Antwerpen Proeft 2013: culinary outdoor festival

Let the food festival season begin! It might have already begun but I have visited my first of the season two weekends ago, Antwerpen Proeft! And what a way to start.

A total of 27 restaurants, many with only one or two dishes featured. It was delicious. Making a selection of what to eat was the hard part. Eating what comes below was easy.

‘Painted’ pigs cheeks with quinoa, cucumber, avocado and dashi from Helsen

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I directly translated the gelakte vakenswang because I thought it was funny to have painted pigs cheeks, I suppose that glazed pigs cheeks would be more appropriate of a translation. It was a very asian inspired dish with a strong presence of soy and salt. I was not expecting this but was really did enjoy it.

 

Fresh cheese, salty salade of asparagus and glasswort, young sea lavender, dried red beef, young herbs and flowers from La Chapelle co-owned by Sergio Herman and Nick Bril

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From the description of the dish is a little hard to imagine the final outcome but this dish I was not going to pass up. Sergio Herman is a Dutch chef that has been awarded 3 michelin stars for his restaurant Oud Sluis. His most recent project is in collaboration with Nick Bril (head chef of Oud Sluis) is the opening of thier Antwerpse restaurant La Chapelle. You guessed it, the restaurant building is an old chapel.

The dish at Antwerpen Proeft did not disappoint. I don’t even have the words to describe the flavor, the complexity, the subtly of one aspect only to have the most intense flavor of another element. It not only looked beautiful but it tasted so so good.

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Also exciting is that I managed to score myself one of the limited flyers being handed out. Talking a picture of my favorite homemade dish with the flyer will enter me in to win a table for two at the opening of La Chapelle. Now the tough part is figuring out what to make. I’m thinking something with raspberries.

Croquette of braised oxtail on a salad of mustard leaf, marinated asparagus and puffed quinoa with a dressing from mustard seed and pea mayonnaise from ‘T Leeuwekopke.

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As you can see this looked wonderful and a neat idea to give the braised meat a bit of a crunch by creating a crust. I did not find the crust to really add a whole lot to the overall dish. I think it also made the meat a bit dry still I can’t complain about this one. What is not to love about braised meat.

 

Fries of sole with truffle mayonnaise from Haute Cookure

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This sounded nicer than it turned out. Really all it was was fried fish fingers and the flavor of the fried fish overpowered the truffle mayo. Eh I cant say that it was bad to eat but after having a few of the other beautiful dishes above it just couldn’t compare. Also this is the point in the festival where we had a bit of wind and rain luckily for us it only lasted for the fish fingers and we could happily go further with only the threat of more rain to come for the rest of the afternoon.

 

Slow cooked Berkshire pork belly with a croquette of pigs head, marinated carrots and a cream of baby carrots and a sorbet of pickles from 12, Place du Marche

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This was quite the interesting description and I do love pork belly so this had to be on my list to try. To my disappointment this was probably my least favorite dish of the afternoon. Don’t get me wrong, the pork belly was delicious the rest was difficult to wrap my head around. The carrots were a bit bland, the pigs head croquette filling was a bit runny, and the picked sorbet was made into the shape of a pigs head, which was a bit disturbing and the pickles were not really necessary for the flavor of the pork belly.

Pickled Scottish salmon with asparagus, mustard ice cream, a blini of sweet potato, soya gel, and a poached quail egg from Mijn Keuken

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It was a piece of art. Not only did it look gorgeous on the plate but the flavors beautifully balanced and the little surprises of each ingredient. I fell in love with the blini and mustard ice cream and the soy gel and and the salmon and well just about everything on this plate.

 

 

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