Belgium- Middelkerke, Muizen, Begijnendijk, and Brussels 04/2012

We departed Rome for Kevin’s homeland, Belgium. I am going to combine the places we just stopped for a few hours into one post for Belgium because it was mainly a trip to visit family, but we did get a little sight seeing done. Belgium is split up into two regions, Flanders and Wallonia and then there is Brussels which is an area apart from the regions, similar to Washington DC not being in a state. In Flanders they speak Flemish, a dialect of Dutch, and in Wallonia they speak French and in Brussels it is a mix. There is also a small area in Belgium that speaks German. We went to both regions for this trip. Kevin’s dad’s side of the family was having a get together for Easter and had rented out a castle outside of Dinant in the Ardenne Mountains in Wallonia. Kevin has what I might call a mixed family, having members in both Wallonia and Flanders, where he grew up.

Belgium is about the size of South Dakota or Nebraska, so it is fairly easy to get around.

Middelkerke, Flanders:

We flew from FCO to BRU and were met at the airport by Kevin’s sister Annick. We dropped her off and took her car to Kevin’s family apartment at the seaside in Middlekerke in Flanders. The have a two bedroom apartment right at the sea with a pool, sauna, and ping pong table as building amenities. We used it to take a break from meeting friends and family and sightseeing.

Where we ate: Eat & Sea

We love the food in Belgium, but actual restaurants are usually stuffy and overpriced. We couldn’t visit Belgium without getting some mussels so wedecided it was worth a treat and we were pleasantly surprised here. The restaurant is right on the beach. It was a nice, classy place but we did not feel uncomfortable with our son. Good food at a fair price, we even got treated to a free little snail and seafood appetizer, it was yummy and the presentation was top notch!! The mussels usually come in the big pot they were cooked in, but these came served on a plate. They were just as tasty and juicy. The server was super nice as well.

For breakfast we got pastries from the store. Belgians typically eat bread with spreads and pastries for both breakfast and lunch. Their bakeries are full of choices and the stores have an tasty array of spreads, both sweet and savory. My favorite is kip curry, which is a chicken curry spread. Kevin’s favorite is Américain préparé which literally translates as Prepared American and is also cutely nicknamed Toast Cannibal. This is a steak tartare sort of raw beef spread. The name always makes me a little nervous in Belgium, afraid I may become tomorrows breakfast… But, I believe the name comes from the American introduction of canned corned beef after World War II.

Any culture that eats the same thing often, especially twice a day, you know it is going to be good. Their spread choices are great and of course their breads are good. They take their bread so seriously, they even have vending machines that sell bread 24/7.

Begijnendijk, Flanders:

We left the seaside and made a quick stop for dinner at Kevin’s mother’s house. She prepared Vol au Vent, which is one of my favorites, and homemade french fries (a Belgian must). Vol au Vent (translated from french vol, flight + au, with the + vent, wind or blown by the wind) is a lunch or dinner meal made with tasty cheese, meat and mushroom type stew served in a puffed pastry. I was told once the dish translated to Chicken a la King, but that brings up scary images of dinner in box down the freezer section. Here is a link to the recipe.

Brussels:

We then meet up with Opa (Flemish for Grandpa AKA: Kevin’s dad) in his town called Muizen, or Mice, in the outskirts of Mechelen.We gave Annick her car back and road with Opa to the countryside of the Wallonia region in Leffe to a castle near Dinant. We stopped of for a tour of Brussels, Adrian could not wait to see Mannekepis. For lunch, we grabbed some worstenbrood (a sausage cooked in a pastry) from a pastry shop and were on our way.

 

 

Please see my post on Dinant for this part of the trip.

After a long weekend at the castle then it came time to go home. Our last dinner was a stop at the Frituur, we couldn’t resist! There is something that connects gluttony with vacation. We took the train in the morning from Muizen to Brussels to Paris CDG and boarded our flight to SLC.

 

 

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