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

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!

Cheers!

A million reasons to go to the Taste of Antwerp

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Not that I need that much convincing to go to the “Taste of Antwerp”, but maybe you guys do? So let me give you a looooooooot of reasons why shouldn’t miss this year’s edition that will take place from May 9th to 12th.

The first reason would already be the fact that some friends and acquaintances of mine are participating at this year’s edition, like 12 place du marché, Comocomo, mamakookt, De Schone van Boskoop (Michelin awarded), restaurant Ardent , ‘t Leeuwekopke and also Cheese masters Van Tricht… and if those names are not enough do check the rest of the list of participating restaurants and get blown away!! There are even some restaurants on it that I have on my wish list (some got added during the press conference 🙂 ) and I’m not only talking about the still to open “La Chapelle” 🙂

Antwerpen proeft groep foto

This year’s edition has changed a bit according to last editions. First of all “Taste of Antwerp” changed the location from the Vlaamse/ Waalsekaai to Waagnatie (in Navigation system you need to enter Rijnkaai 150). Secondly, and I know it might seem like bad news at first, but since this year an entrance fee of 5 EUR will be asked… but in exchange and in addition to your “entrance ticket” they give you 2 beverage vouchers… so the entrance fee is more a symbolic fee if you ask me.

Cheese masters van tricht

Something else that is new on this year edition is the “Bowers & Wilkins Theater”. At this theater you’ll be able to follow master classes and cooking demonstrations from participating chefs, Beer & wine tastings, Autographing sessions, etc… The full schedule will soon come online.

I hear you think, this all sounds nice, but will the actual food cost me? Well the dishes will be costing between 4 and 7 EUR, which is a very reasonable price considering you’ll be able to try dishes from 3, 2 and 1 Michelin star awarded restaurants, explore new types of cuisines like Peruvian, Nepalees or Ethiopian. If you are as greedy as me and feel like trying everything from every restaurant, it might indeed get more expensive than imagined, but you guys won’t worry that is just very greedy me talking 😉

In case you feel like lifting it up a notch, you might consider taking the VIP-arrangement? This arrangement costs 99,99 EUR and has to be booked online via following link . But what do you get for this price? A very important question, I’ve listed it up for you:

1 + Entrance to Taste of Antwerp and the Bowers & Wilkins Theater (valid whole day)
2 + Access to the luxurious VIP pavilion.
3 + Reception by a hostess
4 + A glass of Perrier-Jouët champagne at arrival
5 + Coupons for Taste of Antwerp dishes with a value of 40 EUR
6 + Beer and cheese pairing with the Cheese masters Michel Van Tricht & Son and the Duvel Moortgat  Brewsery
7 + Beverage à volonté
8 + Goodie bag

You can check the Taste of Antwerp website for more details.

It doesn’t matter which formula you choose to come to the Taste of Antwerp, the most important of it all is that you can enjoy some of the best food Antwerp has to offer! Nothing better than friend, family and great food all in 1 spot! FYI I have already tried some of dishes that will be served and I can say for a fact they are tasty!

Anyway I could keep naming reason why to come, but I have to stop somewhere

I do hope to see you guys at the Taste of Antwerp!

Thursday May 9th between 14.00 – 24.00 u
Friday May 10th between 14.00 – 24.00 u
Saturday May 11th between 14.00 – 24.00 u
Sunday May 12th between 14.00 – 22.00 u

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My birthday weekend

I really consider myself very lucky, especially after I have seen how much my girlfriend, my family and my friends have done to give me a wonderful birthday weekend filled with lots of friendship and a looooooooooot of food!

My birthday weekend or I might even say week, as last already started last week J. Last Wednesday I already celebrated it with my dad. My dad suggested  a Spanish or rather for Basque cuisine at restaurant Comocomo. yes,that is right, an Italian going to eat Spanish, funny stuff 🙂 )

I can only say that this restaurant really surprised me in a very positive way! The first time I passed the restaurant I thought it was a sushi place (without looking at the name that is), because there is a long flat-belt conveyor (transportband in Dutch).Just like at Harvey Nichols in London at the top floor.

The way it works is actually the following. Comocomo have  7 different colors of plates, every color stands for the type of dish. For example Yellow was for dishes with cheese, blue for dishes with fish, green for veggie dishes….

At the end of your meal they’ll just count the amount of plates you have in front of you, the more plates you eat the cheaper it gets 🙂

They have about 60-70 different pintxos and if you saw something on the blackboard that you didn’t find on the carrousel yet, you can just ask for it… FYI, they have their hams, etc…. imported from Spain!

And don’t worry, you’ll eat more than enough, in fact I think you’ll eat even more as there are soooo many yummy things passing by (I had to stop, because my girlfriend started giving me a ‘ didn’t you have enough’ look… so I stopped, but I could go on and on and on 🙂

Also the wine lovers will like this place as Beatriz has made a very nice selection of some of the best Spanish wines (most of them can also be taken per glass). To help people to know where a certain Spanish wine is from, they added a map that indicates all the great Spanish vineyard regions (so you can even learn something about Spanish wines). We went for a Tempranillo by Aranleon  (we had 3 bottles, so I think  we liked it)

So if you want to have a nice evening with friends and try something different, Comocomo is definitely something for you!

 

Restaurant Comocomo

Antwerp restaurant:

Kammenstraat 75
2000 Antwerp, Belgium

Phone n°: +32 (0)3 232 02 10

 

Brussels Restaurant:

Antoine Dansaertstraat 19
1000 Brussels, Belgium
+32 (0)2 503 03 30

 

Stay tuned for the second part of my birthday…..