Archive for February, 2012

Just while checking through my library, I stumbled upon an old French language marabout book [editor: Marabout; 1987 – Alleur / Belgique]. In it some humourous food drawings by Frapar, who I guess, was a local artist worldwide known in his own village.

Thomas Keller, a U.S. chef, explains that Sous Vide is a foolproof technique, involving cooking at precise temperatures below simmering, yielding results that other culinary methods cannot. However: literally it means  “under emptiness” which I hope helps explaining the wordplay that makes up the joke.

Petard means fire-cracker. – Dinde means Turkey. –

Farce has a double meaning -> or stuffing, or joke.  So they were “just joking” or “stuffing the turkey with a fire-cracker” is the wordplay in this cartoon. Always difficult to get the point translated I’m afraid, isn’t it?

An easy one: “I tell you it smells like paint, your lackered duck! Great line in a Chinese restaurant enjoying Peking Duck.

The boss of an eating place who identifies a inspector, the one who decides about the stars attributed…  “How many stars do you see now, mister G&M ?”  (Gault et Millau is a french institution commenting on the quality of restaurants.)

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It doesn’t has to be always about Asian food on this blog right?

 To start on an ironical although humoristic note, allow me to explain in a simple way the former negotiations of Belgian politics.
(No central government agreement since elections in June 2010 till a year and a half later.) 
It illustrates and sums up the fundamental difference between the north and the southern regions in that small next-to be-ex-country.
Here we go: Belgian Political Negotiations 101 explained:
You have one cow.
The cow is schizophrenic.
Sometimes the cow thinks it’s French, other times it’s Flemish.
The Flemish cow won’t share with the French cow.
The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow’s milk.
The cow asks permission to be cut in half.
The cow dies happy.
After this starter, let us go and enjoy some local food.
Mostly stuff from my native regions in Flanders, Wallonia and France. Of course, marvelous food is available coming from Portugal, Spain, Italy… and other regions as well.  Just think about Scandinavian seafood places. 
 Succulent food in fact is available from all over the world and I’m sure  people, better informed than I am, are writing about local and regional cuisines all over the globe.
Also, it’s very difficult in my opinion to recreate original far-away-cuisine-specialities abroad if the cook or chef is not educated in its taste finesses and has not always access to the fresh original ingredients. Restaurants in  ***** hotels have great results, I know, unfortunately at very “Warren-Buffet-like” prices!
 Now, to start with some favourites of mine:  
For a very Flemish snack I suggest cherry tomatoes filled with freshly hand peeled grey shrimps. Going for the best ones? Only available in Belgium I’m afraid! Unpeeled fresh grey shrimps are very rare to find EVEN in the Netherlands! Go figure.
Grey shrimp snack with cherry tomatos

Grey shrimp snack with cherry tomatoes

cherry tomates crevettes

cherry tomates crevettes

The shrimps are cooked directly after fishing while still on board the vessel."tom-garnaal" as a nice little snack

Prepare a  light homemade mayonnaise (avoid industrial products by all means), add black pepper and finely chopped spring onions.
Simple but heavenly food. Also be attentive for the quality of the little tomatoes as nowadays sometimes they lack taste! A pity!
A tad more elaborated version below.
Served as a starter, using bigger flesh tomatoes, hand peeled –Noblesse oblige-. On a bed of butter lettuce, with some parts of hard-boiled egg and freshly cooked but cooled asparagus.
Asparagus to be cooked 20 seconds longer than “al dente” while keeping the tips out of the boiling water so they will remain crisp. Shrimps mixed with chopped parsley, spring onions and the mayo. Fill the tomatoes and voila!
Grey shrimp & tomato salad

Grey shrimp & tomato salad

Another Snack below: deep fried cheese & bread bits, Flemish way.
Use a mixture of French/Suisse Emmenthaler, Suisse Gruyère and Italian Parmigiano. Those cheeses have some subtle differences among themselves. So, make the mixture according to your personal preferences.
First, start making a béchamel sauce, adding an egg-yolk at the end. Gently heat it with the cheese mixture added. The sauce needs to have some consistency.
At the end of the heating process: add 1 TS of Kirsch.  
Allow to cool off.  That will make the sauce even more consistent.
For the bread: use sliced white bread that has aged for a few days. ( it becomes firmer that way).
With a small glass with a diameter of about 3 to 4 cm to make / cut-out circular bread bits. Cover the bread with the cheese mixture and keep it all cold in the fridge or put all in the freezer for later use.
When ready to party: deep fry in vegetable oil, heated to 190° centigrade.
Serve with some branches of parsley, also deep fried for 15 seconds.
kaastoast - cheese toast snack
NEXT: “Platte oesters uit Zeeuws Vlaanderen” (Netherlands)  [* note to myself] are among the best if not the best, available in western Europe.
[* note to myself]:  Phuleese, …don’t get me started about local geography  in and around  Belgium, … east and western Flanders, Flanders as a Flemish Belgian region, French Flanders in.. errr: France and Zeeuws Vlaanderen in err… the Netherlands, not Holland)
Succulent taste, full of finesse, excellent balance for saltness, with very light hints of  ‘noisettes’.
Unfortunately they are becoming rare and thus expensive. Sizes from 1 zero to 5 zeros. That translates as  “0”  to  “00000”.
As usual personal taste prevails. So, in my opinion the biggest are far from being the best. The finest for me are: “00” or max. “000”.
¿ I know that’s against the opinion of some of my Chinese friends who live according the gospel of “Fattheus”:  “Big, Bigger, Biggest“, but he… !! ?
For those friends: Try them smaller if you get the chance.
Open them with what we call a special oyster knife (get some training first to avoid cutting off your hand). Get rid of the initial juice as half a minute later the oyster has reproduced new juice.
That’s the time to eat them live, direct from the shell.
Adding some lemon juice and pepper is ok but really not necessary when they are just as fresh as possible. After that experience you never again will go for live tropical oysters, so be warned! 
flat oysters from Zeeuws Vlaanderen - Netherlands.

flat oysters from Zeeuws Vlaanderen - Netherlands.

More traditional than Mussels you die!  Belgians are known for being the best mussels lovers in the world! 

Bouchot mussels

Bouchot mussels

 La sole meuniere, elsewhere AKA Dover Sole. Don’t settle for less than the original from the North Sea.
Sole meuniere - real Dover sole (Origin North Sea)

Sole meuniere - real Dover sole (Origin North Sea)

Sole meuniere, a jewel from the North sea.

Sole meuniere, a jewel from the North sea.

Loving game and its preparations in the season?
Dinant Wallonia: great game pate

Dinant Wallonia: great game pate and cold cuts

Happy days to all of you.

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