The butcher’s son

With a restaurant name like ‘The Butcher’s son’ it leaves little to the imagination what type of cuisine they prepare. Let’s just say it’s not a veggie place 🙂  . The butcher’s son is as you might have already expected a restaurant with as mean topic on the menu meat. Although Luc Dickens (one of the 2 owners) told me they don’t want to be the typical meat restaurant with only men as customers… They want to open up their restaurant to everybody and therefor chose for a more “general” menu. If somebody wants vegetarian or more “hard-core” meat dishes like specific intestines it is all possible :-).

butcher-son

When I first heard their name I (and I think most people) presumed that either Luc Dickens or Bert Jan Michielsen (the 2 owners) would be the son of a butcher… right? After hearing the real story behind the name I think the name ‘the butcher’s adopted son’ would be more correct 🙂 🙂  . At a particular day Bert Jan was supposed to take the train back home, unfortunately missed his train. As it dates back to a pre-cellphone period Bert Jan had to look for a place where he could call and inform his parents .  This search brought him to a nearby butcher shop De Laet & Van Haver. As he had to wait a while before his parents were able to pick him up, the shop owner suggested if Bert Jan wanted he could role some meatballs while waiting . To make a long story short (but you know I prefer telling the long story) this was the beginning of a life long friendship and many weekends (after words full time)of  working at the De Laet & Van Haver’s butcher shop and catering business  in Hove … and today a collaboration with them and having a restaurant right next to their new butcher shop in the old Antwerp city brewery of De Koninck . In other words the owner saw Bert Jan as his son…

stadsbrouwerij

I know Luc and Bert Jan mostly from their years working at the highly awarded restaurant De Schone Van Boskoop and Luc I also know from the Belgian Sommelier Guild .

Luc and Bert Jan by Resengo

I’m also a fan of their location in the old Antwerp city brewery of De Koninck . I say old, but it is still an active brewery, but as after restructuring the brewery they had some parts they weren’t going to use anymore they freed up this space to create an oasis of food 🙂 and bring creative/passionate people together. You can find craftsmen like  cheese master, chocolatier, butchers, etc… here. I do recommend everybody to visit it (even if you don’t want to eat their) as it is worth it. You’ll find more info on the brewery on the following link.

Butcher son 2 Butcher son

I know it sounds unbelievable but I do always try to keep it as short as possible… but I always want you guys to get the whole picture and all the info :-).

For our meal my friends and I chose to first go for all the refined meat appetizers  (all home made in the next door butcher shop) they have on their menu with exception for the 1 non meat dish 🙂 What we basically had was : dry aged  Secreto 07 (a product the Adria ‘El Bulli’ brothers also sell in their restaurants and shops in Barcelona); Calf Brains with tartar sauce; Pig head with mustard; 18 months Duroc ham de Batallé; Croquette of pork leg with pickles and some game pâté. Very nice selection, me personally I wasn’t a fan of the brains, but that clearly was a personal opinion as my table guests could have eaten a second plate 🙂 I must admit that it was also the first time I tried it in my entire life… To accompany these appetizers it seemed more that logic to take a beer made in the local brewery and that perfect marriage to my opinion… FYI the brewery makes specialty darker beers so not a pils.

Food 1 Food 2

For my mean course the first idea was to take an Entrecôte , but when I saw they had a sweetbread videe on their menu my mind was made up. A videe is  a puff pastry that gets filled with a kind of chicken and mushroom stew.  In this case the stew had next to the chicken and meatballs some sweetbread and got finished of with some hollandaise sauce. On itself not a special dish you might think, but trust me finding a good prepared videe is not an easy task!  My problem was that the videe was for 2 persons… so I had to convince one  my of 2 table guests taking it with me 🙂 I might not be a sales person, but I do know who to get it my way 🙂 🙂 the other person at my table however  took an Entrecôte.

Videe

Best decision ever to take the Videe as it is by far the best I’ve ever eaten!!  I know when we saw the dish arriving we had to share both I as my buddy thought we’d be fighting for who got the last bit as it didn’t seem enough… but our eyes were bigger then our stomachs as the dish was heavier. So instead of fighting it was rather suggesting the other one to have the last bit 😉 🙂  Nevertheless a wonderful dish!!

As we had the luck of having a sommelier at our table (and no I’m not referring to myself as I’m just an amateur sommelier) who was even a former finalist of the Best Sommelier of Belgium competition. His choice for wine went to a 2014 Spanish Garnacha Cellers Joan d’Anguera Altaroses D.O. Montsant. Good choice Bram!!

Wine

When we thought the night couldn’t become better, there came the bottle of the 1976 Madeira 🙂 🙂 FYI we just drunk a glass of it, not the whole bottle…

Wonderful food and a marvelous evening I recommend to everybody.

 

Distilled Duvel

Duvel Puurs

I figured something important was going to be announced at the Duvel Moortgat brewery as Michel Moortgat himself was doing the presentation. Although I wasn’t 100% sure, I did have the feeling they would be presenting a new Whiskey or Duvel Distilled as they prefer calling it (you can ask my colleagues if you don’t believe me as I told a few of them 🙂 ). I don’t know how much you guys know about whiskey, but one important thing to know that the base ingredient for making whiskey (or Gin) is “moutwijn” or “malt wine” in English which is basically beer. So the step for Duvel to make whiskey or a distilled beverage is not that imaginable. It took Hedwig Neven (Brewmaster @ Duvel Moortgat) together with a bit of help from the Distillers from Filliers 6 years to make another Duvel Distilled (last Duvel Distilled was from 2006). What makes this Duvel Distilled so special is that it is as the name might already make think is made with Duvel beer as a base. So with exactly the same ingredients with only 1 exception and that is hop.

Michel Moorgat & fles

Many people asked the question why the Brewery was starting to make Whiskey or Distilled bevrages. The answer was very simple, to be creative with their own products as a base. They did want to be clear that it is not their purpose to start competing against Scottish or Irish Whiskey’s or start mass producing Duvel Distilled as they respect them and admire their craftsmanship, they just do this to stay creative and make a limited amount of bottles that will only be distributed in Belgium.

Hedwig Neven & Michel Moortgat

When it comes to the taste of Duvel Distilled I think the big difference with the traditional whiskey’s is the Peat (turf) taste as for Duvel Distilled they didn’t make use of it. I’m not an expert on strong alcoholic beverages, but it did like the taste… the Duvel distilled is a soft and “easy” to drink kind of whiskey and the perfect step to learn to appreciate and enjoy the flavors of high quality whiskey. Don’t get me wrong it is not lemonade you’re drinking the effect when drinking will slightly be different than with lemonade 🙂  and a product like Duvel Distilled has to be drunk with care and lots of enjoyment!

21-08-2013 8-07-56

I’m a fan, if you want to become one as well you can either subscribe (but be quick as there are only 5000 bottles) and order a 50cl bottle via their website or you get a free sample when buying 18 (or 3x6pack) of Duvel beer.

For the whiskey fans who also have a weakness for cheese, Cheese Masters Van Tricht have found some matching cheeses that pear perfect with the Duvel Distilled. The first cheese would be “La Gabarre” a farmer made goat cheese from the Loire Valley (made from raw milk), secondly a classic Stilton by Colston Bassett and last but not least “Fleur d’Audresselles” from the North of France made of raw milk (near Calais). They did say it was important to eat these cheeses with crust when pairing it with the Duvel Distilled

Fleur d'Audresselles Stilton Colston Bassett

Cheers!

Beer & Gastronomy Ambassador 2013

beer and gastronomy ambassador 2013 Joachim Boudens

Yesterday the Beer Society of the Low Countries and Culinaire AMBIANCE elected Joachim Boudens as the new Beer & Gastronomy ambassador for 2013. For you who don’t know Joachim Boudens, he is the sommelier and co-owner from the 3 Michelin awarded restaurant Hertog Jan in Bruges. Joachim will follow up Jean Blaute (known from his tv show about beer “Tournée Générale”) who was last year’s ambassador. When they asked Joachim what made him serve more beer in Hertog Jan, he said that sometimes when they are matching food and drinks for their new menu wine just doesn’t do the trick.  One day for example they had a dish with lobster and butter for which they just didn’t find good matching wine, what they did find was a cherry beer which happened to be the perfect marriage with this dish.  So sometimes it is just “faith” pushing you in the arms of Beer… although what I think made Joachim (and other restaurants) choose more for beer on their menu instead of or next to wine  is that sometimes it looks like foreign people are more proud and willing to put Belgian beer in the spotlight than Belgians who should actually be doing it! Joachim told a story that once he was eating a fellow 3 Michelinstar restaurant in NYC (I think he was talking about Thomas Keller’s restaurant, but not sure as he didn’t mention a name) that from the moment the sommelier/chef knew there were Belgians in his restaurant, he proudly presented them the beer list (from 30 pages) instead of a wine list with more than 60% Belgian beer (which he was sooooo proud of). On those moments you start thinking why aren’t we this proud about this product??  But it must be said that is slowly is changing and more restaurants (normal as well as top gastronomical restaurants) are offering a beer tasting together with their dishes.

Award ceremony

The best part (as my throat was getting dry) of the awarding was after the ceremony as Gert De Mangeleer (chef and co-owner Hertog Jan) and his team had prepared matching dishes for the beers of one of my (if not THE) preferred breweries Duvel Moortgat . The beers we received (in the order we got them) Vedette, Liefmans Goudenband, Bolleke from the Koninck and a Duvel Triple hop (I like a lot). The matching dishes were not only a feast for the eye, but also for the taste buds. One of the dishes they served was THE (or one of) the signature dishes from Hertog Jan Potato, vanilla, coffee, mimolette. (It looks a bit like grits, but is much tastier).

Hertog Jan appetizers (1) Hertog Jan appetizers (2) Hertog Jan appetizers (3) Hertog Jan appetizers (4) Hertog Jan appetizers (5)

Those were some njammy dishes; my personal favorite was the Avocado with a tomato powder crust and Fleur de sel (which came with the Vedett). I also couldn’t imagine a better way to taste this heavenly food and beer than in the company of Michelin star awarded chefs and sommeliers like Wouter Keersmaekers (Schone van Boskoop), Andy De Brouwer (Les Eleveurs) and the man of the hour Joachim Boudens (Hertog Jan) and having a talk about our favorite thing in life “Food”!?  I can’t (ok maybe having my fiancée with me would have made it even more perfect). I also have to admit that I now also added Hertog Jan on my wishlist 🙂

BTW I was on the evening News yesterday and I have the picture to proof it 🙂 But you can also see it on the website of VTM nieuws  (link) around 30:18min 🙂 ooooooooooh yeah baby (ok I didn’t speak, but you can’t deny the fact I was on TV)

Me on TV

Women and beer part 2

Who is this Sofie Van Rafelghem I was talking about in my blogpost? Well Sofie is a young lady who has done law school and decided to start studying for Wine sommelier, but in the end ended up becoming Beer sommelier. I’m not sure anymore how it exactly happened, but she got in contact with beer and it was love at first sight… so she changed and became a beer sommelier instead of a wine sommelier and now even has her own beer that she initially started to make in her own kitchen 🙂

What is Sofie’s goal? Well she wants to get rid of the macho image around beer and also encourage women to drink more beer as beer can be as elegant as beer (maybe just by serving it in a wine glass or so …)

As this event was at Duvel Moortgat, there was of course also some beer to try 🙂 and boy did we try some beer. On top of that they also asked Ilse Dupocheel to do some food matching with the beers.

During our walk through the Moortgat assortment we started with a nice glass of Cuvée (not to start cliché) which for me was a perfect way to open your taste buds. This glass got served with some nice fresh oysters (you can’t go wrong with oysters).The cuvée is a beer cherry beer that gets fermented between 18 months and 3 year and only gets made 1 time per year.  This got followed by some Vedett Extra white with some marinated mackerel, string bean, lemon and wasabi (with the last to give it that little touch of spiciness).  Did you know that the Vedett beer gets made (besides with the regular ingredients for beer) with ingredients like dried orange peels and coriander? (I was as surprised as you are now!!)

Who says Moortgat, says Duvel so the next beer on the list was the one and only Duvel  The Duvel got matched with another typical Belgian product, mussels, prepared with chicory, chorizo and a butter sauce (so all typical belgian besides the chorizo). I did miss some fries (but that might have been the greedy person in me that wanted them).

No, it didn’t stop there! FYI, it were all smaller glasses in which we got our beers served (No, not a good enough excuse?) The next to taste was a Dark Maredsous , a beer that the gets made by the Benedictines whoalready started making around the year 768… so you can imagine how much tradition there and knowhow there is put in the making of the beer… This beer has a soft aftertaste with some notions of chocolate and caramel (just try the beer (and drink slow) and I’m sure you’ll agree). This aftertaste is a perfect match with some Tuna and some puffed paprika .

The next beer on the menu is not really my personal favorite (because it is to bitter), but it seems that is a beer that is liked by most women…. the beer I’m talking about is that Houblon Chouffe. This beer is also known as the La Chouffe Triple. This is a beer that doesn’t get filtered). This beer is in good balance with a dish with pork (which has a sweet sugary/fatty taste) with some celeriac crème and a sojasauce (the salty part).

And our last beer for the night (we did indeed eventually stop drinking) was the Liefmans Goudenband (yes indeed, made by the first or one of the first Belgian Female head brewers was Rosa Merckx-Blanquaert) . This is a more complex kind of beer and is even unique brown beer that gets fermented between 4 and 12 months  in the cellars at Liefmans and has a very strong aroma. When I think of strong aroma’s I also think of goat or sheep cheeses… which was also what Ilse matched it with. She had foreseen a gingerbread toast with some apple jam and sheep cheese.

I’m really happy that I got the try all these beers and being surrounded by so many wonderful women made this experience even more unforgettable (that’s another reason why women should start drinking more beer). I also think and hope that more women will start drinking and appreciating beer …

If you would want more inspiration regarding beer/food matching, checking the Beer Bits book might be a good start. In case you want to know more about beers you can check the beer consumers’ organization website Zythos

What better way to end than with a quote from Kaiser Welhelm:

“Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.”

Women and beer

For some reason women and beer don’t always seem to go together? Or better that is what most men think. Personally I think those words fit perfectly! After my workshop with Sofie Van Rafelghem’s at Duvel Moortgat I got convinced even more that not only those words are a perfect match, but also that if it were not for women maybe there wouldn’t have been beer at all! Yes indeed, no beer at all! The first fact is that the first actual ‘beer recipe’ was a tribute/homage to the goddess Ninkasi from between 5000-3000 BC.

On top of that fact it is also known that until 17thcentury it were only women brewing beer. Mostly this beer was made by priestesses. They were making the beer because most men saw it as an inferior job and therefore good enough for women. It was even so that if the beer they made was too good or too bad these priestesses got executed for this! (Cruel times). It wasn’t until men in the 17th century noticed that a lot of money could be earned with making beer. From then on beer became a really manly drink with for some reason a macho tone to it. We cannot get around it; all beer related advertisement is always focused on men drinking it… I think if marketers would get rid of that macho image in the commercials more and more women would start drink beers. Although I have to admit that most women I know drink beer, all kinds of beers. The fact that women only drink fruitier or sweeter beer is a misconception.

Maybe we should also add some science to convince you? As you most probably have read in some of my previous post around beer, one of the key ingredients in making beer is hop (FYI, this plant helps against menopause). To make beer it is only allowed to use the female hop flower (virgin flower). It is even so that there is even a law that forbids planting a male hop flower within x meters from the female flower (not sure which cop would know the difference, but still…).

Sadly enough today’s day there are not too many female brewers in Belgium (or the entire world).  The first or one of the first Belgian Female head brewers was Rosa Merckx-Blanquaert from Brewery Liefmans her stamp and knowhow can still be tasted in the Goudenband. A few other female brewers that come in mind are An de Ryck from brewery De Ryck, Anne-Françoise Pypaert from Orval (she hasn’t yet been named officially as head brewer, because the friars need to get used to the thought) and last but not least Sofie Van Rafelghem herself 🙂 she started making her own beer (first at home, now more professional). I’m not sure if there are more, but I have to say it is pretty poor knowing that we have over 140 official breweries in Belgium. Never say never, maybe one day there will be more female brewers (it is said that women have 30% more taste buds than men, which only help making better beer). Don’t worry, we won’t burn you if you make it too good like in th 17th century  🙂

It becomes more and more clear that women and beer have more in common than we men knew!

To be continued….