I was a guest at a Visit Flanders lunch yesterday, probably the first I've been to where each of the five courses is paired with a different beer. Chef Didier Boudeaux, owner of Maison D in the Flanders town of Ronse, was responsible for the menu. The town in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes, popular with cycling fans due to its hilly terrain, is a major destination on the annual Ronde Van Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders.
Pre-lunch drinks consisted of a selection of ‘Champagne’ beers accompanied by appetisers of quinoa, cauliflower and leek, and fresh soya beans, turnip and sheep's cheese. Beer was served in wine glasses, as were other beers sampled over lunch.
Once seated, it was time for starters. I had opted for the vegetarian menu and was served confit tomatoes, potato, spinach and white asparagus paired with St Bernadus Tripel, a blond beer. My main course of goat's cheese, artichoke, green asparagus, wild garlic and pointed white cabbage was served with Kwaremont beer. Cheeses and apple and pear chutney followed accompanied by Duvel Hop beer and finally, dessert. The cremeux of café noir was served with chocolate beer which tasted like iced coffee. We weren't finished yet though, more temptations appeared with the tea and coffee in the shape of home-made petit fours - madeleines, chocolate peanut delights and orange macaroons.
Chef Didier Bourdeaux left his kitchen to chat with us - he is obviously passionate about his creations which everyone agreed were wonderful. Incidentally, I am not a beer lady, but did enjoy sipping on those we were given... extremely interesting, complex flavours.
And ..... an interesting story about how Didier's restaurant came to be called 'Maison D'. He and his wife Delphine bought an early 20th century building, former workplace of a doctor, a dermatologist in fact, called Dr Dewaele (can you see what's coming?!) and a veterinary surgeon called Dr Devos .... yes, Maison D made sense!
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and author of 11 books. My byline appears in national and regional newspapers and magazines. See website gillypickup.co.uk