Archive for the tag “Belgium”

This little piggy… was DELICIOUS! Paris, France

On Thursday afternoon, my coworker dropped me off at the Brussels train station, and I boarded the high speed train from Brussels to Paris.  I was in the first class cabin, so I had a very comfy seat and wi-fi (to do some work).  I also had plenty of time to enjoy the Belgian and French countrysides.  Here’s a short Instagram video.

Once I got to Paris, I was met by another coworker, Nicolas.  He was to escort me to my hotel, and would serve as my driver the following day when we went to Ribecourt to visit the technical center.  I anticipated being on my own for the two evenings I was in Paris, but Nicolas informed me that he had been “given a pass” to stay out and take me to dinner.  I really appreciate his family for being so generous, as Nicolas was out of town earlier in the week – at the same trade show as I had attended.

Nicolas and I ended up heading up “the steepest slopes” toward Montmartre – a darling former village now inside the Paris city limits. After walking around, enjoying the views, and the street lamp performer (wow! that dude was seriously good!) – can you spot him and his ball in the picture?

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We ended up at Chez la Mere Catherine for dinner and sat at a small table outside.  Believe me, I’m cherishing every opportunity to eat outside, since I know winter is not too far away!

Nicolas, being familiar with my blog, wasn’t surprised when I advised the waiter that I wanted him to bring me his favorite dish.  He chose Cochon de Lait au Miel, otherwise known as Roast Suckling Pig with Honey.  Nicolas also decided to have that dish.

We were quickly served our meals, along with a side of potatoes and cheese.

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And, friends, this was some of the most tender meat I’ve had (kind of like the last French food post I wrote – there may be a theme here!).  It basically melted in my mouth!  The sauce was slightly sweet and not too heavy.  It was fantastic!  And, although the potatoes were broiled with cheese, they too were light and tasty.

I was glad that Nicolas and I walked to and from the restaurant (only 15-20 min each way) – just to get a bit of exercise that evening!  It was a lovely night out with a coworker and in a part of Paris that I found to be very charming – especially since I found myself staying in this neighborhood! (see top and rightmost pictures – the others are of the village and countryside)  😉

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On Friday, following a very good day in Ribecourt with the European technical team, Nicolas delivered me back to my hotel and set off to spend well-deserved time with his family.  And, I decided to hit up the local Crepe & Panini stand for dinner!  My friend, Jess, made a joke that I should have a crepe and a macaroon for her, so I dedicated this crepe to her!

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I chose the Poulet & fromage crepe (chicken and cheese) because I tend to lean more toward savory than sweet.  Plus, it was dinnertime!  It hit the spot perfectly!  There was a nice onion and herb mixture in the chicken, and the chef added a bit of Tabasco at my request – just a small “kick” of flavor!  The crepe was so huge that it definitely filled me up!  I love having “street food” every now and then.  Who needs fancy schmancy all the time?!?

And, that, friends, wraps up my short visit to Paris last week.  I headed out at 7AM to catch my early flight to the states on Saturday morning.

I do need to make a special mention of my friend, Dennis, who met me in the Atlanta airport during my ~5 hour layover.  We watched the Clemson game and caught up on life in general.  It was a wonderful afternoon with a friend I don’t see often enough.

On Saturday evening, I was SO HAPPY to be home with Seamus and Riley, though I can’t really say the sentiment was returned!

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Actually, they were very happy to see me, but their dog-sitters were so terrific that they were wiped out!  We went for a walk when I got home, had a bit of snuggle time, and then they crashed!  Such is life…

I’m really glad to have had the chance to visit Europe again; it had been far too long!  But, I’m also glad to be home, with my “kids” and back to a routine that includes more sleep than “trade show life” does!

Hope y’all enjoyed reading about my latest adventures in dining, and in enjoying Belgium and France.

Cheers!

Ker

Mussels in Brussels…A Pot Full of Perfection, Brussels, Belgium

I’ve been in Brussels, Belgium since Sunday morning.  The trip got off to a rocky start (our company’s IT team forgot to grant me international phone access, thus causing me to miss connecting with a coworker for a ride from the airport to the hotel, cars were banned from Brussels for “sustainability day”, my room was not ready for five hours after I arrived to the hotel, etc.), yet, the trip has been a good one!

On Sunday afternoon, I did meet up with my coworker, Loren, and he and I set out to explore the city.  First stop?  Belgian waffles, of course! Actually, it was Belgian “waffle”, singular.  Loren and I split a traditional waffle with powdered sugar and cinnamon.  I have to admit that the waffles topped with some combination of Nutella, whipped cream, strawberries, and nuts did look decadent, but I preferred the simple sugar and cinnamon version.  IMG_4957

Once we continued on our way, we headed to the most popular place (at least with everyone I’ve spoken with) – The Grand Place.  Because of “Sustainability Day”, the plaza was quite full – of both energy and people!  Much more so than usual.  It was a bit hectic, but it was also quite beautiful.

The Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium

The Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium

I had asked my Loren if we could have a beer (it is Belgium, after all!) and toast to my friend Erica, who passed away two years ago and who would have been 32 years old on Saturday (while I was flying across the Atlantic).  So, we sat in The Grand Place and had a toast to my friend.  It was lovely of Loren to oblige me – that’s the kind of guy he is.

Cheers to Erica!  Miss that angel...

Cheers to Erica! Miss that angel…

After enjoying a leisurely beer in the plaza, we set out to find a place to have dinner.  Loren was craving mussels (and I’ll never turn down mussels!), so we found ourselves wandering around the area adjacent to the plaza while trying to find a good place for mussels. We ultimately ended up asking two young men where the best place for mussels is and, at their suggestion, made our way to Chez Leon.

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Friends, I LOVE seafood, and especially mussels!  So, I was quite happy with the menu options.  I asked our server, Atia, to bring me his favorite mussels on the menu.  He didn’t even hesitate.

IMG_4974Turns out, he favors Moules Poulette (mussels with mushrooms, scallions, and cream sauce).  The mussels were delicious (perfectly cooked!), and the cream sauce was light and flavorful.  I had no trouble sucking down a pot full of mussels!  In Belgium, mussels are always served with ‘frites’ (French Fries), which I could take or leave.  Knowing that it’s a Belgian tradition, I ‘ took’ them this time!

Also, if you weren’t aware (and I wasn’t), there is apparently a “pro tip” to eating mussels.  Use one shell as your utensil to pull a mussel from another shell and slurp it down!  See how Loren demonstrates this technique?

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After dinner, later that evening, I emailed another coworker, whom I mentioned here, about The Grand Place and Chez Leon.  He and his family are going to be in Brussels next weekend, so I promised him I would provide recommendations if I found anything worth seeing/doing.  Chez Leon, in my opinion, is worth stopping by (if you like mussels).

And, funny enough, Loren and I ended up taking a customer, his wife, and one of our Parisian colleagues (Benoit) to dinner on Monday evening.  After striking out a couple of times at restaurants along the way, at Benoit’s suggestion, we ended up back at Chez Leon.  While I thought it was a bit of a bummer that we had dinner at the same place two nights in a row, at least it was a good restaurant!

This time, I ordered the Moules Provencale (mussels with butter, garlic, tomatoes, and cheese).  The mussels were served on the half shell, and were broiled to bake the cheese on top.

Moules Provencale

Moules Provencale

This made them seem a bit overcooked and chewy.  Not at all terrible, but not as delicious as the mussels I had the prior evening.  Although I love cheese, I think I’ll stick to traditional steamed mussels from here on out.

On Tuesday evening, I met up with a friend of mine, Tina, who is now living in the Netherlands.

Tina, one of my favorite people - funny, smart and beautiful! Oh, but she moved to the Netherlands.  :-(

Tina, one of my favorite people – funny, smart and beautiful! Oh, but she moved to the Netherlands. 😦

We always wear bibs when we’re together. 🙂

Just teasing…we donned the bibs for our photo-op, and for the forthcoming lobster dishes we were awaiting.

It was a joy to be able to grab dinner with her and her current coworkers!  We walked past the Nord Station (train station north) and over to The Rugbyman restaurant – situated on a small spot of water.  We sat outside and enjoyed the evening in Brussels.  Tina and I both ordered a preset menu of scampi (in garlic butter – SO WONDERFUL!), half of a lobster (her’s with cream and vegetables, and mine cold), and dessert.

Incredibly flavorful scampi and salad!

Incredibly flavorful scampi and salad!

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Cold lobster and salad

We both opted for Crème Brûlée over chocolate mousse – and cleaned our dishes!

Creme Brûlée, 'nuff said!

Creme Brûlée, ’nuff said!

As good as the food was, even as the lobsters were quite difficult to eat (we looked like “stupid Americans”!), what made the evening grand was being reunited with my friend again.  We both traveled from another country to meet up in Belgium for dinner.  How cool is that?!?

Now, I’m on a train and on my way to Paris for two evenings before heading back to the States.  I believe I’ll be on my own for dinners, so we’ll see what happens there!

Language barrier or not, there is almost certain to be a “She Ordered What?” in my near-term future!

I hope you enjoyed my post from Brussels.

Cheers!

Ker

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