Archive for the 'Belgium' Category

In de Wulf. Again.

It’s always exciting when I start putting together the pieces of a dining trip. Especially the anticipation of trekking to locations I’ve not yet been to savor my first bites from the kitchens of chefs I’ve not yet met. When it’s the case that the tour I’m planning is focused around a particular restaurant that I’ve long been particularly eager to visit, I often like to go twice. Sometimes two days in a row, and many times twice in a day. After assembling the majority of the building blocks of my recent dining campaign in Belgium, I was feeling regretful that I had only booked a single meal at In de Wulf. Just as I was beginning to accept that I would have merely one dinner in Dranouter, my good friend Simon, who is currently working with Sergio Herman in Antwerp, expressed a desire to join Rocky and me for a great meal while we were in his part of the world. So I was quick to oblige and booked a lunch table for three, three days after my first affair with Chef Kobe Desramaults and his team.

in de wulf walkway

in de wulf patio

in de wulf table setting

in de wulf menus

Waking up on a rainy Sunday morning in Brussels, Rocky and I checked out of our hotel, packed up the rental hybrid, and hit the road for our return to Wulvestraat. After racing with a couple in a bright yellow Lotus Exige down the final stretch of highway, we pulled into the farmhouse compound, met up with Simon, went straight to the table and got the party started with a bottle of Jerome Prevost’s 2010 La Closerie.

Naturally, since this meal was mere days after my first, the majority of the menu was the same. Though there were a few extras thrown in from Chef Kobe.

in de wulf porkskin

Porkskin. With mustard mayonnaise and white currants and more mustard powder than last time.

in de wulf whelks bay leaf

Whelks. From the North Sea with bay leaf white wine vinaigrette.

in de wulf mackerel mugwort

Mackerel, mugwort. Mackerel cured and smoked with mugwort and topped with fermented beef miso.

in de wulf swimmer crabs

A bonus dish of swimmer crabs, which Kobe told us were typical of Belgium. He instructed us not to eat them, but just suck out the juice. Pretty tasty.

in de wulf radish egg yolk

Radish, egg yolk. Egg yolk poached in the shell and dressed with radish flowers, powder, and sauce.

in de wolf bread service

Bread service: sourdough baked out back in a brick oven. With butter and rapeseed oil.

in de wolf north sea sepia

North sea sepia. Cold ‘noodles’ cut from the sepia, dressed with squid jus, garlic vinegar, and chamomile petals. Served in a bowl fashioned of frozen ink and water.

in de wulf dogfish kohlrabi

Dogfish, kohlrabi, rhubarb. Meaty dogfish sandwiched with kohlrabi, rhubarb, creme fraiche, lovage, and rye toast.

in de wolf north sea crab carrots

North sea crab, carrots, lemon thyme, carrot flower. Just like in the previous meal, a terrific plate of sweet compliments and textural contrasts.

in de wolf broad bean goat cheese

Broad bean, goat cheese of Uxem, verbena. In line with the last meal, but without the surprise addition of peas.

in de wulf lobster

Lobster of Audresselles. Once again, tremendous lobster meat in a jus from the head of the animal.

in de wulf snails goosefoot

Snails of Comines, fat-hen. Snails and goosefoot. Delicious snails accompanied quinoa wrapped in a fat-hen leaf.

in de wulf cauliflower

Cauliflower, whey-mussel sauce. Borderline mind-blowing dehydrated cauliflower in a foamy sauce of mussels and whey. A stellar combination.

in de wulf kobe desramaults

in de wulf turbot and onion

Roasted turbot and onion. On paper the same, but on the plate quite different than the turbot and onion we had a few days before. A much tastier piece of fish(especially the skin) and an even prettier winter onion.

in de wulf lamb gherkin

Lamb, roasted gherkin. Lovely brisket and filet of Dutch lamb alongside a roasted stuffed gherkin dressed in lamb jus.

in de wulf pig brain flax seed tart

Flax seed tart and pig brain. A light, crisp flax seed tart with a rich gelee of pig brain topped with carrot flowers. Served on a pig skull.

in de wulf pigeon in hay

in de wulf pigeon and hay

Another bonus dish from Kobe. Pigeon aged whole for two weeks, cleaned and smoked, then aged with smoked hay. Effing fantastic. Amazing, rich, intense flavor.

in de wulf flammèche vieux lille

Flamiche Vieux Lille. A traditional Flemish cheese tart.

in de wulf beetroot sloeberry

Beetroot/ Sloeberry. Lightly crisp beet pastries filled with chocolate ganache.

in de wulf meadowsweet yoghurt honey cherry

Meadowsweet, yoghurt, honey and cherry. Meadowsweet ice cream, yoghurt parfait, cherries, and local meadowsweet honey. Sweet and floral. Wonderfully beautiful light dessert.

in de wulf pineapple weed cucumber

Pineapple weed, young cucumber. Pineapple weed ice cream inside a chamomile meringue covered with slices of cucumber compressed with lemon verbena. Light and very nice, though not as nice as at the previous meal. This one had thicker meringue with much less ice cream inside.

in de wulf strawberry cheese poppy

Wild strawberry, fresh cheese, poppy. Gorgeous young strawberries from a local farm with creamy fresh cheese, poppy petals, and a sauce of strawberry, rose and verbena. Delightful.

in de wulf mignardises

Mignardises:  Nuts and seeds in chocolate and honey. Goat cheese tart with red currant. Fresh berries. And cake.

Some nice wines to accompany a stellar meal:

in de wulf la closeriein de wulf puligny montrachetin de wulf winein de wulf vouette fidele

After we closed down the dining room for lunch, Rocky, Simon and I shared some pleasant conversation with Chef Desramaults then relaxed in the adjacent lounge with a few rounds of excellent coffee.

in de wulf dining room

in de wulf dining room

in de wolf coffee lounge

Another outstanding meal in Dranouter with Chef Kobe and crew. Two months later, I’m still singing praises of In de Wulf, and will continue to do so until my next visit.

Date of meal:  July 6, 2014

In de Wulf. Wulvestraat 1. Dranouter, Belgium +32 57 44 55 67  www.indewulf.be

L’Air du Temps

l'air du temps street sign

Last month, halfway through our Benelux trip, Rocky and I spent the Fourth of July dining in Eghezee with Chef San Degeimbre providing the fireworks. After a tremendous dinner the night before followed by an al fresco breakfast on a beautiful morning in Dranouter, and a day of touring castles in the Belgian countryside, we headed to see what was cooking up at L’Air du Temps.

l'air du temps barn

l'air du temps restaurant

We showed up early for dinner and spent a moment wandering around the grounds and peaking into the different spaces. Their set up is really pretty effing cool.

l'air du temps table setting

l'air du temps jacques selosse

We made our way into the restaurant, went straight to our table, ordered up a bottle of Jacques Selosse Les Carelles(Blanc de Blancs from Le Mesnil Sur Oger – a gorgeous treat), and got the party started.

l'air du temps bread

Eau de verveine. To begin, a glass of water lightly infused with verbena and lime zest(not pictured, but imagine a glass of water).

Le Pain. A ‘paper’ cracker of onion and grains.

l'air du temps snacks

l'air du temps beet cereal

Betterave en coque de céréales. Beetroot in a cereal grain shell. With sunflower seed condiment to dip. Full flavored without being too sweet or rich.

l'air du temps peas cauliflower lettuce

Texture de petit-pois. Peas and bacon in a pea sauce. A little apple gave a slight acid kick. Superb.

Laitue poêlée – Pomme de terre fumée – Citron confit. Fried lettuce with smoked potato and preserved lemon.

Chou-fleur – Crème de jaune d’œuf au miso. Textures of cauliflower with egg yolk creme and miso.

l'air du temps lobster

Homard – Tomates – Ficoïde. Belgian lobster with mushroom, tomato, ginger and ficoide glaciale. Boom. Solid.

l'air du temps mussels

l'air du temps moules frites

Classique 2010 : Moules-Frites. A take on the Belgian favorite. A meaty mussel in an edible potato shell with mayonnaise.

l'air du temps bread service

l'air du temps bread

Bread service with salted butter and butter flavored with Japanese vinegar.

l'air du temps lobster gazpacho

l'air du temps lobster strawberry

Homard breton – Gaspacho de fraises – Beurre noisette – Cosmos. Brittany lobster with strawberry and red cabbage gazpacho, brown butter ‘rocks’, and cosmos flower.

l'air du temps clams artichokes

Coques et Artichaut. A tasting of clams and artichokes with seaweed, daikon radish, and a sauce from the clams. The artichokes acted almost as potatoes in a clam chowder.

l'air du temps vegetables

l'air du temps spring vegetables

Légumes de printemps  A bowl of spring vegetables from their garden. White asparagus was the feature, accompanied by zucchini, radish, fermented radish, lettuce, nasturtium, kimchi, fried alliums, and a sauce made from the fermenting juice of the kimchi with butter and lovage.

l'air du temps pigeon

Pigeonneau de Waret – Anchois – Chips de crêpe de riz. A tender, luscious piece of local pigeon dressed in anchovy sauce and covered with rice chips.

l'air du temps veal oysters

l'air du temps veal oyster

Veau – Romanesco – Huître – Passion – Lacto carottes. A brilliant pairing of veal and oysters with the briny salinity against the light, slow cooked loin. With acidic passionfruit, carrot, buttery romanesco, salty potato crisps, and herbaceous, lightly spicy tagetes leaves.

l'air du temps sweetbreads

l'air du temps sweetbreads

Oignons – Ris de veau – Amélanchier – Fèves. Veal sweetbreads with peas, white onions, pickled red onions, beets, celeriac cream, and a reduction of amelanchier fruit and veal jus. The sweetbreads had a hay ash bbq flavor and aroma that was pretty bad ass.

l'air du temps strawberry mousse

l'air du temps strawberry rose raspberry

…L’important c’est la rose… (the important thing is the rose). Rose ice cream, gelee, and meringue with strawberry mousse and raspberries filled with apricot and harissa. Fresh, fruity, and floral with a lingering spice from the harissa. Very nice.

l'air du temps peach melba

l'air du temps peach melba

Comme une pêche Melba. A take on the classic peach melba. With flavors of vanilla, peach, and thyme.

l'air du temps petit fours

Some sweets and chocolates to finish out the meal. Followed by a kitchen tour and some fun chatting with Chef Degeimbre and his crew.

In addition to the Jacques Selosse, I ordered the non-alcoholic pairing, which was a series of waters each lightly infused with flavors from their respective plates. It was really an impressive and successful offering. Standouts were lemon and licorice water to accompany the clams and artichoke dish, and bell pepper water with lovage alongside the spring vegetables.

A brilliant night in a delightful setting.

l'air du temps restaurant

Date of visit:  July 4, 2014

L’Air du Temps. Rue de la Croix Monet 2. Éghezée, Belgium  +32 81 81 30 48  www.airdutemps.be

In de Wulf

For the past few years I had been wanting to make a trip out to Dranouter, Belgium to see what’s going on at the restaurant In de Wulf. It consistently seemed that whenever I had some time free to travel, the restaurant was having a closure. Earlier this year when I found out I had vacation in July, the first thing I did was check the schedule on their website, then I booked a table(and a room) to see what Chef Kobe Desramaults is cooking up in Heuvelland.

in de wulf restaurantAfter a remarkable meal the night before, followed by a perfect day of sightseeing and taking in the history of Ghent, Rocky and I hit the road and arrived for dinner with high hopes(as this was the meal our whole trip was planned around). We settled in our room and relaxed for just a moment before taking a seat on the restaurant’s patio.

in de wulf patio

in de wulf menus

in de wulf jerome prevost la closerie rose

After chatting briefly about the menu, we ordered up a bottle of Jerome Prevost’s 2008 La Closerie fac-simile rosé(effing amazing) and got the party started. The first few small bites were served outside.

in de wulf pork skin

Porkskin. Crisp and super light. With mustard powder and mustard mayonnaise.

in de wulf crispy potato

Crispy potato. A nest of wound up fried potato strings with smoked potato mousse. One of Rocky’s favorite bites of the trip.

in de wulf dining room

in de wulf table setting

We moved into the dining room and made ourselves comfortable at a spacious wood table.

in de wulf whelks

Whelks. Meaty, oceanic tasting whelks from the North Sea accompanied by a tangy bay leaf white wine vinaigrette.

in de wulf mackerel

Mackerel, mugwort. Cold fillets of mackerel cured and smoked with mugwort and topped with fermented beef miso.

in de wulf radish egg yolk

Radish, egg yolk. A nice yolk poached in the shell and dressed with radish flowers, powder, and sauce.

in de wulf bread service

Sourdough baked in an outside brick oven around the back of the restaurant. Accompanied by butter, salt, and rapeseed oil.

in de wulf north sea sepia

North sea sepia. Cool ‘noodles’ of sepia dressed in a sauce of the head with some cucumber flowers. Served in a bowl made of ice with the ink from the fish that slowly melted and combined with the noodles. A good expression of the animal.

in de wulf dogfish kohlrabi

Dogfish, kohlrabi, rhubarb. A dense piece of dogfish sandwiched with some really nice kohlrabi, stringy acidic rhubarb, and sourdough toast.

in de wulf crab carrots

North sea crab, carrots, lemon thyme, carrot flower. The dual sweetness of the picked crab with the carrot was outstanding, as was the crunchy snap of the carrots against the supple meat. The lemon thyme lent a nice herbal lift.

in du wulf broad bean goat cheese

Broad bean, goat cheese of Uxem, verbena. Broad beans accompanied by some perfect peas in frothed goat cheese.

in de wulf lobster

in de wulf lobster

Lobster of Audresselles. Rich, sweet claw and tail meat in a bisque made from the head of the lobster. Tremendously delicious.

in de wulf snails

in de wulf snails goosefoot

Snails of Comines, fat-hen. Tasty snails heavily dressed in a gremolata-ish condiment. Along with the snails, some members of the goosefoot family. Quinoa based mix wrapped in a fat-hen leaf.

in de wulf cauliflower

in de wulf cauliflower whey

Cauliflower, whey-mussel sauce. Stunning, multi-textured dehydrated cauliflower with a foam of mussels and whey along with what I gathered to be some type of toasted miso bread crumbs. The distinct mollusk taste of the foam was a terrific match with the concentrated cauliflower flavor.

in de wulf turbot onion

Roasted turbot and onion. A cut of turbot with a sauce from the bones of the fish and young fennel. Along with a great Flemish winter onion. For me, the weakest plate of the meal. Rocky gave up on hers after pulling a succession of bones from her mouth.

in de wulf pig brain flax tart

Flax seed tart and pig brain. A light, crisp flax seed tart with a rich gelee of pig brain topped with carrot flowers. Appropriately served on a pig skull.

in de wulf lamb gherkin

Lamb, roasted gherkin. Super tender Dutch lamb with a stuffed roasted gherkin and some lamb jus.

in du wulf flemish cheese tart

Flamiche Vieux Lille. A traditional Flemish cheese tart.

in de wulf beetroot sloeberry

Beetroot/ Sloeberry. Lightly crisp beet pastries filled with chocolate ganache.

in de wulf meadowsweet yoghurt

Meadowsweet, yoghurt, honey and cherry. Meadowsweet ice cream, yoghurt parfait, cherries, and local meadowsweet honey. Sweet and floral. Beautifully restrained and balanced.

in de wulf pineapple weed

in de wulf pineapple weed cucumber

Pineapple weed, young cucumber. Pineapple weed ice cream inside a chamomile meringue covered with slices of cucumber compressed with lemon verbena. Marvelously light and herbaceous.

in de wulf wild strawberry poppy

Wild strawberry, fresh cheese, poppy. Gorgeous young strawberries from a local farm with creamy fresh cheese, poppy petals, and a sauce of strawberry, rose and verbena. Such a delight.

in de wulf petit fours

Mignardises: Rhubarb pate de fruits with lemon verbena. Malt cake. Berries of different ripenesses with sour cream and honey in a little tart. Hazelnut chocolate candies.in de wulf marie courtin champagne

We ordered a bottle of Dominique Moreau’s Marie-Courtin Efflorescence to have with desserts and finish in our room after dinner. Lovely bubbles.

And here’s what we had for breakfast the next morning, served on the back porch. F*cking bad ass:

in de wulf breakfast

in de wulf breakfast eggsin de wulf breakfast

in de wulf breakfast berries

in de wulf brick oven

Dinner at In de Wulf is easily my favorite meal I’ve had this year. By far one of the coolest places I have ever been. Truly one of the most special and poetic dining experiences in the world. Rocky and I were sad to leave, but really excited to return for lunch a few days later.

in de wulf preserves pickles

Date of meal:  July 3, 2014

In de Wulf. Wulvestraat 1. Dranouter, Belgium  +32 57 44 55 67  www.indewulf.be

in de wulf cow skull

in de wulf

 

Hof van Cleve

hof van cleve road signLast month on our vacation across the pond, after finishing up a nice dinner in the Netherlands, Rocky and I hit the road and made a run for the border. We spent a perfect day touring around Antwerp, then drove to the town of Kruishoutem where we pounded sipped a few coffees and got changed for dinner in a parking lot. From there we went to see what Chef Peter Goossens has cooking at his restaurant Hof van Cleve.

hof van cleve gateWe showed up almost an hour early for our reservation, so we parked our hybrid outside the gates and took about a thousand photos of the adjacent field of flowers and a chicken down the road.

hof van cleve flower field

hof van cleve chickenWhen the time came, we took a seat at a table on the patio and got the party started with the suggested house aperitif and series of small bites.

hof van cleve patio

hof van cleve canapes

hof van cleve combavaCOMBAVA  mint  grapefruit.  First up, a shot of grapefruit, kaffir lime, and mint.

hof van cleve soft shell crabSOFT SHELL CRAB  lime  vadouvan.  Alongside, a squid ink chip topped with crispy soft shell crab, flavored lime zest and vadouvan spices.

hof van cleve wagyuWAGYU  sesame  parmesan.  A rolled slice of raw wagyu with parmesan cream, sesame, and radish.

hof van cleve young herringYOUNG HERRING  green apple  runner beans.  A small piece of herring accompanied by apple, potato, peppers, and beans.

hof van cleve chicken liverCHICKEN LIVER  shallot  shellfish.  A stunning plate. Fantastic langoustine tartare with a rich quenelle of chicken liver and apricot toast over chicken liver parfait. A superb combination.

hof van cleve dashi

hof van cleve dashi sea saladDASHI  sesame  sea salad.  A delightful broth with a variety of seaweeds, mussels, young clams, and baby shrimp.

While progressing through these opening snacks we were also making our game plan for the meal. I had initially asked our guy if we could be served the vegetable tasting with meat courses of his choice supplemented. He didn’t seem to like that idea too much and after a little back and forth we ended up with the veg menu with beef substituted for the final savory course. And to drink, a bottle of 2006 La Closerie by Jerome Prevost.

hof van cleve table setting

hof van cleve bread serviceBread. Stone baked with sourdough. The choices were Spelt 100%, Westmalle Trappist Rye, Olive Oil Wheat, Camp Rémy Baguette. Accompanied by Boer Haerinck farm butter, P. Bellevaire salted butter, and olive oil.

hof van cleve radish

hof van cleve radish miso quinoaRADISH  miso  quinoa  eggplant.  Radishes with horseradish, eggplant, quinoa, potato, hijiki, miso, and herb coulis. Fresh, light, vegetal. A marvelously textured compilation.

hof van cleve sucrine

hof van cleve grilled sucrineA continuation of the course. Grilled sucrine lettuce(amazing), with shiitake, quinoa and hijiki in an intensely aromatic soy and kaffir broth.

hof van cleve cauliflower

hof van cleve cauliflowerCAULIFLOWER  basil  mimolette  button mushroom.  Lovely cauliflower florets with riced cauliflower, leeks, mushrooms, a brilliant leek sauce, lightly cheesy aioli-ish mimolette, over thin crunchy toast.

hof van cleve artichoke violet

hof van cleve artichoke violetARTICHOKE ‘VIOLET’  fennel  rice ‘bomba’  cevennes onion.  Artichokes with rice, small onions, peppery watercress, and a superbly savory, lightly sweet onion sauce. A very classy and impeccably executed plate.

hof van cleve dune asparagusDUNE ASPARAGUS  morel  parsley  farm egg.  A wonderful plate of white asparagus, mushrooms, and an egg. With mushroom sauce, white asparagus gelee, parmesan tapenade, and shockingly complex leaves of sea aster.

hof van cleve beef jusA precursor to the beef plate. Beef tartare on a cracker with intensely rich and beefy bone marrow consommé.

hof van cleve selected beef

hof van cleve selected beefSELECTED BEEF  pea  bone marrow  cevennes onion.  Decadent cuts of beef with peas, onions, crispy shallots, and a natural jus.

hof van cleve pre dessertA cool, fresh, fruit-juicy pre dessert. A shot of some tangerine-ish fruit I couldn’t understand with pineapple, lime, and mint.

hof van cleve pre dessertA ‘cannoli’ consisting of a pineapple ‘shell’ filled with limoncello cream on top of olive oil bread.

hof van cleve strawberry gariguette

hof van cleve strawberrySTRAWBERRY ‘GARIGUETTE’  lemon  verbena  hammam tea.  Strawberry and rhubarb with lemon ice cream, hammam tea foam, and mint. An acid trip of a dessert.

hof van cleve chocolate boa sentencaCHOCOLATE ‘BOA SENTENÇA’ 65%  morello  beetroot  pistachio.  Chocolate ice cream, mousse, and crumble. Beets, beet cake, cherries, raspberries, pistachio compote.

CHOCOLATES AND SWEETS:

hof van cleve mignardises cartA cart full of sweet treats.

hof van cleve baba au rhum

hof van cleve rumBaba au Rhum. With Rhum J M.

hof van cleve mignardisesChocolate orange madeline. Snow balls(like light donut holes).

hof van cleve petit foursMacarons. Belgian biscuit. Eclair. Chocolate passionfruit truffle.

Quite an outstanding meal at the hands of Chef Goossens and his team. I hope to return to the idyllic Belgian countryside setting again for another round of Goossens’ stunning cuisine.

Date of visit:  July 2, 2014

Hof van Cleve. Riemegemstraat 1. Kruishoutem, Belgium. +32 9 383 58 48  www.hofvancleve.com


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