I love reading food magazines…. but it also means that there are normally 3-5 new food magazines for me to leaf through each month…. this also means that they start to build up to a decent tower over time…
solution…. I spend copious amounts of time poring over each issue and then ripping out the page of a recipe that appeals to me most… and keep a pile (it really is a pile) of these 1pagers – just waiting to be “re-created”.
This particular recipe comes from the Olive Magazine (issue: April 2009)… and I loved the simplicity of it – especially since I still had quite a few additional tasks & goodies to make prior to HIM’s birthday tea…
I adapted the recipe by omitting the ground almonds & using fresh blueberries & strawberries (in hind sight – the strawberries were not as “beautiful” after baking as the magazine image had promised…so I would rather keep with raspberries & blueberries in future) – the result was a delicious light sponge cake with the tartness of the berries breaking down any overtly sweetness – making it my type of cake to turn to. (HIM however declared it ‘not sweet enough”)
Upside down Berry cake
250g self-raising flour
200g mixed berries
2 Tablespoons of golden syrup
Beat the butter & sugar together
Add eggs one at at time, beating between each addition
Fold in flour
Add enough water to make mixture spoonable (a dash of milk was sufficient for me)
Place berries (patted dry) into the base of greased cake tin
It was my 2nd time returning to Kabuki… and the 2nd time we got told that we could not sit at the sushi train (conveyor belt) because we didn’t have a reservation… you think that the first time would have been enough for me to remember to make a reservation right? Well – in all fairness – the first time we went, it was a Saturday evening and the restaurant was pumping… but the second time was a Wednesday evening at 7pm, when the seats around the sushi train were half empty and remained this way.
This is what I call – clever tactics – on the restaurants part – because only if you sit at the actual sushi train can you partake in their “all you can eat sushi buffet” for 21,80€ per adult – however if you are seated in the rest of the restaurant, then you need to order directly off their menu.
that will teach me to make a proper reservation next time!
anyhoo – Michelle (of Very Hungry Explorer) and I made our way through the restaurant to our table – and settled down to decide on what to eat. Interior decor is what you could expect in a large Japanese restaurant – with teppanyaki tables interspersed between normal dining tables (with the obligatory kimono at the teppanyaki stations for patrons to wear)
I ordered some GYOZA (5 dumplings that have been fried on one side = 7,30€), plus a portion of TEMPURA ROLLS (tempura prawns, avo, cucumber & mayonnaise in a california roll = 8.40€) and finally – a portion of EDAMAME BEANS (soya beans = 4.80€)
While Michelle opted for one of their BENTO box offerings – Miso soup, sushi plate, tempura prawn/veggies, rice, and a selection of skewers (calamari, veggie, chicken) followed by green tea ice-cream.
Would I go back? Hmm… only if I remembered to make a reservation for their sushi train – otherwise, I find them a tad on the expensive side. Even though the food is tasty – there are loads of other Japanese restaurants in Brussels with better value offerings. Service is a bit hit & miss – the staff are friendly & speak multiple languages (including English) but once you place your order – the food arrives almost instantaneously & then the staff seem to disappear… so trying to get someones attention for a drinks refill or to ask for the bill becomes a bit of a hide-n-seek game.
address: Rue de Marché aux Poulets 32, 1000, Brussels, BELGIUM
Recently – I got the chance to visit SOUL restaurant (near Grand Sablon) in Brussels for dinner with 5 wonderful friends…
“Soulisan organicfusionrestaurant offeringtasty food, fresh, creativeand above all…proof thathealthy fooddoes not meanboring! Their goal is to remind people of the importanceoffood and especiallyits influenceon our well-being. Most of ourproductsare organic andfree of toxic substances, andour kitchen isno butter orcream.”
And I can hear you thinking – “no cream or butter”??? What would Julia Child say??? :)
The actual restaurant is quite small – but still remains cozy. With gorgeous teal painted walls on one side – showcasing local photographers work.
(I apologize in advance – as the lighting wasn’t great and using the camera flash in a restaurant is a bit of a no-no for me – so the pictures are somewhat fuzzy in some cases and not the best effort… but enough with the excuses…:) )
Menus arrived along with some homemade breads & some delicious dip with olive oil & balsamic dressing
Mr Draper & G both ordered the ENERGY MENU 29€ – which included a LES BOULETTES DE RAMSèS (Carrot & nuts falafels with nuts salad, beetroot, avocado and yoghurt-mint sauce) as a Starter – and LE COCORICCO (Spicy organic steamed chicken filled with feta & spinach, cashew nut sauce, quiona with zucchini, broccoli, coriander and rocket salad) as a main.
The birthday girl ordered the LA SHRIMP’S PARTY 13€ as a starter (Shrimps ceviche with coriander & mango served with melon & rocket salad) and LA DORADE AU SAUNA 20€ (Steamed sea bream with slices of lemon served with feta tzatziki, lentils, grilled eggplant, green beans and green salad) as her main course.
Miss America opted for LE CôTE COTTAGE 11€ as a starter (Lentils & Cottage cheese salad with pear, basil & gomasio) and to be honest… I can’t remember the main – except that it was one of the fish choices (nor did I get a picture of it – as we were all starving at this point)
Señorita ordered the LA MOZZA à MA FAçON 11.50 as a starter (mozzarella, beetroot, avocado & eggplants with pinenuts, sauce vierge, rocket salad and balsamic reduction) and the LES BOULETTES DE RAMSèS II 16€ (Carrots & nuts falafels on a bed of quinoa, grilled eggplant, feta tzatziki, green beans, a mint-yoghurt sauce and green salad) as her main course.
and Moi – the LES BOULETTES DE RAMSèS 11€ (Carrot & nuts falafels with nuts salad, beetroot, avocado and yoghurt-mint sauce) and the LA VOYAGEUSE 19€ (Marinated Prawns in Asiatic vinaigrette with sesame seeds served with lentils, sweet potatoes, grilled zucchini, coriander and green salad) as my main course.
Seriously – it was delicious… every mouthful packed with flavour! My only negative (if you can even call it a negative) was that although each item on my main course plate was delicious and flavoursome by itself – I really didn’t feel that the courgettes and sweet potatoes worked with the prawns & lentils. (Plus – I must also point out that we did wait a bit of time for the feed – but the wait was worth it)
Would I return – yes, the food was delicious, the service was friendly… price wise – it was a tad on the pricey front (40 euros each – with only one bottle of wine shared amongst some and water for the rest)
address: rue de la Samaritaine 20, 1000, Brussels, BELGIUM
telephone: +32 2 513 52 13 (Reservations only by phone)
Belgian Beer Tours is a small, family run, fully licensed tour operator in Dranouter (a small village in West-Flanders near the French border) offering tours in English. These day trips offer great insight into the role that Flanders Fields played during World War 1 while also providing the opportunity to taste some of the local well-known beers!
They provide 2 different tours over weekends:
1. Hops & Poppies: Discover the battlefields around Ypres and the hopfields around Poperinge on Saturdays
2. Trenches & Trappists: Discover the trenches of the Salient, and try a trappist beer in Westvleteren on Sundays
Both tours start at 10h30am and end at 18h30pm and include collection/return drop off at Ypres Station, a full days tour in an air-conditioned minibus, lunch & more than 1 beer :). At a completely reasonable price of 50€ per person!
How easy is to get from Brussels to Ypres Station? SUPER easy!! There is a direct train that takes just under 2hours departing from Midi station! (We took the 08h36 IC train there & the 19h39 IC train back in the evening).
So what did we get up to on the Sunday Trenches & Trappist Tour?
In the Morning – the Trenches portion
We started off at the Essex Farm Cemetery, where John McRae wrote his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’
Then we grabbed a beer at Bar/Hairdresser combo (not normally included in the tour – but considered a Plan B if the weather isn’t great!) – yes people, you can get your hair cut, while you drink your beer and play cards… multi-tasking at it’s best! (it takes “honey, I am off to the hairdressers” to a whole new level!)
We meandered through the Trench of Death, which played a key role in the 1st Battle of Ypres (and the weather played along – giving us deep ominous clouds that hang low, making the green fields even more vivid and the impact of where we were, so much more sobering)
and paid homage to the statues of the Grieving Parents, which is a war memorial by German artist Käthe Kollwitz at the Vladslo German War Cemetry (I have to confess that this memorial site hit me the most …. not sure if it was because it contains more than 25,000 soldiers with each stone representing a group of them – or because the headstones were so understated and the surroundings were so quiet and serene – whatever the case – It left me deep in thought.)
Then the afternoon was all about the Trappist Beer!
A full brewery tour (in English) at De Dolle Brouwers, “mad” brewing pioneers of the Belgian Beer revival – where the brewer is not only into beer – but loves to paint as well!
After the tour – we got to enjoy lunch in their onsite pub (a gorgeous home-made paté that I literally inhaled it was so good) and one of their beers
And finally, we settled onto the terrace at Sint-Sixtus abbey to enjoy a Westvleteren beer while the sun started to set… (and a nibble of their cheese – something that HIM enjoyed so much that he bought a whole ROUND to take home with us!)
By the end of the day – we hugged our new friends goodbye (remembrance memorials & beer will do that) and HIM and I enjoyed the experience so much – that we are already looking into plans to go on the Saturday tour… Will we see you there?
BELGIAN BEER TOURS
email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via their website
And this month – I got allocated The Saturday Evening Pot – a blog about Faith, Family & Food! Chef John, his (lucky) wife, Anne & their 2 children share a passion for food – which can easily be seen through their recipes, reviews and updates!
I found the following recipe and just KNEW that it was something that I would not only enjoy making, but also eating! (Particularly because I love lemon/lime flavours in sweet treats!)
I adjusted the recipe somewhat – but mixing lemon & lime zest/juice, and unlike Chef John – I used normal flour, not gluten-free as well as full fat Irish Butter instead of soy-free/dairy-free version that he did. Basically – I made the full fat version – while his is definitely the “healthier” option :)
Lemon & Lime Squares
1 cup flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1.5 tablespoons grated lime/lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
3 tablespoons fresh lime/lemon juice
(for sprinkling) confectioner’s sugar
For the base, mix flour & sugar and then add butter and mix until dough comes together
Press the dough gently and evenly over the bottom of the greased baking dish
Bake base on center oven rack until lightly golden, about 15 minutes at 180C
Meanwhile, Gently whisk eggs & add the remaining topping ingredients and continue to whisk gently until they are blended.
Pour the topping evenly over cooled base.
Bake until top is set and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes at 180C.
Allow to cool completely.
Sprinkle surface with confectioner’s sugar (a light dusting) and cut into squares with a sharp knife, that is dipped in hot water and wiped dry before each cut.
If you plan to keep longer than one day, keep in air tight container and refrigerate or freeze to preserve crispness of base.
The second event was at Hotel Bloom – with the popular Miss Foodwise sharing the secrets of creating your visual identity – and reminding everyone about the importance of community building (exactly what BxlFF is all about!)… this lead to exploring the waffle truck & networking – before digging into the glorious cake from La Cucina Delle Zie… and jam tasting with Un altro colore – Each blogger walked home with a goodie bag of awesomeness (Luster E-gift voucher (€5), 15% Discount on a baking or decorating class at La Cucina Delle Zie, La Cucina Delle Zie biscuits, Nibbles from Olivetus, 50% off voucher from Bia Maria, Chocolero chocolate bar, Belgian Beer & Food magazine & Visit Brussels pocket-sized discovery guides)
Now the excitement is on… The 3rd event has been launched for Saturday 1st November 2014 at Maasmechelen Village… and includes starting the day with coffee & a pastry from VROOMVROOM before boarding the luxury bus for transfers there & back, a cooking demonstration with Le Creuset, Lunch at Ellis Gourmet Burger, shopping, champagne & hot chocolate… AND MORE!) – you can read more about it here
Ticket sales have already been booming – but there are a few precious tickets still left (a mere 20€ per person for a day of food, fun & blogger-ness.)
I am lucky enough to work in the Glaverbel building … so having a pop-up restaurant right on my doorstep is a Godsend! Especially for weekday lunch time dining! No wasted time travelling… and great food! Woohoo
I thoroughly adored the concept of 2013 – “Bowery goes South” which was held in the centre garden of Glaverbel last year – so when I heard that there would be another “secret garden” type event happening in September 2014… I waited eagerly to hear more!
From 11-26th September 2014, the interior garden at Glaverbel is transformed. Not only with a make-shift tent, but because the whole feeling around the building has changed – an air of excitement and mystery!
The glorious tent… is beautifully created by well-known designer Penneman Michel – those hanging “leaves” had me feeling like I was enjoying some outdoor dining… and the pots of herbs on the communal long tables went a long way in making dining companions feel private & secure.
The very original menu (“luncheon on the grass” or “déjeuner sur l’herbe”) is from French chef, Yannick Alleno, – although I have to confess that when asked, the waitress had no idea who he was and what influence he had on the actual cooking of the menu items (?!?)
The food promises to be aromatic, natural & fun – all of which is not only promised, but also delivered.
All 3 of us ordered the Eggs as a starter… crunchy chopped green vegetables set in jelly and topped with 2 perfectly poached eggs & sauce… OMG… delicious!
I went for the Skate Fish dish (aka Ray)… served with boiled potatoes, capers and slices of grapefruit (whereby the citrus tang really set off the beautifully smooth and rich fish taste….) – another 10/10 from me.
While my 2 companions ordered the vegetarian option – a whole Celery bulk cooked to perfect and topped with edible flowers…(I managed to steal a slice and I can verify that this was enough to make any meat-eater consider being vegetarian!)
A delicious way to spend Friday lunch… the only problem is wanting to enjoy a few glasses of wine with your lunch… but still having to work… neither of which go well together :( (sadly).
Pricing wise – it is a bit steep for lunch. 37€ for 2 courses (you can choose between starter/main or main/dessert) or 47€ for all 3 courses – and the starter/main courses provide more than one option – while there only seemed to be one type of dessert.
If you haven’t tried it out yet – you still have until Friday 26th September… not only for lunch – but they have been so popular that they have extended their hours to include Thursday & Friday night. (Plus we heard that their menu changes each week …)
Telephone: +32 2 479 720 711
Address:Chausseede la Hulpe166, 1170 Brussels, BELGIUM
After one particularly busy weekend – which included EAT! Brussels & hosting a Murder Mystery dinner, amongst other things – HIM and I also attended an open house “End of Season” sale hosted by Olivetus.
Started by 2 very passionate folk (Anna & Alessandro) – Olivetus, aTaste of Puglia – provides wines & nibbles from small, regional & family run businesses which are guaranteed to be 100% Italian and straight from Puglia!
We spent a bit of time tasting some wines (every mouthful so delicious that we landed up going home laden down with bottles!!). Starting with the rosé, then some white and finally HIM went onto red, while I taste-tested 2 different olive oils.
Unfortunately, I missed Eat! Brussels last year (2013) as we were exploring the beautiful city of Edinburgh – but I was lucky enough to enjoy it the first year that launched (2012) = of which you can read more here.
It had been a crazy weekend, with dinners, events, hairdresser appointments, Singing Brussels at Bozaar and more dinner – but I twisted HIM’s & M’s arms and we headed down on the Saturday around lunchtime. (Please note that not a lot of twisting was required… and I might have actually made both of them very concerned as I refused to finalise a “plan” on exact timings… but this is another story within itself! :))
From the 11th to the 14th of September 2014, the Bois de la Cambre was transformed into a fairy tale picture-perfect setting of lush green grass, pink felt walkways & crisp white tents featuring all wonders of glorious food & bordeaux wines!
We started off by attending one of the workshops whereby Fabrice Krier gave a 45min introduction to Bordeaux Wines (in French at 1.30pm on the Saturday) – sadly, my french is rotten – so HIM and M would have to whisper a bit of the translation for me (but I think I might have convinced everyone that I knew what I was doing – by sniffing, tasting, swirling, etc… ok, maybe not! :)). I also have to confess that both of the wines that we tasted during this workshop where too strong, peppery & heavy for my tastebuds.
After this – with stomachs starting to rumble – we checked out each stall before deciding on what to nibble on.
HIM is not a fan of the small portions/fancy schmancy stuff & was very happy with Cheeseburger & frites (10 tokens) from GUIGNOL (he also declared that although he normally isn’t a fan of ketchup/tomato sauce – he really enjoyed the one that they served with the frites, as it was sweet. But he did mention that the beef patty was too thick.)
I am a huge fan of O’LIBAN (you can read a previous review here) – plus crowd surrounding their stand was definitely an indicator that their food was a winner! I opted for a falafel wrap (6 tokens) – and only after I had walked away, settled down and taken my first (BIG) bite did I realise that I had been given a beef wrap instead… No matter – it was still good. The only “other” negative, is that because the portion size was so big – I couldnt eat anything else because I was so full!
And M got an assortment of goodies – salads, etc from BABDAR
We only spent 2hr there in total – and didn’t use up all our tokens – but I know of many other friends who spent hours upon hours there and had a wonderful time – eating & drinking to their full!!
I really hope that there will be a 4th installment in 2015… #justsaying
HIM and I bought a 70€ duo pass – which included 2 wine glasses with cute little white bag to hold the glasses in & 22 wine tastings PLUS 46 tokens & 2 coffee/water tickets. Each token is also representative of 1euro. All drinks (excl wine tastings) needed to be purchased with an additional token as a deposit – which was returned when the glass/bottle was brought back to the bar.