King Kong (Brussels)

Let me explain…. There wasn’t a building sized gorilla in Brussels… I promise!

BUT there is a new Peruvian restaurant on Chaussée de Charleroi (walking distance from our place) that is on the top 5 list of “IT” places to be right now. (Yes – I admit it…I gave in to peer pressure and followed a trend… probably because I had seen pictures all over Instagram, Twitter & Facebook about the place… and was dying to see what the hype was all about!)

So Alison, Michelle & I met up with high expectations for KING KONG.

king kong 1

We walked through the doorway into what can only be described as a fast food counter…. a big white board above a counter/kitchen offering a selection of hot & cold sandwiches, sides & drinks. You grab your drinks from the nearby fridge, place your order, pay & then head into the back to wait.

king kong 2

The “inside”or back of the place is very different to the first impression – with hanging planters, big bold lamps & wooden decking on the walls….  (and an outdoor area without tables & chairs)

king kong 5 king kong 4 king kong 3

It was a VERY hot evening – and the heat of the kitchen and ovens in the front permeates right through the place… thankfully the door to the unfinished terrace was open… and the beers were cold!

king kong 6

Alison & both ordered the Chicharron (a bun filled with sliced sweet potato, salad, dressing & pork- 6.95€)  which was delicious (particularly because the sweet potato was SO perfect). While Michelle opted for the warm Butifarra (same as the chicarron but with a thick piece of cooked ham – 6.95€). and of course – we all ordered a side of Papas al horno (roasted baby potatoes served with a dipping sauce – 3.50€).

king kong 8 king kong 10 king kong 9 king kong 7

I have to say that this is a complete Hipster hang-out (and I think we might have pulled down the average age by a fair amount) – but the food was tasty, cheap and very filling… and the perfect “quick stop” option for lunch or dinner… fun, yes – but not fine dining.

KING KONG

address: 227 Chaussée de Charleroi, 1060, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 02 537 0196Display phone number

Choc Hot Pots

One of the awesome things about the recent #BxlFF (Brussels Food Friends) event was the goodie bag… and what the goodie bag entailed!

We were super lucky to have CHOCOLERO as one of our sponsors… and therefore I dedicate this recipe to them. But before I share all the details of how I used their chocolate – I do want to share a little something about me (and HIM).

We love Sunday lunches… post church – eat & be merry afternoons filled with friends, food & fun! We love to host (duh!) and we find ourselves breaking bread (amongst other things) with some truly awesome people. The problem is… we are out of the house from 11am until 1.3opm… so hosting a lunch needs to be pretty much planned & prepped in advance.

Sounds easy, right? Well, of course it is, if you have a whole repartee of make-ahead entertaining recipes… mine include chicken pot pies & lasagna…  the rest of my main meal entertaining options normally require me to be IN the kitchen for a while before guests arrive. (And the same can be said for desserts… to be made in advance (either the night before or morning of))….

This means that I am now permanently on the look out for excellent recipes that don’t have me sweating frantically minutes before the doorbell rings…

This dessert was inspired by the fact that I had those wonderful bars of chocolate – but also because I love to “re-read” my pile of recipe books over and over again (the way other people read fiction/non-fiction when they go to bed)… and of course, who else, other than the sultry queen of spoon licking can provide fuss-free cooking inspiration – but – Nigella Lawson!

choc pots final 2 choc pots final 3

I adapted the recipe to provide 6 (her’s serves 4) & omitted the chocolate chips – cos I figured it would be chocolate-y enough!

CHOC HOT POTS

200g chocolate
200g butter
200g sugar
3 eggs
4 tablespoons flour

  • Melt chocolate & butter in a bowl over gently boiling water
  • choc pots melting
  • Beat together sugar, eggs & flour
  • Add cooled chocolate mixture to sugar mixture
  • Place into 6 greased ramekins
  • choc pots pre oven
  • Bake for 20min at 200c (until tops are spongy – but the bottom will be all gooey & delicious)
  • choc pots post oven
  • choc pots final

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SMOODS summer menu

The 2nd #BxlFF event was recently hosted at Hotel Bloom… (see details & photo’s on the Brussels Food Friends Websitehere) and we really felt like this community is starting to grow its own set of legs with more than 35 attendee’s at the second event (almost double the size of the first event)… and interest from everyone to attend a 3rd event (likely to be held mid October).

But the main purpose of this blog post is not to promote our beloved #BxlFF – but to describe my (personal) experience when the organising team of #BxlFF returned to the Hotel – and more specifically, the hotel’s restaurant, SMOODS, 2 weeks later. (this is where I should probably put in a disclaimer that the opinions mentioned below are wholly mine…. and not of anyone elses:))

I do, however, have to start off by mentioning that I have been super busy at work for the last month, with a fair amount more travelling than normal… and that I might not have been in the best mood on the day of the visit… with this said – let me begin:

An email had been sent to the restaurant requesting a reservation for 4ppl at 7.30pm on a specific evening (no mention of the bloggers group or even that any one of us was a blogger – essentially, just a normal everyday persons request for a table). A response came through swiftly pointing out that their normal menu was not available – and that they only had a summer menu available – but that our reservation was confirmed.

I thanked & re-confirmed the reservation & also asked for a copy of the summer menu… which was sent through a week later, 20minutes before we were to arrive at the restaurant… so not entirely helpful.

When we arrived…we were told that no reservations were kept in Summer and that we could sit anywhere… thankfully, as the restaurant was relatively empty, this meant that getting a table was easy.

The style inside SMOODs is funky… different sections decorated differently & providing very different “ambiance” feelings depending on where you sit (either at the couches or the tables)

smoods 4 smoods 3

We ordered a bottle of Cava (directly from the bar as there is no table service available – although staff do meander around) and settled down to look at their Summer menu.. A concept of “Tick/Design your own” salad or pasta…

smoods 1 smoods 2

  • Firstly – pick your base: Pasta (linguine, penne or tagliatelle) or salad (rucola (aka rocket) or iceberg or young leaves)
  • Secondly – pick your meat/fish/cheese option
  • Thirdly – pick up to 4 vegetables
  • Finally – pick a sauce

All this for 10,50€ – which isn’t a bad price at all!

The 4 of us sat around, heavily concentrating while we completed our forms – feeling like we were completing exam papers (tick or cross???)… and finally peering over to each others to see what other combinations had been created! (Reminder: don’t forget to place your name on the top!)

These paper orders needed to be taken to the bar… we were unaware that we needed to pre-pay for our food with our order… so back to the table & rifling through handbags & purses to get the exact money, finally sending one delegate back to the bar… (Sadly – one of our group tried to use their restaurant luncheon vouchers to pay – which was a no… then her bank contact maestro card – also a no… and finally settled on putting 10,50€ on her credit card as she didn’t have cash).

The pasta’s arrived… we did the obligatory instagram photo shots… and settled down to eat…

smoods 7 smoods 6

Sadly… being the day it was (for me)… meant that my dish came with only half of my choices… no goats cheese… the disappointment was visible on my face & the waiter quickly returned with the goats cheese with apologies on behalf of the chef. I tucked in and realised that the garlic & coriander selections were also missing but felt even worse to “ask again”… so I left it.

before....

before….

after - with goats cheese

after – with goats cheese

Would I return… Sadly – for their summer menu, no. I have a nearby local for a bowl of pasta… BUT I have been to their restaurant before for the normal menu & have experienced excellent service & food – so for that reason alone, I would return during normal periods (aka outside of the silly-summer season)

SMOODS

address: Hotel BLOOM, Rue Royale 250 Koningsstraat – 1210 Brussels

telephone: +32 (0)2 220 66 66

http://www.smoods.net

email: smoods@Hotelbloom.com

Quartier Libre (Brussels)

So, I think I might have found a new restaurant buddy… a new “character” for sharing dining experience on the blog. And he shall forever be named THE SENATOR. Quite a cool ring to it, don’t you think? And trust me – when (if) you meet him, you will completely smile/nod and say “yes… The Senator is a perfect name!”. (And it is not just because he is American… promise!)

Mr Draper, The Senator & I meandered down Rue Lesbroussart earlier this week in search of a restaurant… not just any restaurant… something new, something tasty, something different… and finally settled upon Quartier Libre. We had plans… but sadly summer opening hours put a bit of a spanner in the works!

Unobtrusive from the road – you would never imagine that this little venue had so much spunk (aka attitude). But as soon as you enter the front door, greeted by friendly waitron staff and seated… you see the place for what it is… funky, relaxed and screaming “visit me again”. (which we will do)

Naked bulbs hanging from the ceiling… clean table tops… basic but cool interior (hipsters would “get it”)

libre 2 libre 1 libre 4

There were 3 “starter” options & we ordered all 3 of them – aubergine caviar (yum), feta/olives & potato tortilla…. nibbled with a bit of bread (and a good portion of rose wine)

libre 6

The main concept is pretty simple – there is an individual “menu” (17€ per person) broken into 4 categories (meats, vegetables, grains and chef’s suggestions) – whereby each person selects one item from each category (i.e. one page per person). Explanations of each category are described on big chalk boards on the walls.

libre 3 libre 5

With only 3 of us – we decided to try 3 items from each category by playing the game of “elimination” per category… which left us with the following:

MEAT: sliced beef, Nems & lamb meatball
VEG: Shitake mushrooms, Aubergine gratin and a cucumber salad
GRAINS: (fishy) risotto, Potatoes & buckwheat type salad
CHEF: Courgette/feta crumble, peas with grapefruit & dim sum

libre 9

MINE: clockwise from top left: cucumber salad, buckwheat salad, lamb meatball & courgette/feta crumble

libre 8

THE SENATOR: clockwise from top left: Nem, Aubergine gratin, Dim sum & risotto

libre 7

MR DRAPER: clockwise from top left: beef, shitake mushroom parcel, peas with grapefruit & potatoes

The firm favourites turned out to come from the Veggie category = Shitake mushroom parcels & aubergine gratin… NOM NOM NOM

Would I return? Definitely… and since they change the menu every 3months – it makes it even more of an incentive to see what will pop up on the boards next!!

Quartier Libre

address: 16 Rue Lesbroussart, 1050 Ixelles

telephone: +32 2 644 9400

Opening hours: Monday 12-2pm, Tuesday to Friday 12-2pm and 7-10:30pm, Saturday 7-10:30pm

website

Dales (Black Angus) Restaurant (Cape Town)

Oops – a bit of a delay in posting this one as it is from my trip to Cape Town in the beginning of May… anyhoo… better late than never, right?

This is what I call a *hidden gem*… a restaurant in a mini shopping mall centre in Milnerton (in Royal Ascot called “Paddocks”)… with a handful of other restaurant type offerings (Wimpy, Mugg & Bean, Vida e Cafe, simply Asia & Ocean Basket…). But what makes Dales stand out for me is the fact that they offer some amazing food at exceptionally reasonable prices!!!

Mommabear & I had lunch there, the day before I was to return back to Europe and my only regret was that we hadn’t been earlier in my trip so that I could have eaten there more than once!

The interior reminds me of a cross between upmarket pub & upmarket restaurant – but the fact that the entrance is via a shopping mall (food court type area)… distracts from how awesome this place really is. Sadly – when we went for lunch on a Friday… we were one of two tables – which is a really pity considering how good their kitchen is… so I hope that evening & weekend trade is much better.

Dales interor

Mommabear ordered the GAMMON STEAK DE LUXE (Grilled gammon steak adorned with bacon, camembert & avocado R115) – and they are not shy on the camembert or avocado as you can see!

dales gammon steak 1 dales gammon steak 2

I ordered the PRINCE PRAWN FILLET (Soft as butter and topped with 3 prince prawns simmered in Dales legendary creamy garlic sauce R165) – and it was AMAZING! There was however, enough garlic on this one plate to kill off the entire cast of “Vampire Diaries”… but still – truly delicious! And those roast potatoes… OUT of this WORLD… crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside… Mmmm

dales garlic steak 2 dales garlic steak 1

Would I return? ABSOLUTELY….

Dales Black Angus Restaurant

address: shop 15, Paddocks Shopping Centre, Milnerton, Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA

telephone: +27 21 551 7776

http://www.blackangus.co.za

email: office@blackangus.co.za This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Les Canailles du Chatelain (Brussels)

It has been a CrAzY 2weeks… work has been keeping me way busier & for longer hours than normal… HIM and I are in the process of finalising plans for our second (wedding) celebration to be held in Portugal in just over a month… AND we just had the second #BxlFF (Brussels Food Friends) blogger event (which I helped to organise along with 3 other fab ladies – namely, Michelle of Very Hungry Explorer (who does all the Facebook administration), Alison of Cheeseweb fame (who re-designed our website) & Andreea of On Food & wine. But more about the event in a later post!

The above only serves as a reason for why it has taken me so long to get my a-into-g to write & publish a post… but now the waters are calmer & I can “make the time”.

Mr Draper & I checked out the restaurant Les Canailles du Châtelain last night…

les canailles card

The weather was fantastic – but I was just not in a “terrace” eating kind of mood – we did however get placed at a table near the terrace door opening and this was perfect… the cool twilight air but still inside.

The interior of the place has clean lines (no clutter) but still remains elegant in a simple kind of way.

les canailles interior 2 les canailles interior 1 les canailles terrace

As we sipped on our aperitif’s and played catch up on news of the past few weeks – we were presented with a basket of bread & pork rillette (similar to a paté – the meat is heavily salted & then cooked slowly in fat until it can be shredded – then it is left to cool in the fat to become a paste/paté type consistency… perfect for spreading on bread)

les canailles bread

Mr Draper ordered the Burger with Country ham, mustard sauce, caramelized onions – served with fries & salad (16.90€)

les canailles bacon burger

While I opted for the Foie Gras topped Burger served with fries & salad (20.90€)

les canailles foie gras burger

les canailles burgers

And finally – the meal was just screaming for a little bit of sweet to end the night off with… so I ordered their Cafe Gourmand (6.70€) – and what I love about this offering is that you get a mouthful of at least 2 desserts served with a cup of coffee… which is perfect for people (like me) who only want a spoonful of dessert and not the whole portion!

les canailles cafe gourmand

Would I go back? It was a lovely restaurant, service was excellent and the food was tasty… but I have to admit that 21euros is a bit pricey for a burger (even if it does have a piece of foie gras liver on it). Having said that – I would return because the rest of their menu screams “eat me”.

LES CANAILLES DU CHATELAIN

address: 38 Rue de Bailli, 1050, Ixelles, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 647 06 16

http://www.canaillesduchatelain.be

Open : Tuesday – Saturday: 12h – 14h30  & 19h – 23h

The Real Greek (London)

HIM and I spent a wonderful weekend in London – what started out rainy and miserable, turned into fabulous weather… we explored Covent Garden Market, went to a matinée show (The Mousetrap) which I can highly recommend, spent a day out at the Warner Bros Studio’s in Watford (“the making of Harry Potter”)… and of course eating.

We had the wonderful experience of eating Greek mezze at THE REAL GREEK in Covent Garden (as there are more than 1 of them)….

the real greek menu

We opted for the ANATOLIAN mezze platter to share (for 2 people £27.97) where you have 7 dishes (with each of the 7 sections offering 1 of 2 choices)

the real greek interior

We decided up on the Greek Flatbread (instead of Crudités), Hummus (instead of Taramasalata), GIGANDES PLAKI – giant beans slow cooked in a herby tomato sauce (instead of Revithia – which is a chickpea dish), Chicken skewer (instead of a halloumi skewer), Dolmades - vine leaves stuffed with rice, tomato & herbs (instead of Tiropitakia – which is spinach, leak & feta filled filo parcels), Pork Belly (instead of grilled Halloumi) and SAFFRON RICE (instead of new potatoes)

the real greek mezze the real greek chicken kebab the real greek hummus the real greek dolmades the real greek rice the real greek pork belly the real greek plate the real greek pita

It was amazing…

I could have eaten it all week…. especially those Dolmades! And there was MORE than enough food for 2 people… with the cold plates coming out first – and then the hot plates (pork, chicken & rice) arriving bit by bit over the space of 20min.

Would I return? YES – and if they had a Brussels franchise – I would probably be a regular!

THE REAL GREEK

address: 60 – 62 Long Acre, London WC2E 9JE, London, UNITED KINGDOM

Telephone: +44 20 7240 2292

http://therealgreek.com/restaurants/covent-garden

Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 12h00 – 23h00 & Sun: 12h00 – 22h30

The Crusting Pie (London)

I love London…. I can’t help it… but I just do…. the hustle & bustle, the language (oops), the accents, the diversity & of course, the pubs….

HIM doesn’t understand the allure that this city has over me… probably because his first trip over, was with me for a “tourist” weekend and it didn’t stop pouring with rain – so much so, that we abandoned our hop on hop off bus trip because we can’t see a single thing through the windows and landed up spending most of the day in St Pauls Cathedral (which HIM declared was more of a sightseeing venue than a place of worship)….

So when I presented HIM with the idea of returning to London for a weekend – it took some convincing… but I used the ideas of visiting Warner Studios (“Making of Harry Potter”) & seeing a show in the West End as dangling carrots… plus the concept of a couples weekend away appealed to us both… so, it was approved, planned & booked.

As we disembarked the Eurostar & went in search of a taxi – HIM looked at me with raised eyebrows and commented on the “rain”… “Again??”, he said. Was this to be a repeat of our first visit?

We dropped off our suitcase at our hotel… in the West End… had a cup of coffee while wistfully staring out the window at the rain coming down… and at the first available dry spell – we headed out to Covent Garden Market (something that I had been google-boxing for weeks leading up to this weekend).

Covent Garden Market in the evening

Covent Garden Market in the evening

I loved this place… the market stalls, the restaurants, the buskers. The sights and sounds seemed to scare away the clouds and pretty soon, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and we were settling down in the Crusting Pie (pub) for a bit of lunch.

the crusting pie interior 2 the crusting pie interior 1

Perfectly situated in the Covent Garden Market – with an outdoor (but covered) courtyard – we sat and listened to a live operatic performance (busker) happening in the aforementioned courtyard and reviewed the menu…

the crusting pie menu

HIM (obviously) chose the Bangers & Mash (with caramelised onion gravy £12.95) – and declared them to be “quite good” (which is always a compliment from him :))

the crusting pie sausages and mash

The waitress had told us about their daily specials – one of which being Foie Gras (which those who know me is my cryptonite)…  however, in my lack of knowledge – I assumed it would be in paté format.. but it wasn’t – it was pan-fried and served on toasted brioche with fig preserve £12.95 – and it was DELICIOUS… absolutely and utterly delicious… I don’t normally like liver just as is… but prefer the combination of cream, etc to make a paté – but I could honestly say that it was melt-in-the-mouth perfect! And served with a delicious heritage tomato salad (which also tasted like tomatoes!!! Who knew!?!)

the crusting pie liver & tomato salad

As I was under the impression that the Foie Gras was a starter portion (and paté at that) – I also ordered the Soup of the Day (which was leek & potato 5.95£) – and sadly, what I can only describe as “forgettable”.

the crusting pie soup

Would I go back? ABSOLUTELY… the staff were accommodating, friendly & knowledgeable of the wines that would suit the food we ordered, the ambiance (we were inside) was fantastically pub-like and comfy… and of course the food was delicious.

THE CRUSTING PIE

address: 27 The Market Covent Garden WC2E 8RD, London, UNITED KINGDOM

telephone: +44 20 7836 1415

http://www.crustingpipe.co.uk/

Open daily from 10am

Gazzetta

On the same evening that I partook in a few glasses of “Half n Half” at Le Petit Canon (read post here)… I also met up with 2 of my favourite Canadians… for a decent catch-up and a bit of silly-ness (the latter proved to be true – but details shall not be revealed on this forum… or at least not until they continue to pay the blackmail:))

Jokes aside…

I met up with Mr Draper & M for a few glasses of Italian Rosé and some fantastic Italian grub at a place called Gazzetta – near Place Stephanie.

We sat inside on comfortable bar stools (or at least – they sat on the stools – while I perched myself on the long bar stool length bench at the window)…

The interior is fun – clean and modern… and I love the use of the centre open cupboard solution… not to mention the open kitchen view.

gazzetta interior gazzetta interior 2

When Mr Draper had first mentioned the place – I checked out their website & menu and my initial reaction was that it was an upmarket version of La Piola (which everyone knows is my favourite go-to restaurant for my weekly bowl of pasta… and of course to check out the staff). Having said that – I was suitably impressed.

gazzetta table wine

We started off with 3 antipasti’s to share:  Planche de charcuteries mixtes (Platter of sliced meat) 8.80€, Mozzarella di Bufala (Mozzarella & tomatoes) 11.90€ and one of my new favourite dishes Scarmozza afumicata al pomodoro (normally a pan of tomato pureé with scarmozza cheese melted into it) 11.90€

gazzetta food gazzetta cheese

All of this went down very well… and soon another bottle was devoured

And we were hungry again… so we opted for Planche de fromages mixtes (Platter of mixed cheeses) 9.40€ and a bowl of Al pomodoro e basilico (tomato & basil pasta) 12.50€ to share.

gazzetta pasta 2 gazzetta pasta 1 gazzetta cheese 2

All in all – staff were friendly, food was tasty and it was a fun (silly) night out.

Would I return? I like the place… and would definitely consider returning for a repeat of the evening (drinks & nibbles)… but as a replacement to my favourite pasta spot – it is not.

GAZZETTA

address: 12 rue de la Longue Haie, 1050, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 2 513 92 13

email: info@gazzetta.be

Facebook and website: http://www.gazzetta.be/

Le Petit Canon

We have lived in our apartment for 11months… and this was the first time that I finally had a drink at the Wine Bar at the end of our street! Which is only 3doors down from us.

Now most people are shocked to hear this… but in reality, we have our own outside courtyard… wine in the fridge and snacks in the cupboard… plus my couch is really comfy (in comparison to those wooden slated outdoor folding chairs)…

BUT having said this – I did finally venture into Le Petit Canon on the corner of Rue Lebroussart & Rue de Hennin in Ixelles (near Flagey) one friday afternoon after work with a colleague.

It can be termed as basic, quaint and relaxed with no airs & graces – but a distinct air of good wine & tasty nibbles to accompany them… we sat outside in the sun and watched the tram, buses, cars & people go by. (We did have to move tables to a shady area sometime during the afternoon as I started to turn a lobster shade of red….a colour that just doesn’t work on me :))

le petit canon menu

You can of course – also sit inside – but in typical Belgium form – a bit of blue sky & sunshine means that everyone wants to sit outdoors! And who can blame them! The interior of the place, however, is very cute…

le petit canon interior

I ordered a “Half n Half” – half cava & half white wine and can definitely see this drink becoming a firm favourite in my future – while my colleague ordered a KIR ROYAL

le petit canon wine and menu

We also opted to share some nibbles – Tomato Tapenade served with toasted bread - so delicious that I could have liked out the bowl (if I hadn’t been in public, that is)

le petit canon tomato tapenade

Would I return? Yes – there is very good chance that this might become a new watering hole for me – not just for the wine (although good) – but for the delightful array of nibbles that they sell to go with it!

LE PETIT CANON

address: 91 Rue Lebroussart, Ixelles, 1050, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 640 3834

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Opening hours: Mon- Fri: 16h00-23h00, Sat: 11h00-23h00