Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day

This Christmas was really fun since Bronwen was really into the whole Santa Claus thing. First thing Christmas morning she checked the plate of cookies we left for Santa by the fireplace and was so excited to see that they were gone and even more excited to see that he had left presents for her and Alex.

We strolled around the city center in the afternoon and were surprised to see so many people out and many cafes and restaurants open. We stopped in at De Graslei of course for a beer and a snack then headed home where we joined our landlords, Michele and Francoises, for an amazing Christmas dinner.

As beautiful as it is over here right now with the snow and all, we really missed being with friends and family for the holidays…maybe next year.












Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stoverij

So I finally made Stoverij and it is actually very easy and so delicious.  I used a combination of two recipes, one posted in Flanders Today and my neighbor/landlord's recipe.  It sounds like simply beef stew but the beer and the bread take this stew to a whole new level.  Stoverij gets better the longer it sits so it's best to make the day before (great for entertaining).  Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures...we were too excited and eager to eat!  Here is the recipe that I used:

Sorry for the metric measurements:

1.5 kg beef cubed
1 T. butter
2T. Brown sugar
2 onions
5 or so sprigs of fresh time
3 bay leaf
salt
peper
2 westmalle brown beer 33 cl
2 large slices of bread spread with dijon (I used a dense artisan bread but any bread will probably do)

Brown butter and sugar in a Dutch oven.  Add beef and onions and let caramelize.  Add spices, bread, and cover with beer.  Cook at 300 for about 4 hours or until it cuts with a wooden spoon.  Serve with fries and mayonnaise.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Restaurant de Graslei

Last week we stopped in a coffee shop on our way home from the city center and we met this really nice lady who happened to be the owner of a very nice restaurant on one of the canals in the city center. Today we were heading back home from the christmas markets and both kids were asleep in the stroller so we decided to take advantage and check out the restaurant. It was amazing! The service was incredible for starters, and the ambiance was a mixture of new decoration and very old architecture. We saw Jeannine on our way in and she bought our aperitifs...so nice! Steve had a Westmalle Trappist (Clear, golden yellow beer)  and I was feeling fancy so I had a Kir (white wine and Creme de Cassis). For food, we ordered lobster bisque. It was delicious served as is but it came with a side of cream & Armagnac which made it umami! We also ordered Gentse stoverij, stoverij is a traditional Belgian dish that is essentially a beef stew in a rich broth and is served with fries. It too was outstanding! This is definately a place we'll take visitors:)





Stoverij


Lobster bisque.
Link to the restaurant
http://www.restaurantdegraslei.be/

Antwerp Christmas market

Last night was our first trip to Antwerp and we went to 3 Christmas markets.  There was a firework show in one of the main plazas and Mrs. Claus declared the market offically open. It was a big festival and soooo crowded.  I didn't get to look at very many of the wood huts but we still enjoyed the decorations and the festive buzz.  Antwerp is pretty awesome, it is the second largest city in Belgium but it still has the charm of a small town.  There is a lot of good shopping there too so I will definately be back!

First market

Market by the river.
Bronwen loved the firework show and she and the little boy next her were laughing so much making us laugh too...
video

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sinerklaas picture

    Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet (black Pete) were at a shopping center in Gent yesterday so we took the kids to get their picture taken with them.  They had a bunch of Zwarte Petes playing Christmas music and even a Zwarte Piet drum line.  It was very fun & different than the American traditions.  In Holland and Belgium on December 5th  (Holland) or 6th (Belgium), Children leave their shoes by the fireplace with a carrot for Sinterklaas’ horse and a shot of liquor for Sinterklaas.  If the children have been good they get a small toy or candy in their shoe and if they have been naughty Piet puts them in the empty gift sac and takes them away.
    Bronwen's first snowman

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving in Virginia

We surprised Steve’s family last week by showing up unexpectedly in Virginia for Thanksgiving.  They had all met at a Starbucks in Fredericksburg  before heading over to Tom’s new house and were sitting out front so we snuck in the side door and came out the front entrance.  They were very surprised and their reactions were priceless! 

Alex met his great grandma (“GG”) for the first time and Bronwen got to see her for the first time in over a year.  How lucky for them to have a great grandma let alone meet and spend time with her.  They soaked up many GG snuggles.


Cynthia organized and delivered an amazing Thanksgiving dinner.  She has really developed her cooking  and entertaining skills… I am so proud!  She also made the best rum cake any of us had ever had!  The recipe is posted as a “comment” following this post.





 Steve got a post-turkey double massage, lucky guy!
Then came Cranium...



 This was also Alexander's first visit with his Opa & Oma, Aunt Satoko and cousin Cynthia.  More family cuddles...
Opa

Oma

Cousin Cynthia

Grandma Becky

Uncle Tom

We arrived back in Belgium yesterday morning to 23 weather & snow!