Belgian Food and Beer Palate Guide Dining Guides

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When it comes to all things Epicurean while France talks the talk, it’s Belgium that walks the walk. Belgium has now earned itself a name as one of the gastronomic destinations in Europe. The country’s cuisine is varied running the entire gamut from hearty rustic fare through to wallet punishing gourmet. In fact, plains of Flanders and the rolling countryside of Wallonia produce vegetables and meats of such high quality that they’re now in demand worldwide.

Travelling round Belgium you’ll find that local cuisine reflects that of its neighbours. In the south traditional dishes feel the pull of the French kitchen (the only real contender for Europe’s gastronomic crown) and menus tend to be rich and heavy on sauces. It’s also home to Blanc Bleu Belge cattle, producing arguably Europe’s finest beef, the foundation for specialities such as Carbonnade Flamande braised beef with beer, carrots, onions, and thyme.

The Ardennes takes a lead from next door Germany’s fondness for game, and aside form smoked hams and pates, is known for its wild boar sausages, pheasant, venison and jugged hare – steeped in beer with prunes and wild mushrooms. Accompanying many meat dishes is Stoemp, a mixed mash of potatoes and any number of vegetables. Vegetables hailing from Belgium go beyond the sprout to include asparagus, chicory – otherwise known as Belgian endive and hop shoots. Another Belgian staple is mussels, chips and mayonnaise, while Ostend is known as the oyster shucking capital of Europe.

Any food and drink guide to Belgium wouldn’t be worth its salt without mentioning their two biggest hitters; chocolate and beer. It’s taken for granted that Belgian’s get excited about chocolate, but some might say that to consume 8.1 kilograms of the stuff each every year is slightly excessive. The choice of beer in Belgium is overwhelming, with over 100 breweries producing 500 odd brews, ranging form the familiar Stella Artois to Chimay; a dangerously strong tipple brewed by Hainaut’s Trappist monks. They’ve also developed their own brewing techniques, where fermentation takes place in the open air; generically known as lambic beers. Beer is synonymous with Belgium; and whether you’re a fan or not, you won’t get away without sampling a few different brews.