Well, this is my first post and I can’t decide what to write about. At the moment I am sitting in Leuven, Belgium listening to Reel Big Fish. I just finished eating fresh sliced red tomatoes on Cracotte crackers with goat cheese spread on them. A nice little breakfast after a run around the Abbey. I discovered a new path today that went down a tiny ‘country’ road with big tall corn fields and a few huge gardens along the way, it was lovely. I consider this a success since I didn’t get lost and found my way back to my boyfriend’s flat and it will also be a nice extension to my regular running path.
I arrived in Leuven on Sunday evening after visiting my sister in Portsmouth. Lately, I have been in a bit of a limbo waiting for my Kenyan Visa approval to go to Nairobi for a Communications Assistant internship at a University Hospital. In the meantime, I decided to divide my time between Belgium and England which is surprisingly easy thanks to the Eurostar. While I always enjoy my time in England visiting my sister and her fiancé, I am happy to be back in Belgium for the 3rd time. There are many things I love about Belgium but the main ones are the friendly people, the excellent food, and being surrounded by rich history that permeates the architecture, language, food culture, art… the list can go on forever! There are many beers (such as Stella Artois) that have been around longer than the nation of Canada.
I am impressed with the huge amount of music festivals in Belgium, there seems to be one every weekend throughout the country. I must say that being Canadian, I still find it a huge novelty to travel an entire country in such a short amount of time. To put it in perspective, my home province of Alberta is 661,185 sq km where Belgium is 30,510 sq km. If my calculations are right, 21 Belgium’s would fit in Alberta. I still find it entertaining when my Belgian friends begin speaking about ‘far’ distances!
But since this a blog about food and travel I will quit yakking and start a list of my favourite food discoveries while in Belgium. I have kept track in my Moleskin travel journal since my first trip at the beginning of July. This list is in no particular order.
Food Discovered In Belgium
1. Cubed cheese dipped in mustard – an appetizer I had during a lovely dinner in Brugge sitting along one of the canals. It completely rocked my socks off being it was so simple yet so satisfying. Went excellent with a Kwak beer.
2. Wasabi Roasted Nuts – I am buying about 5 bags of these before I leave. Perfect little snack to have in a backpack while traveling.
3. Raw Herring with fresh chives and green onions– My boyfriend’s father, Michel, made a lovely dinner the first time I met him and Billy’s mom, Kathy. This dish is fondly called a ‘Dutch Buddy’ and is a traditional dutch delicacy. I have learned all about the various flavours of raw meat while in Belgium.
4. Liège waffle topped with fresh strawberries – I will never forget my first waffle. It was a sunny day in Brussels and this waffle was a sugary-fruity-bready flavour explosion in my mouth. I was a waffle snob for a month after this experience but have since embraced the waffle without fresh strawberries.
5. Bugle corn chips dipped in soft goats cheese – A deadly snack to have watching movies or as an appetizer for dinner. Goat’s cheese has become my favourite cheese since coming to Belgium. Partly, because it doesn’t upset my stomach and I have to eat cow dairy cheeses in moderation. However, that does not stop me from indulging in a brie & honey sandwich at the local sandwich shop.
6. Waterzooie – a soup that originated in Flanders (more specifically in Gent) and has many variations. Chicken or fish is typically used in the recipe as well as wine with potatoes and various other veggies. In the future I plan to try to make Waterzooie which will surely be another kitchen adventure.
7. Frites – You can’t go to Belgium without getting frites. They are sometimes served in a paper cone or more often a cardboard tray. The cone is more fun, but anyways, the real surprise is all the sauces that are available for frites. Belgium has a huge sauce culture that I am slowly starting to tap into it but there are so many! It is going to take a looong time.
8. Speculoos cookies topped with Canadian peanut butter (my fave is Skippy) – These little cookies are often called the Belgian national cookie. They are a sugary-cinnamon flavoured cookie that is also great with tea. Here is a great little website I found describing them and offering a recipe to make your own ( http://www.brussels-belgium-travel-guide.com/speculoos.html.).
This is the end of my list so far but it is always growing. I have eaten veggies like crazy over here because they are all so good and fresh and there are always an ample amount in dishes that we make. I hope to post some of my attempts at Belgian cooking soon.
Until the next post, xo.