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

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….

The gastronomical Heart of Europe

Breathtaking, that is the first word that comes in mind when I think back of the event I was fortunate enough to be part of. This event was to put the local products from 4 regions that to my opinion deserve more attention. I’m talking about Limburg (Belgian & Dutch), Liège  and Aken-Düren-Heinsberg (Aken doesn’t contribute to the culinairy part).Not sure how good your geography is, but maybe you’ve noticed that these are neighboring regions (even crossing country boarders)

Heart of Europe

Chateau Neercanne was the location of the event, why exactly this location? Well first of all because Maastricht is the point where countries from the 4 regions come together and I think also the historical past of Chateau Neercanne might have been a reason. Chateau Neercanne is the place where the Maastricht Treaty has been signed on 7 February 1992 (Treaty on European Union). So basically they used this historical location to write history all over again! 4 regions spread over 3 countries collaborating and joining forces to put, what is a wonderful piece of Europe in the spotlight.

Chateau Neercanne

Chateau Neercanne (3)

Chateau Neercanne Entrance

Chateau Neercanne Entrance (2)

Chateau Neercanne itself is already a good example of the treasures that are hidden in this “Heart of Europe” (and a reason to come here).This 1 Michelin star awarded restaurant (already since 1985) is to me one of the most magical and beautiful restaurants where I have ever eaten. No picture can represent the actual beauty of this spot!  We didn’t eat at the restaurant itself, we ate in the restaurant’s wine cellar. This cellar is located in the caves of the hill itself on which the Castle is located (also the exact location where the Treaty was signed). From the first step you walk in the caves, the only word that comes to mind is “WOW”. Names from people who have been here during the centuries written on the walls, plaques with names and Escutcheons from important and royal guests that have been here (like Paul Bocuse, HRH Queen Beatrix, …), candles burning everywhere and wines wresting as far as the eye can see. Funny enough the Plaques that is the most striking from them all was one from Red Bull crushed ice (yes, in the bright colors of Red Bull, check picture below)

Neercanne Cave (2) Neercanne caves (1) Neercanne caves (3)

Plaques Treaty of Maastricht Red Bull Plaque

Honestly I didn’t know there were such beautiful castles in “Limburg”! Which is again like I said before a good example that these regions get underestimated and deserve much more credit than they are getting at the moment.  FYI I would have loved arriving here on a horse :-).

In my next post I’ll finally start talking about the food and reveal more undiscovered secrets from the gastronomical heart of Europe! To already make you curious I’ll share the picture of our table for lunch

Our table for lunch

For more info on the heart of Europe, check the following link

To be continued ….