At a recent beer-inspired Cooking Time session, Chef De Coster had the students prepare the following menu:
• Veal carpaccio with
mackerel, fresh ginger, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, topped with sliced potato frittes and fresh mayonnaise on the side—served with a Vedett Witbier, (4.7 percent ABV), too tame for the food, and La Trappe Witte Trappist, (5.5 percent), a much bigger flavor from this Dutch Trappist beer to match the flavors.
• Cod on mashed potatoes—La Trappe Witte Trappist continued as the preferred beer.
• Mashed potatoes with spring onions.
• Leeks cooked in butter with a sabayon sauce, which is made from nine egg yolks, nine eggshells filled with Duvel [a strong golden ale], oil and pepper, a green onion garnish and finally topped with mussels.
• A dessert of beets, Boskoop apples, raisins, Lifemans Cuvée-Brut and sugar—served with Cuvée-Brut (6.0 percent) from Brouwerij Liefmans, a perfect sweet-sour-cherry beer to complement the sweet and fruit in the dessert.
Beer at the Museum Café
Beer pervades the life of the Belgians, and this carries through to what can be the most pedestrian of eating places—a museum café. At the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels—a museum dedicated to Belgium’s rich history of comic strips—the café serves a special beer commissioned by the Marc Sleen Foundation, located across the street on the Rue des Sables. Sleen, considered a living legend, was a prolific comic strip artist starting in the 1940s. His best-known strip is Nero, an eccentric adventurer and detective. The beer, best described as a hoppy Belgian pale ale (6.5 percent), was brewed by Belgium’s highly regarded brewing engineer and professor, Dirk Naudts, who formed De Proef Brouwerij in the village of Lochristi in 1996.
A Final Meal
Brussels has many great beer cafés, but a final beer and food “culinary orgasm”—let’s hope he wore his food condom—is possible at Moeder Lambic Fontainas on Place Fontainas, a short walk from the Grand Place in the city’s historic area. A simple plate of a salmon quiche, with both smoked and nonsmoked salmon, accompanied by a traditional gueuze, in this case, Cantillon, was Belgian beer and food perfection.