My fiancée’s birthday weekend the final part

In the first part of the blog about my fiancée’s birthday weekend I told that my favorite lady chef Ingrid Neven (from Pazzo) had worked at Château Neercanne for a few years and therefore also knows Maastricht really well. Why am I telling this, well she actually gave us a tip where we had to take our apero before dinner (or sometime during the day) at the “Kruisherenhotel” winebar (from same group as Château NeercanneKruisherenhotel used to be a church that has been rebuilt into a hotel, restaurant and winebar and it is a very beautiful place combining the old elments from the church and some modern parts… Unique!  I’ll let the pictures below speak for itself. (Thanks Ingrid!) BTW you can also drink other things besides wine, it is really worth a visit.

Kruisherenhotel (2)

Lounge kruisheren

the ceiling

wine cellar

Check this link for more beautiful pictures. I do forgot one thing, I’m not sure how it was in the ladies room, but in the boys room there something special just above the urinal. What you see on the picture below is this special thing and it is actually not a real light bulb, but it is a special light effect… sorry just wanted to share this with you 🙂

light effect

For our dinner I chose to go to a restaurant called “Baumont” aka Harry’s.  Which according to tripadvisor is the 4th best restaurant of Maastricht (Chateau Neercanne was n°1).

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At Harry’s it is Lady Chef Audrey Eussen and her team try their best to give you a good culinary experience and want to show you that you can also create great njammy dishes with products from local farmers and producers…So they do their best to mostly use local products if possible. I must indeed  admit they do a good job. It is true that we had to wait a long time for our 1st course, for which afterwards they apologized a million times (these things happen everywhere). Besides that there I can’t say anything “bad”… the food was good, the wine was good, the location on itself was great and I had great company 🙂 What I do would like to say is that I think it would have been great to find more local wines on the wine list (maybe even to drink by glass), as there are so many great local Dutch and Belgian wines.  Don’t get me wrong I drank some great wines at the restaurant, but it would have been nice :-).

Chef Audrey Eussen

Anyhow  we started off with some “scallops with lardo di Colonnata and parsnip puree” which I accompanied first by a glass of Grüner Veltliner Langenlois from Weingut Summerer and after that with a glass of Muscat d’Alsace from Bernard Schneider I do think the second one was a better match (for me). As a main course I had” Limburg chicken with morel mushroom sauce and polenta” accompanied by a little nostalgic wine for me a Saumur from Langlois Château (this is why). My fiancée at the other hand had a Baby turbot with warm potato salad and green asparagus and decided to have a glass of Shiraz with it.

scallops with lardo di Colonnata and parsnip puree

Limburg chicken with morel mushroom sauce and polenta

Baby turbot with warm potato salad and green asparagus

The dishes were as tasty as they look 🙂 glad tripadvisor pointed me to this restaurant! A professional staff.  The minor part of the evening was me finding a fine under my wiper when I got back at my car 😦 Still not sure why as there were 2 contradictory street signs close to each other, but ok…. that’s life.

The next morning I just couldn’t stay in bed (I think my fiancée could) as there was soooo much sunshine coming into the room I just had to get breakfast and go enjoy the sunshine… and let’s just say that Maastricht does really look beautiful when sun is shining.  The plan normally was to rent bikes and explore the area around Maastricht, but we were just too lazy…

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Sunny Maastricht

My mission was accomplished as I saw a beautiful smile on my fiancée’s face (even before I gave her actual birthday gift) so I was one happy little camper 🙂 Up to my birthday now 😉

If you also feel like having a weekend like me, let the “Heart of Europe” website help you to create a wonderful weekend away and explore and beautiful piece of Europe!

The end

ooooh yeah

My fiancée’s birthday weekend part 2

In yesterday’s post I said I had already given a tip in one of my previous posts about planning my fiancée’s birthday (the link to proof I’m telling the truth), so somewhere she could have known as well :-).  It is true that on a geographical point of view the website of “Heart of Europe” is quit spread out and there are lots of nice places to visit… my choice however went to Maastricht . Why? Well I’ll be honest with you guys… Initially my plan was to have dinner at Château Neercanne  as I first I liked it there when I was there last time at the introduction of the “Heart of Europe” website and I really wanted to show this wonderful place to my fiancée and secondly because Ingrid Neven (my favorite lady chef) from restaurant Pazzo (my favorite restaurant) worked here after her studies for 3 years, so I wanted to see where she learned her basic skills… But I chose to change the restaurant as otherwise this weekend would seem more like a birthday weekend for myself and not for my fiancée (and I’m pretty sure I’ll be having another opportunity to eat at Château Neercanne).

Chateau Neercanne (3)

The only tip (besides the one on my blogpost) I gave my fiancée was that her weekend would feel like going back to school…. To mine opinion this was a really good tip 🙂 Via the “Heart of Europe” website I found hotel “Château Bethlehem” which is actually a teaching hotel and part of the Maastricht Hotel management school. So when I said it would be like going back to school, I didn’t specify for who, her or me 🙂 :-). What makes “Château Bethlehem” special is besides the fact that it are students working there (with of course some teachers around). It is also special because it is actually an old castle the they renovated and every room, from the restaurant to the rooms are all designed by twelve established and up-and-coming designers and every room is unique (there is even a room with a swing in it 🙂 ) and I can definitely say for a fact that it are big rooms. It is true that I could have picked a hotel right in the heart of Maastricht city (Bethlehem was 5-10 minutes from the city center), but I really liked their concept and the best way for the students to learn!  I’m really glad I’ve stayed here and I’d recommend it to everybody!!! BTW they also had a great breakfast (I love breakfast).  The hotel also has their own restaurant, I think I’ll be back to try it.

Chateau Bethlehem

Hotel Entrance

view from my room

Room with swing by teachinghotel

We had actually already been to Maastricht a few years ago with work, but we didn’t see too much of it as we arrived quit late… So this time we had to make up for that. Maastricht is a beautiful characteristic “little” city with lots of nice things to see and do (and for the ladies amongst you, they have lots of shopping possibilities).  A spot you shouldn’t miss while in Maastricht is the “Bisschopsmolen” is the oldest spinning water mill in the Netherlands and in the mill you get introduced the craft of the miller and see how the Spelt flour and regular flour are made. Very nice to see, but even nicer to see if the bakery itself (and breakfast/lunchroom) where they sell the most wonderful ‘Limburgse vlaaien” (I of course tested it personally) and bread all made according the original recipes! Well done Frank!! (Owner Bisschopsmolen)

Bisschopsmolen

Bisschopsmolen (2)

Bisschopsmolen (3)

Bisschopsmolen (4)

Bisschopsmolen (5)

Bisschopsmolen (6)

I know it seems like we didn’t do anything else besides eating and drinking, we did do other things but believe me if I have to describe the shops we’ve entered  my blog post would be even longer than they usually are 🙂

But the best is yet to come! To be continued ……

Celebrating love in snowy Saas-fee: part 2

Marriage by colourbox

In the previous post you could read that my reason for being in Saas-fee was the wedding of some dear friends of mine and a wedding without food wouldn’t be a wedding 🙂 Who knew that one could eat so gastronomically and refined in Switzerland?? (Sorry, that’s my Italian side speaking :-))  I can now say for a fact you can!!

I already knew in advance the food and drinks through the whole wedding would be great as like I mentioned before the groom and his dad are big foodies and know what is good (and know what they’re talking about).  The red wire through the whole wedding (besides the bride and groom) was and I do hope this doesn’t come over in a wrong way, the Champagne from Delamotte 🙂 (BRUT). No matter where we were, every time there would be a waiter with a tray with glasses of Delamotte  (I know a hard life). For you who would want to know the specifics, this champagne is 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot noir and 20% Pinot Meunier and has a very soft citrusy taste and I think I also tasted a dark chocolate kind of taste… and one thing is sure, it let drink itself very easily 😉

Delamotte

If you ask 100 people what they think about when they think of Switzerland, 98 people will answer their punctuality and their good organizational skills (no doubt)!  It was really incredible to see how well organized the team of the “Ferien art” hotel/ restaurant served the food for all 210 guests at the same time and not one dish that arrived cold at its destination… incredible! My compliments to Chef Andreas Otte and his team!! Well done and not only for the organization, but also for the delicious dishes you served. We started off with a Truffle cream soup with fresh cheese ravioli. Followed by a Lobster stew pasta that got accompanied by a 2010 white French “Sous La Velle” Meursault by Domain Michelot. For the main course the newlyweds choose to serve a lamb entrecote with potato gratin, glazed snow peas and a syrahjus (basically a red wine sauce) served with a 2009 Margaux by Château La Gurgue . I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to guess what the dessert was (next to the njammy dessert and cheese buffet), of course the wedding cake 🙂

beautiful tables at the Ferien art

Truffle cream soup

Lobster stew pasta

Lamb entrecote

Don’t the dishes on the pictures above look great? For the good wine pairing during the dinner we have to thank the groom’s dad as he’s the connoisseur when it comes to wines! He chose well indeed.

The dinner and party afterwards on the day of the wedding itself were perfect, but the “the icing on the cake” of the weekend for me was definitely our lunch/brunch at 2450m height (and the groom really made curious for the food days in advance!!) This lunch/brunch was at a place called Spielboden from which you have an incredible view over the Saas-fee valley. Check out the pictures below and I’m sure you’ll agree that it is breathtaking?! I must also admit that the so nicely shining sunshine and the live Alphorn music made it even more magical.

Spielboden (2)

Spielboden

What you should know about Spielboden is that it is part of the Michelin star awarded Fletschhorn restaurant (and hotel) which normally has another staff, but for this celebration of love Chef Markus Neff decided to take over the stove himself and bring his team fromFletschhorn up to the Spielboden restaurant and cook for the newlyweds and their guests (Praise the lord). On this breathtaking spot Markus served us the following menu; we started with some fresh Scottish oyster accompanied by what is to me the best drink to accompany oyster, Champagne (Delamotte ). Followed by a marinated trout in a mustard sauce, beef tartare on a whole wheat bread toast and poached shrimp and vegetable julienne. This first course got accompanied by a local wine, namely a “Petite Arvine”. Definitely a wine to remember!(really nice).  The following dish was a thyme “Ramquin de bagnes” with a vegetable strudel with a soy sauce and a lobster & ginger spring roll. The main dish was cheese soup, a poultry ravioli with forest pearls and braised pig cheek with a potato mousseline. This last one got accompanied by a Château Bonalgue Pomerol . To also satisfy our sweet tooth they a foreseen a cherry pie (I love cherry pie), lemon cake and something called “coupe colonel” which would be a sorbet served with vodka 🙂 🙂

Spielboden 1st crs

Spielboden 2nd crs

Spielboden 3rd crs

Spielboden dessert_Colonel already finished

My taste buds got spoiled ! The plan was to have some more fun in the snow after our lunch/brunch, but I’ll be honest, by the time I finished eating and drinking I was too lazy…(this doesn’t happen very often)

The party did continue, but I’m going to spare you the details about the after party and last night at Saas-fee  and I’m surely not showing pictures 🙂 🙂 … Let’s just say that we got a clear definition of the word “schnapps

Thanks to the LN beanies we were wearing  our ears didn’t freeze off. DO check out the LN beanies website or blog as all beanies, scarves, etc…  are made 100% from Peruvian alpaca wool and by grannies and you’re on top of that also supporting people in Peru.

my LN Beanies

Only one thing still left to do and this is thank Jefanie (and their parents)  for letting me and my beautiful fiancée be part of this wonderful celebration and being surrounded by great people and most importantly making me like winter and snow again. The sparkle in your eyes when you look at each other tells me this is something forever!!

And they lived happily ever after ….

marriage

Thanks again.

The end

A pupil in the footsteps of his master

Ardent

Last week I  thought it was time for some bounding time with my future brother in law (hope he doesn’t freek out me calling him this) and what better way than with food (knowing he’s a big food lover).  Deciding where to go was not too difficult; the name of restaurant Ardent came pretty quick as I already wanted to eat here for a while now! Especially after reading a lot of positive comments. Knowing that he had worked a while at “De schone van boskoop” (a restaurant I’ve already been quite a few times with my family when I was younger and I’ve always liked) and learned from a chef like Wouter Keersmaekers  I already had a small suspicion that he would also be a lover of local products and forgotten vegetables….And I was right, I could see the hand of the master in the “pupil’s” dishes and I’m pretty sure the pupil will soon be a master himself! All dishes were (for me) perfectly seasoned. I’m a bread lover (guilty as charged) , spreading real butter on it is like being in heaven. So trying something else when they serve butter is unlikely to happen, but I have to admit the little cup with a butternut “cream” with parmesan cheese on our table looked tempting… to make a long story short we were almost scraping the glazing off of the cup 🙂 (Need I say more?)

Deciding what to eat was again (like every time) the most difficult part of the evening as again (like every time) everything on the menu look and sounds tasty… so best alternative just taking the tasting menu. We took the 4 course menu (a 5 course menu is also available) with the matching wines.

Before we started our trip through Ardent’s menu they served us an “amuse” which was crispy pork with smoked duck breast which (after we had eaten shamefully emptied the butternut cup) was a great way to prepare and open our taste buds for all the delights still to come…

Crispy pork

The first stop of our trip was spicy Simmental tartar and fried langoustine with sourdough toast and horseradish cream. Correctly prepared (Langoustine also fried as it should) and too spicy and a balanced out dish if you ask me. It accompanied by a white German wine “S cuvee” that had a typical Mosel wine smell and taste which I love so much and which went very good with the subtle taste of the dish.

Simmental tartar and fried langoustine

The next stop shortly fried scallops with cauliflower in 3 modes, hand peeled grey north sea shrimps (so much better than the packages you buy in the shop) and parmesan sauce paired with this time a white Austrian wine called ‘Austrian Pepper. This paired wine was a bit more subtle then the previous one.

Scallops

Our last stop before my sweet tooth would get spoiled brought us braised pork cheek with truffle gravy and “macedoine” of parsley root and lentils. For people who are scared to order dishes like this, pork cheek is not fat, but rather subtle and tender meat! Definitely one of my favorites of the night together with maybe also my favorite wine of the night a red Portuguese wine called “dill” (like the herb), I unfortunately can’t remember the vineyard anymore 😦 (I’d suggest to go to Ardent and try it)

Braised pork cheek

As dessert they brought us a Vacharin which is freshly prepared vanilla ice cream with meringue, whipped cream, chocolate crumble and chocolate mousse… I honestly was afraid the portion would be too big, but lucky me it was just the right size and accompanied by a lovely Don PX Jerez wine that went really well with the chocolate flavor of the dish.

Vacharin

I can only compliment the young chef on his talent (and his team).I’m a fan!  It is true that there were a few minor things or points that would need some attention during our dinner, but I’m 100% that they only need some extra time to make a visit to this restaurant a perfect and even better experience!  (not even open for 6 months I think). One last quick word (I promise) about the  Ardent’s sommelier, he reminded me of Steven Wullaert (from restaurant NUANCE **). as he had the same sparkle and passion when talking about wine. (maybe even his way of talking, but then without the Ghent accent)

Keep up the good job! I will definitely be back at Ardent! (Not sure yet when,as too many restaurants still to try)

P.S: A message to my tableguest:  we’ll be having some new “bounding time” very soon and I have a feeling it’ll be at Wouter Keersmaekers’ place 🙂 just to show you where Ardent’s chef got his magic.

Restaurant Ardent:

Website: http://www.resto-ardent.be/

Address: Dageraadplaats 3, 2018 Antwerp – Belgium

Phone n°: +32 (0)3 336 32 99

Pocket resto, always a resto in your pocket

Pocket resto

Lots and lots of restaurant reviews get written, I know as I’m one of the writers. Finding your way through all those articles might sometimes be a struggle. I’m not that different from you guys as I also try to search for new and different restaurant than the ones I already tried.  Not until now that is! To solve this problem a website “Pocket Resto” was called to life. I’m pretty sure if you Googled for restaurants Pocket Resto is the first website you’ll find in the list (not in the paid area in Google). What Pocket Resto does is bundle everything that is written on a restaurant, like blogs or news articles, and put it on one page that will link to the website of the magazine or blog. On top of that they already list the most important things for you to know (besides the address and phone number), they mention awards, Michelin star, points, etc… this restaurant has gathered until now. Just enter the name of the restaurant or city and the website will give you all the wanted info

Start search

List of search results

Actual info and search result

For the moment it are only restaurants in Belgium, but the founder of Pocket Resto told me that they also had ambition to  make it a Global things, but this takes time obviously… Rome was not build in one day.

90% of the time I use Pocket Resto to know more about restaurants, hope you’ll also find your way to Pocket Resto (but don’t forget to once in a while also check my blog 😉 )

I looked, tried and liked

Bistrot Miro

Saturday my fiancée and I tried and discovered a new little restaurant called Mi’ró. The location of the restaurant is maybe a surprise to lots of people as the area it is in is not known as the most popular part of town. Although more and more people seem to find their way back to Borgerhout and are opening lots of nice restaurants here. I actually grew up a few streets from this restaurant and lived here until I was 12 years old, so I enjoyed seeing this neighborhood heading back to its rightful place. When I then read on a fellow blogger website (be_gusto in Dutch) Mi’ró made a special version of one of my favorite dishes Vol-au- vent (aka vidée or koninginnehapje)….I just had to try this and needed no more convincing!!!

Already from the moment you walk into this restaurant you can immediately feel the good vibe. Maybe it is because the restaurant is not too big (only 7 or 8 tables) or the big photo of old Borgerhout hanging there? It also has to be said that the vibe only became better and better during the evening and this was not because of the wine ;-). It is also due to the very friendly and caring host and hostess!

Restaurant Miró (2)

me at miró

Restaurant Miró (1)

I started with homemade grey shrimp croquettes (I had heard they were exquisite) and my fiancée followed me, but took the cheese version of the croquettes (don’t worry, they also have non fried dishes). I think that  what makes these croquettes so special is as they have a Spanish touch to them, they reminded me of the croquettes filled with Iberico Ham I had in Barcelona a couple of times. This might be due to the fact the chef/owner has worked some years in Barcelona in avery good restaurant ( Comerç 24, FYI a restaurant you als have to try!). Anyhow to make a long story short(er) those where some nice croquettes.

Restaurant Miro Shrimp croquettes

As a main dish I just had to pick the Vol-au-vent, no matter how tempting the other dishes were.  My fiancée took the Corvina with “schorseneren” and a champaign sauce.  The vol-au-vent did meet my expectations, what made it different and special is that they used instead of regular mushrooms they used Enokitake mushrooms; they added duck stomachs (which they can leave out if you ask, and this proves all is made freshly on the spot!)  Instead of puff pastry that usually comes with a Vol-au-vent they gave very big croutons. I would truly recommend it to try classic dishes with a twist.

Restaurant Miró vol au vent

Restaurant Miró corvina fish

There were very nice wines on the wine list.  We took besides Lacrima Baccus cava to open our tastebuds, 2 different red wines I had an Italian Marchesi Antinori wine a  Bolgheri ‘il bruciato’ (had a very rich and round flavor and I really those buttery tastes in wines (or butter in general 😉 ). My fiancée on the other hand took an Argentinian wine from the Mendoza region called “Fabre Montmayou” which was also a nice choice.

To sum it all up, we had a very nice dinner and they for sure haven’t seen the last of us!

Bistrot Mi’ró

Address: Moorkensplein 28, 2140 Antwerp Belgium

Phone n°: +32 (0)3 235 03 25

WY, because it is just right

WY brussels

My restaurant wish list is getting longer every day, so this time I decided to have a lunch at one of the restaurants on my list. ( hopefully this way I finish my list quicker)  This time it brought me to the Mercedes House in Brussels, to restaurant WY by Bart De Poorter.  For my readers who don’t know Bart De Poorter, he is the chef and owner of the 2 Michelin star awarded restaurant “De Pastorale”. So the fact that this restaurant was from Bart De Poorter was the first reason to try it, the second reason was that the executive chef of this restaurant is nobody less than Wouter Van der Vieren who is a Michelin star awarded chef who used to have his own restaurant. It just had to be good, although I must admit that after my last famous chef side project experience I had my doubts… But I can confirm that this was a well thought through and coordinated project with a very professional staff that can work fine even with Wouter Van der Vieren’s absence.

Bart De Poorter

Wouter van der Vieren by Weekend knack

The restaurants itself has of course a Mercedes Benz touch to it (as it is the Mercedes House), but it is not too much… it has modern interior with only 3 (very nice looking) cars on the restaurant floor. I like the very open kitchen, because there are big screens that you can follow exactly what the chefs are doing in the kitchen. I wouldn’t call it the coziest restaurant I have ever been to, but it surely didn’t disturb me.  The acoustics on the other hand are very good, so you can come here with a group and understand each other.

Open kitchen

Restaurant

This time my partners in crime weren’t just any friends, but foodie friends :-). Foodie friends know as Thomas (Chef and owner of 12 Place du marché and former classmate from me) and Gianluca (Sommelier and son from Spiga d’oro owner)

Gianluca Thomas

Food glorious food, this was after spending time with friends the reason for this lunch 🙂 Choosing what we wanted to eat wasn’t easy as the 3 course and 5 course menu had different dishes that I all wanted to try, but to make it even more difficult the ‘à la carte’ menu was also different from the tasting menus with again so many things I wanted to try (A true luxury problem)… but at the end we decided to go for the five course menu, which was (when looking back) a great choice.  Not only did all of the dishes taste well, they also looked like little paintings…

The only dishes that didn’t really blow us off our feed was the first dish from the menu: Mackerel with beetroot (prepared in different ways) and oyster snow, it just missed a bit of assiduity. Don’t get me wrong, the dish was good, but I (we) think that with a touch of assiduity it would even be better.  Besides that all great combinations, with a bullet for dessert 🙂 this were actually filled white chocolate balls (for some reason when writing this I think of Jerome “Chef” McElroy from south park). I also enjoyed the bouillabaisse sauce with the seabream (the smell from this sauce was soooooo good as well)

appetizer krupuk with cockles

chicory with cheesy bechamel sauce and ham crumble

Mackerel with beetroot and oyster snow

Seabream with a bouillabaisse sauce

spare ribs

some very njammy Dry aged Holsteiner beef

Dessert called the bullet

this came with our coffee

I wouldn’t be able to say which was my favorite dish. We first also wanted to try the Wouter van der Vieren signature dish, but as I didn’t see him in the kitchen…  it wouldn’t be the same trying it without him being there. We did get to see him as he arrived a bit later, but I think the fact Jeroen Meus was eating at the table next to us had something to do with it 🙂 But nevertheless Wouter did a good job training his team, he can be proud of them!

I was lucky enough to have a sommelier at my table to pick the wines and he really did a good job. Gianluca picked a white Italian wine a Gaja Rossj-Bass Langhe. The red wine however was a wine suggested by the sommelier from WY, he picked a 2007 red Italian Barbaresco by Serafino which was also a very nice choice.(with 2 Italians at the table you can’t go wrong with Italian wine 🙂 ) So if you add all these comments up I can only say that this was a nice restaurant with you get true value for your money and brought to you by very professional people and I was lucky enough to also have great company at my table 🙂 and on top of that I got to see Wouter van der Vieren AND Jeroen Meus… wow what a lunch 😉

FYI: for the car lovers, you’ll find lots of great cars when you go downstairs 🙂

The Mercedes House

Restaurant WY:

Website: http://www.wybrussels.be/

Address: Bodenbroekstraat 22-24/ Grote zavel, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Phone n°:  +32 (0) 2 400 42 63