Like you could already read in yesterday’s post, Belgium has a lot of great products, but sad enough not too many people realize this… So Didier Bastiaens of ‘Vrienden van de smaak’ thought it was time to change this and show everybody what kind of treasures we have in Belgium by putting local products in the spotlights.
Last Sunday I experienced the first edition of a ‘vrienden van de smaak’ dinner. The concept of those dinners is based on what Southern European countries like Italy, Spain, Greece, etc… have already been doing for years. Just picture a long table, somewhere in an open field, in the middle of a vineyard or even in a little town, where they only serve local dishes or dishes made with local ingredients… The only difference is that the mothers who make the dishes in Southern Europe are replaced by some great Chefs like in this case Giovani Oosters from restaurant Vous lé vous.
The region for the kickoff was Haspengouw, that is at its best during spring (as then all the fruit trees are flowering up). Normally the dinner was going to be at Kasteelhoeve De Kerckhem (outside), but due to the great Belgian weather they decided to do it a different location and did it at the garden of taste greenhouses. I really couldn’t imagine a better location! As they had put the tables right in the middle of the Greenhouse 🙂
A lovely sight, ain’t it? To make this concept even more fun, they asked every guest to bring a plate with a motto or pledge on it, which they would put on the table and you were not allowed to sit at your own plate… this makes that you’ll be siting with new people you don’t know ( the social person in me loooooves this 🙂 ). I was sitting next to the lovely Marta aka Princess Misia who until now I only knew virtually, so thanks to ‘vrienden van de smaak’ I finally met her in real life 🙂
This was the plate I had in front of me
Food time, as that was the purpose of being here :-). I can only say that one dishes was even better than the other one we started off with some white asparagus (the season has just started) with some dried meat (originating from Alken) with a walnut dressing and a salad of fresh herbs (from the Mombeek valley) and some freshly made rye bread. This got served with a Belgian chardonnay ‘blauw’ from Genoels-Elderen
After that they gave us some lamb ‘Hampshirre down’ (also local product) with pommes chateau and a spinach salad with goat cheese from ‘De Levende aarde’. This was really the BEST lamb meat I had EVER have, it really melted on your tongue (just picturing it makes me want more). This got accompanied by a nice Belgian red wine (that had a really light color for being a red wine) ‘De vroege Loonse’ from Cohlenberg .
And the dessert was a pannacotta made of goat milk, rhubarb and hibiscus. This got served with I think the most special wine I have drunk in a long time, this wine was made of blueberries from Blueberry fields
The only thing that wasn’t really local, were the Coffee and Tea assortment (with thank to Barista Roel Driesen) they served us. And again all different cups 🙂
This has been a true experience Didier, Chef Giovani Oosters, sommelier Harald Oostenbach, Puur Limburg and their team have really outdone themselves!
I really hope you guys have the change to go to one of the following dinners by Vrienden van de smaak. You can find the dates on following link . You can see ‘Vrienden van de smaak’ as a travelling restaurant only working with the products that it finds on its way.
Fyi, they also do this for companies…. (hope my boss reads this 😉 )
For the US version of the vrienden van de smaak, you can look on Jim Denevan’s outfields website