Wednesday, March 15, 2006

And The Belgians Keep On Marching

My 2nd trip to Chambar. Frank and I hadn't sampled all its fine Belgian beers so a return trip was required. The delightfully named Duchess de Bourgogne had even a more delightful taste. I'd thought to try the filet mignon tapa with it, but it was off the menu. Frank ordered a Duvel and La Salade d'hiver, while I ordered the Coquilles St. Jacques. I've been lucky with scallops in Vancouver and these did not disappoint.
As Frank's Duvel appeared, I remembered the first time I'd seen that beer. A new department store had just opened accross from the english school I was teaching at in Hamamatsu, Japan. I bought a couple of bottles for my beer-loving boss and myself. This was 35 years ago, but I remember it tasted very good, and this contrasted against the always excellent Japanese beer. Frank was not displeased, but when he had a sip of my Duchess, he regretted his choice and ordered one for himself for the next round.
Both of us ordered from the starred "recommended by the Vancouver Aquarium as an ocean friendly choice" menu for our 2nd round of appetisers. This is after all, the birthplace of Greenpeace. Frank went with the Ecuadorian Octopus (polluted with avocado so I avoided it like a nightmare of plagues) and always prawn-trophic, I ordered Les Scampis a l'harissa. It was so fiery it could have its own planets. I had to pop the fierce shrimp quickly into my mouth and wash em down with the recommended white wine. I complained to the server, and was told that l'harissa is a kind of fiery spice. It would have useful to know this before it was ordered.
Having run out of appetisers that looked appetising, I went with a sablefish, prawn, scallop and mussel thing (see above) whose name I don't recall and it's not on the website menu. It was in an oddly vegetable-tasting broth. Now I love most vegetables. Combining vegies and anything is always a good idea to me. But somehow this didn't work. Once again I complained to my server and was told no one else had ever complained before. Maybe no one who knows the difference between "good" and "bad" food had ever eaten at Chambar before. To add further insult to my tongue, I'd ordered a Rodenbach Grand Cru to go with the clashing vegies and seafood. The server had suggested it to go well after the Duchess. The opposite might have been true. If I'd started with the "Grand" cru, I might have enjoyed it, but coming after the Duchess, it was a looooooooooong step down. Frank had ordered my fiery shrimp for his 3rd order, and despite his love for hot food, was amazed that I'd been able to eat it and not spontaneously combust. So only one of my 3 mini-meals, and one of the two beers were anywhere near worth the 80 bucks that was my portion of the bill.
Next time I want Belgian food, I'll go to Brussels.


At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the myriad pleasures the European lowlands provides is a history of great beers.

Duchesse de Bourgogne, brewed by the Verhaeghe Brewery in Vichte.


Duvel brewed in Moortgat, Belgium.

Food on other hand in the two countries, Belgium and the Netherlands is on the whole hit and miss. I have not had a decent meal in one restaurant. Service is politely slow. The meals assembled by amateurs who have no taste.

Fruit, nuts, grains, breads, and beers and you will be very happy.

We travel light and always have our hemp shopping bags our bottle opener two lexan wide mouth containers, a small cutting board and a knife. Small containers for sea salt, and piment d'esplette are a plus. exotic mustards are a treasure to find and you don't need to bring them back.

Plan ahead to know where the central market is and make it your selves back in the room or in any of the wonderful places that the europeans have to just appreciate things.

I go for the smokeables and now have a place to stay.

What I cook up there is well another story.


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