What I have to show for myself from Brussels — part 1

So, to be com­pletely hon­est, for some rea­son for another, I don’t have a whole lot of pic­tures from my stay in Brus­sels. I can tell you, how­ever, that I did eat really well. So this will be a nice lit­tle test to see how much of it I can actu­ally recall, no thanks to the copi­ous amounts of alco­hol, but also since I don’t have much pho­to­graphic evi­dence to jog my memory.

Like the lit­tle West African cafe, L’horloge du Sud where I’m pretty sure I ate Sene­galese cui­sine for the first time. There was the poulet in a bright cit­rus sauce, not unlike a Cuban mojo, except with a round tart­ness and not so sweet. I’d go back for the piri piri-like chili oil that I couldn’t stop eat­ing, despite cough­ing from its airy, yet intense heat that shot to the back of the throat. It brought tears to my eyes.

Then there was the red wine-braised veal short ribs I made as a thank you for my gra­cious host. Went on a lit­tle adven­ture to a fan­tas­tic butcher called Jack O’Shea to track down these beau­ti­ful short ribs. It was rain­ing. I got lost. Cabs were taken.

One of the few pic­tures I do have, only because I made it and I needed to show off my hand­i­work. The recipe lifted the best parts of a recipe from my friend Chris and part from my other chef idol Daniel Boulud. I cooked this bad boy down for about three hours in a com­bi­na­tion of excep­tional beef stock and some ’09 Bor­deaux and pro­ceeded to get pretty shit­faced drunk in the process. (Fact: it’s impos­si­ble to buy a bad bot­tle of wine in Europe, so you might as well buy two)

I also roasted off some lemons pota­toes and broc­coli (yes, broc­coli, not Brus­sels sprouts, for rea­sons only known to me), and by the time din­ner was ready, the short ribs were so ten­der they swooned under your fork. The brais­ing liq­uid had reduced by about half, cre­at­ing a really intense, rich and warm sauce.

That same night, I found myself head­ing down to the bar to drink what was explained to me as “The Best Beer in the World,*” the Trap­pist West­vleteren 12, a Bel­gian Trap­pist ale. It was a dark, creamy, malty, full-bodied beer that didn’t drink like I was hav­ing a meal. Great notes of brown sugar, ripe fig, choco­late — an incred­i­bly com­plex tast­ing palate that made me want to drink more. Except it was some­thing like 10.4% ABV and I’m pretty sure that was my BAC already. Would I con­sider it the best beer in the world? That night, absolutely.

Oh! And frites. Always frites in Brussels.

From what I under­stand the short ribs were great on late night, post-bar frites (the above are post-bar frites, of course) and had I had some sense, there would have been a fried egg on top of all of that. Ah well, I can only blame drunk me for not jump­ing on it when I had the chance.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my Brus­sels eat­ing adven­tures, wherein I gen­tly explain why a girl shouldn’t wear wedge boots if you have to walk down­hill on cob­ble­stone streets.

*the world, or ever, or some­thing mon­u­men­tal like that. I was pretty drunk when I was informed of this.

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