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.

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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 🙂

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Enjoy!

It is all about the experience

Life is all about experiences, basically trying things you have never tried before. My wife and I have already been together for 15 years (although every day still feels like the first) and have already had so many wonderful experience together that finding new isn’t always that easy. Last week, to celebrate our 15th anniversary, I arranged an experience she didn’t expect at all.   I’m sure you now are all thinking I took her to some posh restaurant or some trip abroad, but those are things she would have expected me to do… and I guess that the eating part is mostly my favorite part (I’m sure she prefers the gift receiving). I took her to a restaurant chain called Colmar. For you who don’t know Colmar, Colmar is a Belgian chain of family diners that recently renovated all their restaurants :-). I bet you didn’t expect I would ever take her to a restaurant like this? Like I said before life is all about experiences and this doesn’t mean places like this can’t be an experience?! For me it was a totally new experience as I never ate at Colmar restaurants and for my wife it would be nostalgic as she used to come here from time to time with her parents when she was still a child… (and for some reason only ate hard boiled eggs). The food being served fast is a bonus now my wife is pregnant and doesn’t feel like spending hours at a dinner table 🙂

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Something I never doubted was the quality they serve for an honest price. There are soooo many people who eat at Colmar restaurants and every time I drive by one of their restaurants they always seem to be full. This can only indicate that the price/quality is good and you can also be sure you’ll be eating fresh food…Right? After my meal I can only confirm and agree with all those people. This is of course no top gastronomy (that is also not Colmar’s ambition), but good food for a good price and nothing wrong with that at all.

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Colmar restaurant

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Colmar has 3 menu options (4 if you take into account the special for kids) with Express as the most ‘basic’ menu and Enjoyer as the most elaborate menu and lover just in between those 2.

  • Express: Main course + drinks
  • Lover: Main course + starter or dessert + drinks
  • Enjoyer: Main course + starter + dessert + drinks

My wife and I decided to take the Enjoyer formula. I was surprised though with the variety of dishes going from burgers to spare ribs to kangaroo filet to codfish, etc… to even vegetarian dishes. They have something for everybody. The starters and desserts are to be taken by yourself from the buffet, the main course you order and it prepared in the kitchen. My wife had the salmon ‘en croute’ with bearnaise sauce and french fries as main menu. I had the Gourmand burger, but like in every other restaurant it was a tough decision to make as I saw lots of dishes I wanted to try… but for some reason greasiness always wins 🙂

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What I also enjoyed seeing is that every child I saw entering in the restaurant had a enormous smile of happiness. I also found out the reason why they have this smile, the waiters /personnel!! At one moment I even saw a little girl running to one of the waiters and jumping in his arms… if this doesn’t prove Colmar is a kid friendly environment I’m not sure what will?! I must also say that even for the grown-ups Colmar is a nice environment to sit, they did a great job with the renovation!

I do know it is in contrast with the restaurants I usually write about, but nevertheless I found it essential to write about this experience is an experience like any other experience I had so far. I am also sure this wasn’t our last time at one of the Colmar restaurant. FYI we ate at the Colmar Wezenberg.

Date night in Ghent

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I don’t know about you men out there, but I take my fiancée out for a date from time to time as even after being together for 14 years I still love spoiling her! It is a fact we see each other every day, but having a special night with just us 2  without having to cook  and getting served can be very nice. Don’t you agree?

This time I decided to take her for a night out in Ghent also known as the city where we lived for 2 years, it is a bit like going back in time. I took her to restaurant “Coeur d’Artichaut” located in the heart of the Ghent for dinner. It was the first time we ate at this restaurant, it did already exist when we used to live here, but we never made it here.. .BUT we did already have a meal made by the team from “Coeur d’artichaut” as they do the catering for the Liefmans Brewery and we once celebrated Valentine Day at the brewery. In the blogpost I wrote I said one day I’d be eating at the actual restaurant… and so a few weeks ago we finally made it there 😉

I do remember every time I passed by the restaurant it always looked very cozy and warm inside, so I hoped once I got inside it would be as I imagined it… it was.  I don’t know how I could describe the interior of the restaurant, a mix of old and newer I’d say :-).

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Their concept is actually eating healthy and showing the people this doesn’t necessarily means having boring low/light flavored food 🙂 and if you ask me they succeed very well in this “mission”… I have to admit that during my whole meal I felt like biting a piece out of the “pata negra” ham standing next to me 🙂 but I (or maybe it was my fiancée) was able to keep myself under control. What we did eat that night was as good as the ham probably was. We started with for me lobster with confit tomatoes, beurre blanc and hazelnut. My lovely fiancée had the terrine of foie gras with popcorn, mango and cashew. It tasted as good as it looked, maybe a bit too much foie gras, but who’s complaining 🙂 (Better a bigger portion than something to fill your hollow tooth)

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We continued our meal with for me Cod with spice crust, whelks, a cauliflower and coconut cream and a curry mayonnaise. My fiancée took the Oven roasted figs with quinoa, goat cheese and crispy bread

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Having a chocoholic fiancée I couldn’t finish this date with anything else than a nice chocolate dessert a white chocolate mousse with lychee, ganache and raspberry.

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The perfect ending of a perfect night… it might have been the moment or the Romeo in me speaking, but my fiancée looked more beautiful than ever that night… (well she actually looks great every night)

Restaurant Coeur d’Artichaut

Website: http://www.artichaut.be

Address: Onderbergen 6, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

Phone n° : +32 9 225 33 18

Bistronomie 2013

Bistronomie 2013

Yesterday the new Bistronomie guide for the year 2013 got introduced right in the heart of my favorite city in Belgium (Antwerp), namely at the “De Koninck” Brewery. For you who don’t know Bistronomie , Bistronomie is a guide of restaurants spread all over Flanders and Brussels that serve affordable gastronomy… (mostly also hidden treasures) What is not to like about that? Good food for a correct price?

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Brewroom De Koninck

I can also say for a fact that there are some real beauties in the Guide like L’épiceriedu cirque, Barta vin, àl’improviste, Veranda, BistrotMi’ró and JEF to name a few I’ve been to! Although  there are still lots of them to try (my wishlist is getting inhumanly proportions). So I can really advice to go and get this guide or look on their website for more info! Hope you guys will like as much as I do!

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BTW, I got a taste of my own medicine, you remember that in my previous blogpost I mentioned about ”gastronomical heart of Europe” that I was trying to make my fiancé curious about her birthday? Well now she will be using the Bistronomie for my birthday and I have no clue where she’ll be taking me 🙂 🙂 (Checkmate, that how they call that I think ;-))

Beer foodpairing at Bistronomie restaurants

I do hope one day Bistronomie will expand their guide with some great spots abroad (keeping my fingers crossed)

I would like to thank Johannes Denis and Steve Engels(founders Bistronomie) for showing and teaching everybody Gastronomy doesn’t have to be expensive!

Taste Eat love, love eat tastings

Ghent is a beautiful city and for me it always feels a little bit like coming home. Especially in the evening Gent is a magical city, with all its illuminated buildings!  Ghent also has some very nice restaurants, but when I used to live there I usually went to the same restaurants. So now every time I return I try to go to different spots… Something I cannot ignore is that Ghent has a lot of trendy and very cozy restaurants (I might say even more than in any other city in Belgium).

Do you guys remember my previous post about restaurant Eat Love? (find it via this link) In that post I mentioned that Valentina Gatti (fashion journalist and owner) also had a second restaurant ‘Mineral’. So this time I actually wanted to try it as I liked Eat Love so much, but when checking their website I had discovered that they had changed concept and renamed the restaurant and it is now known as ‘Eat Love Tastings’. Now they are spreading even more love 🙂 (and they also seem to have a waffle shop, they really have a lot of Love to give so it seems 🙂 )

Eat love Tastings is located at Ghent’s Onderbergen and you really cannot miss the entrance. Check the below picture and you’ll see why

When entering you walk through the hallway which has for me one of THE most beautiful floors ever (for a hallway) Just like their other restaurant, Eat Love Tastings has a beautiful interior  (a mix from old, newish and natural furniture) that makes you immediately feel like home. Top that with very friendly staff and great food and you have a hit!

As the name might already suggest, the concept of this restaurant is tasting food, therefore they work with ‘tapas’ kind of dishes which give you the opportunity to taste a bit of everything on the menu (which I like as sometimes I don’t know what to pick). You can obviously choose ‘à la carte’ or you can take the 6 or 9 tastings menu consisting of different dishes from on the menu that gets picked by the chef (unless you really have something you want to taste). We decided to go for the 6 tastings and because I really feel to share it all, feast your eyes on the pictures below

As you can see, they also pay a lot of attention to the way how they present their dishes (mission accomplished). In case you were wondering what all these dishes were: Stracciata di burrata, salami ventricina, lardo di colonnata, pumpkin and broad beans as bar bites. These dishes were followed by Haddock with celeriac puree, wheat risotto and Simmental entrecote. Last but not least we had a Clementine and speculoos dessert. All very tasty dishes!

On the wine card you find a wide variety of wines from Italy to France to South Africa and even 1 Indian wine. I could also see for a fact that who has picked the wines is a lover from the Veneto and Friuli wine region as all the Italian wines they had were from these regions. I’m personally also a lover from these regions!

Anyway, I can only suggest to try it yourself and feel the love while you’re eating

Restaurant Eat Love Tastings:

Website: http://www.eatlove.be/

Address: Onderbergen 25, 9000 Gent, Belgium

Phone n°: +32 (0) 486 800 100

Dinner at a flemish foodie

Yesterday evening I finally got to try restaurant J.E.F.in Gent! You cannot believe how long it took me to get a table. My expectations for this restaurant were pretty high, first of all as every review I have read about it was extremely positive. Secondly because Jason Blanckaert (chef and owner) is part of the Flemish Foodies…. So I wanted to try and check all this positiveness myself (not sure if this is a correct word, but it works for me).

For me restaurant J.E.F is the Gent version of L’épicerie du cirque (which is in Antwerp), the restaurant spreads a good vibe 🙂 from the moment you enter, both by the cozy interior (I liked it, especially the burn marked JEF lable on all tables) as the friendly staff. I was lucky enough to have the best spot of the evening, overlooking the partially open kitchen. This way I can also see the dishes I didn’t take (I’m a curious person).

If you are a too picky eater, I’m not sure if you’d find your ‘dada’ at J.E.F as we say. Lucky for me I’m no picky eater 🙂 and I liked the choice of dishes they proposed. Something I do have to add is that they also think of the vegetarians! In the choice of 4 starters and 5 main dishes there were refined veggie dishes (and no, no garden salad). For the starters you have to count between 15-20 EUR and for the main courses between 20-30 EUR. So, not to excessive.

Before we started eating, they gave a nice appetizer. They had made my favorite combination for a sandwich: ham, gherkins and crispy bread 🙂 (so for me it started well)

Yesterday evening we were lucky enough to try the new menu (they change it every x weeks). As a starter we took pork cheek with apple, pickles sauce and celeriac. As main dish I had the sole with crabmeat, pickleweed, hazelnut cream and bisque (probably made from the shell of the crab). I really love the hazelnut taste with the sole! My fellow eater had pork streaky, with young leak and ramsons.

I chose to go for wine with my meal, as they have a really nice wine list (between 5-7 EUR per glass). With my starter I had a white Pinot Blanc by Julien Meyer called ‘Les pierres chaudes’(I have to admit that I had chosen it because they said it was a funky wine J, so wanted to know their definition of it). With my main course I asked a suggestion of the restaurant, and funny enough they served (without me telling them) me a wine I had indeed laid my eyes upon, because it came from my dad’ s birthplace Valtellina, it was a Rosso di Valtellina from Ar.Pe.Pe. If you prefer beer (like my fellow eater), they also have a nice choice of beers and I’m sure the staff will be able to help you find a perfect match with your dish.

Something I really don’t want to keep from you, is the incredibly funny wall painting in the men’s room (FYI, normally I don’t take pictures here: -) )

I had a great relaxing night, thanks to the tasty food and the great company from my buddy Valentijn, if I would still live in Gent I’m sure I’d be a regular visitor of J.E.F.

FYI, for late eaters on friday, JEF has a special as between 10.30 pm – 01.00am you can eat a meal for 20 EUR!

Restaurant J.E.F.

Website: http://www.j-e-f.be

Address:

Lange Steenstraat 10,

9000 Gent, Belgium

Phone n°: +32 (0)9 336.80.58

What food and love have in common

It is no secret, the love of a man goes through his stomach….. with me this is no exception and my girlfriend knows that she can’t make me happier than with food (drink) related gifts. Last weekend I didn’t feel like cooking, so I asked my girlfriend in the morning to surprise me by bookoing a table in a restaurant of her choice … didn’t matter where it was…

She really did a great job! She knew that for a time now I wanted to go back to Ghent for dinner, as I really love walking through Ghent in the evening as everything gets illuminated  at night, this together with the water in the city, the old buildings, … just great! So she started searching and eventually  found a tip on Tiany Kiriloff’s website (as she didn’t want to go to something I knew).

On Tiany’s website she found restaurant Eatlove, which is a pizzeria and the second restaurant of Valentina Gatti (fashion journalist). The interior is actually very simple as it is made of pressed wood and yet very fashionable + cosinessr 🙂 I liked.

But ofcourse the interior is not going to take away my hunger 🙂

Eatlove is actually a pizzeria (but also serves a few other Italian dishes) and when it comes to Italian food I might say I’m pretty picky , not that I’m a difficult eater, as I will eat it anyway…

When we received our first course I have to say I was very pleased. As all the starters you could find on the menu were prepared in 3 ways, 1 traditional way and 2 more ‘experimental’ ways. I took the vitello (from the vitello tonnato) which had the traditional way, a lemon filling and a wasabi toping on the plate. My girlfriend ordered the carpaccio, with traditional carpaccio, veggie carpaccio with goat cheese and a salmon with special dressings. Again, I liked

For our main course, I took pizza Parma (I just love ham so much) and my girlfriend took the pizza Gamberi (shrimps)… They were both really nice! Honestly ! What is special about the pizza at Eatlove is that are not made with regular 00 flour (usually used), but made with semolino (or at least that’s how it tasted) and olive oil, which gives their pizza’s a different dimension. I’m sure this is not the last time I eat pizza here!!

FYI, if you come between 5pm and 7pm you get 5 appetizers with your drinks …and you can also

You also can’t miss their other restaurant ‘De Mineral’ as when going to the bathroom (at EatLove) and continue the hallway, you come in the entrance of ‘De Mineral’… sharing toilettes 🙂 I think I’ll have to try that as well (the other restaurant, not the toilettes)

So I really have to thank the beautiful lady on the picture below for this wonderful evening combining good food and love (yet again) and also Tiany Kiriloff for sharing the restaurant 🙂

And after our diner, we took a nice walk in Gent…

Restaurant EatLove

Website:  http://www.eatlove.be/

Address:

Ajuinlei 10a

9000 GENT, Belgium

Phone n°: +32 (0)479 879 387