Where to sleep well and …be surprised
I chose Hotel Franq, 4 stars (well deserved) of the Relais & Chateau chain. Very central (the Cathedral is literally a stone’s throw away) this structure knows how to combine the historic charm of a neoclassical building with the most advanced contemporary design
Team professionale, servizio ottimo, camere spaziose e luminose, arredate con gusto e un’ adorabile accoglienza a cominciare dal ‘ welcome’ trovato in camera: fiori, champagne e macharons alla menta.
Enjoy a cocktail at the bar or on the intimate terrace before savoring a gourmet dinner in the elegant restaurant, where … to my surprise and delight, I discovered that at the helm of the kitchen there was a star chef whom I have always admiredthe moves: Tim Meuleneire, a native of Easter Belgium , for twenty years in Antwerp.I didn’t miss the opportunity to meet him for a nice interview.
Bonjour Tim, ritual question: where do you love to spend a weekend off?When I have time, I like to take my family up and down France, my wife Natalie and my twins we call it the ‘Tour de France’ …
I imagine you will also taste ‘colleagues’ dishes. What is your reaction if you like the dish?
Admiration and curiosity: I try to identify the techniques of how it was made.
Your first memory as a child in the kitchen?
Grandma Georgette and the perfumes that came from her kitchen … I remember that when I visited her I enjoyed sniffing out the door to try to understand what she had cooked. I think that was my first encounter with the art of cooking or at least with the scents of cooking.
And the first ‘professional’ spark?
When I was six when I went with my parents to a restaurant close to home. I was fascinated by the dishes and how they were prepared, how they were served, the atmosphere of the dining room and the buzz that came from the kitchen … One day I said to my dad “Dad. I want to be a cook”
“The cook? Are you crazy?” Well, he was hoping for a more consolidated profession, like a bank manager … (laughs) by the way in the bank, I really worked, but it wasn’t for me …) Seeing my insistence, dad asked the owner if I could have worked over the weekend and learned and it all started from there …,
Your strength or your flaw?
I would say something that comibines the two things …as a matter of fact I am a rather reserved type and usually I don’t go to the client’s table to ask for his opinion or if everything goes well, not because I’m not sure about my kitchen or because a criticism can be constructive, but because it seems to me a bit of invading the customer’s privacy. If he wants to compliment or criticize I am sure he will find the moment
Is there a dish you prefer to eat if cooked by another chef?
Les ormeaux! The abalones! Those rather expensive seafood are now becoming popular in starred kitchens. I have tried it several times but I wasn’t happy abot the result. Luckily I discovered the restaurant Le Coquillage by Olivier Roellinger, a truly exceptional chef who cooks them to perfection!
How would you define your kitchen?
Franco-Belgian, seasonal, rather classic, reinvented. There is no lack of influences from Japanese cuisine, from Southern France, where I studied and worked, and from the traditionality of certain Belgian dishes.
Like the typical (and fabulous) brown shrimp, ‘les crevettes grises’?
(smiles) But of course, my fish supplier brought them to me this morning, .. They are very fresh and I put them on the menu that you will taste tonight! I cooked them in sea water, but pay attention to how they should be eaten … absolutely with your hands and you have to open them yourself … it is a bit complicated but you will see that you will succeed.
And there is no shortage of curiosities such as ginger ice cream and an exotic touch, the Bora Bora dessert, with passion fruit and then … surprise among surprises…
here are the Chef’s petit fours served on a ‘tiroir’ of a former National Bank of Belgium , whose vault has become the wine cellar, undoubtedly the only one in the world.
Would you like to ‘give’ a recipe to our readers?
With pleasure! I chose a dish with a Belgian excellence: the traditional white asparagus, now in full season.
Halibut cooked with Kalamata olives, white asparagus with Ramson and creamy butter sauce with green cumin.
4 halibut fillets
350 g of kalamata olives
100 gr of grape seed oil
8 white asparagus type AAA
For the wild garlic sauce
150 gr of wild garlic leaves without stem
10 gr of horseradish
100 gr of apple juice
150 grams of ice water
1 gr of xanthan gum
100 gr canola oil
100 gr of lemon oil
6 gr of salt
For the creamy green cumin butter sauce
50 ml of creamy butter vinegar
50 ml of asparagus broth (reduction)
50 ml of fish glaze
50 ml of white wine
250 gr of butter
75 ml of cream
1 spoon of green cumin
Remove the stone from the olives and dry the flesh of the olives for 48 hours at 60 degrees. Blend the dried olives with the grape seed oil to obtain an olive paste with very intense flavors. Cover the halibut fillets with the olive paste using a kitchen brush.
Add a little fleur de sel and mill pepper on the fish and cook them the first time for 3 minutes at 175 degrees in the oven. Before serving, bake for another 2 minutes.
Peel the asparagus and boil them in a pan “a blanc”. Before serving, heat them in a good butter and season with fleur de sel and voastaperiferie pepper.
Combine the sorrel, horseradish, apple juice and ice water in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Add the xanthan gum and mix until the sauce has thickened.
Continue to blend and slowly add the canola oil and lemon oil. Strain the sauce and add the salt. Add the shallot with vinegar, white wine, asparagus reduction and fish glaze to a saucepan and reduce until 50 ml remain. Add the cream and green cumin and cook until creamy, gradually add small pieces of butter, always beating (monter au beurre).
Strain the sauce and add the salt for seasoning.