40 Years Young Charly

A few weeks ago the ‘beau-monde’ from the wineworld gathered to celebrate the 40 years existence of Young Charly. It was 40 years ago that the Mortlmans family or better father Mortelmans opened his small wineshop in Merksem. Back then they only sold French wine. First of all because that was the wine country father Mortelmans loved, but also at that time in Belgium 95% of the wines drunk in Belgium were French. It was only upon arrival of son Mortelmans aka William that they broadened their selection with Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (to name a few) wines. In 40years Young Charly grew out into one of the biggest wine importers and sellers in Belgium, representing some of the most renowned wine estates around like Ornelaia, Gaja, Col d’orcia, Masi, etc…


I have known Young Charly whole my life, not always as a drinker though 🙂 At young age I remember always driving by the Young Charly shop in Merksem with my dad when going to a big supermarket further down the street or to look for Porcini mushrooms. As a wine drinker, I have to be honest I only started visiting their shop more often after a friend of mine started working there 🙂 So basically I have to thank this friend as thanks to Young Charly I discovered lots of wines that until then I only knew by name. To me what is important for a wineshop, is being guided before you do a purchase. I mean I usually buy wine according to a dish/meal I’ll be preparing and it is with that menu I go to the wine shop with the hope they’ll be able to help me finding a perfect match… With Young Charly I’ve always found that match!!

Young charly 2 Young charly 3 Young charly

When I was asked to join this ‘beau-monde’ to celebrate the 40 years of Young Charly I didn’t need too much convincing after the mentioned it was at restaurant ‘t Fornuis (in Antwerp 1* since 80’s and an institute in Belgium) and that 4 top wine estates would be present. Basically a combo of top sommeliers, journalists, amazing food and unforgettable wines…




The 4 wine estates that were present were Niepoort, Col d’orcia, Artadi and Michel Chapoutier and they brought their best stuff 🙂 A sommelier’s meal wouldn’t be the same if they weren’t asked to taste everything blind and respond to some questions. From the wines of Artadi, Niepoort and Col d’orcia we had to guess the vintage, for Michel Chapoutier we knew the vintage, but we had to guess the ‘terroir’ 🙂 Could it become more difficult? In my case I have to admit that it was mostly guessing I did. I did always now which was the oldest and the youngest wines… but to really tell which vintage or even crazier the piece of land they come from was a bridge to far for me as I’m not a top sommelier like the others present 🙂







The wines we ended up tasting:

Although all the wines were good, there is always that wine you prefer over the others. Which in my case were the Batuta 2013; the Ermitage Le Méal; Viña el Pison 2007 and the Col d’orcia 1995 🙂 .Strange enough you also immediately find out the people sharing the same taste pallet as you. The funniest tasting or revealing of the wines we tasted was without any doubt the one from Niepoort. I like Dirk Niepoort a lot, I have never met a wine enthusiast as big as him. Besides making lots of different types of official wines, he also has countless projects running besides that and on top of that he supports lots of new young wine markers trying to find their way through the world of winery. His comments of this wines were basically that he didn’t like any of the wines he brought 🙂 🙂 but said that even though some of the wines were bad, they matched perfectly with the food they were served with :-). Again, he’s a wonderful person who love wine and has it running through his vanes like no other :-).

dav dav

The fact that this celebration was at restaurant ‘t Fornuis was special to me as the restaurant has been on my list for a loooooooong long time, but never managed to get there. The restaurant serves classic Belgian/French cuisine from the highest level using the best ingredients available!! The might seem simple to the eye, but I can say for a fact that never to judge a book by its cover as sometimes the simple things are the most difficult to make.

We started with a ‘crab salad’, followed by surf and turf 🙂 leek with sweetbread, langoustine and truffle sausage. The main course was a fancy chicken (I forgot which one it was :-)) with Morel mushrooms and chicken kidneys. We finished our meal with crema catalana and a lemon meringue. If there is a heaven I hope they serve all of this (including the wines 😉 )!! It all tasted heavenly. I always love dishes with deep flavors in it!!

crab salade dav dav dav dav dav

The only thing I don’t like about meals/events like this with winemakers? I end up liking the wines very much, buying them and in the end going on a wine trip to visit the wineries 🙂 eeeeeeeeeevery time again… I need more holiday to visit all of them and more room to store the wines 😉 😉

It was again amazing to be part of something this wonderful!! I can’t wait for Young Charly to celebrate its 50 years anniversary 🙂

Website Young Charly:  http://www.young-charly.com/

The last 2011 fish and wine

Normally I wasn’t really planning on still posting something in 2011, but yesterday evening I had such a wonderful evening that I still wanted to share it with you…

What started off as an ‘Apero’ on Friday evening, resulted in an ‘apero’, diner and after diner drink 🙂 For the initial apero we went to the Vitrin bar, that you all might know from my Bordeaux wine blogpost? If not, read it 🙂

For diner we wanted something good, but not too expensive… as December is to my opinion the most expensive month of the year (with all the presents, etc….) So for me the Fiskebar seemed like a wonderful idea! As you can already imangine when seeing the name, this is a Fish restaurant, where you can eat very good fish for a very reasonable price.  You can either go for the fish on itself with a garden salad and some rice (or potatoes) or you could go for a fish prepared with a sauce and special dressing and side dishes… Tonight I took the swordfish with wasabi pesto/ puree, eggplant pickles and balsamico…

My girlfriend took salmon with the gardensalad, my friends (who actually introduced me to my girlfriend 12 years ago) took the Scampi (Prawns) with Red thai curry and rice, and the catfish with mushroom risotto.

To accompany this we had a Red wine, a Rioja ONTAÑÓN CRIANZA… which actually worked out well… the fruitiness and yet powerful wine was (to us) a nice harmony with the dishes. To finish our diner, me and my buddy took the lemon tart, my  beautiful girlfriend plum cake  and Isabelle took the crème brûlée… mmmmmm

I would advise everybody to eat at Fiskebar as it is very tasteful, cozy (especially when you’re sitting upstairs) and normally price(most fish around 20EUR) . But make sure you make reservations, as it is a hotspot!

BUT our evening didn’t stop there, noooooooo sir. After the Fiskebar we went to a brand new winebar at the South of Antwerp… A winebar that I didn’t even know it was there (we passed by it while going to Vitrine..  Vinicity it is called, but it is actually a wineshop where you can taste the wines and if you like them you can buy them … every day there is a choice of 9 wines devided in the type of wine it is…

Elegant, fruity or powerful… (between 4 and 7 EUR for glass) I went for the red elegant which was a Portugese dado… the reason, well everybody else already went for the Fruity and powerful and this was we could try them all :-). And he said that it was good 😉 I liked all three wines, although I would have liked them more powerful, but I just should have picked/asked for a much stonger wine… but don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a sacrifice to drink the glass I had 🙂

When you are sitting here you get in instant home feeling, the interior of the shop/bar is so relaxing that you could sit here all day… for the people who would want to eat something here, this is also possible, they serve a nice lunch (not too much, just a few dishes…)

I’m pretty sure this isn’t the isn’t the last time Vinicity has seen me  (Fiskebar neither) The perfect ending of a wonderful evening

So now only 1 thing left to say HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! ALL the best for 2012

Restaurant Fiskebar:


Marnixplaats 12

2000 Antwerp, Belgium

Phone n°: +32 (0)3 257 13 57

Wineshop Vinicity:


Karel Rogierstraat 40

Leopold De Waelplaats

2000 Antwerp, Belgium

Phone n°: +32 (0) 3 345 33 44 .

A true discovery

As you could read in yesterday’s post, my weekend was filled with food!! It already started on Friday evening, where I prepared dinner for a lovely lady. I really like spoiling people and I always try to do the best job ever cooking things my guest likes even if this is not always my  favorite dish. You don’t always have to think of yourself…

In this case the lovely lady liked ‘Foie gras’ lamb meat and ‘gratin dauphinois’. So I decided to give as a starter some foie gras and afterwards make some amb filet with a honey thyme sauce with gratin dauphinois. I got my inspiration for the Lamb from Start to Cook and for the gratin it was Roger van damme who gave me the idea and when cooking  I gave it my own twist. With a satisfying result (I think). This dish got accompanied by a nice bottle of Barbaresco by Batasiolo

But my food filled weekend didn’t stop here, it only just got started. Like many people, this weekend I did some Christmas present shopping:

Normally I would do this alone, but this time I asked my mom to join me 🙂 . You know what I like about going somewhere with my mom, I just know that  we’ll be going somewhere for lunch . Like  every time, we’re doubting  where we would go. And then suddenly we made a discovery (literally), we saw Enoteca ‘La Scoperta ‘ (which means the discovery). Apparently my mom had already been here a few times  (and she didn’t tell me)… So I HAD to try it. An enoteca is actually a place where you drink/ taste and buy wine, but you can also have a little something to eat like ham, cheese, maybe a panino . In La Scoperta it wasn’t any different… This shop/ enoteca had a nice assortment of wines, ham, cheeses mostly from Tuscany  and Piemonte.

I’m sure if you still need to find some Christmas presents, that ‘La Scoperta” might have something for you! Our first reason for entering was actually have something to eat, so that’s what we did 🙂 Both me and my mom took the ‘panino con prosciutto, mozzarella and pesto’ and as we are in an enoteca I just had to take a glass of wine (life can be hard). I choose a glass of Nebbiolo d’alba by Due corti, I really lilke wines made with the Nebbiolo grape… This one was also very lovely.

When looking around, I saw something that every time I see it I just wanna have it (also the ham on top of it), A Berkel cutting machine… Look at the picture below… isn’t she a beauty? If I ever have a kitchen big enough I just have to have it!!

When looking around, I saw something that every time I see it I just wanna have it (also the ham on top of it), A Berkel cutting machine… Look at the picture below… isn’t she a beauty?

My Christmas present list part 2

For those who were not inspired by my post of yesterday, maybe today you’ll have more luck?

I know it is not easy to find suitable presents for everybody… you always need to keep in mind which budget you want to spend….On top of that you also have to find the time to buy all your gifts.

I already started my Christmas shopping because the rush has not started yet 🙂

If you don’t feel like shopping the regular way, there is always the possibility to use eBay for example. You would really be surprised how many beauties you can find here. Cookbooks, Wine, Cookware, etc…  eBay also uses Paypal to ensure that you can safely shop on eBay!

The infographic below illustrates the most important conclusions of a yearly survey conducted by eBay on Christmas trends. 1 out of 5 Belgians will do their Christmas shopping online and this will not only happen on their computer. Smartphones and tablets are becoming more popular devices for online shopping. Did you also know that 1 out of 4 Belgians receive unwanted gifts and that 39% of them decide to keep it… Let’s try to avoid this and choose the right gift for our loved ones!

Something that I don’t mind receiving and/or giving are food & drinks.  I know, there’s a lot out there….

Christmas is also about giving something special (to me it is). Something that fits right in that criteria is for example a bottle of Duvel Tripel Hop. Tripel Hop is a special beer made by Duvel Brewery made out of 3 high quality kinds of hop and is a real pleasure to drink!! But you’ll have be quick to buy some as the production of this beer is limited and doesn’t get made a lot (last time was in 2007). Or maybe you could go for the De Konick Cuvée Modeste?  This is again a limited edition, but this time by the Brewery that is actually located right in the center of Antwerp. One thing is for sure, you’ll have to be quick!

Another great gastronomical present for Italy lovers would be an assortment of sauces or wines from Fattoria la Vialla. Olive oil, fresh pasta sauces, tapenades, fresh pasta, wine, honey, etc… The famiglia La Franco makes it all. And may I add that all the products they make are very good. I’ve already tasted some of their sauces: the peperonata, Melanzane alle parmigiana, pesto and napolitana. I also had some of their fresh pasta and Olive oil… eating their products is like being in Italy. The olive oil is a bit more spicy. FYI softer olive oils in Italy are from the region around the Garda lake and Imperia (around San Remo). The more you go south, the spicier and stronger the oils get. The wine I cannot judge, as I didn’t try it yet… but rumors say that they have some nice Chianti wine. If you would try it, let me know. BTW, the delivery fee is free!

You can either choose yourself for an assortment or you can buy one of the prepared baskets.

The thing about this kind of present, you’ll also be able to enjoy it 🙂

If you want to buy some Wine, Whiskey, Porto, etc.. but prefer tasting it before buying it to give it as a present,  I would advise you to make a little trip to Herentals (sorry for all the foreign followers, but I’m sure you’ll have a shop like this in your city).  As in Herentals you can find Van Eccelpoel, but again, I’m sure you’ve read all about them in one of previous blogposts. I’m sure the Van Eccelpoel team will be able to guide you to find the best gift assortment.

Still didn’t find something… don’t worry I’m not done yet 🙂

Stay tuned.

Little Italy

You know the feeling, when you are somewhere and you smell familiar things that makes you feel at home?  Last week I went with 2 friends to Raineri in Genk (eastern part of Belgium) to by some wine and Italian products.  One of my and my brother’s favorite shops. Every time I enter this shop I instantly feel in Italy (like I was Beamed  up like scotty by Captain Kirk in Star Trek). The smell really brings me right to my Nonna’s kitchen (and man do I loove that kitchen). I think even my friends felt it?! Entering Raineri is really great, because everywhere you look you see ITALY, every product, ingredient, etc… The first image when entering in the shop is like a picture in a frame. They even have lots of products of their own, like their Ligurian olive oil (that I always buy). Usually I take their Biologica (just because I like the taste, no other purpose) , but all of them are really good for putting on salads, etc… For cooking I would find it a waste of using such a good product and burning it. They have a whole wall with all different kinds of pasta… it’s not an easy job choosing… If you have doubts or questions or want extra info, the staff of this shop is really friendly and helpful. You can really see their passion for what they do when they helping you finding the product you want.

In case I’m not hungry yet when putting the first step in the shop, you can be sure I will be hungry by the time I see their counter. At that moment my stomach is going like “Hey buddy, gimmi some food” . Fresh lasagna’s, cannelloni , ravioli, gnocchi, all nominations of dried hams (Parma, San Daniele, etc..), cheeses, ….

 Then walking down to the basement, you will find a wide variety of Italian wines and this in the setting of an old/new wine cellar.

Some nice wines I’ve bought there from Azienda Marcato: ‘IL TIRSO’ SOAVE CLASSICO SUPERIORE DOCG and BARATTARO IGT NOIR. And you should really try the “Durello Met. Tradizionale DOC 36mesi” (jammi) But feel free to pass by, Raineri sometimes has wine/ food tastings.

Worth the stop!!

Ali baba’s cave of wines

If I need wine, Van Eccpoel  is definitely my favorite spot. Everybody, including my brother,  was always telling me to go there.They have an enormous choice, etc… So one day I decided to go and have a look. Van Eccelpoel is actually a supermarket . So I entered the supermarket and in a distance I saw some wine, so I figured  that would be what everybody was talking about. Honestly, it didn’t look any different from any other supermarket and didn’t seem enormous as everybody said .So at that moment I decided to call my brother as he had been there before….

And he said “no, you should go to the back of the shop  and in-between the cheese and meat counter you should walk down the stairs….” . At first I didn’t really want to believe him as it wouldn’t be the first time that my brother would want to pull a joke on me J . But I thought, let’s hope for the best and I decided to follow his instructions … It was like finding the “Holy Grail “ a true WALHALLA …. An old cellar with more wine than my eye could see….

Once down, Karel Van Eccelpoel immediately came to us to see if he could be of assistance. As I came there to buy sparkling wine (cava, champagne or spumante), I told him what kinds of sparkling I liked and what I was looking for. Upon my likes and dislikes Mr Van Eccelpoel made me taste some wines and explained me about each wine where it came from and what the difference was with the once we already tried. The only problem we still had, was that all of them were great so we didn’t know which one to take…  So Mr Van Eccelpoel made us turn around (not being able to see) and so he made us taste again … and that is when de taste that our preference went to the SIERRA SALINAS BRUT. Price-quality this was really the best choice (for us). What I really like(d) about Van Eccelpoel is that you have wines starting at 5 EUR per bottle up to … EUR and there is no pressure for buying. Although I would really be surprised if you walk out of that cellar empty handed.

It is About 20 min from Antwerp by car, but soooo worth the trip!