Limburg hospitality at its best

Ever since the birth of my baby girl my life has changed in so many ways. I prefer spending time with her above any other thing in this world!! As a result one of the changes that had to be made is going less out for dinner then before 🙂 I know it sometimes seems like I still go out very often, but in reality it is a lot less than before. If I had problems choosing before where to go, I can say it didn’t become easier now I go out less… Do I try something new or go to a place I’ve already been lots of times?A luxury problem, but still a problem ;-). For my birthday last week it was faith that brought back to a restaurant Mondevino I had been craving for to go back for 2 years (mainly because it’s quit distant from where I live). Why faith? To make a long story short, I won a voucher for a 5 course meal for 2 people 🙂 I never win something (definitely because I have too much love in my life), so it just had to be faith telling me something. My birthday also seemed like the perfect opportunity to use the voucher. Mondevino stands for the well-known Limburg hospitality, comfort, great food, great wines and for an evening never to forget (or afternoon if you go for lunch 😉 ) . I had also taken my precautions and found a little hotel close by… better safe than sorry!!

mondevino logo

On a very sunny day like it had been that day, one just wants to sit outside! So we did… but only for the apero as in Belgium the sun has to shine quite a bit before you can really stay out all night. We started our night with (how else) local Belgian bubbles (Trilogie) from the Optimbulles winery accompanied by perfectly (thin) sliced dried ham and some olives and shrimp/curry based appetizer. All that followed was the perfect recipe for a wonderful evening great food paired with the perfect matching wines… As Kris (the owner) and his wife Agna know I’m a wine lover they took our pairing to another level (or my pairing as my wife didn’t want to drink/taste as much as me)….



The First dish from our menu was a revisited version of ‘vitello tonnato’. Tuna sauce combined veal, asparagus and roasted butternut. For the wine we started just outside of the traditional Burgundy (Côteaux Bourguign)  region with a 2015 Sacy wine 🙂 (Sacy as in the grapes, not the word sassy 🙂 ) made at the Domaine Gueguen. The Sacy grape is a grape ripens early, and produces light-colored wines low in acid and alcohol. A grape that had almost disappeared… if you found it was mostly in a blend from Crémant de Bourgogne. In the nose it does remind a bit of Sauvignon… but in the mouth it is fresher and les “full” or aromatic, but a very nice match with the delicate flavors of the dish.

Revisited tonnato

Sacy wine

Catfish  with white cabbage, cockles and fresh herbs…for this dish Kris had foreseen some “spielerei”: 2 glasses of wine and for me to find out which wines it were… n°1 didn’t tell me anything as it was pretty closed at the first sniff. N°2 was familiar, but as always from where do I remember it?? My first tip was that they were both from the same country, but from a different part of that country 🙂 🙂 After a while Kris finally pulled me out of my misery and revealed the wines… Both French, the first one a 2014 Grenach made by the Le Plan estate from the Côtes du Rhône regoin and the second a 2014 Chardonnay by Pascal Marchand from Burgundy.

Wines 2nd dish Catfish

Next the Duroc porc belly with brioche, mushrooms and radicchio…This dish was without doubt given to make me crave for the dish that followed which was a very succulent  piece Solomillo “Duroc” meat perfectly cooked and still waters my mouth just by thinking of it. For these dishes some Italian wines seemed to do the trick 🙂 The first a 2013 Refosco from the Terre di Ger (Friuli Region) and the second wine a 2007 Guidalberto (red Tuscan) from the Tenuta San Guido (better known as the winery that makes Sassicaia – one of the Super Tuscans). Although The Guidalberto was a very gentle , delicate and tannic wine that I usually prefer drinking, I did prefer the Refosco with the Solomillo meat… In general a Refosco is quite powerful and tannic, with a deep violet color and a slight bitterness and mostly gets blended with a merlot to soften it. But in this case the 100% Refosco is actually fruitier/juicier and a nice marriage with the dish.

Pork belly Refosco Solomilo San Guido

Strawberries with lime, vanilla and ‘Napoleon’ ice sorbet. Napoleon is a in 1912 invented Antwerp piece of candy with a lemon taste, it is hard at the outside and a soft very very lemony and inside (historic Belgian piece of candy). From this piece of candy the Mondevino made a sorbet 🙂   combined with the sweetness of the vanilla and strawberries it was a very refreshing dessert! Kris paired with a legendary HungarianTokaji dessert wine made by the The Royal Tokaji Wine Company. The official name of the wine is Hàrslevelü Late Harvest pajzos Tokaij … not to sweet, just right 🙂 with a rich aroma with hints of peach and ripe apple and a juicy finish.


For me a dish is perfect when it has deep flavors that blow you away. Flavors that only can get obtained when a chef cooks with love and patience. A perfect example would be a Belgian stew that has cooked long and slow and rested overnight is a whole different story than one quickly made and immediately served… Only the first one will have to first one will have the flavors it is supposed to have!! To come back to the Mondevino dishes, they all had these deep flavors… which basically shows that the chef knows what he’s doing and he’s doing it with passion that he wants share with as many people possible(passionate people are always best)… resulting in me also eating it with lots passion as every bite invites for a second bite…

Very satisfied we turned to our hotel for a good night of sleep (without having to wake-up early as our baby girl was at my mom’s 🙂 ).

Anga & Kris pic by vtm koken

Thanks again Kris and Agna for making my birthday dinner so wonderful and see you soon! I am also sooo in love with your Berkel meatslicer 🙂


They keep surprising us

I have the feeling I keep repeating myself every year when I write about the new Bistronomy guide! Everytime it is launched I say it is a very good reference if you wish to eat well and want to get NO Nonsense food in Belgium and that they improve every year! BUT IT IS JUST THE THRUTH! Who thought Steve and Johannes (founders and owners) couldn’t surprise anymore or make their guide even better, think again, they succeeded to surprise again (and I think I’m not the only one) they literally spread their horizon since the last edition, this time they went across the language and even country boarders. After being a set value in Flanders, chefs from the French speaking part of Belgium, Luxemburg and even from the Netherlands have found their way to Bistronomy and in the guide.


For who doesn’t know yet what bistronomy stands for, it basically means No Nonsense food/restaurants where they serve bistro dishes that are brought in a more refined way. Thinking back to my visits to bistronomy restaurant gives me a big smile and the taste for more… BTW it doesn’t stop with the food as most restaurants also have a very nice wine selection like Les Eleveurs in Halle or Mondevino in Borgloon to name a few… but I don’t need to re-discover America, the motto described by the Bistronomy founders (that you seen below) speak for itself and describe exactly what Bistronomy stands for… and in case you doubt restaurants can be all that, just try and be amazed! Steve and Johannes were that excited about their new guide it was already in the shops the day before the press conference 🙂



Officially old, my 30th birthday

I’m still writing this blogpost as a 29 year old, but I have to face it tomorrow I’ll officially old! Tomorrow (27/05, so today) I’ll be having my 30th birthday (at 11:15pm to be precise). If it were for me I would have celebrated it in a modest way (with food obviously) and do nothing special… but my friends and especially my beautiful fiancée thought otherwise and they gave me  a birthday to remember. I also didn’t know my friends were such good liars or better so good at keeping a secret 🙂 as I really didn’t know anything about it.

my friend at comocomo

The first part of my threefold birthday celebration was with friends at the restaurant of a lovely hostess and friend of mine aka Comocomo which you might remember from one (or more) of my previous blogpost. I can say for a fact that my friends really love me as they spoiled me with gifts!! I’m not worthy to have such great friends 🙂 🙂 I can’t thank you enough. One person (besides my beautiful fiancée) I want to give a special thanks is the lovely Stephanie Straatman! She and my fiancée designed a brand new logo for my blog!!! A true beauty they designed, don’t you agree? Thanks again to ALL of you, you guys ROCK!!

Spinelli dolce vita

For the second part of my birthday  surprise my sweet woman took me to the restaurant from the chef that still up to today has made the best lamb meat I have ever eaten!! It is true I might have given a few hinds about where I wanted to go (yes woman of mine, two can play that game 😉 <3). The restaurant I’m talking about is Giovani Ooster’s “Vous Lé Vous” located in the gastronomical heart of Europe (blogpost) aka Hasselt. I wanted to come here as the few dishes I had tried from Giovani in the past just made me want to have the whole Giovani Oosters Gastronomical experience!

Vous le vous (1)

   Vous le vous herb_vegetable garden 

Vous le vous vegetable garden

Vous le vous restaurant

VLV the Chef table

To summarize my whole “Vous Lé Vous” experience… Giovani Oosters is the type of chef I like and that for fits perfectly into the list of my favorite chefs like Ingrid Neven (Pazzo) or Wouter Keersmaekers (Schone van Boskoop) to name a few. Why? Simple you can really see the passion and sparkle in their eyes when they are talking about food or when they are preparing the food and they try to share that passion with everybody (a bit like me) . I just love it! Passion is the best motivation in life!! What I also like about them is their respect and pride of local products which try to use as much as possible. You mostly notice this in the little things like in Giovani’s case the homemade herb butter or the fact that he has his own vegetable and herb garden at the restaurant for example….. This is to me what separates the cooks from the chefs! Take what I said above companied with the perfect team with that same passion you can see on their faces and you have the best gastronomical experience one can have! (with a smile)  

Happy Me

VLV freshly made bread and homemade herb butter

Let me start talking about the food, as that is what is all about (besides spending time with my woman) 🙂

 We started our evening with a variety of “amuses bouche” a feast for both the eyes as the taste buds. Rice croquettes, cucumber bonbon, salmon and asparagus role … just to name a few…. I had a classical “Gin tonic” with it, but they had replaced the gin with a local grain jenever.


VLV 2 Tomato flan  VLV 1 Cucumber panna cotta

VLV 3 rice croquette & Salmon VLV 4 Exploding cucumber bonbon

It might see unbelievable, but it got even better. Let me present to you the menu “Vous Lé Vous” served us:

Mackerel Escabeche with green celery, black olive crackers and crumble and something called green star accompanied with a 2011 (white) Spanish Arindo Verdejo from Bodegas Shaya

VLV 5 Escabeche of mackerel_ green celery_olive crackers_crumble and olive green star

Fried green asperge with a wild garlic mayonnaise, an Alken goat cheese crème and frog legs accompanied with a 2012 South African (white) Chenin Blanc/viognier from Bellingham vineyard

VLV 6 Fried green asperge_ wild garlic mayonnaise _crème of goat cheese from Alken_ frog legs

Langoustine with a asparagus carpaccio and mango and citrus flavors accompanied by a 2011 French (white) La Gascogne  aka Gros Manseng – Sauvignon Sec wine by Brumont

VLV 7 Langoustine with a asparagus carpaccio and mango and citrus flavors

Veal sirloin with chateau potatoes with lemon verbena, grilled asparagus and mini mushrooms accompanied by an 2011 (red) Italian Avignonesi from Cantaloro vineyard

VLV 8 Veal sirloin with chateau potatoes with lemon verbena mini asparagus and mushrooms

Cod fish with chateau potatoes with lemon verbena, grilled asparagus and mini mushrooms accompanied with a 2010 Argentinian (white) Septima (chardonnay/torrontes)

VLV 9 Cod fish with chateau potatoes with lemon verbena grilled asparagus and mini mushrooms

Desserts: Chocolate and coconut explosion, a rhubarb, hibiscus and Wellen strawberry dessert, a yogurt, pictache, pineapple dessert accompanied by a Spanish Moscatell Priorat from Rotllan Torra vineyard.

VLV 10 Chocolate and coconut explosion

VLV 11 rhubarb hibiscus and Wellen strawberry dessert

VLV 12 yogurt pictache pineapple

With the coffee also came some njammy delights! Even a chocolate “praline” with mustard

Delights that came with the coffee

Wasn’t I right that it was a treat for the eyes? If you also want to agree with me on the taste part I can only suggest for you to go to Vous Lé Vous and try it… or to “Limburg proeft” where Giovani will also be present  (amongst other great chefs/restaurants). Also a very good selection of wines Harald (sommelier) paired for us!

We stayed overnight at Vous lé vous’ chocolate room… this way we didn’t have to worry about drinking too much.

The chocolate room

beautiful bath in the room

I don’t mind celebrating my birthday, but I don’t like the spotlight being on me (you know what I mean?) So I never tell when I’m having my birthday dinner…  but I didn’t organize it… ok ok I’ll stop b…shitting, it is nice to get the extra attention…

 My happy b_day surprise

Giovani lighting the candle

Thanks again to Giovani, Harald (sommelier) and the rest of the “Vous lé Vous” team and to my beautiful fiancée for looking and being as great as always!

Giovani & me

The luv of my life

My birthday wouldn’t be my birthday without also having my family and especially my mom with me to celebrate it (yes, I’m a mama’s boy, so what?!)…. so the third and last part (unless I still have something coming?) was at my brother’s place for some lovely cake which was the perfect ending of a perfect weekend and now I’m all ready for a new decade!