Tag Archives: bitterballen

Belgium, Food and drink

Someone asked me – “what about the food in Belgium” – so I have produced a compendium of some of the dishes I ate on this visit. Hopefully something for everyone!

Firstly – things I ate a lot of – moules, steak tartare and cakes!

Moules, steak tartare bistro style and creamy cakes

When I was only a bit peckish then it had to be beer (a meal in itself here) plus bitterballen – crispy very hot fried breadcrumbed balls filled with mashed potato and a meat ragu or bits of bacon. Irresistible – and cheap! The meal below also included some very large scampi in a rich creamy sauce – another popular dish over here.

Beer, bitterballen and creamy scampi.

In Bruges my friend Luisa and I found a place for lunch – Rock Fort – at the last minute which was excellent and very central but also off the beaten track. This time it was a shared burrata dish followed by more steak tartare – and very prettily presented and tasty on both counts. Definitely recommend

What we ate at Rock Fort, Bruges

One day in Antwerp I decided I wanted to try one of the Michelin starred restaurants here for lunch – always best to have lunch in expensive and popular places – easier to get in, more leisurely and often a Prix fixe menu. This one was called Kommilfoo and while a bit of a walk to get there (good excuse to enjoy your meal all the more) – it was well worth it. Decor, service and food were exemplary/

Kommilfoo decor, my downed G and T, an amuse bouche and another tartare!

Veal, berries, vino and petit fours – no room for dinner after that lot!

Back at the other end of the spectrum there is a lot of opportunity for chocolate and beer tasting. One of the famous small chocolate makers in Bruges is Dumon so we tried a few there and the Wall of Beer is a reminder how important this stuff is to everyone in this country!

Chocolate and beer – two words that always spring to mind when you think about Belgium

Extra special in both Bruges and Brussels was catching up with one of my cruise buddies Luisa – who happened to be visiting from the US at the same time as me. Really nice to get together and take the food tour in Brussels as well.

Enjoying food and beer with friends is always special

The Netherlands, Rotterdam

I couldn’t resist a one hour train ride into the Netherlands to see Rotterdam – I think I may have visited her once when I was about 9 years old – so of course remembered nothing! Luckily I have a friend who knows this city very well and he was able to direct me on how to get maximum mileage from a day trip – which I think I did.

Even the arrival into Rotterdam Central is fun given its ultra modern and quite new station.

Rotterdam Centraal Station

It is very central so I started by walking up the road immediately in front of it which is leafy and pleasant – lots of cafes to stop at too.

A pedestrianised and tram section of one of the main arteries in Rotterdam

So many bars and cafes. So little time. Cafes and restaurants abound – I ate or drank in two of these. The third is famous but was closed!

I jumped on a tram and headed down to Delfhaven- this area used to be part of Delft and hence its name. It is delightful, peaceful and even though I was sweltering in 33 degree heat I walked all around it before some beer and bitterballen (a Dutch speciality – deep fried balls usually filled with a meat ragout or mashed potato and minced meat) served with mustard for dipping – they go down a treat with beer although can easily burn the inside of your mouth as they are served piping hot and just cooked. You have been warned….

The undiscovered Delfhaven and I’m sure the locals want to keep it that way!

Beer and bitterballen in Delfhaven, Rotterdam

I caught another tram to the waterside and took a one hour harbour cruise. This is not a scenic cruise in the usual sense but takes you around what is one of the biggest harbours in the world. It is huge and everything in it is too. It was like floating around in a real meccano set. We passed the SS Rotterdam – which was a cruise liner but is now permanently moored and a hotel, restaurant and conference centre and then a current day cruise ship was setting sail as we returned. Some interesting architecture too.

Cruising on Rotterdam Harbour

Architecture and activity in Rotterdam Harbour

Next stop was the giant MarktHalle which has every kind of food imaginable to both buy and eat on site. It is another quite new addition to the city.

Markthalle

Just beyond the Markthalle are the cubed houses! These were designed by Piet Blom as an innovative way of living where the living quarters are the roof and everyone shares the lower area. I looked at them from all directions and was still struggling to understand why people wouldn’t be falling over inside them – and they are lived in. Quite a curiosity.

The White House in the top right is across from the cubed houses and was built in 1898 as an art nouveau designed office building – it was the first official sky scraper in Europe!

Cubed houses and the Witte Huis

So a busy but fun packed day in Rotterdam – I think people often bypass it for Amsterdam and other Dutch towns – but if you’ve done those before Rotterdam is certainly worth seeing.

The Netherlands, Amsterdam – Food Tour in the Jordaan area

Strongly recommend this tour. 12 people max and small amount of walking and lots of eating (!) in places that specialize in Dutch dishes. Company was called Eating Europe and tour was four hours. Tour guide was very good as was the food – so here we go.

In this section we have – (I will provide a mix of Dutch and English names) Brined herring with onions and pickled cucumbers; poffertjes (small puffy pancakes served with maple syrup – from Canada!); bitterballen – loved these deep fried breadcrumbed balls with a hot bechamel and ragout filling; and then kibbeling (fried cod0. All washed down with Tulip vodka!

And there’s more ……….but first a beer…..and then….

In the days of the Dutch owned East India Trading company there were large holdings in Indonesia so their food has become almost a staple in the Netherlands (even though the “empire” is no more) – hence the satay; then some Farmers Cheese (apparently the name Gouda was never patented which means things called Gouda are often pasteurized – this cheese was not which of course made it way more tasty. A variety of sausages followed – my favourite was called ossenworst – if you are a steak tartare fan this is for you and it is a cold smoked raw beer sausage – needs to be tried. Delish.

Finally a half portion (!) of Dutch Apple pie and whipped cream (the real kind). This was from a tiny place called Cafe Papeneiland which Bill Clinton once turned up at unexpectedly after hours (well his security detail did) and they eventually let them all in – in this part of the world when you are closed you are closed! Anyway, i can see why Bill and his team wanted a taste!