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Posts Tagged ‘mussels’

 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.

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De Oesterput (oyster pitt) is very well known by a few in Belgium. It’s in Blankenberge, a popular seashore town along the Belgian coast. It’s a typical family holiday place, not fancy like Knokke… just a place where the hard working commoner family goes on holiday since the early 50ties.

I know my parents went there since I was a baby. Every year. Again and again. Probably that’s why, when I grew up I only very rarely visited the place again. However, last year when my wife and I returned to Belgium for a family visit, we also took a trip to the Belgian coast. (68km of North Sea coastline: yup… that’s Belgium… a HUGE country -grin-)

BlankenbergeBlankenberge, West-Flanders.

Anyway, we had lunch at the Oesterput with some great seafood: Dutch Zeeland flat oysters which are definitely the best in the world, unfortunately also the most expensive;

OestersZeeuwse platte Oesters. The best in the world. Because of these little animals I’ll forgive the Dutchies for being Dutch!

Mjam!

Soupe de poissonsFish soup with rouille. We both loved it. Wonderful dish.

And another speciality from Flanders: Garnaalkroketten -> think  gray shrimp croquettes, dipped in egg-white and bread crumbs, then deep fried in oil. I’ll post the recipe in a future cooking post but just forget about cooking this in Asia, as there sadly is no way to buy those North Sea grey shrimps here!

croquettesA Classic with Capital C in Flanders’ cuisine.

 

IMG_0389bis

If you want the real stuff: catch a flight to Belgium to enjoy them. Just don’t tell me, as I would turn green and have a tantrum out of jealousy!

Oesterput1Behind the windows in the back are 4 large basins where they keep life lobsters and oysters. It used to be an open space but due to health and safety reasons they had to separate the basins from the restaurant with those windows. People call that progress but I preferred the charm from before!

Oesterput Blankenberge

Oesterput restaurant

 

Port of Blankenberge

Website of this place: http://www.oesterput.com/

Although they announce 4 languages on their home page, English and German is still unavailable. Sorry for that. If you want to read, you’ll have to stick to Dutch or French!

 

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mosselen

What makes a country, the size of Maryland, famous?

The bickering between Flemings and Walloons?  Its 6 (yes six) governments?  Being the Capital of Europe? Its chocolate and beer?              For me, it’s their fast food stalls serving fritten (fries) with different sauces and/or beef stew, chicken stew, satay skewers…

However the national dish in Flanders is not one to be found in that “fritkot” (fries-barrack) but in restaurants or at home: Mussels & fries.

The mussels come from Holland’s Yerseke and the Easter-Scheldt. There is a rumour that the Dutchies sell up to 70% of their annual mussel harvest to Belgium.

The cooking is very simple. No need for specials> Just wash the mussels 2 or 3 times in fresh water, then transfer them to a big pot. 

Chop lots of onions, lots of celeri and parsley; add white pepper. Put the pot on a high fire and pour some dry white wine in the casserole. Once the mussels open they’re ready to be eaten. Serve in deep soup plates and don’t forget to drink the bouillon as well.

As for the fries: deep fry them the Belgian way: first 3 or 4 minutes at 150 Celsius. Afterwards let them rest for 1/2 hour and finish frying them at 180 degrees Celsius till crisp.

Hint for the fries: use potatoes that are very low on sugar. “Bintjes” are the best but unfortunately not on offer all over the world. BTW, if no good potatoes available just serve the mussels with buttered bread. In fact, I personally prefer it that way.

Bon appetit!

mussels

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