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Monday, March 26, 2007

What to do when you have 5 hours in antwerp

Forget the musea, the market square, the harbour, the antwerp 6 and head straight to:

Huidevetterstraat 38-40,
2000 Antwerpen.
TEL: 0032(0)3 226 50 01

Only after you get some of his fabulous *emotion*, Aurore and Envol, a multi tiered box of his chocolates, one box of his Truffe and one or two boxes of his fabulous winter collection Parisian Macarons should you dare to think about where to have lunch, and take your daughter to the Grote market and venture into Dries Van Noten. But only then...


Monday, March 12, 2007

valentine's widow

On Monday evening on his way home, he called to say, "I have a surprise for you. I have the day off tomorrow so I am all yours." I was smiling the whole evening as I prepared dinner and waited for him to come home.
And then he was back, as we stood in the kitchen plating dinner and setting up the table, over a glass of Prosecco, he said, "I have to take the clients out for dinner on Wednesday night." He actually reminded his boss it was Valentine's day and he wants to take his wife out. Ze boss told him to prioritise the client because the client gives him more money therefore better value. He asked the boss if this was the reason why none of his relationship work in the long run...
The Boss was tickled by the fact that a - he loves his wife. 2- loves her enough to be that cheeky with him! And because he is such a gorgeous soul, he told the boss there is no way he can explain to his wife why they can't go out as they have planned (he had planned) and has to cancel at the last minute. So he asked for the day off. The boss was so amused he actually gave him the day off. JUST LIKE THAT.
Because there is no babysitter at the last minute - the regular sitter actually have a date on Tuesday night so she can babysit on Wednesday evening - he decided they have to go for lunch. So he booked a table at Valuas the Michelin star restaurant near the city. He booked it early enough to avoid the business lunch crowd.

Valuas is run by two brothers, Eric and Marcel Swaghoven and situated by the river Maas. Eric does the cooking and was awarded a Michelin star in 2005. Marcel host both the brasserie and the restaurant. Marcel is a Meester Gastronomen, which signifies not only his vast food and wine knowledge but the finesse in which he applies his knowledge while hosting his patrons.
Valuas is not just renowned for Eric's master cooking but also for the hotel and the kick-ass brasserie which serves first class dining at value prices. I think most of the dishes there are a steal! The brasserie serves the best sushi and oysters in Limburg.
So we found ourselves to be the only guests at lunch on Tuesday at the restaurant in Valuas. The service is swift, attentive and friendly as always. I prefer the service in Valuas to the other Michelin star restaurant in this area because they really know what they are serving. There is nothing more off putting than the hostess and staff keep referring to menu card the whole time they are serving you to remind them/ familiarise themselves with the service.
We started of with Prosecco and some munchies. I love the little freshly made cheese balls they serve with the spicy cashewnuts. We decided to have set lunch - mainly because we want to leave before the business crowd start to stream in and we wanted to go for a walk in the forest nearby.
The 2 amuses bouche to begin the lunch was excellent. I love the sweetness and the creaminess of the shallots mousseline. The first course was very lightly grilled tuna in teriyaki sauce with basmati rice foam. Usually I find cooked tuna - even in the best restaurants - are too heavy handled but this one was perfect. It was still pink and crunchy with very clean taste of the teriyaki sauce that brought out the freshness of the tuna.
Our main course was Turbot pan fried on the bone with a fabulous truffle butter and generous shavings of dark truffles. They even gave us a sauce boat of the lekker truffles butter sauce to go with it and we practically lick our plate clean. We enjoyed the meal with Valentino Butussi Pinot Grigio 2005 vintage, recommended by Marcel, which we enjoyed tremendously.
Dessert was a medley of fruit jellies and cake. I especially like the chef's take on spekoek (spicy cake) fruit jelly terraine.
Is he forgiven for leaving me all alone on Valentine's Day and cancelling dinner plans at the last minute? Oh definitely! It was a splendid lunch and we plan to go again, for dinner this time. And now to arrange for a sleepover for the little one, so mommy and daddy can sample the 6 course dinner!
Lunch came to €140.00 for wine, lunch and coffee for two. the set lunch with daily changing 3 course menu is at €37.50.

hotel-restaurant-brasserie Valuas
Fam. Swaghoven
St. Urbanusweg 11
5914 CA Venlo
The Netherlands
tel (0031-77) 3541141
fax (0031-77) 3547022

Credit: Pictures are from the Valuas website. I didn't get to take any pictures at all. Terry hid my camera.