Brussels Seafood Expo, an unexpected story!

It’s been a while since I wrote anything on here, so I’m rather overdue.

Expo

The Brussels Seafood Expo has had an impact on me before, I was dismayed, shortly after starting work in Brussels to find that all of the hotel rooms had tripled in price from one week to the next! I ended up staying in Antwerp for the week and commuting an hour each way on the train!

This year the expo was held between 6th and 8th May at the Exposition Centre, which is not far from the Atomium on the site of the 1958 world’s fair.

The story

The unexpected story for is the headline grabbing prize win by a seafood company from the Falkland Islands.

Flaklands Prize

A big story in the South Atlantic

I was unaware that the Falkland Islands seafood industry was so international in it’s focus though I guess that’s exactly the sort of thing you need to do to make a living when you fish and squid from some tiny remote islands in the South Atlantic.

As I started to read more I became intrigued by the fact that this was published on a dedicated news agency for the South Atlantic from Montevideo which is the capital of Paraguay. Some of the other recent stories paint a picture of the Falklands as a fishing hub of the world!

Squid is big business it seems, what do you do with over 200,000 tons of squid?

Just another week for the surreal capital of Europe!

Miss Belgian Chocolate, meet Mr Belgian Beer

Some food and drink marriages are innate to us; as the song goes sometimes you just can’t have one without the other. Think cheese and wine, bacon and eggs, and jelly and ice cream. Beer and chocolate on the other hand might not be the first thing to jump to mind. When you’re in country that is famed for both delicious commodities, it is to be expected.

Belgian chocolates © BeerTourism.com

Belgian beer

We’re not talking about grabbing the nearest can of cold beer and a chocolate bar from the shelf of any old shop here, we’re talking serious foodies taking the time to taste and match the delicate and complimentary flavours of a deep Belgian ale with the aromatic goodness of the world’s best chocolate.

While we see many faddy food pairings popping up all the time, it’s often a vain attempt to make something cool, we can be sure that both beer and chocolate have been in side-by-side production for hundreds of years. Archaeologists have uncovered prehistoric scraping pots which point to the production of both the world’s favourite drink, and the world’s favourite aphrodisiac. Three thousand year old artefacts found in Honduras suggest that chocolate only came about as a by-product of brewing beer though the original chocolate fountain bore little resemblance to the smooth, creamy truffles and pralines you’ll find in Belgian chocolate shops today.

If you still need some convincing, here are some fail safe chocolate/beer matched to get you on your way.

Beer and Chocolate © BeerTourism.com

Dark chocolate cake with stout – Imagine the heavy, rich flavours of a stout epitomised in cake-form. The closet you’ll get is a gooey, melt-in-the-middle, flourless chocolate cake. Now think about how the two will complement each other. The sweetness of the cake lifts the bitter tones of the beer and also brings out the creaminess of a cold stout which can sometimes hide under its heaviness.. You’ve just learnt the first rule of the b/c match.

Bittermint chocolate with icy blonde – A light, sweet beer like a Leffe Blonde is the perfect beer for pairing with a sharp flavour like dark, bittermint chocolate. The freshness of the drink allows for some movement with the menthol flavours, without ruining either the beer or the chocolate. The spicy, cooler notes hiding in the beer are brought out by the refreshing buzz of mint, while warmer notes get a pull from the chocolate.

Creamy Truffles and Raspberry Beer – Think about raspberry coulis and how well it works on a really sweet dessert; that’s pretty much the effect you’ll get when pairing an acidic, fruity beer like Fruli with a sweet, milky truffle. Though fruity beers are often highly carbonated, it actually works in favour as each gulp helps to clear away any fatty residue left by the chocolate.

White Chocolate and Pale Ale – A light, or wheat beer works well with white chocolate but the two can be overly sweet and cloying together. Instead, try good Indian pale ale (IPA) to get both a smooth drink, and enough bitterness to balance out the high sugar content of white chocolate.

 

Author: Colin Ricketts

Bio: Colin is a freelance writer and editor based in Cardiff, Wales. He has been published both nationally and internationally on a variety of topics from food and beer to ecology and music. This post has been produced on behalf of beertourism.com.

Best Burger in Brussels – Part 3

Hemgies

Hemgies restaurant

Inspired by reading about a fellow blogger also in search of the best burger in Brussels I decided to give Hemgies a go. This of course being the third installment of my search for the best burger in Brussels. You can read about part1 here and part 2 here.

I initially had a little trouble finding it. I knew that it was near to the Royal Galleries, but spent a fair amount of time wandering around looking for it. So in order that you don’t make that same mistake, when you are walking down the main section of the Galleries, the Princes Gallery leads off to one side.  Hemgies is directly at the other end of the Princes Gallery.

The restaurant itself is very tastefully decorated in understated colours, I loved the vertical striped wallpaper, which worked well accentuating with the long thin room, with essentially one very long bench down one wall, with only a few tables on the other side with the bar.

The menu does have a few choices other than a burger, but they are claimed to be the ‘signature burgers’ and after all I was there on a mission! The full menu is available on their website too.

Kappitel Blonde

Kappitel Blonde

Lovely soft warm roll, and a new to me very tangy soft cheese drizzled with olive oil to welcome me.  There were only a handful of other tables occupied, but it still felt a warm and comfortable atmosphere, especially compared to the bitter February cold outside.  Winter is not over in Brussels just yet, it’s just being spiteful because I left my proper winter coat in England last weekend!

I chose a beer called Kappitel Blond, not one I’d heard of or tried before but it was really good. Definitely on a par with my current favorite Affligem Blond and a similar taste.

There were a few specials to choose from, including a tex-mex burger with guacamole which was very tempting but I plumped for the

Hemgie's Burger

Hemgie’s Burger

Hemgie’s burger

Beef meat / Belgian « vieux Bruges » cheese / Salad / Crispy Collonata bacon / Tomatoes / Pickles /
Oignon rings and slightly spicy homemade ketchup

 

Overall the quality was very high.  The beef was succulent and tasty and the whole thing was delicious if a little overwhelming when I first saw it arrive!  A lot of that height came in the form of the onion rings and a thick slice of tomato so it wasn’t quite as large as it appears 🙂  The frites were good too, light and crispy, excellent flavour as well. It was slightly let down for me in being slightly under cooked for my taste, and it could have done with being a bit hotter in the middle; the two factors are probably related.  I still very much enjoyed it and it is a minor thing and of course very much a matter of personal preference.

So back to the question at hand. Is this the Best Burger in Brussels?

On reflection, I think I still prefer Ellis Gourmet Burger.  The overall combination of textures and flavours was fractionally more balanced in my view; there was just a bit more oomph. Saying that, I thought that the ambiance in Hemgie’s was more to my liking.  Still very much recommended by me though.

Hemgie’s Restaurant
Rue des Dominicains 12
Galerie des Princes
1000 Bruxelles

www.hemgies.be they are on facebook too www.facebook.com/hemgies

Have you had a better burger?  Do you have a recommendation for somewhere else I should try? Let me know in the comments.