The gastronomical Heart of Europe: final part

You know what is the difference between a local “farmer/craftsman” and multinationals? The sparkle in their eyes! When you see and hear the local “farmer/craftsman” talk you see the excitement, enthusiasm and the love or better the passion for their product and for what they do…. which results to unbelievable products waaaaaay above average quality! The 2 I mentioned in my previous post are just two examples, but every single person I talked to on this little ‘trade fair’ had the passion in their eyes. Another good example of such a person is Frank van Eerd from Bisschopsmolen, who really knows everything about whatever has to do with bread, pies and baking, a walking encyclopedia if you ask me! Next time I’m in Maastricht I just have to pass by his bakery to buy and try some stuff!!

Bisschopsmolen

I have to admit that after all that talking (and I talk a lot) I started to feel hungry and thirsty, lucky for me they were just ready to serve a wonderful lunch prepared by 3 Michelin star chefs that I now am a big fan of: Hans Snijders (Chef Chateau Neercanne) took care of the appetizers, Arabelle Meirlaen (Li Cwerneu) and for the main course they choose the chef that up to today has prepared the best piece of lam I ever had in my life, Giovani Oosters (Vous Le Vous). They made a lunch all prepared with local ingredients and served with wines from local vineyards.

Hans Snijders

Arabelle Meirlaen

Giovani Oosters by Nina

And man what an incredible table! You might recognize this from my post about “friends of the taste”, where you basically all eat at one long table and sit with people you have never seen before 🙂 which for me couldn’t be better as I was surrounded by the people from Livar, Schorpion, “tourisme de la Province de Liège”… and boy did we talk, good thing there was enough things to smear the throat.

Our table for lunch

I unfortunately wasn’t able to take nice pictures of the eye catching dishes the chefs prepared as there was not enough light for good pictures, but like I said they all 3 convinced me taste more of their food (yes, again more restaurants on my wish list), I can only suggest you guys to the same :-)What I can do is list what we had and what you’ll notice is that they all have a motto that they highly valued just like me “Keep it simple” as that is 98% of the time the best!

Appetizers which were served with perfectly matching Brut Nature Gold sparkling wine from Schorpion:

Trilogy of ham:

  •             ‘Jambon d’Ardenne’ mousse (from Montenauer) with cave mushrooms jelly
  •             Jamón de la Sierra’ (Livar) with spelled bread (Bisschopsmolen)
  •             Crispy Livar porkneck with a “Loonse’ syrup sauce

First course that got served with one of Belgium’s most famous white wines a 2011 Genoels-Elderen Chardonnay:

  • Mackerel fillet marinated in fleur de sel with a spray (yes, like a perfume spray) of Lambertus juniper and bergamot accompanied by a refreshing beet and Montzen goat cheese.

Main course served with an Aldeneyck Pinot Noire, again a very nice choice a little herby and full of taste despite its young age (made me think of Burgundy wines).

  • Livar bacon (cooked 3 days at 69°C) with mushrooms from the Kanne caves, a sauce of Val Dieu triple and potato gratin with Livar pork cheek, turnips and parsnips from De Wroeter. Sprinkled with Maasland’s land seasoning salt

Dessert: my all-time favorite rice pie by the Seigneurie de la Vervi-riz!! Man that is some damn good pie.

If you feel like trying all this of having the same breathtaking experience or want to know more about this region and maybe visit some local farmers do check the website from “heart of europe” you won’t regret it! I know I will be back in this region very very soon 🙂

Heart of Europe

The gastronomical Heart of Europe: Part 2

As you could read in my previous post I was really ‘in love’ with the spot where the event ‘Heart of Europe’ was held. You might also remember that the reason for me being here is that the regions Belgian & Dutch Limburg, Liège and for a part Aken are joining their forces to show people the many hidden treasures on all levels (Gastronomical, museums, etc…) there are in their regions. All these treasures are bundled on the website “Heart of Europe” which is available in Dutch, German and French (I’m sure English will soon follow).

heart of Europe website

I’m being honest when I’m saying that is a very user friendly website! Really!!!  On the website you are able to look on whatever interests you most either per region or across region and country boarders. Are more into food/gastronomy or art and culture…? Just click on it and the website will guide you through the best these regions have to offer and you’ll find whatever your little heart desires. The best period to visit this period to me (but this pure personal) is spring time, as this is the moment that all plants, fruit trees and flowers are blooming. Just imagine yourself cycling through beautifully colored landscapes as far as the eye can see feeling a light spring (slightly warmer than in winter) breeze and stopping once in a while to visit a local farmer, winemaker or any another craftsman to enjoy their local products with the sun shining down on you … but then again every season has its beauties. Try all 4 and then decide 😉

Haspengouw by HBVL

Haspengouw by stijn.linearecta.be

I’ll let you in to a little secret of mine, the website has helped inspiring me and organizing my fiancé’s birthday 😉 I know she’ll be reading this (am I mean to make her this curious?) so I won’t go into details, but I’ll share it when the time is right.  Ooooooooh yeah baby!

Not that I needed more convincing that this region is beautiful in every sense of this word, but if they want to convince me with food, who am I to stop them 🙂 🙂

At this “event” or maybe meeting is better word, they had also invited some local culinary craftsmen (winemakers, cheese makers, etc…). I arrived at 10 a.m. so I didn’t feel like trying the beer or wine yet (I just felt wrong) although there are some really good wines in these regions.  Something that did catch my attention from the moment I walked in was the ham’s, that is a big weakness of mine I love ham’s both cooked as dry-cured ham (like Parmaham and Pata negra). The “LIVAR” booth was one that immediately got my attention. Livar is actually a ‘pig’ farmer that besides selling the “regular” meat of his pigs also makes some delightful hams!! From the moment you put a piece of that ham in your mouth it immediately melts like butter. Livar has 3 nominations of their ham (from the same kind of pig) the first  “Livarsijnk” is dried and aged in the headquarter near Maastricht, the second part gets dried and ages in Spain “Jamon de la Sierra” and the third part “Proscuitto di Monastero” gets dries and aged in Italy near Parma . With the last two as my favorit ones, not that the Livarsijnk wasn’t good, but the other two just had that flavor I love! (They are aged longer). What makes the difference between Livar ham and other hams you’ll find around is the fact that the Livar pigs’ meadow doesn’t have a fence and they get fed things like nuts, etc… I can really recommend trying this ham and/or even visiting Livar whenever you are near Maastricht. I’m a fan!

Livar ham man

Although I really loved all of the ‘craftsmen’ that were here had great products, other one that caught my attention were the “Seigneurie de la Vervi-riz”, they had with them my all-time favorite dessert (besides tarte tatin) Rice pie and man this was THE BEST I have ever had!!! It was all I ever looked for in a rice pie 🙂 and I must say they were the fanciest dressed of us all! (check the pic below).

The best ricepie ever

BUT, the best was yet to come!

To be continued….