This is a hard time for anyone who is a keen traveller, and although it won’t be like this forever there is a good chance we might have to satisfy our holiday cravings through daydreaming for some time to come. It’s not all bad news though. If you’re anything like me you’ve found yourself with a little extra free time and I’ve found a great way to spend it.
Cooking! It’s a terrific skill to possess but a lot of us don’t usually engage our culinary brains very much on an everyday basis. But now is a great time to recreate some of the most famous dishes from around the world. It’s a fantastic way of learning a new skill, picking your next holiday destination, and getting a good meal out of it too!
Visit Belgium in Your Kitchen
Now, Belgium is a lovely country and (when we’re allowed back on the planes and trains) it’s an easy and affordable place to visit, but with its gastronomically minded French neighbours, its food often gets overlooked. It’s true that people tend to think of this part of Europe and its food as being all about France, but the small country of Belgium has a varied and interesting cuisine too! From the capital of Brussels to the pretty city of Bruges there are different places with different traditions of cooking.
Although lots of people do visit Belgium for the chocolate and the beer, there are few visitors who aren’t equally captivated by the unpretentious, flavoursome cuisine. It really is a great country to bring to your table at home.
Moules-frites, or Mussels and Fries
Belgium’s answer to fish and chips is also their most famous and celebrated dish. It has a rich and vibrant history and there are a huge number of ways to enjoy it.
Back in the 1700s mussels became a popular food to prepare at home, partly due to the shortage of fish that was experienced at the time. France and Belgium have long had a heated debate over where the dish originated but historical documents seem to point to Belgium as the originator.
Although the mussels eaten in Belgium aren’t fished in Belgian waters, the hearty seafood was brought to the people of the country down its canals and waterways – directly into the kitchens of 16th century Belgium.
There are a lot of different ways to eat the delicious dish, but the classic is with the white wine sauce. Cooked in a big pot and served that way, the sauce leftover after the mussels are gone is perfect for dipping hot, crispy frites.
There is plenty of opportunity to experiment at the moment, but if you want to recreate an authentic recipe, this isn’t a bad place to start:
- Prepare the mussels by removing the ‘beards’ and getting rid of any that are open or smell too fishy.
- Slice up carrot, shallot, garlic and spring onions and put them in a large pot with some sizzling oil. Throw a few sprigs of thyme in there too. Cook for about two minutes.
- Throw in all the mussels and cover with a lid, then cook for another two minutes.
- Pour in 150ml of dry white wine and cook uncovered until it reduces by about half.
- Drain the cooking liquid into a bowl, and discard any mussels that have stayed shut. Then put the liquid back into the pot, add parsley and two tablespoons of crème fraiche.
- Put all the mussels and the vegetables back into the pan, and season to taste.
- Serve with delicious homemade fries and mayonnaise.
Top Tip: Instead of a fork, use an empty mussel shell to scoop the mussels out!
Just Like Being There
Ok, so it’s not exactly like being there, but preparing this fantastic dish at home is a great way to put you in the mood for visiting when it is deemed safe to do so. Plus it gives you and your family a fantastic way to spend meal-times, trying out different variations of this classic.
Get a taste for moules-frites and before you know it you’ll be enjoying it as served up by a Belgian chef on a terrace in a beautiful city.
How to Get There
Once the airlines get back up and running, Brussels is a fantastically easy city to get to. At under two hours from London it’s a quick way to get direct to the beating heart of an exciting cultural capital.
Once you arrive at the airport, I would recommend taking a personal transfer service with one of Shuttle Direct’s fantastic drivers. It’s a quick and easy way to get from the airport to the city. The trip is almost an hour and, in my opinion, there’s no better way to make the journey.
- UK to CRL Flight Time: 1 hours 50 minutes
- CRL to Brussels Distance: 58 kilometres
- Shuttle Direct Transfer Time: 54 minutes
About Shuttle Direct
We at Shuttle Direct pride ourselves on our commitment to quality and to ensuring the satisfaction of everybody who takes a ride with us. With a fleet of professional, hard-working drivers who know the areas in which they operate, your holiday is in safe hands with us. Whether it’s arriving or departing, from an air, sea or land port, we will make your trip stress free and easy.