Dream Dinner in Belgium

Dear Strangers: plane tickets and hotel stays encouraged as Christmas gifts this year.

If I could have dinner ANYWHERE, where would I go? I’ve done some travelling in my little stay on this Earth so far, but not a ton. The one place that QUICKLY came to mind though, was Belgium.

Firstly, and if you’re reading this you probably know… //whispers// I like beer. Secondly, I married into a Dutch family and I have a bit of a preoccupation with France. It seems like the perfect place for me to end up is a place like Brussels. I don’t know the language, that’s for sure. I can get by with a little French. Or at least I think I can. (After a proud moment of ordering museum tickets to the Musee D’Orsay in Paris, the gentleman behind the counter called me Miss America.) I know absolutely no Dutch or German.

An hour and a half outside of Brussels is the Westvleteren Brewery. To go to the Abbey itself and get their Trappist would be like, woah. Dinner’s done. Who needs food? Beer has sustenance.

But if I am talking food here… I’m going to get mussels, I’m going to get frites and I’m going to dip my frites in mayo. From what I hear, the place to go is Aux Armes de Bruxelles. They are old-as-shit (1921), so they probably know what they are doing. (It’s even said that King Leopold III used to get his munch on there.) It’s like, the obvious place to in Brussels and apparently, for good reason. So, their THING is moules. You can get the mussels with a three different sauces and I’d want them all but I’d likely get the mariniere preparation (white wine and cream sauce). I definitely want to take friends and tell them what to order so I can eat off their plates as well. (I’m a good friend, shut it.) I’m looking for volunteers to order the:

  • Beef Stew with Gueuze
  • American Fillet (which funny enough, is steak tartare and decidedly, not very American)
  • Wild Boar with Cranberries
  • Lobster with Morel Mushrooms and Tagliatelle

I know I’d end up with chocolate for dessert. Cuz, Belgium, yo. I know it would be to die for and I’d love every moment of it. But in all honesty, it’s not what gets me all tingly inside. It’s the expertly crafted savory cuisine and accompanying out-of-this-world beers.

So there ya have it. That’s what I would pick if I could go anywhere in the world for dinner tonight. Or any night. Beer and mussels… forever.

While I am more of a go-to-a-restaurant for mussels kind of girl, if you guys wanted a delicious-looking recipe, I’d go straight for David Lebowitz’s Moules Frites recipe from his cookbook, My Paris Kitchen which is definitely on MY Amazon wishlist. .

Moules Frites

  • 4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted or salted butter
  • 1/2 cup (55g) peeled and finely chopped shallots
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cups (750ml) dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup (15g) chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 pounds (1,8kg) mussels, cleaned and debearded

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots and garlic are soft and wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Add the wine and parsley and bring to a boil. Add the mussels to the pot, stirring them a few times, then cover and steam for about 5 minutes until the mussels open, lifting the lid midway during cooking to give them a stir.

3. Remove from heat and serve the mussels with French fries and hearty, coarse bread, to soak up the liquid.

Fontina has an Ohio heart and Philly spunk. She loves giving you recipes for hearty food, pop-culture puns and a hell of a lot of craft beer. You can find her in the kitchen, at the bar, on Twitter or marathoning episodes of Shin Chan or Bob's Burgers online.

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