H/B/F 2017: best of Bruges–food and drink

Shortly after arriving in Bruges and settling into our B&B, Andrew and I headed out on a walk and stopped for a drink at t’ Terrastje, a little gem where I got a flight of Belgian beers.

Our host, Lut, highly recommended the De Veloren Hoek, a restaurant within walking distance open that night.  We absolutely loved it!  Andrew and I shared a great bottle of wine, and I had some of the best moussaka ever.  We didn’t wait long for a table under the awning and were very well taken care of by our waiter, Thomas, and the owner, Daniel. We went back for lunch with some Brits from our bike tour later in the week!

I was craving truly Belgian food one night, so we popped into The Habit, a little hole-in-the-wall place with just a few tables.  I had THE BEST mussels I’ve ever had, hands down.  They called them the ‘Sophia Loren’ mussels since they had a bit of a kick.  I loved that instead of a simple wine broth, it was filled with delicious crunchy leeks and onions and celery. Delish!

On our bike tour, we stopped into Café Vlissinghe for a drink with the group.  It’s the oldest establishment in Bruges!  While there, we saw our host and her husband eating lunch, a sure-fire way to know you’ve found a local gem. Andrew and I went back later on for a drink in the evening another night.

After four days in Bruges, I realized we hadn’t gotten any Belgian waffles yet!  Sacrilege! Andrew knew of a Rick-recommended place off the main square, Fred’s Waffles, and it did not disappoint one bit.  Most waffle vendors simply throw a packaged waffle onto a grill; Fred’s made ours’ from scratch and you could smell them cooking a mile away!  So delicious and a great way to end our time in Belgium.

H/B/F: best of the Netherlands — food and drink

Oops!  I moved onto Bruges before I shared our food highlights!

I was so impressed with how healthy (i.e. real food, lots of fruits and veggies, balanced meals, etc…) some of the menu items were in the Netherlands!  Despite Europeans’ diets becoming more and more Westernized (boo!), those across the pond still tend (seem to?) eat more real food, and perhaps less of it, than us Americans.  However, on past trips, I’ve really struggled with all the heavy, rich and indulgent foods we’ve had while traveling.  On the one hand, of course I want to try ALL THE THINGS. But, when traveling for upwards of a month and not working out (like on past trips), all those multi-course meals can really weigh a girl down.

So, back to the healthy food in the Netherlands.  Coupled with the fact that I was on my own for most of my lunches while Andrew was working, I had a blast seeking out delicious, healthy (yet unique) options.

Here’s our first official lunch, eaten at a little bistro while on an exploratory walk of Haarlem.  As you can see, it’s a beautiful salad with oranges, fennel, avocado, lima beans and pomegranate seeds. Andrew chose beef empanadas, also served with a salad.

Here’s my first lunch on my own, eaten after a long, hot run.  Mackerel salad (like tuna, but way more flavorful) and a local beer.  Yes, there is mayo on that bun. No, I didn’t care, as I assumed it was either homemade or (at the very least) not full of the crap that’s in our mayo here. I still remember how that sandwich tasted.  Delish!

Here’s another lunch on my own, beef carpaccio (thinly sliced seasoned raw beef), atop bread (I actually picked it out as it was just simple sandwich bread), with arugula, pine nuts, pesto, fried eggs and local cheese.  It was super unique and very good. 

Here’s a treat at our hotel lounge, my new favorite beer and carrot cake.  I don’t know where they got it, but that cake was some of the best I’ve ever had.  

Yet another lunch on my own, this was my second lunch at SLA.  It’s a cute salad/soup/sandwich place just a block or two from our hotel.  I LOVED this smoked salmon/capers/pickled onions/dill potatoes/radish combo.  Must re-create.

Here’s one of the best coffees I had while in the Netherlands.  I actually had a lot of trouble getting regular *iced* coffee, as more than once I was handed a cup of cold coffee with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Delicious, but a bit more of a treat than I wanted.  This coffee, from a little cafe next to Reypenear Cheese, was absolutely heavenly.  Iced, barely sweet and topped with a delicate foam.  

Here’s my solo dinner in Amsterdam, from a cute place known for having inventive dishes.  The mention of beets and coconut risotto with mahi mahi really caught my attention on the chalkboard.  

Another thing I wanted to share was SPRINKLES.  Apparently, the Dutch eat sprinkles on buttered bread.  (I never actually saw this happen.)  At breakfast each morning at our hotel, there was a very attractive display of boxes upon boxes of sprinkles–in all sorts of flavors–along with jam, honey and Nutella containers.  I finally asked a local, who told me that eating sprinkles on buttered bread is a thing.  It seemed like she was trying to tell me it’s almost what we’d call a ‘comfort food.’  I tried the combo while I was there, and I have to admit, it’s good!  A little sweet for breakfast, but very good nonetheless.  The sprinkles are less waxy than our sprinkles are; they are much less dense and very dry and crunchy.  After I got home, I looked up the De Ruijter brand and I found a brief history.  I did bring one of these little boxes home, and am looking forward to having a slice soon!  

My birthday fell on market day in Haarlem, so we had a picnic at the local library (one of my finds for reading or talking to Emily on the phone) with items we bought.  Andrew tends to seek out whatever rotisserie chicken is available and strawberries, and I grabbed a cold salad and a green juice at a prepared foods stall.  We each chose coconut macaroons from a baker’s table.

Later that night in Amsterdam, we found a little brasserie in which to eat dinner.  It was SO HOT that day–can you tell by our faces??  I ended up having one of my favorite dinners: white asparagus, butter lettuce, smoked salmon and dill with egg salad. I love dill, especially with creamy salads (egg, potato) and it goes especially well with salmon.  

Close-up shot so I can recreate it!!