20 December 2008

LOLA - Brussels

Opened more than a decade ago, Lola is a cosmopolitan and contemporary place in the middle of the very elegant Sablon.

Lola is also a concept about a stylish, elegant, beautiful black young woman that you would imagine behind the kitchen burners whistling while cooking, fully in love with her boyfriend, serving the tables with grace, a woman that represents the happy side of life, the kind of woman you would like to write a song about if you were a musician...

In a less poetic mood, however, Lola's magic recipe for success is a continued and balanced combination between the quality of the food, the freshness of the products, the creation of new executions and a dose of innovation (when needed), an good offer of wines (good to know that white one is always served the perfect temperature here!), the attentive service and... above all, the regularity through the years and a very well-defined personality.

Indeed, Lola is one of those places where you would like to invite your friends, your relatives, your most beloved visits to Brussels, and you would still be never tired to try once and again.

As far as the starters are concerned, Lola proposes some reminiscent plates from the best brasserie tradition like the 'croquettes de crevettes grises' and a hint of Asian food like the 'tempura de scampi sauce aigre-douce'.

However, a visit to this place should be the opportunity to taste the typically Lolan 'tourelle de crabe, remoulade de céleri rave et tomates sechées' or the 'salade gourmande de haricots verts au foie gras'.

The mains are even greater : 'cabillaud rôti, parmentier au cerfeuil, émulsion de poireaux au beurre de ferme', 'filet de bar au lait d'amandes, risotto aux champignons des bois', or the 'fricassée de volaille aux morilles, tagliatelles', 'cuisse de canard confite aux lentilles vertes de Puy'.

Do not try to go to Lola without booking!

Rating : 7.2/10

14 December 2008


Taules del Món (Tables of the World) was born a month ago with the intention to become a gateway to gastronomy in Belgium and provide useful information of good restaurants from all over the world.

Although the main idea was more to focus on gastronomy than on culinary aspects, many of you have shown an interest for the blog to provide relevant food information i.e. recipes, too.

In order to enable this, please do not hesitate to send your recipes, comments, ideas, photos and anything you might wish to share at the following e-mail address:


Enjoy Taules del Món, a haven of taste and pleasure !


10 December 2008


Placed in a back street of Ixelles, Les Brassins is a classic 'estaminet' (word used in the Northern departments of France and Belgium to describe the 'small cafe on the corner'), furnished with wooden chairs and tables (not very comfortable, I must admit) and old liquor and tobacco tin plates on the wall (Kwak, Palm, Bastos, Sandeman, Oude Hasselt Feyten Genever, Bière des Houillières and Spa, just to mention some of them).

It is also a culinary institution in Brussels (even if I discovered it just a month ago) where food is made with the heart!

The restaurant is a genuine, simple and unpretentious place gathering all sorts of herds, but with a majority of young, informal and slighlty 'alter-mondialiste' style people of all nationalities whose main idea is to have a great moment in couple or with the colleagues while repeating once and again (as it is clear that most of clients are recidivists!) the excellent home-made style, Belgian cuisine of this tiny, iconic place.

A true experience at Les Brassins starts with the unavoidable taste of one of the 40 excellent Belgian beers available at the counter (by the way, sometimes this is going to be the best way to wait before you are given a free table in this often crowded place).

Once with the menu in your hands you will immediately realise that the list of proposals is not very extensive and that some big stars of the classic Belgian cuisine such as 'moules et frites' or 'jambonneau' are missing.

However, it will not take you that much either to realise that the size of the menu is just a minor detail if we compare it with the quality of the food. You will certainly experience some difficulties when trying to choose between one of the best 'carbonnades à la flamande' in town (slightly sweet thanks to the beer sauce), an excellent 'onglet de boeuf aux echalottes', a home-made 'boulettes sauce tomate', a true 'soupe d'oignon' or simply when ordering my favourite : a 'boeuf simple face' (a medium cooked beef steak coated with a thin layer of mustard, smashed onions and parsley...).

As in many other places, French fries (beware that French fries always came from Belgium, not France!) are happy here to accompany the main orders.

However, it is fair to point out that French fries here are not taken out from an industrial bag stored in the freezer before being put into a fryer, but rather peeled and sliced manually, which not only makes a real difference in the taste, but which is also the pride of the waitress!

You will realise that Les Brassins serves low salty food.

Still hungry? Do not hesitate to have (or share!) a 'moelleux au chocolat', a delicious home-made dessert with chocolate drops overflowing the spoon...

As far as the service is concerned, it's all about young, kind and ready to listen waitresses here. By the way, one of them, a graphic designer during the day, told me she is currently giving a lift to the website (http://www.lesbrassins.com/) and mentioned that this tiny restaurant receives good critics from newspapers from around the world such as The NY Times from time to time.

Les Brassins is mentioned in the Guide du Routard 2008. Take away service available.

Rate: 6.4/10

03 December 2008


Located in the popular district of Marolles (behind the Palais of Justice), this is an unavoidable must, a mythic restaurant in the world of genuine Belgian brasseries whose lively and unpretentious atmosphere makes of any guest a happy person.

Just next to the entrance, the view from the street of a crowded kitchen full of pots and pans and the restless ups and downs of the cooks (including chef Thierry Courtois) preparing sauces, mounting plates or baking 'jambonneaux' provides a hint of what we will enjoy at the table later on.

This place, which once shifted from blue plastic tablecloth to yellow paper one (considered to be a major change), is a true success story both before and after its not-that-recent reopening (a 'lourd contrôle fiscal' kept it shut for a while), and even after a younger generation (headed by Jeanine Van Avermaet-Van den Hende) took it over from the founders.

Well, my friend Olivier would argue that, apart from the change in the tablecloth, the mentioned control did provide other significant changes to the restaurant as the portions of 'jambonneau' were significantly shrinked... Our discussion on this important issue remains open...

Nevermind, the Stekerlapatte ('freshwater fish' in brusseleir, the local Brussels dialect), a restaurant to which I might have been around fifteen times (!?!), is a funny option and a good place to go when receiving guests not started with Belgian brasseries, a place where you might wish to stop before heading home after a film in the cinema, a concert, an exhibition, or simply when looking for a tasty meal without having to think too much, perhaps late on a Friday night after a stressing working day.

Every option in the menu is a great treat and the identity card of the real Belgian cuisine, that of the people, the one that really identifies and summarises the country the best.

So, do not hesitate to try any of the following masterpieces! : 'demi-poulet de grain rôti à la bruxelloise flambée à la fine champagne, crème sauce aux champignons', the 'daurade royale grillée, beurre d'anchois, olive oil and pommes nature', the 'nage aux trois poissons et scampi, pommes nature, rouille et croutons', the 'magret de canard rôti aux échalotes, à la sauce de pamplemousse, miel et gingembre', the 'côtes d'agneau, tomates grillées, sauce béarnaise, haricots verts étuvés au beurre, stoemp aux carottes, miel et amandes', the 'onglet de bœuf poêlé aux échalotes entières fondues au beurre', the 'steak tartare "minute", either prepared or not, petite salade verte, pommes frites', the 'bloempanch à la bruxelloise: large tranche de boudin noir poêlée, pommes de quartiers caramélisées'...

...even if Stekerlapatte is reknown by a star dish prepared like anywhere else and this is the famous, the unique, the great, the incredible 'jambonneau entier rôti au four, à la crème sauce moutarde en grains et pommes rissolées' a real delight and a decent gateway to culinary Belgium!

If Stekerlapatte had to disappear again, Brussels would probably remain a great place to have fun while discovering new places and eating delicious plates but I presume it would certainly lose one of its most iconic references.

Stekerlapatte is also a good place for concerts. Styles as varied as folk, jazz, cabaret, French music... are often performed on the first floor on Fridays night and on weekends.


Rating: 6.5/10

29 November 2008

SWITCH - Brussels

Located in the heart of the old gastronomic Brussels (near Place Sainte Catherine), Switch is a clean, bright, and black and white stripped decorated restaurant serving contemporary French cuisine with a light hint of Greek soul.

Apart from that, Switch is a two-fold concept.

First of all, a switch is what happened to the professional career of Marc Boutsen, a former culinary journalist when he decided to create this trendy gastronomic bistro whose kitchen is open and whose service is always attentive and discreet.

Secondly, Switch is also the mixture of concepts such as compatibility and adaptability in the treatment of a wide and tasty range of products that the customer can combine according to his/her hungry, mood and preferences.

However, it is precisely the drifting apart of the compatibility and adaptability concepts, both of which had made of Switch a distinctive and innovative place in the landscape of high quality Brussels restaurants, what is currently lacking and what is pushing the restaurant towards the style of other good, but not different, quality bistrots.

The Switch is the restaurant where I once discovered what the French mean when they talk about a "corsé" wine (intense and structured one).

This restaurant is a must in the address book of any good gourmet and believe me I always leave the restaurant with an excellent impression and ready to go back again.

23 November 2008


Founded in Paris in 1959 by the winegrower Paul Gineste de Saurs, the "Relais de Venise - L'Entrecôte", so called because it was built on a former Italian restaurant called the same name, is located in one of the streets perpendicular to the "Sartrian" Blvd. Saint Germain-des-Prés.

This iconic restaurant is one of those classic spots with a typically Parisian red canopy and the name of the restaurant written in gold, paper tablecloths and an exclusively female service dressed in a black dress and a white apron.

The place is famous for the single, simple, yet very successful menu they propose, which has remained the same since the restaurant first opened.

It all consists in a single menu made up of a salad with walnuts and mustard vinaigrette (starter) and an excellent beef entrecôte with thin French fries à volonté (too floured in my opinion, though) accompanied with a herbs sauce whose recipe is a well kept family secret (some people believe this tasty sauce is made of smashed chicken livers...)

Please beware that a true debate seems to exist on whether the meat served is actually an entrecôte - rib-eye - or a contre-filet - sirloin !

Apart from the drinks and the desserts, gourmets will only be able to ask for the cooking of the meat, information that the waitress will pen on the tablecloth.

The place is generally crowded by both locals and tourists at any season of the year and is a great stop during the long walks when visiting the French capital.

Please keep in mind that the restaurant does not allow bookings and that a 20-minutes queue at the entrance of the venue is quite the rule.

Important differences between possible misleading names:

After the death of Mr. Gineste of Saurs in 1966, his daughter Mrs. Hélène Godillot took over the restaurant in Paris ( "Relais de Venise - L'Entrecôte"). Some years later, she decided to open branches in Barcelona (1999) and London (2005).

Mr. Henri Gineste of Saurs (son of Paul), was responsible for the restaurants of similar concept (“L'Entrecôte”) in Toulouse (1962), Bordeaux (1966), Nantes (1980), Montpellier (1990) and Lyon (1999).

Finally, Marie-Paule Burrus, another daughter of the founder, was at the origin of three new restaurants in Paris (this time under the name of "Relais de l'Entrecôte"), one in Geneva, three in Beirut and one in Kuwait City (the last four operated under license).

Once the entrecôte is over, I advise you to have a coffee in the nearby classic but always trendy (and crowded!) "Cafe de Flore" (http://www.cafe-de-flore.com/), another of the city’s icons.

Rating: 6.8/10

18 November 2008


Born in 2003, the Cafe des Spores (Saint Gilles) is a restaurant specialised in mushrooms.

In general terms, the style of the place is urban, modern, convivial and funny, and the atmosphere still keeps some reminiscences of a quincaillerie (old ironware store).

Its original concept consists in rethinking and reshaping a series of more or less traditional recipes, some of them from the very terroir style and 'mushroomize' them in order to get the best organoleptic properties from such a tasty (even if not so seasonal anymore) product.

Just behind an open counter, a quite inspired chef (not very communicative, though) manages 4 kitchen burners and an oven at the same time, achieving as tasteful results as "sautéed mushrooms with paté" (good), "a custard cream with mushrooms and foie gras (curious), "the eggs cocotte with fresh truffle" (excellent, smooth, good balance), "the caramelized Belgian endives with trompettes" (very good), a "melted vacherin cheese with sautéed mushrooms and parsley on it (quite vicing!), a more than bizarre "crumble of cèpes" (interesting contrast of sweet and salty), and other similar treats.

On the desserts side, a special mention needs to be made to the "white truffle muffins" and the (very mild) "tiramisu with cèpes and half apple in the bottom".

Apart from products of the menu (Attention ! : when I say 'the' menu I am referring at the single exisitng menu available in the restaurant in the form of distant, almost invisible wall board), the restaurant offers a more than exciting option to go for an 'eat as much as you can mushrooms-based tapas depending on the mood of the chef'.

However, the execution of what could be a unique idea proposing original, tasty and well-finished dishes is sadly overshadowed by the service of a couple of poor memory waitresses as well as by the forgotten dishes that never made their way to the table (but which appeared in the final check!).

In addition to this, due to the single menu available and the pressure of the waitresses it becomes extremely difficult to have a quiet look to the proposals before ordering.

If that was not enough, the restaurant does not provide plates on the table (unless you ask for them), wines are overpriced in relation to their quality and credit cards are not allowed !

The website of the restaurant (http://www.cafedesspores.be/) is modern, clean, visually appealing, with lots of pictures, focused on young people and with some useful links to taxi and baby-sitting services. However, detailed explanations about the concept, the origins and prices are to be missed.

Finally, a reference needs to be made to the former 'delicatessen' store now converted into restaurant 'La Buvette', just opposite of Cafe des Spores, which is the meat arm of the mushroom restaurant.

Rating : 6.5/10

15 November 2008

L'OGENBLIK - Brussels

'L'Ogenblik' is a restaurant with the appearance of an unpretentious bistro. Located in Galeries des Princes in downtown Brussels, the restaurant is fully impregnated by the elegance and lavishness that surround it, even if the restaurant itself lacks of a clear own soul.

Opened in 1968, this charming restaurant - famous by its green lamps pending from the ceiling -, proposes high quality French cuisine even if its interior could mislead the visitor by making him / her believe that this is just another informal place among its nearby restaurants.

Unlike the others though, 'L'Ogenblik' proposes tasty and unforced combinations.

A good example of this are the outstanding starters such as the unbeatable "duck breast carpaccio with pesto", the "carpaccio of Saint Jacques scallops with radish salad and hazelnut oil" or the "eggplant flowers stuffed with prawns."

As far as the mains are concerned, a special mention needs to be made to fish dishes : "small pot of fish in bouillabaisse", the "half-cooked tuna filet on Espelette peppers" or "monkfish filet with asparagus."

All in all, 'L'Ogenblik' is a restaurant that everyone should have in its address book for the quality of the food and the consistency in delivering well presented compositions over time.

However, after having had several dinners in the restaurant during the last 4 years, the menu has remained always the same. In this regard, the creativity in the dishes has not found its correspondant by adding new entries in the menu.

Some downsides : the restaurant is a bit too noisy (perhaps due to the proximity of the tables), the service is not noted for their attention and value for money may be a bit unbalanced (probably because of its location in downtown Brussels) in relation to similar restaurants.

The great Taittinger is everywhere in the restaurant, so take advantage of this and do not hesitate to taste a glass of this excellent champagne as aperitif.

Rating : 6/10

10 November 2008

't PANDREITJE - Bruges

Crée par Guy Van Neste en 1980 après une quinzaine d'années passés dans différents restaurants dont "Comme chez soi", 't Pandreitje offre une cuisine raffinée, créative et savoureuse dans un cadre contemporain et accueillant.

A l'arrivée au restaurant, c'est Hillary, la femme très sympa (d'origine anglaise) de Guy Van Neste qui vous installe dans le living et vous invite à vous asseoir aux fauteuils très relax à côté de la chéminée lorsqu'elle vous sert (d'office) une petite assiette d'olives vertes géantes et une assiette d'amendes légèrement salées en compagnie d'une coupe de champagne Gosset ou de Lanson (selon le jour).

A table, on n'y compte que des délices.

Parmi les entrées proposées, ce sont le "le saumon d’Ecosse «Red Label» légèrement fumé par nos soins, parfumé à l’aneth et à l'huile d'olive et accompagné d’un toast ciabatta", "le carpaccio de thon bleu parfumé au pesto et à la truffe de Bourgogne", le "risotto aux cèpes et à la truffe blanche “Tuber Magnatum” ou encore les "filets de rouget barbet enrichi de fenouil et brocoli" qui méritent une attention toute particulière.

Par rapport aux viandes,'t Pandreitje propose "la noix d'entrecôte de bison grillée et sa sauce au vi rouge", sans doute un regal pour le palais et assez rare à trouver, mais à mon avis, ce sont peut-être les poissons, tous de grande qualité et traités avec grand talent, ceux qui vaut le detour.

Côté poissons donc, laissez vous guider par la première idée qui vous vienne à l'esprit car leur fraîcheur et la créativité des exécutions de Guy Van Neste en la matière sont au rendez-vous : "le dos de bar sauvage rôti sur sa peau, sa sauce crémeuse au cresson et aux dés de tomates de trochet et aux artichauts violets", "la sole sautée aux endives et aux sucs de tomates de trochet" ou encore, "le blanc de turbot sauvage grillé et sa sauce mousselines aux crevettes grises".

Grâce à l'amour de Guy Van Neste pour les vins (n'oublions pas qu'il est Maître Sommelier en vins de France), 't Pandreitje dispose d'une cave remarquable et bien assortie de vins de toute provenance, notamment de France, Espagne, Portugal, Italie, Chili, Argentine, Californie, Australie et Nouvelle Zélande.

Personnellement, c'est dans ce temple gastronomique, où l'on peut commander du vin au verre et en petits formats, où je me suis laissé envoûter par l'élégance, le corps, la couleur dorée, les notes de la terre minérale de l'Aragon espagnol qui empreignent l'Enate Somontano 1999 ou que j'ai fait la découverte de Punto Final Reserva, un malbec de Mendoza (Argentine) de 2005 - pas comme les autres - et qui me fait toujours partager des grands moments quand j'en debouche une bouteille avec les copains à la maison.

't Pandreitje est une grande expérience, même si peut-être un peu cher, mais idéal pour un week-end calme à deux à Bruges.

Le restaurant fait partie des associations telles "Les Disciples d'Auguste Escoffier", "Les etapes du bon goût" et la "Communauté des sommeliers flamands".

Seul bémol : la page internet du restaurant (http://www.pandreitje.be/) doit être beaucoup améliorée. Elle ne correspond sans doute pas ni à la qualité du produit, ni à l'ambiance qu'on y respire ni au cadre (belles baies vitrées donant à un jardin) proposé.

Note : 7/10

09 November 2008

NOTOS - Brussel.les

Sovint considerat el millor restaurant estranger de Belgica, el Notos va ser fundat el 1996 per Constantin Erinkoglou, el seu xef i propietari, i ha esdevingut una clara referencia de la bona cuina grega a la capital belga i a bona part de l'Europa no hel.lenica.

La cuina d'en Constantin proposa plats plens de sabors i colors mediterranis, productes sempre frescos i nobles, i una execucio d'expressio contemporania, refinada i de vegades minimalista (pero no pobra en quantitats!).

Es marca de la casa començar els apats proposant un mini bol de llenties a la menta amb un raig de llimona espremuda i un timid polsim de sal, una delicia que obre la gana i otorga una nota de frescor al pal.ladar.

Per aquells que vulguin un entrada-resum de la identitat culinaria grega, aconsello l'entrada de peces individuals a base de : fullat d'alberginia a la mousse d'ametlla, pollastre de Ciscaria filatejat a la crema de nous i cumi, tendres fulles de vinya farcides i la jaleia de llegums.

Tot seguit, es pot continuar amb un gustosissim pit de pollastre daurat (servit tallat) farcit de formatge fos i envoltat d'una crosta de festucs esmicolats i salsa de taronja.

I per a aquells que encara tingueu gana, degusteu sense dubtar-ho el "pantespani" (un pa de pessic grec de llimona) a la crema d'ametlla perfumat a la flor de taronger. No calen paraules!

El Notos es el restaurant que em va fer descobrir un vi grec robust, amb caracter, intens i fosc, el "Gerovassilou", una barreja de varietats syrah i merlot de la regio de Tessalonica (nord), pero n'hi ha molts, molts mes a descobrir i a comprar, ja que el restaurant tambe te un bonic taulell de fusta massissa on es poden adquirir els vins que es proven durant els apats (aixi com olis d'oliva i mels).

Com s'indica a la pagina http://www.notos.be/, "tous les produits utilisés au Notos sont soigneusement choisis auprès des meilleurs fournisseurs. Les produits grecs sont choisis sur place : fava (pois cassés) de Santorin, légumes secs du lac de Prespes et de l'Ile de Lefkada, huile d'olive artisanale et olives du Mont Athos et de l'Ile de Thassos, avgotaracho (sorte de caviar) de Messolonghi, fleur de sel de Île de Karpathos, gomme arabique de Chios, pastourma (viande sechée) de Thrace, fromages artisanaux, - autant de joyaux qui rarement se sont retrouvés à la carte d'un même restaurant, en Grèce ou ailleurs."

Apart de la tecnica, el coneixement i la imaginacio d'en Constantin, la seva gracia es sens dubte el de saber transformar en moderns els gustos perennes de la cuina tradicional i regional grega, evitant aixi que se'n esborrin uns contorns sovint ofegats pel ritme de la vida actual i la perdua del saber fer.

El servei del Notos es atent, rapid, net i servicial, tot i que en Constantin, sempre solitari i mes aviat introspectiu, transmet una sensacio d'una certa distancia.

Finalment, cal destacar que el Notos es un "Bib". En el llenguatge de la guia Michelin, un "Bib" es un restaurant sorpresa, un establiment que ha creat un "coup de coeur" als seus inspectors degut a la bona relacio qulitat / preu, i que es considerat com una petita gran adreça a l'abast de la majoria.

A descobrir a qualsevol epoca i a repetir tant com es vulgui.

Nota : 7/10

08 November 2008


Prop de la Grande Place de Brussel.les hi ha un mini barri anomenat l'Ilot Sacré on s'hi concentren, juntament amb la Place Sainte Catherine, la majoria de restaurants de marisc i musclos de la capital belga.

Sens dubte, l'objectiu principal de la majoria de restaurants d'aquestes dues zones de la ciutat son els turistes, els quals massa sovint es deixen entabanar per l'assalt directe dels porters de restaurant i els seus reclams sobre el marisc exposat...

Tot i aixi, de tots els restaurants situats a banda i banda del peatonal Rue des Bouchers, nomes n'hi ha un que destaqui per la qualitat de la seva cuina : l'emblematic Aux Armes de Bruxelles (on, curiosament, ningu no intenta convencer-te perque hi entris).

El 1921, la familia Veulemans, originaria de la regio belga de Limbourg (Flandes), compra el que era una petita taberna de barri i decideix fer-hi un restaurant. Amb el temps amplia el local gracies a la compra del cafe del costat i en renoven la façana. Amb els 4 fills de Calixte i Anne-Marie Veulemans treballant al restaurant, el local es converteix en una gran referencia gastronomica de la ciutat, molt estimat per artistes, cantants i musics del Théatre de la Monnaie (l'opera de Brussel.les) i els musics de jazz que hi van a sopar acabada la funcio, i per les families que hi van els caps de setmana.

Actualment, el restaurant segueix sent una referencia de noble factura i un gran lloc ple de petits detalls i de bons plats.

A nivell d'entrades, destaquen la mitja endivia envoltada de pernil dolç i gratinada al forn (una delicia ben calorica i ben belga!) o els daus de formatge empanat (fondues de formatge).

En relacio als plats, cal esmentar les ostres, els musclos, la gran varietat de plats tipics belgues que utilitzen productes nobles com per exemple el "watezooï de turbot", la diversitat de plats a base de llagosta, l'excel.lent carta de peixos (llenguados, bacalla, raies, salmo i els mateixos turbots) amb delicies com l"assiette aux trois poissons" (atencio al pure que l'acopanya!) o el "filet de bacalla rostit Brabançonne a la cervesa blanca de Haacht", les escalopes de vedella i la "carbonade de bou a la Gueuze", una cervesa tipicament brussel.lenca bastant amarga i consumida sovint a temperatura ambient.

Guardeu gana pel final ja que Aux Armes de Bruxelles es conegut per la preparacio d'excel.lents crêpes à la Mandarine Napoléon utilitant un fogo situat al bell mig d'una de les sales!. La flama que surt de la paella en el moment mateix de flambejar el crep es un espectacle que justifica per si sola l'assistencia al restaurant.

No ho dubteu, si mengeu peix opteu per un Pouilly Fumé (zona de Nièvre, Bourgogne), un vi blanc, equilibrat, un pel sec i lleugerament, molt lleugerament afruitat i curt en boca, prou agradable per acompanyar-te durant l'apat sense molestar. Eviteu els Sancerre (Cher, Centre), generalment massa joves i amb notes acides.

El servei d'Aux Armes de Bruxelles es majoritariament masculi. Correcte i amable pero no entusiasta.

Les galetes Gavottes (originaries de Normandia) servides amb el cafe son una delicia i una raresa a les botigues de Brussel.les, fins i tot al Rob (supermercat gourmet), aixi doncs que degusteu-les be!


Nota : 7/10

07 November 2008

LE CHALET DE LA FORET - Uccle, Brussel.les

De tots els restaurants on acostumo a anar, aquest es sens cap dubte un dels meus preferits, un d'aquells que m'hi fa tornar una i altra vegada, hipnotitzat en pensar el que hi descobrire. El Chalet de la Forêt es per al gourmet com un bon cep pel bon boletaire, un secret ple de sabor que agradaria nomes guardar per a un mateix.

El restaurant, temple del pal.ladar, raco de gust i gran estil, es troba en una de les parts mes boniques i tranquil.les d'Uccle, un dels barris de mes alt nivell de Brussel.les, prop del sempre verd i de vegades nostalgic, solitari, Forêt de Soignes, el gran pulmo verd de la capital belga.

La decoracio, sobria, contemporania, acollidora i elegant, es a carrec de Coralie Michiels (la dona del xef) i combina perfectament amb les menges que s'hi degusten.

D'entre totes les meravalles no gastronomiques que ofereix el restaurant cal destacar la possibilitat de sopar en una taula rodona de dimensions generoses pero una mica separada de la resta, conferint aixi una sensacio d'intimitat i recolliment, la de dinar en una 'veranda' on les gotes d'aigua ploren, els molts dies de pluja, sobre el vidres de marcs verdosos, la intensitat sempre adequada de les llums, la quantitat de gerros transparents, sempre nets, amb grans flors de temporada a l'interior i en perfecta harmonia amb la decoracio, la calidesa de la llar de foc, la separacio de l'espai de l'aperitiu i del menjador, un servei a taula d'altissima qualitat (començant pel Cédric), de gran discrecio i de coneixement del producte i, obviament, els fogons del gran, molt gran, Pascal Devalkeneer.

Pascal Devalkeneer, ex co-xef de la Truffe Noir ja al 1987 (quan tenia 22 anys!) i xef propietari del Bistrot du Mail que ell mateix va crear amb un amic d'infancia quan en tenia 27, prepara delicies com "l'amanida de llagosta fumada al foc de llenya i al laminat de foie i vinagreta de peres" o "el llobarro amb pell rostit sobre llit de petites carxofes al pebre i llimona confitada"...

Pels vins no us preocupeu gaire, demaneu el que us faci el pes perque sempre, sempre l'encertareu. El celler d'en Pascal Devalkeneer es extens i variat, pero amb una tendencia clara pels vins francesos.

Sens dubte una de les grans adreces de Belgica !

Per a tots aquells que vulgueu emular una de les receptes d'en Pascal Devalkeneer, visiteu l'apartat "Recettes et conseils du chef" a la pagina http://www.lechaletdelaforet.be/

Pascal Devalkeneer esta valorat a les guies Gault et Millau i Michelin (1*), i es membre de l'Associacio Maîtres Cuisiniers de Belgique.

Nota : 8/10

04 November 2008


Aquesta es epoca de caça, de senglar, de cervol, de bolets, de castanyes, de formatges ben afinats, i aixo es el que hem volgut comprovar a 'Le Sanglier des Ardennes', restaurant emblematic i parada obligada pels amants de la bona cuina, catalogat com un dels grans de Belgica pero sense pretensions sobreres.

El xef i propietari, Frédéric Caerdinael, segona generacio del negoci familiar fundat pel seu pare Maurice, es un gran mestre dels fogons, i en el seu historial consta haver passat 2 anys de formacio al restaurant de l'hotel 'Negresco' de Niça (2** Michelin), una de les grans referencies mundials, i 2 anys de formacio al 'Dorchester' de Londres (2** Michelin), entre d'altres.

La seva dona, la Caroline, serveix amb elegancia i atencio, com la resta del servei, que es mostra sempre encantat d'ajudar i aclarir dubtes.

Amb fotos emblematiques sobre personatges il.lustres, el restaurant mostra la seva historia nomes arribar : el xef amb en John McEnroe, amb els Princeps de Belgica Philippe i Mathilde, amb en Jacques Chirac, amb el Sr. Davidoff, amb musics coneguts com l'harmonica sempre magica de Toots Thielemans, amb artistes diversos...

Mentre analitzes la carta i decideixes els plats i el vi al salo, degustacio amb copa de xampany (fet embotellar expressament a Champagne amb l'etiqueta "Sanglier des Ardennes" i copa de vi espumant rosat.

Al cap d'una estona, potser mes de la desitjada, arribada a una taula assolellada amb vistes a l'Orthe, el riu que passa per la localitat.

Entrades (2 persones) : plat de pernil de senglar amb cassoleta de bolets i les ostres de Gillardeau amb una vinagreta d'echalottes (cebes allargades). Les porcions correctes, sense exagerar.

Plats (2 persones) : costella de senglar coberta amb crosta de pebre verd i cassoleta de quinoa amb bolets i 'airelles' i filet de truita de riu a la Matelote (salsa de vi) amb un gran escamarla d'acompanyament.

No postres, pero compartiment de 'plateau de fromages' de la regio i d'altres de francesos.

Per beure al llarg de l'apat, Château Siran Grand Cru 2004 de la regio de Margaux, a Bordeus. Opcio molt encertada.

El restaurant disposa d'una cava de vins d'uns quants passadissos, d'una cava d'Armagnacs (l' "Armagnothèque") i d'una cava de cigars cubans al.lucinant, tots ordenats per tamanys i preus.

http://www.sanglier-des-ardennes.be/ (cliqueu sobre 'Visite virtuelle' a dalt a l'esquerra de la pagina)

El restaurant es membre de l'Associacio Maîtres Cuisiniers de Belgique.

Nota : 7/10


Recordo la primera vegada que vaig arribar a Brussel.les. Anava sol amb una Samsonite blava i moltes il.lusions. No parlava frances. L'unica moneda acceptada eren els francs belgues.

Era el mes de març de 2001, estavem a 0° i queia aigua neu. La ciutat em va semblar grisa, lletja i una mica bruta.

Vaig arribar a la que havia de ser la meva primera llar durant uns dies, un alberg al centre de la ciutat, cap a les 13h00. La porta estava tancada ("c'est l'heure de table, monsieur!") i em vaig quedar passant fred a fora, la meva maleta i jo sota aquell vent gelid.

No quedava cap mes remei que intentar dinar. Vaig entrar al primer bar que vaig trobar, prop de l'alberg, i vaig demanar un entrepa. Veure com un entrepa de tonyina es convertia sobtadament en un parell de trossos de pa untats amb mantega als que s'afegia una pasta de tonyina que l'empastifava de manera grollera em va causar un gran impacte.

Ho vaig captar de seguida: la cultura de l'oli d'oliva i, en general, dels sabors del Mediterrani, s'havia acabat. Aquella sensacio semblava confirmar-se en adonar-me de la gran quantitat de salses i crema de llet utilitzades en la preparacio de plats ben diversos, el que no va fer sino augmentar la sensacio de que Belgica seria un suplici en termes gastronomics.

Tot i aixi, el pas del temps, la vida a Brussel.les, la possibilitat de coneixer be la gastronomia gracies als meus compromissos professionals, unes quantes passejades per tot tipus de mercats i supermercats, de provar els resultats amb gent d'influencies culinaries diverses, i una mica de curiositat per part meva no nomes m'han demostrat que la primera impressio no sempre es la que compta, sino que han eixamplat considerablement i de manera positiva els meus coneixements sobre la Belgica gastronomica.

Mes que aixo, Belgica demostra cada dia que es un pais plagat de cuiners imaginatius (sovint gens mediatics) i de gourmets entesos, de pacients col.leccionistes de vins dotats de cellers amb millésimes remarcables, de grups d'amics de gent jova disposada a gastar diners per descobrir els plaers del paladar, per atrevir-se a provar, per deixar-se sorprendre per la creativitat d'uns bons fogons, de l'organitzacio periodica de jornades especials on la gent pot anar a restaurants poc assequibles per preus raonables...

I sens dubte Belgica es tambe, degut a la seva historia, tamany i "terroir", un punt de trobada d'influencies que van de la cuina francesa a les porcions holandeses, de la sobrietat alemanya als productes de les Ardennes, de la presencia d'italians, grecs, espanyols i portuguesos, al bagatge america, arab, turc, asiatic i de l'est europeu.

Aquest blog, basat nomes en experiencies viscudes, neix uns quants anys mes tard amb unes quantes descobertes destacables a les espatlles i amb l'intencio de donar a coneixer i compartir opinions i sensacions amb tot aquell que hi tingui interes, pero tambe i de manera molt especial amb tots aquells nouvinguts a Belgica que encara no han tingut temps de descobrir els matisos gastronomics del "plat pays".

El blog intenta tambe unir gastronomia i cultura, els sabors i l'entorn que l'ha fet possible, la idea de que el plat es l'expressio d'una manera de ser, d'una identitat i d'una historia, i preten recordar la importancia de que l'esser huma s'alimenti i disfruti fent-ho al ritme de les estacions, dels productes de temporada tot apreciant-los de manera equilibrada. Potser aixi no nomes disfrutarem descobrint, sino que tambe posarem fi a importants problemes de salut publica com l'obesitat i els transtorns alimentaris.

Benvinguts a Taules del Mon!