Things that made me go 'mmm'
In no order whatsoever, and slightly s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g my week...
Belgian beer: I was cycling around Belgium last week, and after a long day in the saddle, a Belgian beer, served in its own individual glass, really hits the spot. This small country produces over 700 fine beers, and among my favourites are Chimay (brewed by Trappist monks), Timmermans Kriek (cherry beer), and Gruut (pronounced 'khrut': kh as in loch and ut as in put), brewed in Ghent. (Well worth a visit: here's a trip to Ghent I took last year).
Electric daisies: these look like petalless daisies and I was introduced to them by James Wong, the broadcasting botanist best known for his book 'Grow Your Own Drugs'. If you ever licked a battery as a child you'll remember that tiny electric jolt? Well, these funny little flowers affect your mouth in a similar way: first the sensation of a shock, then a tingling/buzzing feeling, then intense salivation. But they're not just something to impress (or startle) your friends with: they're being researched as a potential dental anaesthetic. And they also make everything you eat afterwards taste more intense, like a plant-based monosodium glutamate... You can try them for yourself as they're on sale as part of James Wong's Homegrown Revolution seeds for Suttons Seeds - some fascinating alternative crops to go for...
Belgian chocolate: how could I go to the home of good chocolate and not indulge? As well as some small bars of Cote d'Or to keep us going on the road, I loved the sophisticated dark selection from Van Hoorebeke and mendiants (chocolate discs with dried fruit and nuts) from Daskalides, both in Ghent. Ooh, I've just discovered that Dakaslides now has a shop in Covent Garden, but you can buy online too.
Leek and chevre tart: They say that hunger is the best seasoning... after cycling around 20 miles from over the Belgian border we stopped in Dunkirk for lunch on our way to the ferry at a bar in a modern square: nothing fancy and very reasonable prices. Unfortunately I can't remember what it's called (!) but it's in Place de la Republique if you're passing. Crisp pastry, tangy cheese, well-cooked (and cleaned) leeks, generous portion, simple but good accompanying salad. My OH had beef carbonnade which also got a massive thumbs-up.
Cob nuts: they're at their seasonal best now, and I'm a fan: milky, slightly soft nutty flesh reminiscent of a hazelnut. Our local farmers' market has a stall run by Potash Farm that sells them raw, but also in the form of cobnut brittle, which I highly recommend! I have my eye on this collection of Country Living cobnut recipes for my next bagful.
What have you enjoyed eating or drinking this week, at home or elsewhere?
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