Despite the conference schedule being quite exhausting I did have time to enjoy some nice meals in Antwerp. I decided to kick-off the week with a true Belgian classic – Frites (also known as fries). The Belgians cook their fries twice, which makes them extra-crispy. As I was quite hungry and not in the mood to go roaming around to find the best Frites vendor I simply opted for a tourist trap near my hotel called Frituur No. 1
. I had the special fries with mayonnaise, ketchup and onions. Not the best frites I’ve had but definitely edible.
On Tuesday, we had a nice dinner with the conference attendees at a restaurant called Huis De Colvenier. The restaurant itself was very interesting, located in an old townhouse with several different rooms for dining, a wine cellar, a kitchen you get to walk through to get to the dining area, etc. We started in the wine cellar with a Tartare of Fresh tuna with a tomato vinaigrette and green herbs and a glass of sparkling wine. Then we headed upstairs to the dining room for a three course meal. The starter was a Trio of North sea fish with vegetables, butter sauce and grey shrimp accompanied by a glass of white wine. For the main we had Duck breast with a sweet sauce, vegetables, and potato garnish, I am usually not a big fan of duck but this tasted nice. The duck was served with a glass of red wine but I personally opted to stick with the white wine which also worked well with the duck. For dessert we got Panna cotta with Madagascar Vanilla served with red fruits and ice cream made of almond cream. To polish it all off they served us coffee or tea with an assortment of cakes (I had to skip the cakes as I was already stuffed). The dinner was absolutely delicious, the service was friendly and with a price of EUR 60 including the drinks I would even call it a bargain.
On Wednesday, I met up with my niece and we headed to Otomat for pizza. My niece is a vegan so I had her pick a place that had some good options for her. We got to the pizzeria around 7 pm, which was a good thing as later the place was packed and people had to wait for a table. My niece had the Las Vega pizza, which had a vegetable curry sauce, baby leaf spinach, garlic and mushrooms, topped with a homemade extra spicy chili pasta and a foam made from soya yogurt. I went for a vegetarian option called Zorba the Freak, which was a white pizza with feta cheese, tomatoes, eggplant and mint. We both had beer with our pizzas. The pizzas were really good even though the spicy one was very spicy and the service was nice even though the waiter spoke a mixture of English and Dutch.
On Thursday, I found something really interesting, a place called De Peerdestal (I believe it means the horse stable) that serves horse meat. I love horse meat but it is rarely available. As the place offered its own gin I simply had to start with a G&T. It was the first time I had G&T served with a cinnamon stick but I liked it. I ate a 225 g Horse filet ‘Rossini’ with Béarnaise sauce. It was served with vegetables and fries. The meat was absolutely lovely and cooked to perfection. I naturally had a glass of red with the meat and the recommended wine worked really well.
On Friday, it was time for another Belgian staple – mussels. I chose a place called Grand Café De Rooden Hoed (the red hat) which was also near the Grote Markt. This time I decided to kick-off my meal with a glass of champagne to celebrate the end of the conference week. Among the various mussels choices I picked Mussels Pastis with fennel, leek, white wine, pastis, onion & cream. These were naturally served with fries and mayonnaise. I barely touched the fries as the smaller serving of mussels was 1.2 kg and I could not even finish that. I washed down the mussels with a beer. The mussels were very nice and I loved the anisey flavor of the fennel and pastis. All in all, the food in Antwerp was really good and I can’t wait to go back one day and sample some more of the local delicacies.