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Summer in Belgium: Our favourite places to enjoy food and drink
If you’re going to eat ice-cream it may as well be artisan. Gaston in Brussels’ Quai aux Briques serves up scoops of the flavours of summer as well as classic and more intriguing varieties, like savoury and vegan.
Nothing tastes more like summer than strawberries, and the sweetest berries in the land are the famed Fraises de Wepion. From Namur, drive along the river Meuse on Chaussée de Dinant and buy punnets directly from wooden chalets. It’s also a fine spot for an impromptu picnic – and don’t forget to drop in on the Strawberry Museum.
Combine cruising with fine dining on a summer gourmet sailing along the Meuse in Liège. Embark in the ardent city at 20.00 and enjoy a gastronomic menu with musical entertainment until midnight. See website for sailing dates.
One of Wallonia’s most tempting events this summer is a series of 13 surprise, secret and exclusive dinners in Namur and Luxembourg provinces, from May until September. Book your place for the €60 menus consisting of at least five local products, with venues communicated at the last minute.
Food truck festivals are the new black, with two roaming Flanders all summer and well into September: Hap and Kantien Royal. In the south, Wallonia’s own gourmet caravan will stop at Charleroi, Tournai, Ottignies, Arlon and Mons. See websites for dates and locations.
You can’t travel a kilometre in Flanders without finding an official ‘regional product’. A list of these local specialities are maintained on a website, and hunting them down is a great way to get to know new parts of the region through its tarts, biscuits, meats and drinks.
Should you find yourself on the coast this summer, don’t hesitate to indulge in those famous little grey shrimp. You’ll find them on several restaurant menus, notably in the form of stuffed tomatoes. Mussels, of course, are also a great Belgian coast speciality, served with white wine, butter and garlic. Don’t forget to order the West Flemish Rodenbach beer to wash it all down. Some good addresses to get you going are De Kleine Garnaal (The Little Shrimp) in Ostend and Coupe de Nice in Knokke.
Speaking of beer, one of the most famous brewing regions in the world is right on Brussels’ doorstep. Pajottenland is the only place that brews lambic, a beer in its own right and the base for both kriek and gueuze. Brewers expose the wort to the air so Pajottenland’s unique mix of wild yeasts and bacteria can aid the fermenting process. One of the most famous bars in the world – In de Verzekering Tegen de Grote Dorst (Insurance Against a Great Thirst) in Lennik – serves every lambic made, as well as most Belgian krieks and gueuzes.
This article first appeared in The Bulletin Summer 2018. Pick up a copy in newsagents today or subscribe now...