Beers / Chocolates / Flemish Frites (Fries)., Brugge
I would suggest to VT to stop using the term of "Flemish Frites" which is laughable because Belgians do not distinguish Flemish fritten from Walloon or Brussels frites!!!
Even our Flemish or Walloon nationalists do not make such a distinction.
On the other hand it is already a big progress that VT did not mention "French fries" as title. The "fritten or frieten" (in Flemish) "frites" (in French) originate from Belgium. All most serious gastronomical studies agree on this. "French fries" are fake products; they are an infringement of Belgian proprietary rights!
By the way, have you ever heard a Frenchman use the term "French fries" "Frites Françaises"? The French, although well known for their chauvinism, recognize that Belgium is the champion of the frites. In France the nickname for Belgians is … "frites"!
This being said and understood I will explain here how we Belgians prepare our FRIETEN (in Brugge and Flanders) - FRITES (in the French speaking part of Belgium).
The potatoes should be of the "Bintje" type. This species exists since a century and was developed in the north of the Netherlands (Friesland).
There are two possibilities for frying: in ox fat ("ossewit", "blanc de boeuf") or in groundnut ("arachide") oil. The (white) ox fat is generally used in the shops and restaurants. The oil is often used at home (can be filtered when cold). It is essential to renew frequently the fat or oil in order to avoid the occurrence of carbonised particles and the chemical degradation of the fat or oil by the heating at high temperature. In Belgium there is a regulation concerning the choice and use of the frying fat. A two phase process at different temperatures is essential. A first cooking at a fat or oil temperature of 150°-160 C for some minutes. This first stage takes the water out of the potato, then immersion at a higher temperature of 180-190°C to get the frites crusty.
Is that enough to have good frites? Absolutely not! Belgian expertise is needed otherwise you have french fries, english chips, american, spanish, italian, greek more or less fried potatoes but no "fritten".
We were anxious in Belgium when started the merger phenomena of many of our breweries ending in a world wide company such as Inbev.
We feared that these mergers would lead to the loss of the variety of our beers.
Fortunately the Belgian owners and the management promoted the special beers so that types which had disappeared from the market were resuscitated and brewed again. In all abbeys there was a search for forgotten receipts of Trappists and others monk's beers so that nowadays there are much more special beers on the market as a half century ago. A lot of small breweries disappeared but their production of special beers was taken over by the big ones.
At the same time there was worldwide promotion of the Belgian beers as well the standard Pills types such as Stella Artois and all the other special blond, amber or dark beers.
One characteristic of Belgian beer: it is not "pipi" like so many beers from elsewhere. Our special beers have alcohol content between 6,5° and 12°. It are GOURMET BEERS, we drink them for the pleasure of the taste not to get drunk.
One more thing, WE DRINK BEERS ALWAYS IN AN APPROPRIATE GLASS, NEVER FROM THE BOTTLE!
For us genuine Belgians, who were already brewing beer before we adopted by force the Roman civilization, drinking beer from the bottle is not civilized it is a crime of ... it seems I exaggerated tonight with my favored dark beer "Kasteelbier" at 11°!
FIGURES: In 2011 Belgium produced 19 millions hectoliters of beer of which 60% were exported.
Belgians (11 million) drank an average of 103 liters per inhabitant/year. That’s not so much, only 28 cl/day. But that average includes babies !! The crucial question therefore is: do Belgian babies drink beer?
(That average includes also the 700.000 inhabitants who for cultural reasons are not supposed to drink alcohol).
I found a list of more than 600 Belgian beers on www.belgourmet.be/fr/bieres/index.php - 278k
While you are in Brugge you MUST try fries with mayonnaise (of course unless you are not a big fan of mayonnaise). I never thought it would be that good until I tried it. When we ordered them, they came in a paper cone and the mayonnaise was the REAL stuff - no miracle whip or Hellman's here! Just take my word for it... it's delicious!
We stumbled across this chocolatier shop and were very impressed by the chocolates inside. The owner assured us that they were one of only 3 or 4 choclatiers that actually hand made their chocolates. Apparently, all the others are mass produced. Regardless of this, the chocolates from this store were substantially nicer than the other chocolates we tried while in Brugge, and there were a few.
We bought 250 grams for 4 euro 50.
Chocolate, along with Beer seems to be universal in Belgium, but here in Brugge, we found what I guess would be the ultimate "mens" chocolate candy....and you could get them in sizes ranging from C to D and they even had the "mini's" before any implants were done.
This my friends is the "Triple van de Garre", a whopping 11.5% alcohol....yes, a beer of 11.5%, that is truly a "triple" from what you find in many beers, although double some here in Belgium. It was the best beer that Patrick and I "sampled".
Belgium and beer are one. Don't try all the beers they have, it will result in a terrible headache, and you will not be able to try them all anyway.
Brugse Triple is one you must try. It is a strong beer with 9,5% alcohol. The beer is brewed in 'De Gouden Boom' brewery.
More beers from Bruges:
- Brugge Blond 6,5%
- Abdijbier Steenbrugge Dubbel and Steenbrugge Tripel
both also from the Gouden Boom brewery.
From the Halve Maan brewery:
- Brugse Zot
- Straffe Hendrik
Apparently the township of Brugge alone makes something like 300 different types of Beer!
We saw the usual suspects, and also flavoured beers, like cherry, or other fruits. Beer was one thing that was really quite affordable in Brugge.
I used to think Chocolate is only the exclusive rights of the Swiss, untill I got to Bruges. They have their own very unique Chocolates which cost me some furtunes, as I have to buy as much as possible back to Paris.
What is better than to enjoy the taste of real Flemish fries, while you are sitting in the sun. The fries shop at the Markt, that is infront of the Belfry Tower, is perfect for it, at the same time you can admire all the beautiful buildings at the Markt.
Everyone probably already knows this, but the Belgians eat their French (Belgian?) fries with mayonaise instead of catsup. Well, give it a try, you might like it. I did give it a try and am sticking with catsup. To each his own.
Please find yourself a local waffle seller and try some. I prefer them with raspberry jam on. Just delicious. Can either have one to take away, or as a dessert in a cafe or restaurant.
Althoug I am now warming to chocolate sauce :-))
Go on try it.
You know what they say - there's a lot of truth in every cliché. Us Belgians love chocolate, and we're discerning - period. If you consider that this tiny country has close to 500 producers of handmade or factory-made chocolate items, you realize just how important this market really is -and no, it's not just export. The total annual consumption of chocolate products (including bars, pralines, spread, pastries, sauces, and so on) is in the 100.000 tonnes range, which makes for a whopping 10 kilograms ... per head !
Belgian chocolate is a mixture of cocoa paste, sugar and cocoa butter in proportions which vary according to the type of chocolate. The dark, bitter chocolate we call 'fondant' contains up to 70% full fat cocoa paste. The lighter, brown "milk chocolate", easily the most popular, has a high portion of milk in it, and lastly "white chocolate" retains only the butter from the cocoa, with sugar and milk added.
Other than chocolate bars and pastries with chocolate toppings and all varieties in between, hollow figures are popular around easter (early spring) and St. Nicholas (as of November).
The most refined form of chocolate is the praline, supposedly invented in 1912 by Neuhaus - still one of the major players in the market today. Other names include Guylian's (known for their shell- and shellfish-shaped chocolates, very popular at the Belgian seaside), Cote D'or, Jacques and Callebaut (mainly bars), Godiva, Léonidas (excellent and affordable pralines) and many, many more. Bruges of course has dozens and dozens of "Chocolatiers", but even in smaller and less touristy places, you'll find at least one on every major street. Even the bakeries often sell pralines - not to mention yummy cream-filled pastries with chocolate toppings, such as "éclairs".
Did I already mention we love this stuff ?
Every one knows that Belgian chocolate is one of the best in the world. For myself, I like eating them right after buying some, so fresh and so tasty. Brugge is overwelmed by chocolateries. The ones I prefer, they are crafted and they are the cheapest in town, are from ROOSE!!!
Havenstraat 1, Brugge (the big commercial street)
For 1Kg of pralines it is around 11 or 12ý
Okay, when it comes to cocktail hour, I am not so much of a Beer Babe. However, when in Belgium, the thing I look forward to the most is sampling the various beers that are brewed there!
I've come to take a liking to the Leffe Blond brews since my first visit to Belgium a couple of years back.
Leffe is Belgium's original "abbey" beer, and traces its origins back to the Abbey Notre Dame de Leffe, which was founded in 1152 on the river Meuse (in the Namur province). They say it was there, where the original recipe for Leffe was conceived.
At that period of history, the abbeys and monasteries provided food, shelter, and refreshments to passing travelers. The "Norbertine monks" at Leffe had hand-crafted their own beer with their own religious dedication.
So.....yes.........Leffe Blond is a sort of RELIGION! ;-)))
Simply stated, to me, the beer tastes like ICE CREAM!