Italian roadtrip 2016: 1st stop and already beyond the clouds

It had already been almost a year since my last wine trip, so it was about time to do another one. My idea to do one again actually came during a meal with Raffaele Bosciani from Masi who said he hoped I would pass by one day… let’s call it the trigger 🙂 The only problem I still had was to convince or better find the perfect time to tell my wife I was going on a wine trip… AND Then it happened, as if the gods were favorable to me my wife told me she was thinking of going on a weekend with her sister 🙂 🙂 In the time she was still thinking I had already planned 2 trips 🙂 (one wine trip with by buddy Carlos and one with my daughter to visit my grandparents in Italy). Deciding which vineyards to visit was quite difficult as I wanted to visit lots of them, but I must say I had my mind made up pretty quickly. This wine trip brought us to 3 different Italian regions, we started in Alto Adige with a visit to the Elena Walch vineyard. We continued our trip in Veneto with visiting Masi and Guiseppe Quintarelli (and surprise stops at Farina and Bulgioni). To finally end our trip on what we called white wine Saturday at Ca dei Frati in Lombardy and Sandro de Bruno in Veneto again (Soave).

Route trip

What I love about travelling to Italy, is the fact that no matter where you go or how big the vineyard is they still receive you as you are part of the family.. I guess that’s the southern hospitality…

On the road

After a looooong drive we finally arrived in a little town of Termeno that is a few kilometers from Bolzano and from the Austrian border. What you notice when you are in this region is the Austrian influence in the housing, but also the fact that I think around 80% of the people speak German as first language (but all of them also speak very good Italian). We also couldn’t have imagined a better way to start our trip/holiday then in Termeno, we started it with a wonderful lunch at  Ansitz Romani outside in the open air with a nice bottle of Pinot Bianco from the Elena Walch estate… to already get familiar with the vineyard we were about to visit after the lunch  😉 FYI believe it or not, but the picture of the wine was taken with a smart phone camera (Huawei P9 –  with Leica lens)

Pinot Bianco Elena Walch

Ansitz Romani

Normally it was Julia Walch who would be showing us around, but unfortunately she had to travel abroad… but she had found good substitutes, her mother aka Elena Walch herself 🙂 and Lena a lovely young lady (oenology student) who was doing a internship at the vineyard and who I can say was very passionate about wines.

Elena Walch and daughters

Azienda vinicola Elena Walch was only founded in 1985 but the Walch Family already makes wine under the the name Wilhelm Walch that make ‘table wine’( or everyday wine or however you prefer calling it) since 1869 but it was not until Elena’s husband took over the family estate that he together with his wife Elena (who until then was architect) decided to start making next to the Wilhelm range of wines also wines of a higher quality or better ‘Cru’ wines from the grapes of their best parcels which they would make under the name Elena Walch. Eventhough Elena stopped working as an architect in 1985  when they founded the Elena Walch estate, you can clearly see that once an architect – always an architect 🙂 you see the influence of an architect in the newest part of the estate (the buildings that is) . You just know these are details only an architect would think of (I know Elena didn’t design it herself, but I’m sure she influenced it) like special lightning, the shapes of everything, etc…

It also seems like the next generation is getting ready to take over the torch as both daughters of Elena Walch recently joined the family estate and work in the Marketing department and took over most of the travelling from their parents.  When I asked Elena if it was difficult to work together with her daughters she said: “It is not difficult, but you do notice the difference with a regular employee. When you tell a regular employee something he’ll just do it. My daughters on the other hand 🙂 :-)”  But was very happy they were around and helping and continuing the business.

Elena Walche Estate 1 Elena Walche Estate2 Elena Walche Estate3 Elena Walche Estate4 Elena Walche Estate5 Elena Walche Estate6

The vineyard does use the most modern techniques and machinery , but they do still try to respect tradition. This you mainly see in the older part of the vineyard. What I personally love is the big decorated barrels… something they only back in the day as nowadays making the decorating  would cost too much

Elena Walche Estate 7  Elena Walche Estate 9 Elena Walche Estate 10 Elena Walche Estate 11 Elena Walche Estate 13

The philosophy of the estate is dedicated to its ‘terroir’. They have the idea that wines must be the expression of the grounds, climate and even of the cultivation in the vineyard that like mentioned gets done according to the most modern techniques and to principles of sustainability. The two main territories (where the grapes grow)  of the Elena Walch estate are Castel Ringberg (the ‘regular’ top wines. In France they would call it premier cru) and Kastelaz (the absolute top or Grand Cru) that today have a surface of almost 55 Ha. Where other estates in the region might mix grapes from multiple territories, at Elena Walch they handle the grapes separate (something similar like they do at the Bollinger Champagne estate).

Castel Ringberg that was once owned by the Hapsburg dynasty is located on mostly steep chalky soil, but with some sandy and loamy parts (basically a quit unique combination as mostly it is one of the 3). Because of the diversity of soil  it allows the estates to be very flexible and grow a very wide range of grape variaties: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lagrein, Schiava. Again something very unique. I was really surprised about the amount of varieties as I thought in the mountains (even-though the Elena Walch vineyards are only up to 400m altitude above sea level) were very difficult and only a few grape varieties were strong enough to grow here… but that’s why I like to visit vineyards as you always learn news things you don’t always learn in books 😉

Castel Ringberg

What makes Kastelaz more special for Elena Walch or maybe even for the whole region is the southern location of it that creates micro-climatic conditions. Most other pieces of land in Alto Adige follow the valley and therefore get less sunshine. In difference with Ringberg, at Kastelaz there are only 3 grape varieties grown Gewürztraminer, Merlot and Pinot Bianco. This is due first of all because the soil here is chalk with raw rock like granite which isn’t the ideal soil for grapes, only a few can survive in these conditions


It is of course all nice to know that they separate all of this, but how does it reflect in the glass.  Well we obviously didn’t try all the wines they have as that is I believe 31 different wines. From the wines we did try you can actually draw a line or find a red wire in all the wines (and it seems that most guides like Robert Parker, Gambero Rosso and Wine spectator agree on this when I read their comments about the wines they tasted). The Elena Walch wines are full bodied yet very elegant with a harmonious acidity where needed and a long length/finish (that I personally like a lot) and on top of all that every wine (because of its grape variety and location where it came from) adds that own specific mark on the identity.  Every taster we were served asked for more… I mean even the heavier red wines had that fresh part in them and want you to have more 🙂

Just FYI another piece of modern architecture at the estate is the Bistrot where we tasted the wines… not to speak about the view

Elena Walch Bistrot

One of our favorites (and I do think I speak for myself as for Carlos who joined me during this trip) was the Castel Ringberg Sauvignon with its fresh nose of minerals and green apples that definitely do not disappoint once you taste!! You’d be surprised how often a wine has a wonderful nose, but when you taste it its not what you hoped for… but in this case the taste was everything you’d hoped it to be 🙂 that’s also why we brought a box home :-). I do realize I can buy all those wines here in Belgium or anywhere else in the world for that matter…but you just get caught up in that moment that you just have to have it then and there 🙂 🙂 (a feeling we had quit a few times during this trip 🙂


Another wine that got our immediate attention was the Pinot Nero ‘Ludwig’ Aged for 14 months in half new oak and half old oak, its power is discreetly brought to the surface by subtle tannins and lively acidity. Perfumed, complex, elegant, it is drinkable now, but I guess a bit of aging wouldn’t hurt… so we’ll have to try not to touch those bottles we brought back home 😦

Pinot Nero Ludwig

I can say for a fact that we couldn’t have imagined a better first day! A great lunch (with great wine), being around lovely beautiful ladies a whole afternoon (I don’t remember seeing to many men working at Elena Walch‘s estate) and finishing the day with a good piece of meat and some great red wine at the Schwarz Adler 🙂 What more do we need?? We also slept like babies as it had been a very very long day.


Next stop VERONA!!!

In case you would want more information on Elena Walch wines or where to buy them in Belgium you can contact Young Charly. For the rest of the world you can check the Elena Walch website or contact the Elena Walch estate directly

Healthy High tea

Normally I don’t write 2 times about the same thing, but sometimes I make an exception, either because I like the product/place very much or the people behind it (in this case both).  Although it has already been a few months since my first healthy breakfast experience by “Floom” during one of its famous brunches. It didn’t make me a lesser fan. My only problem was that due to lots of full weekends I wasn’t able to join the other brunches they held after the one I went to :-(.  This weekend the tables turned. I found out they would not only have their ‘traditional brunch, but also a high tea in the afternoon!!! I cleared my agenda and contacted Floom to add a chair at the the table of friend who told me 🙂 I know it seems like me inviting/pushing myself at my friend’s table…but I just wanted to get floomanised again!!! So if for that I need to push… be it 😉 🙂 but for the record, my friends were more than happy to have me at their table… I obviously first asked them… if they would have said ‘No’I would have asked for a free table riiiiiight next to their table and looked at them in a very angry way 😉


So all of this just to say I joined Floom’s high tea aka Floom delight 🙂 :-)It was only the 2nd time I tried Floom’s dishes, but just like the first time I was surprised how njammy all of this food is even it being of a healthy level I usually don’t have in the morning/afternoon. Part of the temptation is also because of the nice presentation… the eye wants what they eye wants. Just like with the ‘regular’ Floom brunches they always try to find a nice and unique location, which in this case was very unique! At some point I was afraid they were gonna ask me to do some push-ups after eating as the high tea took place at m4teria. M4teria is basically a gym where you train with a personal coach 🙂 luckily it wasn’t part of Floom’s concept this time… it would have taken eating healthy to a whoooooole new level.


What makes me even happier is to see that Floom tries to involve other local products in its brunches or better the passionate people behind these products. Like for last weekend’s event Aldo Neri a bakker (with a big B) that brings bread to another level or Migino that is famous for its oils made out of nuts ( a favorite of lots of famous chefs) that made in case of the brunch his Nutella-like chocolate paste but without added sugars 🙂 . Even the Bubbles, Cuvée Joseph,  we had were local … basically nothing but getting surprised and learning new things this afternoon….

Cuvée joseph

Let us not forget the Floom  home made products as that’s what the whole high tea or brunches are about (well that and being healthy). Please feast your eyes on a the list of some of the bits and bites we got to enjoy

  • Scones
  • Dried fruit jam (I ate the whole jar)
  • Raspberry chia jam
  • Granola bites
  • Mini chocolate donuts
  • Carrot cake flap jacks
  • Granola cookies (they came with a raspberry jam on top of them, njaaaammy…)
  • Raspberry cookies
  • Raw cookies
  •  Sandwiches with salmon and cucumber ;  beetroot and carrot (on of my favorites)  and egg-salad


Glad I was part of this edition!! Fingers crossed I make it for their next brunch or delight event!! If you would want to be part of their next brunch of delight event, check their facebook page!!

Looking back on 10 weeks of Hello Fresh

Being able to cook without having to do the shopping, a dream for most people! Hello Fresh makes this possible for you without having a butler at home :-). What Hello Fresh does it basically make you a food package for a 3 or 5 days (per week) regular or vegetarian with all recipes and fresh ingredients (from local growers) included to make the predefined dishes. There are some ingredients you need at home like olive oil or salt and pepper, but besides that you’ll find everything in the box. They even give tips how/ what you can put in the freezer or on how to storage the food to keep the food fresh.

Hello Fresh

My wife and I already tried a similar concept like Hello Fresh about 2 years ago, but we stopped it as it didn’t fit our lifestyle at that moment. We were never home at night which resulted in food being thrown away.  We did like the concept and we do still use some of their recipes.  When our daughter was born (about 4 months ago) and we knew we would be home much more than before it seemed like a good idea to start again with a concept like Hello Fresh.

Why Hello Fresh and not one of the others? When a new baby is born, the parents get a few boxes filled with coupons, samples and other baby related things. One of those boxes offered a coupon for Hello Fresh… and that’s why we decided to try Hello Fresh. After ‘using’ Hello Fresh for about 10 weeks (as we do sometimes still go out and on holiday 🙂 ) we can say we are still happy with our decision. I know it might seem that I’m not into cooking or shopping for food anymore, but that’s not true. I do still enjoy going to open air markets or the supermarket and cook my recipes. I still do all of that in the weekends. Now I’m just able to spend a bit more time with my family and not having to ask my wife over and over again what she feels like eating tonight or tomorrow (it made her crazy sometimes 🙂 there you have reason n°2 😉 ).


What I like about the recipes from Hello Fresh, is that they are simple and everybody should be able to make them. Another advantage is that no recipe takes more than 40 minutes to cook (most of them not even more than 30min). I must admit that you can sometimes tell the recipes are Dutch as some combinations seem rather strange like lasagne for example with a salad to go with it (as an Italian, that’s a big no no). What I then usually do is just leave the salad out and eat it during the weekend and buy a few extra ingredients. Or I also sometimes make recipes in a different way then described as I know it will just be better my way… (without adding extra ingredients that is). Nevertheless most recipes are very nice and we enjoy them. Another benefit is that their recipes are good for your health as they only provide the portions you are actually supposed to be eating a day. I must admit that when I see some of the portions in the box I think ‘that will never be enough’ and I’m wrong 98% of the time 🙂 Last but not least, another advantage of Hello Fresh is that you throw away less food. The recipes also contain a table with up to 6 people the amounts that should be used for the ingredients (including if they are ok to eat for people who have problems with Lactose or Gluten)


Libanese wrap recipeLIbanese wrap recipe 2

Hello Fresh also uses forgotten vegetables, from time to time replace the usual potatoes and pasta with quinoa, couscous or any other thing you can replace it with. Basically you get to eat stuff you usually wouldn’t buy or eat, but are now ‘forced’ to eat and in the end love it and think why you never tried it before :-).

Hello fresh recipe 2 Hello fresh recipe 3 Hello fresh recipe 4 Hello fresh recipe Hello fresh recipe 5

I’m sure my wife and I will keep making use of the Hello Fresh services some more. BTW Hello is very spread out as it delivers in Australia, UK, USA, Austria, Germany and obviously Belgium and  The Netherlands.


How to make Cannelés de Bordeaux

Making desserts has never been my thing, also in cooking school (highschool) we learned how to make lots of nice desserts it didn’t crumble my cookie 😉 😉 😉 Nevertheless from time to time I like eating  like a nice ‘tarte tatin’ or ‘rice pie’… I don’t reallyt make them myself as you can buy them very well prepared in lots of bakeryshops. A dessert or better ‘ friandise‘ I was very keen on learning how to make as you don’t find easily (well prepared ones even more difficult) are ‘Cannelés de Bordeaux’. When a few weeks ago I got served some cannelés at restaurant Ardent and I just had to ask the chef how he made them as even though the recipe isn’t difficult there are always a few tips and tricks you can’t find in books… I even pushed my luck that far on asking him very very kindly if he could maybe show me :-). Lucky me Wouter van Steenwinkel is a very friendly guy who was more than willing to teach me all the tips and tricks to make my beloved ‘Cannelés de Bordeaux’ 🙂 (and to give me a few to eat at home that never got  home 🙂 🙂 )


The recipe below is to make ca.75 cannelés. Before we start I must tell you that the batter must be made a day in advance before baking!! The good news is that the batter can be kept for almost 2 weeks in the fridge.  It is also advisable to prepare the cannelés in silicone baking tin (if you have stainless steel they’ll also work, but they don’t give an extra value to the result)


  • 1l milk
  • 100g butter (cut in small dice)
  • 1 dried vanilla fruit (NO EXTRACT, THE ACTUAL FRUIT)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 eggyolks
  • 500g sugar
  • 200g flour
  • Brown rum
  • Salt
  • Beeswax (for cooking not for cleaning) or butter to grease the baking tin
  • A needle

Getting Started

The batter:

  • Put a the milk, butter and vanilla fruit (but open) to a boil on a medium heat


  • Take a large bowl to make the batter.
  • Put all the eggs together with the sugar and start mixing them. Just mixing as there doesn’t need to be too much air in the eggs….


  • Add the flour and a pinch of salt. Mix again until you don’t see the flour anymore.


  • When the butter had been totally dissolved in the milk add the milk to the egg mix, just a little bit at a time en kip mixing with a whisk(so NOT all in one time )


  • When you added all the milk add a bit of brown rum. How much is up to you (it speaks for itself that you shouldn’t be adding a whole bottle. Let’s say a shot glass will do 🙂 don’t act as if you don’t have a glass like that at home from a crazy tequila night ;-). Give a last whisk.


  • Sieve the batter into a bucket or other recipient, something in which you can put the batter to put it in your fridge. Let it first cool down before putting in fridge.

Baking the cannelés:

  • Pre-heat your oven at 200°C (392°F)
  • Give you batter a quit little mix with a whisk or ladle.
  • Lightly grease the baking tine with either melted butter or beeswax


  • Pour the batter into the forms, but not all the way to the top as the cannelés will grow. SO keep it a few millimeters from the top.


  • Put in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes
  • Change the oven temperature into 180°C (356°F)
  • Open the oven and sting the cannelés with a needle on the sides so they collaps


  • Close the oven and let them bake for another 30minutes
  • After 30 minutes turn the form over on top of a baking tray and put the cannelés for a few more minutes (2) in the oven


  • Take them out of the oven to cool down



A special thanks to Wouter van Steenwinkel from Restaurant Ardent for making this happen 🙂

Tour de France without bikes but with wine: Les Hospices de Beaune

We obviously had to eat during our, but this wasn’t easy as thought… not because there were not enough restaurants, but because the famous Hospices de Beaune were about to take place the next days (so lots of people from all over the world already traveled to Beaune). The Hospices de Beaune aka Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune is first of all know for formerly being a charitable almshouse in Beaune founded in 1443 by chancellor of Burgundy Nicolas Rolin, as a hospital for the poor. The Hôtel-Dieu, one very beautiful building to say the least. Nowadays they service their patients are in new/modern hospital buildings.

Hôtel Dieu (2) Hôtel Dieu

The second reason they are very well know (mostly amongst winelovers) is because of their yearly charity wine auction held in November (so the period I was in Beaune :-)) already since 1851 (on the 3rd Sunday of November to be more precise) . Domaine des Hospices de Beaune is a non-profit organization that owns around 61 hectares (150 acres) of donated vineyard land by patients (with most appellations being Grand and Premier cru). So as they are a non-profit organization they decided to yearly keep auctions where the bidding happens mostly by professionals, but surprisingly also by a lot of private buyer and they can bid on 31 cuvées of red wine and 13 of white wine. I have no clue for which prices these barrels are sold, but I’m sure some nice investments can be done by the cause. The Hospices de Beaune is also the moment all winemakers in Beaune open their doors to the public and they whole town celebrates with food and wine 🙂 Also it is up to the buyer to age, cure and elaborate the wine further…


Hospices de Beaune

This year's hosts Michel Drucker et l'ex-mannequin Adriana Karembeu

Hospices de Beaune wine

Hospices de Beaune wine Bouchard

So moral of my story is that most restaurants were fully booked and I just had to look harder to find one 🙂 But instead of looking I just asked local people as to my opinion this is still the best way to discover good new places! One of the restaurants we were suggested and liked during our stay in Beaune was the Ermitage de Corton located a few minutes outside the city center of Beaune (direction Nuits St. Georges). The spot if you are looking for good refined food to be enjoyed in a relax atmosphere and put your thoughts on hold for a few hours. That is how I would describe the Ermitage de Corton…

Ermitage de Corton

As we were in Bourgogne it didn’t seem a bad idea to take the menu Bourguignon… I started with a Poached egg a in a red wine sauce with onion and bacon. Carlos being a snail lover started with the Chinese cabbage stuffed with snails, butternut and chestnut mousse.  Mine tasted as I wanted it to taste, which is basically comfort food where you can taste the butter and rich ingredients 🙂

Chinese cabbage stuffed with snails, butternut and chestnut mousse Poached egg a in a red wine sauce with onion and bacon

As we already had been tasting the whole day it wasn’t easy to decided which wine we wanted, but as I know Carlos is a big white wine fan we chose a nice bottle  2011 Saint-Romain, “Sous Le Château” by Christophe Buisson. Why I chose this wine? Well first of all I wanted to try a local wine that I hadn’t tried yet that was affordable 🙂 . I can also say for a fact it was a very nice bottle of wine, very floral with a little richer taste that everybody would like. Perfect for an evening amongst friends.

Saint-Romain Sous Le Château 2011

We continued our meal with for me Steamed fillet of plaice with quinces, lemons and walnuts, Crémant Sauce and polenta crisps. Although I must admit Carlos’ choice did make me doubt as he had the Beef cheeks cooked in a red wine sauce during 7 hours… (I did get to taste some 😉 )

Beef cheeks cooked in a red wine sauce during 7 hours Steamed fillet of plaice with quinces, lemons and walnuts, Crémant Sauce and polenta crisps

We finished our meal with French toast of gingerbread, pears poached in red wine… more comfort food I’d say. A lovely meal in great company!

French toast of gingerbread, pears poached in red wine

A few other places you have to try when you have the chance when visiting Beaune:

Up to Damery …

Discovering more of the unknown

We could not come to the Pajottenland and not visit at least one brewery and learn more about the most famous regional products aka Lambic beers like Geuze or Kriek (cherry beer). Visiting only one brewery knowing we came from far would have been sad… that’s why we visited 2 breweries 😉

We visited 3 fonteinen and Boon that on size are very different as Boon is maybe 6 times bigger (at least) than 3 fonteinen . But when it comes to passion they are just alike, both owners have THE sparkle in their eyes when they can talk about Lambic beers and on top of that they are both great guys! If you want to learn what there is to learn on making Lambic beers, they are definitely the guys to contact!

Armand de Belder

Boon 6

Something important to know before I continue talking about the breweries is the difference between making of regular beer and Lambic beers. A very big difference can already be found in the fermentation process! Lambic beers have something called a spontaneous fermentation, because they make use of “wild” or “natural” yeast that comes  basically from the air around us… did you know there are 86 kinds of wild yeasts in the air? Well there are!  So you can imagine how long it must take before a Lambic beer can be made. Normally this takes between 3 and 8 months.  An essential ingredient in beer is hop. Hop is actually used against the acidification of the beer.  For Lambic beers the brewers will only be using “old” hop (2-3 years old) because if they would use young hop the beer would be to bitter and the beer won’t last as long (for ageing). So depending on the amount of Old hop the brewer use the Lambic beers will be sourer or bitterer. (Sourness is typical for the Lambic beers). The last thing you should know about the lambic beer making is that after cooling down the beer is put in old oak wine barrels to ferment for a few more years which gives yet another typical taste to Lambic beers.

What makes Geuze extra special is that to make Geuze the brewer will be mixing (or blending) young and old lambic beer. The reason for this is because the young lambics are not fully fermented, the blended (so after mixing) beer contains fermentable sugars, which allow a second fermentation to occur. This is also the reason why the Geuze bottles are always closed with the same cork as a champagne bottle as the ,in our case beer, will keep fermenting in the bottle.

Ok, now I’ve explained a few important “must know” facts from Lambic beer I can tell you more about the two breweries we’ve visited. I’ll start with Armand de Belder’s story aka the man and passion behind the 3 fonteinen Brewery.  For some Flemish people the name 3 fonteinen might ring a bell as this is one of the favorite beers of the Belgian celeb chef Jeroen Meus (Restaurant Luzine) who used it in a few recipes that I think almost every Flemish family already make around the Christmas period 🙂 (Guilty as charged). Anyhow what is important to know about this brewery is that they initially  (the current owner’s parents)used to be “geuzenstekers”, which is the name for a brewery that will mix young and old Lambic beer from other breweries (so they don’t make their own beer from scratch). Back in the day the only used to make beer to serve in their own restaurant, but as. It was not until 1999 that Armand and his brother (after taking over business) started making their own Lambic beer from scratch which they then blended with “Lambic” from other breweries. 2009 was a catastrophic year for the 3 fonteinen  brewery as due to a defect in the warehouse thermostat 5000 bottles of beer exploded and beer to fill over 80000 bottles was ruined.  I’m sure I don’t have to draw a picture of the financial disaster this caused. But Armand it a fighter and didn’t thrown in the towel yet, he continued blending beers (without his own Lambic) and as of this year he slowly started making his own Lambic beer again. A truly remarkable story!

3 font 1




3 font 2 3 font 3

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The second brewery, Boon, we visited has a totally different story. This brewery was originally founded around 1860 and mostly produced “Kriek” or better known as cherry beer in English. In 1978 the very small brewery got taken over by the current owners aka Boon family that made it one of the biggest breweries in the region and since 1989 has a partnership with Palm Breweries which made them an even bigger player on the beer market around the world.  I must say it is quite impressive walking through this brewery and seeing the process how a Lambic beer gets made from scratch and I’m not even talking about the incredible and enormous barrel chambers where the Lambic rests…


What to do when you don’t want to break down the original factory but still want to enlarge your company? That’s write just build over it and keep the original inside in its original state :-). Unless that’s how Frank Boon did it with his factory.

  Boon 2 Boon 4

Boon 3  Boon 1 

Boon 5

Boon 7

I did indeed enjoy to hear all about their breweries, but at some point standing still and listening gave a dry throat 🙂 luckily we were in breweries so moooooooore than enough to solve that problem.

The biggest difference between the beers of the 2 breweries to me is the sourness as the beers made by Boon are easier to drink and for a wider public. This doesn’t mean I didn’t like the 3 fonteinen   beers because I did like them, especially the cherry beer as this one of the few ones where you can actually taste the actual cherries. I’m just saying that you’d serve a Lambic bier/Geuze to somebody who didn’t every drink this type of beer before you’d better start with Boon as 3 fonteinen  is more for the ones used of drinking this type of beer. This is my impression of the beers, it is like the French say “les goûts et les couleurs, ça ne se discute pas”. One of my personal favorites was th eGeuze “Mariage Parfait” from Boon.

Mariage parfait boon

One thing is for sure that both beers are made with passion and I’ve also learned there is a lot of mutual respect amongst the Lambic brewers!

You guys should really visit this beautiful region and taste its products! Enjoy

Zia Livia’s homemade Gnocchi

I’m sure you have already heard me talking about my beloved zia Livia from Trieste? In case you didn’t she basically is a person that has a very central place in my heart. Next month she’ll become 80, but she has more energy than all of us together (REALLY) and when you see her you’d think she’s around 60 instead of 80. Anyhow for me she is the absolute best cook in the world as she first of all always makes all my favorite dishes and secondly because she makes everything fresh from scratch and gets her ingredients from farmers close to where she lives (so basically the best you’ve ever eaten).  Two weeks ago I was visiting her again and man did she spoil me again (food wise that is). Today I want to share with you one of her recipes or better her recipe for making Gnocchi di patate which she serves with a “sugo di carne”, but you guys can serve it with regular tomato sauce or bolognaise or whichever sauce you want.  Originally the Umbrian “patata rossa” is used to make gnocchi, but if you don’t find them it is important to use very floury potatoes.

Ingredients (for 4 people):

  • 1 kg potatoes (floury)
  • 250g flour
  • 1 egg
  • Salt
  • 30 g farm butter

Getting started:

  • Leave the potatoes unpeeled and cook them like you would normally cook them to make mashed potatoes. You can see when there are almost ready when the ‘skin’ starts to rip.
  • Peel the potatoes

Peel the potatoes

Puree the potatoes

  • Add a pinch of salt and butter to the potatoes and start kneading, add the egg once the potatoes are a bit cooler (not ice cold of course) and slowly add the flour. Keep kneading until you have a firm dough ball.

mix potato with salt_butter and egg

Add in flour

  • Cut off a piece and make a kind of “sausage” out of it (see pic below)

Cut a piece of the firm ball

Make a sausage

  • Cut the “sausage” in small equal  (keep doing this until dough is done)

Cut the suasage


  • My aunt now finish them but rolling them over the backside of a cheese grater, but you can also use a for or just leave them like they are  (the difference would just be that the ‘incisions will be able to absorb a little bit more sauce)

pass over cheese grater

pass over cheese grater (2)

  • Boil salted water and put the ‘gnocchi in the water (one by one) once the water starts boiling.

Boil water and add gnocchi

  • When the ‘gnocchi’ start floating it means they are ready for serving.

When start floating they are ready

  • Drain them

but in bowl and add sauce

  • Put them in a bowl and add the sauce of your choice. Zia Livia adds her heavenly “sugo di carne”

Buon appetito

Buon appetito

Cookware for life!

I am one lucky guy! You want to know why?? Not only was I fortunate to be surrounded by a group of lovely ladies like Ruth Sas (Niente di particolare), Kim Recour (Cookanista) and Caroline Dhont (Avocado van de duivel). On top of that I got to visit the Demeyere factory!! This is so special as they don’t have that many visit opportunities so this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.


For my foreign readers the name Demeyere  might not sound familiar, so let me give you a short (or at least I’ll try to keep it short) introduction. Demeyere  is company making high quality cookware since 1908 and makes 98% of its products in Belgium or better in Antwerp (I bet now all know where I’m from 😉 ). Initially their factory was in the heart of Borgerhout/Deurne (just outside the Antwerp City center) where they until 1967 mostly made tableware as cookware and the kitchen in general didn’t have the central place back then as it has now. In 1980 they moved to their current location Herentals as they needed more space to be able to perfect their production process and expand the production itself (FYI, still in Antwerp Area). Today their Herentals factory is around 30 000m², so I don’t have to explain the progress they made over the years and they keep investing in the future of the company.  Demeyere  was also the second company in the world to start making cookware in stainless steel and a thermal base. (I didn’t know this before my visit). Currently the company is lead by Christophe Demeyere who is the 4th generation and took over the leading position from his father in 2008.

Christophe Demeyere

Demeyere Herentals 4

It is indeed true that buying a Demeyere   pot is quite the investment… In my personal case when I moved out of my parents’ house I “borrowed” a few  Demeyere  pots/pans from my mom (I’m pretty sure she knows by now she won’t see them back any time soon (unless she comes to have dinner at my place)). I know it might sound like a sales talk (and no, I’m not getting a discount from them by saying this)but when you buy  Demeyere  you buy it for life!! Already for the fact that Demeyere  gives a 30 year guaranty on every pot or pan you buy!! Yes 30, one has to be very sure of their product before giving that much guaranty… It still stays a big investment but it will last much longer than when buying ragular cookware. You could just do like me and ask for Demeyere  cookware for Christmas :-). FYI, the Young series by Demeyere is the affordable option in case you are just moving out of your parents’ house.

Young by Demeyere

I was already convinced, but the factory visit opened my eyes even more! Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take pictures during my visit (but I did get my hands on a few to get a small view behind the scenes), because it is quite impressive to see how a flat piece of steel gets transformed into a usable pot/pan. I am always so amazed by the machinary used to make something, I think it must be a great feeling inventing/building machines like that.  When wanting to make a good product it all starts with using the good base materials.  Demeyere  uses stainless steel (in addition with cupper in some cases) as a base, which already differentiates them from the “regular” brands you’ll find around as they mostly use aluminum, which is cheaper, but less sustainable.  Before a piece of cookware leaves the Demeyere factory they will ALL be “used “1 time… not really for cooking, but they heat the pot or pan to a temperature of 250°C and cool it down to see if there are irregularities in the cookware base (bottom) to make sure that whoever buys the pot/pan will be able to have the ultimate cooking experience in the best conditions.

Demeyere Herentals 8

Demeyere Herentals10

Demeyere Herentals 7

Demeyere Herentals 6

Demeyere Herentals 5

Demeyere Herentals 2

Demeyere Herentals 3 Maurits Demeyere

One last thing I want to share with you (again something I didn’t know before) is how much thought and craftsmanship is put into the creation and design of every new pot/pan. Also how important the collaboration between the “architect” (like Stefan Schönig or John Pawson) and the engineers is to combine design and easy/good usability.  To give an example a regular cookware maker would just form a pot and leave everything as it is, at Demeyere  they will for example cut the edge of the pot in a particular way that if you are pouring a liquid fluid from your pot into something else the pot won’t be leaking afterwards (so no drops on the side of the pot)… just to give one example. or that there are no skrews from the handle visible in the pot itself as this could be unhygienic as “bacteria” could go under the skrews. My personal favorite set of pots and pans is the Apollo serie

Apollo serie

I’m always so proud when a small Belgian (Antwerp) company grows out to a company exporting its “Made In Belgium” products all over the world!! (Also great to know Christophe Demeyere  lives right around the corner of my street :-))

part of the Demeyere showroom

Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying normal cookware doesn’t do the job, as at the end it is the cook that will make the difference.  But when you use the better tools for some reason it always feels better … just like with a car a VW lupo drives fine, but a Audi A8 just drives better 🙂

Just try one and hope you’ll be as convinced as me….

Anyhow, good thing they had Roger Van Damme (Het Gebaar) there to sweeten our factory visit with some heavenly desserts!

Roger Van Damme

Summer dessert

Chocolat dessert

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!


Music was my first love… Or was it food?

Not all of you guys might know it, but I have a bit of a music history. Around the age of 11 I started playing drums and has always been a big passion of mine. Over the years I got quit good at it (but I don’t like to brag) and I was fortunate enough to meet some of the best musicians I might even say legends that have played with the biggest names. Through the years some of these people turned into very good friends.  Initially they saw me as a drummer/musician, but as more time past (and I started to enjoy food more) they saw me more as a synonym for good food (on top of the drummer/musician). It is true I could be the synonym for worse things 🙂 . It actually works in two ways whenever they are on tour and they stop in Belgium I take care of them and make sure they’ll be tasting the best Belgium has to offer, whenever I’m visiting the country or better city they live in they do the same for me. Nowadays I don’t play too much drums anymore as at a certain moment choices had to be made (but that is what life is all about I guess). What I do still enjoy is combining my passion for food and the company of some great musician friends. A top combo if you ask me.

me playing drums

Last week was one of these occasion I had some friends of mine from the US passing Belgium on their World Tour. The only “disadvantage”is that they were staying right in the city center of Brussels, I needed to find something not too far from their hotel (they are already enough on the road as it is)… preferably in walking distance. If it would have been in Antwerp there would have been a million places I’d know to take them, Brussels on the other hand is more difficult. Especially near the “Grote Markt” as taking them to a “tourist trap” is the last thing I want to do. Lucky me that I had Andy De Brouwer (who you might know from restaurant Les Eleveurs) to save the day. To make a long story short, we went to restaurant “La roue d’or”. La Roue d’or is a typical Belgian Brasserie serving classical Belgian dishes in the way they are supposed to be served and the way our grandparents would do it (so basically by not using light products, or my way of thinking).

La roue d'or

La roue d'or by BE tourist office

Funny enough from all the types of cuisines I propose to all my friends visiting Belgium, they are always craving to eat mussels, Flemish beer stews, etc…, drink beer and have some freshly made waffles as dessert (or crème brulée). If that’s what they want, than that’s what I’ll get for them, as making people happy and making them feel home is definitely the thing I like to do most!  I’m sure you can’t wait to hear what I ate, well I had the meatball stew with beer and Sirop de Liège sauce and onions ( I so love meatballs) accompanied with some great Belgian beer of course!! It must be said they were very good and tasty food! The most popular dish at the table were the Mussels with a white wine sauce… all plates were empty and I only saw smiling faces, you do the math!



If you ever have foreign friends visiting, you know where to take them now (when in the center of Brussels)!

The next day I went to see the band play in a sold out venue (aka Sportpaleis) and it might have been one of the best shows I’ve seen from them (even better than the other ones I saw). One thing is sure a band stands and falls depending of the musicians playing in it… you can have the best singer, but when the band sucks (or vice versa) it won’t be doing any good to the total picture 🙂 Alecia can consider herself very lucky she has some of the best that are around! Keep spreading the love…

I’m actually curious to know if you guys found out which band I’m talking about, maybe the below picture might help 🙂 (I did give a few tips in the text)

The band & me

Thanks guys, you rock and see you in LA!