Gin&Tonic ~ TGIF

One a day keeps the doctor away.....

That's what somebody told me but I don't plan to put that to proof!
I do love a good gin from time to time, I'm not overly attached to a specific brand. Monkey47, Mare, Hendricks, Sipsmith,....as long as it's good quality.

Be sure to check out this brandnew webshop offering the best quality gins and tonics, gintonicshop.be. A nice variety of gins categorized following the main taste; herbal, floral, citrusy,.....
I was invited to the opening but couldn't make it unfortunately, looks like I missed something.

So now you don't even have to leave your house to get drunk, fashionably drunk that is!

Poison of the evening:

  • 2 shots of Monkey 47 gin
  • 2 ice cubes
  • 2 parts of lime
  • A splash of tonic water



Caprese - spring is there?!

Finally, first sunny day in spring.
 What better to celebrate this than with a light yet savoury salad? One of my favourites; a caprese salad.
Simplicity at its best but with the best of products. Well....apart from the tomatoes as these were Belgian/Dutch greenhouse products as I didn't have a better quality available.
Nothing that makes me long for the summer more than tomatoes. Usually we plan a trip to Italy in the summer and for me that means tomato time! Fresh,sweet tomatoes grown under the generous Italian sun and packed with firm tasty flesh - not like our water tomatoes over here!
So if you can, get good quality tomatoes like a decent Coeur de boeuf or a plum tomato.


  •  about 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 3 balls of mozzarella di bufala
  • plenty of fresh basil leaves
  • some dried oregano
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • good olive oil

Cut the tomatoes in slices and do the same with the mozarella and put them in a layer on a plate. Put some leaves of basil in between and on top of the mozzarella and tomatoes. Grind some black pepper over it, sprinkle some salt and add a generous amount of oregano.
Drizzle with a good amount of decent olive oil.
Dig in and....




Ellis Gourmet Burger - Brussels ~ Burger Version 2.0

A good burger has allways been a favourite of mine but has had a bad name for so long due to the domination of Mc Donalds and Quick.

What do people think of when you ask them about a burger joint? Right! The 2 before mentioned corporate food traps that made a sport out of promising juicy big burgers but preparing cardboard dry, flattened, tasteless burgers. And what do kids prefer?? Right! The same 2 cause there they'll get a present with their meal. Evil marketing at it's best!!

Luckily there are also good burger joints around that specialize in making a good burger the name worthy.

Ellis Gourmet burger has been around for some years now in Brussels and has become the reference for a juicy burger. Since their upstart in Brussels they have opened another burger resto in Knokke-Heist and are now launching their Antwerp division. A big launch with Viki Geunes(2** 'T Zilte) and Nick Bril(3*** Oud Sluis and soon La Chapelle in Antwerp) creating a signature burger.

They offer top quality beef burgers, thick and juicy and well seasoned on a fresh craft bun. As it should!
Ellis Special Bacon
The Ellis special(100% beef patty, smoked bacon, cheddar,lettuce, red onion and tomatoe) is still my favourite. The beef patty is well seasoned and has a pure,natural beef taste, the bacon adds some smokeyness and saltyness to it and makes it a complete burger. A mess to eat but so are most good burgers!

Other burger variations are:

  • Blue cheese madness burger: Beef patty, red onion, red onion marmelade and a big chunck of blue cheese. A good combination of the salty cheese with the sweet marmelade
    Blue cheese madness
  • Funky Chicken: Chicken filet, grilled veggies, estragon mayo and parmesan
  • Guaco-waco: Lamb burger, guacamole, sweet chilli sauce
  • Rossini: With a big chunk of foie gras and onion marmelade
They also have a vegetarian option with portobello mushrooms or a fish burger with a salmon filet and even a special Meatlover burger for all you hardcore meatheads out there with meat coming from the well known butcher Dierendonck.

All this with some french fries, a cob of buttery corn, lettuce or coleslaw(with raisins, my choice) 
on the side, served with a glass of beer and I'm a happy man!

For me Ellis is the top reference for a burger but there are other places in Brussels that also serve a good quality burger:




Pasta - Sausage/pancetta/tomatoes/fennel

A nice complete pasta dish. The fresh taste of fennel, the fatty from the sausages and the salty from the pancetta all together with the herbs combine perfectly. And ready in no time!!

Ingredients for 4 persons :

  • 1 whole fennel, chopped roughly into fine parts
  • 5-6 chipolata sausages ( small sausages, try to find the ones that have plenty of herbs), chop them in small bits
  • 100gr. of pancetta
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped garlic clove
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can of tomatoe puree
  • a handfull of cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
  • a handfull of chopped fresh sage
  • a tbsp.of dried oregano
  • some olive oil
  • a splash of  balsamic vinegar
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
Heat up some olive oil in a large pan, add the chopped panceta and let it bake slightly crispy. Then add the sausages and let them brown firmly on all sides.

Take the pancetta and sausages out of the pan,keep aside-add some more olive oil if needed- and add the onions and garlic and fry them for a minute or 2.

Throw in the chopped fennel with the chopped sage, let it feel the heat for 2 minutes, add the cherry tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar and  let it cook out while you scrape the bottom of the pan.

Add the can of tomatoes together with the tomatoe puree and the oregano. Season with pepper and salt, bring to a slight boil and let it cook/reduce while you boil the pasta, +/- 8-10 minutes.

When the pasta is al dente you can add it to the sauce together with a few spoons of the pasta water.

Tear up some basil leaves, add it to the pan and stirr well.

Serve in a deep pasta dish with some grated parmesan on top and.....




La Buvette - Bistronomy in Brussels

If you want to get a whiff of the actual bistronomy buzz then it's time for you to go to Brussels and give this resto a try.
It's located in Saint-Gilles, Brussels, on the busy Chaussée d'Alsemberg just in front of 'Café des spores', the renowned Brussels resto specializing in dishes with mushrooms of all kinds. This location is no coincidence as both resto's share the same owner, Nicolas Scheidt, a young entrepreneur with his roots in the French Alsace region.

Though he has a background in law school he never put it to use but opted to make a career out of his passion, good food.
After having  worked at  London's 'Bellamy' and 'Jamie Olliver's 15' he opened a bistro in the centre of the gastronomical capital,Paris, named 'L'office' and later took over 'Café des spores' and opened 'La buvette' here in Brussels.
It all adds to what you get now in 'La buvette'! A simple, laid back yet very original setting -an old butchershop- the pending meathooks are the remaining witnesses of the former use of the house together with the typical butchershop tiling,  and a culinary experience at high level for a 'bistro'-price!
And after a a couple of reviews by colleague good food lover/blogger Be-gusto we knew we had to give this place a go!

Service is without ceremony, friendly and easy, welcoming. A couple of young waiters take care of the service together with the chef's explaining the dishes with passion. The young waiters are somewhat unexperienced and clumsy but were allways correct when asked for info.
Fun thing is that we were actually seated in the cooling area where they used to hang and keep the meat.

There's only one set menu available, 7 dishes for 45€ with the option for cheese for 7€ and a slow coffee for 5€. Bistronomical prices!

They also have an impressive wine and beer menu, the collection of beers  they offer really left an impression on me and I opted for a beer as an apperitif, a 'Saison de Dottignies' from brewery 'De Ranke', a smooth unfiltered white/blond beer.

 Amongst the wines a couple of beautiful natural wines, we tasted a good fruity/mineral Riesling and a special Pinot noir from the same house, Rieffel, which tasted very candy like,  warped me back to my childhood.

No appetizer is served and the first dish came while we were still enjoying our drink. Different structures of kohlrabi with bergamot and a Cecina crumble. A preparation served cold, very refreshing and crisp with some smokey flavour from the Cecina crumble.

Next came a ravioli with a savoury black pudding sausage filling swimming in a delicious, strong yet balanced pork&chicken broth. Some braised spinach and toasted buckwheat on top.

This was followed by a dish that was so good that I forgot to take a picture of it :( Try to imagine it as I describe it....
A moist and flakey piece of pollock, a hearty reduced bisque as sauce and a potatoe cream with sepia ink. The fish was cooked perfectly, the rich flavour of the bisque elevated the fish and the potatoe cream with sepia ink harmonized the whole nicely. Texture wise the potatoe cream was a bit weird but taste was good.

Our fourth dish was probably the winner of the evening, a laquered piece of veal(shoulder I think) combined with a rutabaga cream and some rumex(zuring in Dutch) leaves. The veal had a sweet taste, so did the sauce, and was tender like butter - no knife needed- and countered perfectly with the earthiness of the rutabaga cream. Nice!
At this point we had an intermezzo with some cheese. A nice selection of  refined cheeses(from top, clockwise) 'St-Nectaire' 'Tomme de Chartreuses',  'Etivaz' and 'Fourme d'Ambert'. My personal favourite was the Fourme d'Ambert, a deliciously strong and salty blue cheese. One of France's oldest cheeses.

After the cheese we had our first dessert, a  combination of fresh 'Faiselle cheese ', mango, pumpkin, spiced meringue and caramel cream. Unfortunately this dish didn't work. I was expecting something refreshing, giving a nice tangy contrast but it lacked harmony. The different elements didn't blend well together leaving us dissapointed. I had a similar dish a week before at resto 'Veranda' in Berchem and there it was spot on so I knew what I was missing here! Too bad!
Luckily for us we weren't done yet and the next dish hit the sweet tooth in me! Chocolate heaven ;) A chocolate tart covered with a praliné demi-sel crackle and a chocolate/praliné quenelle. More of this please!!
Last dish ended on a refreshing note (as it should in my opinion), a lemon icecream covered with a light white chocolate sauce and a kardemon/cilantro syrup. I didn't really notice the cilantro and the lemon was a bit punched back by the white chocolate but it was a good refreshing ending.

And when you order a coffee here don't ask for an esspresso or latte-frape-machiato! You might end up banned from this place(so is asking for a coke apparently), they take their coffee seriously. You can choose from a couple of origin beans, all roasted in Belgium and then prepared following the 'slow coffee' principle. And I must say they make one hell of a coffee!
Very nice experience in this bistronomic resto in Brussels but I must say that my recent visit to 'Veranda' had left me a with better impression of what bistronomy is all about. Very good effort though and I wouldn't mind a second(or a third) visit!



Chaussee d'Alsemberg 108
1060 Saint-Gilles/Bruxelles
Tel: +32(0)25341303


ELLIS Gourmet burger

Well that's some good news for the good people of Antwerp! Well, maybe not for their mayor but still.....

One of the best burger joints in Brussels, Ellis Gourmet Burgers, will be opening in Antwerp soon!!

The ,in Brussels, well known and adored 'Ellis Special Bacon'. 100% beef patty, cheddar, smoked bacon, red onion, tomato, lettuce, gherkin, ketchup&mustard.
Soon near you!!

Embrasse - peated oak aged Stout

What we have here is another fine example of Belgian craft beer, brewed with passion and treated with care.
At the base we have the 'Embrasse' full malt stout from the 'Dochter van de korenaar'-brewery. A tasty, dark, creamy and smokey stout, allready deserving your attention as it is.

This version however is aged in oak barrels during 3 months giving this allready rich beer a full peat, whiskey flavour. Not to be taken lightly!

Pour: Dark/dark red, cream coloured head, small bubbles, dissapears rather fast

Sniff: Aaaaahhhh, peat, peat and peat and some wood. A full impression in the nose of peatey Islay whisky, nice! Some hints of ripe, dark fruit - think prunes.

Sip: Peat is again prominent together with the oak so this will divide the lovers from the haters. mouthfull of dark fruit, chocolate with a slight pleasant sour in the back of the mouth. A full body and a lasting aftertaste, keeps building in the mouth. ABV is 9% but the alcohol is not that prominent.

A very nice beer from this small brewery. One to drink on cold winter nights in good company, one to 'embrace'!

Check out my Dutch review of this beer on this Belgian foodie blog: http://www.legourmandbelge.be/bier-embrasse-peated-oak-aged-brouwerij-de-dochter-van-de-korenaar.html




Veranda - Berchem

A dinner amongst foodies/foodbloggers/kindred spirits;

  • Crime scene: De Veranda - Berchem
  • Crime scene catering: Davy Schellemans&team
  • Crime scene photography: Thomas Van de Water - AKA Filet-Pur
  • Kingpins: Cookanista & Be-Gusto
  • Motive: Good food makes good people unite
  • Victims: rabbit, pig, cow,cod. All died but not without serving a good purpose, feeding our eager minds and stomachs.
Eyewitnesses :    

I'll let the beautiful pictures speak for themselves and advise you to try the Veranda out when you have the opportunity. They'll let you experience a passionate cuisine, hook you up with some top-class wines or craft Belgian beers and the bill won't be too painfull. Top experience in Berchem-Antwerp!!

Steamed egg/Dashi/Uni/Spring onion

 Pickle butternut/Butternut cream/ Mustardseeds/Bacon

Poached cod/Green asparagus/Shrimp/Savora dijonaise

Sot-L'y laisse/Radishes/Chinese broccoli/Lemon cream/Yuzu

Vichyssoise/Ginger/Salmon eggs/Mimolette/Sunflower seeds

Holstein 'Paleron' aged for 49 days/Spinach/Onion/Horse radish

Rabbit/Celery root/Apple/ Bear's garlic

Goat cheese/Passion fruit/Buttermilk/Yoghurt

Pear/Sorbet/Allmonds/Lemon cream

                          Chef Davy Schellemans @work

Sommelier and waiter Daan demonstrating his passion