As much as I remember the art and architecture of Belgium, I remember the food. During one of my short trips to Belgium visiting friends, I enjoyed a pan full of Mussels at lunch and a plate full of spare ribs at dinner and have been drooling over them ever since.
Mosselen Witte Wijn (Mussels in White Wine)
I was wandering around Grote Markt (Market Square) in Antwerp with a friend when a gush of wind and untimely rain decided to sweep us away. We rushed to the nearest restaurant around the market square and settled down to pan full of mussels cooked in leek, onion and white wine which seemed to be the most popular of them all. Frankly, I was a bit deterred when I saw the quantity (1kg) but they were so inviting that I decided to relish them one piece at a time. Time flew as we caught up on old times and continued to demolish the mussels one by one. It was not a difficult task after all soon the awfully delicious stuff was consigned to a heap in another bowl.
Mussel shells crack open as they are steamed with the vegetables and the sauces (white wine in this case). It is best to avoid the mussels that have not opened up as they may not be fit for consumption. The best way to enjoy the mussels is to scoop it out using a shell rather than a fork and pop it into your mouth, allowing the juices to melt on your tongue. Keep counting, enjoy your bowl, with a glass of beer maybe (500 authentic varieties too choose from, beyond Stella Artois). We settled with Belgian Kriek, cherry flavoured, a bit sweet, a little bit of tang but perfect accompaniment with the mussels. Mussels are best had in the months that end with “R” and January, February are the only exceptions (Y is almost silently pronounced in Dutch). I was spot on, it was in the middle of September and the best time to relish them.
I scooped out some of the mussels in a bowl, added a bit of the garlic sauce, some pepper and salt and the result was awesome, almost like a salad. Not to forget, the average Belgian will frown if you happen to mention that the best mussels come from Netherlands and if this is mentioned at an eatery, you may not be served at all 🙂 My Belgian friends gladly admitted that the large juicy delicious ones are often a product of Netherlands, and wherever it may come from , I look forward to my next bowl of mosselen !!!
Ribby Dinner at http://www.amadeusspareribrestaurant.be
After lunch we took a train to Ghent and sauntered about town admiring the gothic styled buildings and walking on cobbled paths. The Earthly Menu Card in a park left me amused and hungry. I had heard about the famed ribs of Ghent from my friends and we headed to Amadeus to spend the evening over glasses of red wine and generous helpings of “Spare Ribs a Volonte”. The caramelized ribs are served with a house special dip, a jacket potato cooked right and a side salad. As I gently cut through the well done ribs and tasted a mouthful, the caramelized meat melted on my tongue. The next few minutes were more of food and less of conversation. The dip (secret herb butter) with a dash of garlic is heavenly and I generously smeared some on the ribs and on the jacket potato. We devoured through 2 helpings each discussing life, food and culture but frankly my mind was only on the ribs.
Though originally from Ghent, this restaurant now has outlets in Brussels and Antwerp. They run full house most of the time and it is better to book ahead to avoid disappointment. The unlimited ribs, sides and wine for a fixed price is a steal and would recommend anyone with a taste for ribs to drop in.
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