Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Brussels’

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.)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Filet Américain… that’s the Belgian variation and translation (Flemish, Brussels’ natives and Walloons use the same french lingo in this case) to refer to what Frenchies and you  might actually be calling ‘steak tartare’. But it’s different!

Belgian ‘delicatessen/butcher shops’ and ‘traiteur shops’ sell premium ground meat as ” filet américain nature”, meaning no additions (???- Hmm) as well as “filet américain préparé”, meaning with added different herbs and other seasonings. In the end every one has his/her own recipe. However what makes it different from steak tartare is that the meat is minced with a mechanical grinder. Personally (according to my added 5 local ¢) it does not enhance the meat’s flavour, if I’m allowed to write so!  On the contrary.

Not so for the real and only freshly made steak tartare!

steak tartare my way

steak tartare my way

What transforms  filet américain into a real steak tartare is both the seasoning, and more importantly: the freshly knife-chopped meat just before mixing all ingredients before serving. Indeed, the finished product you buy from the chops usually (read: always) has some preserving“E+ a nbr” chemicals added to keep the meat nicely red for a few days. Home made steak tartare, freshly chopped from premium steak needs to be served asap after finishing the dish. Quality will remain for only a few hours when kept in the fridge!

steak tartare

steak tartare

filet mignon or filet pur
egg yolk
mustard, Dijon mustard recommended
onions or spring onions, finely chopped
capers, drained
tabasco sauce
Worcestershire sauce
a minimal amount of freshly hand-made mayonnaise;
parsley finely chopped
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper

I serve this dish with toasted bread slices, tomato & garlic lettuce salad and a Belgian beer: triple Westmalle trappist.

a picture says it better than words

a picture says it better than words

Toasts can be replaced with Belgian french fries or pan baked potatoes.

baked potatoes

baked potatoes


Read Full Post »

Another famous landmark of  L’ Ilot Sacré  for sure is the world-wide-well- known “friture” to savour the real “Mussels from Brussels”, as opposed to the now mature (grin) “Muscles from Brussels”, aka Jean-Claude Van Dam. (Used to be a former Hollywood B-movie star of Belgian origin).

 Adding a little historical gossip: It was said that Van Dam always hated that nickname, for the obvious mussel reasons about his abs and other mussels/muscles. I doubt if he ever ate at Chez Léon.

–  “Chez Léon” -.                    

This is the original  moules-frites restaurant of Brussels. Management is still in the hands of the  founding family (since 1893). Not to be compared to the franchised ones in other places in Belgium, France, the Middle East etc.  The “Leon de Bruxelles” chain was originally started by the family but later sold to international investors. Quality is different and adapted to local taste. As for the original restaurant: very good quality but the service may vary, depending on the number of patrons. It tends sometimes to look like a food factory. My advice: visit outside the holiday season and avoid week-ends.

Their signature plate:

And for starters, I ‘ll suggest the traditional “Tomate Crevettes”. Grey North sea shrimps with butter lettuce, tomato and home made mayonnaise: 

Below their promotional video that will make you hungry: 

Btw, avoid the Italian or Portuguese places in this part of Brussels. There are very good Italian, Spanish and mediterranean restaurants in other parts of town, just not here.

About the addresses and info for the places I suggested: click the pic below and then click Restaurants in the upper red menu bar. It also provides an  interactive link  for  Beer Shops and bars concentrated there – Courtesy “La Commune de l’ Ilot Sacré.”

Brussels Grande Place is of course a must-see;  Manneke Pis  and the less well-known Jeanneke Pis ( Pissing-Jeannie) are also worth a visit when you make a trip to Belgium’s and Europe’s Capital.

 I ‘ll add 2 places not to miss in the area: Galeries St Hubert

and the already mentioned best restaurant of the Sacred Islet:  “Aux Armes de Bruxelles”. Highly recommended, not cheap but really NOT a tourist trap. The mayor of Brussels is a frequent visitor. and that guy is the living definition of an Epicurean.

Read Full Post »

 Click the above “écusson” pic for a direct link to the interactive map and website for the history of L’ Ilot Sacré.

L’ Ilot Sacré got its name after a battle of the local restaurants, land lords and associations in the 1950-ties against promoters who saw big bucks to be made. Just read the history in the above mentioned website. They wrote it better than I would.

My contribution: just some suggestions about the places where you will get good to excellent quality food or where you can go sniffing the local atmosphere, sipping coffee, enjoying a beer or other drink while watching people. Although it is a popular and touristic area, you still can enjoy the buzz, just be attentive to avoid tourist traps. Just don’t forget the place is prime location and that means pricier than in less popular neighbourhoods. So, no real cheap deals available!

 Two of the most popular streets in  L’ Ilot Sacré are called ‘Rue des Bouchers’ and ‘Petite Rue des Bouchers’. That translates like ‘Butcher street’ and ‘Small Butcher street’. A lot of restaurants are attracting patrons while lots of seafood and vegetables are on display on ice, in front of the resto. A waiter at the door will be soliciting you in any possible language. As my wife and I walk by, it’s all “Ni Hao” from left and right… 

In general these are the places where you take some nice souvenir pictures with your friends and family. Just don’t eat there. They might propose Belgian, French, even Italian, Portuguese or Spanish cuisine. Many of the very young kitchen staff are sometimes not even trained cooks, but people from all over Europe including Eastern Europe, the Balkan, North and Sub-Saharian Africa.  Nothing wrong with that, unless they got declared ‘cook’ after half a day training!

 

Let’s point out some addresses  in  the neighbourhood. For drinks and watching people:

Delirium cafe –

A La Mort Subite-  (translates as: At A Sudden Death) 

Inside "A la Mort Subite" - Click the picture

Inside "A la Mort Subite" - Click the picture

Le Roy d’ Espagne –

Toone estaminet –

Beer shops, restaurants, taverns all over the place – I suggest “Aux Armes de Bruxelles”  – “Restaurant Vincent” – “Scheltema” – “L’ Ogenblik” – “Le Marmiton” etc…

More to follow in Part II, coming soon.

Read Full Post »