lifetime. The underground bunker was built by 10,000 Estonian soldiers in the rural village in a cloak of silence. Four R12 nuclear missiles, in heavily guarded vaults, placed here were aimed at Norway, Great Britain, Spain, West Germany and Turkey with the targets changing every three to four years. The museum offers a sobering insight and a reminder of the pointlessness of war.

Curonian Spit

The Curonian Spit, extends 60km south of the town of Klaipeda down to the Russian border of Kaliningrad. It’s a long sand-dune separating the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. The dunes here are amongst the highest drifting in Europe with an average height of 35 kiometers.  Pine forests and the Baltic sea coast as well as the dunes offer magnificent scenery that will take your breath away. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by both nations.


European Capital of Culture (2022) – Kaunas

It would be fair to say that Kaunas is the cultural capital of Lithuania. After all, it has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2022. In its more recent history the city has embraced street artists; buildings are adorned with impressive street art both in style and scale. To enjoy Kaunas it’s important to walk the streets; spot the pink elephant of love painted in honour of an unassuming Deima + Arwnas scribble left on the wall by a passer-by.

For a less pleasing experience there is also the Museum of Devils which displays hundreds of devil figurines, dolls and statuettes collected by Lithuanian painter Antanas Žmuidzinavičius between 1876 and 1966. It’s a fitting homage to Lithuania’s Pagan past. However, fear not as the displays are rather less scary than quirky.


Fine food movement

Lithuanian culture pivots around seasonal foraging. The new generation of chefs have taken this tradition and worked marvels in fine dining restaurants. Amandus Restaurant, in the Old Town, is at the forefront of all that is good. It was here that I experienced beetroot bread with citrus butter; something I cannot forget. Regular produce such as lamb, porcini mushrooms and goats’ cheese transformed by innovative molecular gastronomy made Amandus an exceptional dining experience.

Hill of Crosses

Arrive in Šiauliai to experience the enigmatic Hill of Crosses. The first crosses were placed here as an act of rebellion in 1836. An uprising against the Russian tsar had resulted in the slaughter of the local population. Lithuanians placed crosses in the former hill fort, after the confrontation, to remember the dead. During Soviet occupation, between 1944 – 1990, the regime bulldozed over the site at least three times. But Lithuanians travelled here to show allegiance to their identity. It is estimated that the hill has over 10,000 crosses left by generations. Unsurprisingly, it has evolved into a place of significance among Catholics and even been visited by Pope John Paul ll.

Hill of Witches

Folklore features heavily all over Lithuania. The Hill of Witches en route to Nida is an outdoor sculpture gallery near Juodkrante. Around 80 wooden characters linked to folklore are carved in the forest retelling stories of love, mythology and witch-craft. It’s a chilling yet curious place but worth a visit to appreciate the country’s deep connections to Paganism. The gallery takes less than 30 minutes to explore making the hill an exciting addition to a road trip.



Nida is the impossibly charming fishing village you must not leave Lithuania without visiting. German writer Thomas Mann was so smitten by the village that he kept a cottage here. Life centres around its port and marina. Brightly painted wooden houses with white picket fences, quiet leafy streets, beautifully low-key cafes and mere 2,385 residents will leave a stamp on your heart.

Head out for your fish supper around 6pm when local restaurants smoke their catch of the day. Sit around communal tables and enjoy the spirit of Nida. It’s wonderful hospitality and friendly locals will enchant you with stories of folklore and legends late in to the night.

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Trakai Island Castle

28 kilometers west of the capital Vilnius is the historic city of Trakai famous for its lake resort. Lake Galvé is home to Trakai Island on which sits a terracotta-hued 14th century castle. Trakai Island Castle, in the past, has fallen in to disrepair a fair few times. However, between 1946 and 1961 a major reconstruction project restored it to its former glory. A hot air balloon ride over Trakai’s 200 lakes, forests and castle offers mesmerising views and is the best way to appreciate its natural beauty.


Villa Dubgiris

Further north west in the district of Mazeikiai is Villa Dubgiris; a hunting lodge and sprawling estate complete with its own lake, woods and luxury accommodation. The two-storey restaurant serves a menu of mainly game, mushrooms and seasonal vegetables as well as an invigorating breakfast. A lake, boat house, bicycle rental and fishing offer a wonderful all-round outdoor experience. Inside, a spa and bathhouse on the premises is an opulent escape of tranquility rivalling the outdoors. You will need at least two nights here to really appreciate it.

Vilnius the capital city

If you only have a weekend in Lithuania Vilnius makes for a great short city break. It’s small in size and easy to navigate with a fine mix of culture and food. Cathedral Square and its distinctive bell tower are its most popular attractions. Another is the Church of St. Casimir; the oldest baroque building in the capital. The Old Town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. Take a walk down to Užupis. It’s a labyrinth of cobbled lanes with a bohemian feel, artisan coffee shops and bakeries. The Old Town, in particular, makes for a wonderfully romantic get-away.








I was a guest of the Lithuanian State Department of Tourism. All opinions expressed are my own. For more information visit

Ukai, Notting Hill Review

What do you cherish the most about living in London? My thing is that you can eat anything you want, from anywhere in the world, at any time. It’s all within an area of 607 square miles connected by underground tunnels. You never need get on a plane if you fancy a New York bagel, Japanese sparkling saké or Ethiopian coffee at 3am. This is something I cherish like a pearl carried around in my pocket wrapped in a hanky; I take it out every now and again, admire it, polish it and put it back until next time. The other thing about this city is that it always manages to impress you, no matter how long you’ve lived here. For example, the best chefs in the world have their restaurants in London. We have so much choice that our greatest barrier, to overcome before dining, is wondering where to eat. As long as you’re willing to criss-cross the city you can pretty much eat whatever you desire.

Ukai, Notting Hill

So it’s on one such occasion that I braved our public transport system, during the now historic Heat Wave 2018, to leave the comfort of East London for the bohemian utopia of West London. I was reviewing Ukai in Notting Hill. The restaurant celebrates three years in Notting Hill this year.


The Space

Ukai serves Japanese food. You’ll get that vibe as soon as you walk in to the restaurant behind the bar. If I may digress for a moment, I like a good space. Where I eat is just as important as what I eat. When a restaurant, no matter if it’s high or low end, considers the whole experience of its patrons, for me at least, it translates to courtesy. I like a space that transports me elsewhere to make me forget everything that happened before I walked through its doors. So to return to West London – it’s the Japanese of your dreams. Beautiful Kimonos and paintings adorn walls and ceiling. Dark wood tables and low lighting conveys a dramatic, theatrical mood. My food was being prepared behind a glass and I could see it all happening. For a small space it was very clever and I loved it. All of the boxes above, ticked.


The Menu

I rarely choose for myself when I write reviews (it’s becoming a concern and I’ve made a mental note to stop). Instead, I allow the chef or the kitchen to serenade me with food. I started with plum wine (one of my favourite things to drink) and we were off. White tuna tataki (£11.50) arrived first. It’s seared fish, yuzu and truffle. What I loved the most about this was that if the fish indeed was seared it had been done so delicately I couldn’t taste it. It was almost raw making it light and utterly magnificent. More plum wine. Out came a mixed seafood ceviche (£12). *How do I love thee? Let me count the ways; Tuna, butterfish, avocado and dragon fruit. Avocado and dragon fruit! Served on a banana leaf, no less. How did my life come to be without ever having tasted this flavour combination on a banana leaf? It was a triumph. It’s time to abandon the avocado on toast brigade and enjoy the fruit as it might be eaten where it grows.


Next to arrive was Lobster tail tempura which, at first, may sound like a waste of good lobster. However, this was light as a feather and full of flavour seafood. I say that as one who’s not a fan of fried food. Nothing of the lobster had been lost in the deep frying. I enjoyed it with a glass of Prosecco and savoured it until the next dish arrived.

Next up was the sizzling hot beef tenderloin toban yaki (£23). I watched the chef heat up the ceramic dish and lid on the open fire before placing the beef in it. Everything inside was still cooking while it travelled to my table. When it arrived the beef was rare, the shiitake mushrooms tender and the seasoned saké just heavenly. Such perfect timing. For me, this was the standout plate on Ukai’s menu. It was warm, delicate and wild all at the same time commanding my undivided attention.

The finale of the evening was the towering yuzu cheesecake (£7) served with raspberries and star fruit. It was a cheesecake like no other in both size and taste. Just as everything I had tasted that evening it was a fine balance of flavour, culinary skill and artistry with none of it over powering the other.

As you read this review you’d be forgiven for thinking this is just very good gastro-pub food. I beg to differ. This is serious gastronomy worth criss-crossing the city for.




*Browning, Elizabeth. Sonnet 43.

Ukai is located at: 240 Portobello Road Notting Hill, W11 1LL. For more information visit:

Three Michelin-starred chef Eneko Axta’s Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar Review

How does one get a Michelin star? I confess that I only had a vague idea. Culinary’s highest accolade is handed out by the French tyre company in its annual Red Guide, which was first complied in 1900, not for the sake of gastronomy but as a means to sell tyres. The  aim of the Guide Rouge was to get French drivers in their cars driving between towns. The sound theory being that they would ultimately need to buy new tyres.

Today, it’s the world’s last word in dining. Michelin, whilst operating on the infamous French culinary code of silence, highlights only extraordinary restaurants. It’s criteria for selection is possibly the world’s best kept secret. Inspectors turn up anonymously as regular diners, eat, pay and leave. It appears that consistency is key as establishments could lose a star as much as earn one. What we do know is that stars are awarded entirely on the quality of food; decor, atmosphere nor service at the establishment are considered.

One, two and three stars

One star is awarded to places worth visiting if you’re already in the area. It is believed that they are inspected every two years. Two star restaurants are deemed worthy of drifting away from your planned route. They have been rated on the quality and uniqueness of ingredients thus offering diners an experience they couldn’t have elsewhere. Two star restaurants are thought to be inspected monthly. Three stars are awarded to restaurants worthy of going out of your way for. This is an elite, prestigious rating requiring the approval of several inspectors. Chefs must display exquisite mastery of their craft and be paving the way for new food trends and unique experiences to be considered for the elusive third star.

Chef Eneko Atxa

Chef Eneko Atxa belongs to the elite group of chefs who’ve been deemed worthy of the third star by Michelin. Walk in to Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar within the sublime One Aldwych Hotel, Covent Garden and it’s unlikely that anyone would disagree.

It’s inspired by the rustic Basque region and the dignity of fine dining. The two things have been woven into a sphere of informal sophistication that you never wish to leave. To understand the food and the space is to understand the man. Chef Eneko Axta’s Azurmendi restaurant, which earned the three stars, has been named the world’s most sustainable restaurant by World’s 50 Best Restaurants. So you already know what’s to be expected in London; seasonal food, responsibly sourced fish, fairly treated staff, little food waste and well-fed patrons.


The Space

I simply floated down the beautiful brass staircase to an atrium of rustic finesse. It’s warm, welcoming and unimposing. Later in the evening I was informed that Chef Eneko jogs in the woods in his native Basque country. That was was my penny-drop moment. Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar feels as intimate and comforting as woods in autumn where tables and chairs have been tenderly laid out to make us fall in love. Cushioned red seating surrounds hand-carved cherrywood tables and artisan wood panels on the walls have been hand-hammered. From the corner of my eye I noticed flecks of brass flicker in the light in the same way sun rays seep between trees in the woods. It’s little wonder then that the restaurant was awarded Best Restaurant or Bar Design 2017 at the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards.

Traditional Talo detail

The Menu

The all-Spanish wine list includes four wines produced in Bilbao especially for the restaurant; a theme which runs through the menu. I had the light and elegant Baigorri Crianza Rioja Alavesa. It was my initiation into Basque wine and I doubt I’ll look back.

As with all reviews I redeemed myself from the task of choosing dishes. This time especially so as I had prior notice that Chef Eneko was in London for a few hours and would be in the kitchen during my visit. One sumptuous plate after another drifted from the kitchen towards my table.

La Tabla del Charcutero arrived first with home-made pickles, crystal bread and three cured meats; coppa, chorizo and salchichón. The animals are especially bred for the restaurant which made this an absolute delight. Each slice melted in the mouth. The accompanying crystal bread was so utterly divine I unashamedly asked for more. This was followed by a visually stunning traditional Talo; a signature dish of the Basque region. It’s a vegetarian dish of crispy corn Talo topped with heritage tomatoes, edible flowers and what I day-dreamed was foraged cress with basil emulsion. The dish is for sharing and celebrated in its home on Saint Thomas’ Day on 21st December. It was all that it promised to be; fresh, crispy and delightfully sweet. This was a celebration in itself and undoubtedly sanctified indeed.

A rack of lamb and a side of stir-fried courgette with pine nuts and chive oil arrived next. This was the only compromise that had been made on the menu for British tastes; there are no-side dishes in Spanish cuisine. It’s always a joy when a dish turns out exactly as it’s meant to. The rack of lamb was just that; an unpretentious, thrilling dish which delivered satisfaction of primeval proportions. It’s a thing that can only happen in the hands of one who honours the abundance of the earth instead of wasting it.

My final temptation was the victorious combination of tangy raspberry tartlet with cascading dark chocolate. Given that I’m a zealous fan of the latter it was an exercise in good judgement from the kitchen. As I write this I’m tempted to use the words, decadent or indulgent to describe the dessert. However, in hindsight, I remember that none of it was. At no point of this sumptuous celebration of food, served in the middle of the largest city in Europe, did any of it feel indulgent or flamboyant. Everything I saw, smelt, touched and tasted seemed that it had been cooked with purpose. Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar is one pleasure on our doorstep that I humbly recommend we all enjoy. What an utterly remarkable feat to achieve.





Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar is located at: London WC2B 4BZ. For more information visit:



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