Everybody Eats Well in Belgium

An oft forgotten culinary spot, Belgium doesn’t make an appearance that much in our epicurean scene.  I have enjoyed a recent meal and sampled some foods that remind me of the many delicious Belgian dishes I have had. Sadly, I have yet to experience a Belgian frites close to home.

Beligians are most notably famous for their chocolate and their beer.   When I think of Belgium I think of Cote D’Or chocolate and frites with mayonnaise (minus the mayo for me.)  I recently had mussels and french fries at Full Moon.  Their version with a spicy sauce and a chipotle mayonnaise isn’t quite the moules frites I had in Belgium, but the idea is there.

When I think of Belgium, I think of moules frites and beer but I definitely don’t think of cheese.  This week, however,  I also sampled some amazing Belgian cheeses from Formaggio Kitchen.

If you want to take a cheese tour of Belgium, I suggest checking out Formaggio’s Belgian cheese collection.  Here is what I sampled: a blue, a goat, and a gouda.  I would have to say that of the many cheeses I have eaten over the years in Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and on the marble slabs at Formaggio Kitchen these are some of my favourites for each type.

The Grevenbroecker (cow) was one of my favourite blue cheeses.  I like a really good Roquefort and a “not too pungent” Gorgonzola Dolce and aside from that I’m not a huge fan of blue cheese.  Occasionally I’m in the mood for a chunk of Huntsman or really hot wings with a blue cheese dip.  This cow’s milk blue from Hamont-Achel was my ideal blue cheese.  It was strong but not sharp and creamy without being too gooey.  This would be the perfect blue for a cheese course.

The Mekkerbeck (goat) had all of the perfect elements of a goat cheese.  I am a fan of goat cheese.  The lesser quality, mass produced cheeses are great for dips, pizzas and hors d’oeurves.  I love a good Bucheron and rounds of goat cheese served breaded and warmed over salad greens.  When I eat a cheese like this one from Lichtaart I have to eat it plain or with a simple water cracker.  It would be luxurious atop a salad in a pristine wedge.  This cheese had the smooth dense core and creamy edge just before the rind of the cheese.  I know a few people who don’t like goat cheeses and my recommendation would be to keep trying new goat cheeses and you might find one that you like or in the process gain a taste for them.

The Beringse Gouda (Sheep) did not hav the sharp flavour that a Brebis usually has.  I think having lived away from France and home, I haven’t eaten quite as much sheep milk cheeses as in the past and I lost my taste for them a bit.  What I love about this Gouda is the smooth, semi-hard texture and the wonderful salty flavour.  It is not a mild Gouda flavour, but it is something that would be really good with ham or melted in a sandwich.  I think it would be the perfect cheese for a warm wintry dish such as Gratin d’endives au jambon.

Coming up soon the Beers of Belgium and beyond.

Bon appetit. ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)

p.s. Eat the rind (on some cheese).

For more info: Les Fromages de Chez Nous (Belgian site), Tarte au ChiconsBraised Belgian Endive Gratin(epicurious.com), Endive Gratin (Food and Wine), Ham Rolled Endive Gratin (blog)

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