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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Raspberries

Not only did we have plenty of grapes this year, our first experiment in cultivating raspberries turned out better than expected.

Delicious pink raspberries  

And we had plenty of apples too. And some gooseberries, but not nearly as many as we had raspberries. So sweet and delicious, mmmmmmmh.

Posted by Bart at 9:07 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Monday, September 21, 2009

Berba Grozda

When I was involved in peace-work in Eastern Croatia, September was definitely the month to visit the region. Berba Grozda is the harvest of the grapes, and during that times grapes are consumed in large quantities. Fresh grapes, but also by-products such as... oh, let's see... wine?

I don't know how many times I was invited to visit the three big wine producing companies of the region (and various privately owned cellars). I'm not much of a connaisseur, but I did like the white wines of the Croatian Danube region.

It's been five years since I last participated in the traditional celebrations of Berba Grozda. But now I can have a party of my own. After years of careful pruning – nothing short of slash and burn agriculture – our grapevines have produces an excellent harvest this year. Small but very sweet grapes in the thousands!

There are so many grapes that I've been carrying whole baskets to all the neighbours, my family, friends and anyone that happened to pass by, while gorging myself in the process. Wolf too is fond of the grapes and likes to munch them away with me in the shadow of the vines. If I had any kind of commercial feeling I could have set up a small shop in the front garden to sell them. I could probably start my own export business.

And of course, I'll have to start my own wine cellar!

Posted by Bart at 9:23 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mrs B's Pasta Recipe

  1. Make pasta sauce
  2. Forget pasta
  3. Serve while everyone's very hungry

Enjoy your meal!

Posted by Bart at 10:04 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Friday, February 27, 2009

Masterchef

Mat won! I knew he would.

Man, the things those amateur chefs had to do in that competition, it was just incredible. Cooking for Michelin star chefs, working with Michelins star chefs, preparing meals for eight people or for two hundred, cooking in world renowned restaurants or in the middle of a field for the Royal Marines...

I like to muddle around in the kitchen, but this is something else. It must be great to be able to cook like that. But I'm not envious of the stress levels these finalists experienced, not at all!

Posted by Bart at 6:15 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oil Shortage

I almost blew up the deep fryer today. Plugged it in without realising that I hadn't put any vegetable oil into the thing when I last cleaned it. It's totally understandable, since generally I only clean it after every 1420 times. The manual says I should change the oil every 10 times, but I can only assume that's a printing error.

Anyway, heating up the deep fryer without any oil will make explode in a white ball of flame, or maybe just burn up with a sizzle, or make it terminally malfunction – so it's not good.

What's more, the Belgian law doesn't take this kind of misdemeanor against any items so vitally important for the production of the holy (all rise please) Belgian Fries (you may be seated again) lightly. Killing a deep fryer is a capital offense.

Good thing Mrs.B smelled something funny. I was quick to grasp the situation, so I scrambeled to the kitchen on my new slippers, without any regards for passing cats. I arrived just in time to prevent the drama.

Close call there!

Posted by Bart at 9:08 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bart's Vegetarian Lasagne Recipe

Go to the shop and buy:

  • 1 pound of minced meat
  • 1 green and 1 red paprika
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 pound of mushrooms
  • 1 aubergine (eggplant)
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 big onion
  • A box of lasagne leaves (500 gr.)

Cut and dice the onion, the courgette, the aubergine and the paprika. Stir-fry everything in a wok, starting with the onions and adding the rest as you see fit. Slice the mushrooms and add them when the first batch of vegetables is tender. Cut up the tomatoes in parts and add them right at the end, so that they get warm without cooking to a pulp.

Make a bechamel sauce (white sauce) with 100 grams of butter or margarine. Add two to three spoons of flour and stir on a low fire until you get a smooth roux. Then carefully add about half a litre of milk while stirring until the sauce is medium thick and nice and creamy but not too runny and not too thick either.

Completely forget to bake the minced meat.

Take a square oven dish and butter the sides. Then you start of with a layer of the vegetable mix. Next you put a layer of lasagne leaves on top of it. Forget to add a layer of minced meat, which you haven't baked anyway. Go on without even a single clue about the presence of the minced meat in your refrigerator. Be as oblivious as possible about the mere existence of minced meat on this planet. Then pour a layer of white sauce on the lasagne leaves, instead of putting it on top of the minced meat. Add another layer of lasagne leaves and repeat the process until you've reached the rim of the oven dish.

If you value a clean oven, do not stack additional layers of vegetables, creamy sauce, invisible minced meat or cheese on top, because the sauce and molten cheese will drip over the rim. If you're me, do exactly what you're not supposed to.

Put the dish in the oven for about 35 minutes. Swear profusely after about ten minutes, when the molten cheese is dripping on the bottom of the oven and burning totally, creating a thick blanket of black smoke in your kitchen (warning: possible exaggeration here). Anyway, it smells foul.

Serve hot. When members of your household claim you've forgotten the minced meat, look bewildered, then invent stupid lies about you wanting to try a recipe for vegetarian lasagne. Ignore sniggering from the other side of the table and any mother-son conspiracies against your fatherly authority. Make things work by exclaiming all the time how nice the lasagne is and how well you can taste the mushrooms now that the taste of minced meat isn't so overpowering. Ignore the fact that other members of the household aren't eating nearly as much as they normally do, and that you don't eat as much either.

Try to avoid the subject of lasagne and/or minced meat during the next couple of days.

Posted by Bart at 8:45 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

There’s Not Something Like A Free Lunch

I had to go to a big meeting with lots of people this morning. Afterwards, the organising committee offered lunch to the participants. There were stacks of utterly magnificent sandwiches, I must have eaten my way through two platters of them. I think no-one noticed how I shovelled one after the other in my mouth.

At a certain moment I found myself in a conversation with two female colleagues about the hard science of alternative-holistic-bio-meditation-earthray-inner-child-yin-yang-seaweed-healing. But by focussing entirely on the next sandwich-with-grilled-slices-of-eggplant-topped-with-artichoke and crab-salad-garnished-with-giant-shrimp-and-a-dash-of-caviar, I managed to shut out the mumbo-jumbo and continue eating.

And I managed not to burst out in sarcastic remarks and uncontrollable laughter.

Posted by Bart at 9:02 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Monday, July 16, 2007

Manhood On The Grill

In the ever repeating cycle from boyhood to man, there are a number of milestones. There’s the moment you discover your first pubic hair during your tri-monthly bath. There’s the first time a non-imaginary third person operates your joystick. There’s the time you get so over-excited because you’re on the verge of ‘doing it’ for the first time (without paying, bribing or threatening) that your warhead explodes just short of target. There’s the monumental event of having had sex for the first time without maiming yourself with a condom or fumbling in such a way at the main gate that you accidentally hit the back entrance. Note that most milestones in a mans’ life are related to intercourse or the desperate need thereof. Other important moments are drinking your first pint, throwing up your first bucket of puke and nuking your first relationship by throwing up on the first non-imaginary person that operated your joystick.

But nothing – I repeat, nothing – says you’re a man like becoming the proud owner of your very own barbecue.

This weekend, I made that giant leap. It was about time too! For years I had to live without a BBQ because my apartment really didn’t have a proper and suitable terrace. And ever since we bought the house, either the weather or my financial situation was depressing. But last Saturday, I recognised these so-called hurdles for the trivia they really are. I drove my car to the DIY-store, I entered with a manly pace, fixed the man behind the counter with a steady gaze and proclaimed with a booming voice: ‘I sir, wish to purchase a barbecue! Not a silly tiny table model suitable only for wankers, but a real manly barbecue with ample space for steaks, sausages, chicken drum sticks, lamb chops and brochettes. The time has come for me to acquire a barbecue, so without further ado, provide me one before I puncture your gonads with a pick-axe and suspend you thus on the wall.

And the man behind the counter recognised the importance of my request, and he sold me a proud model with an impressively sized pan that can hold a whole bag of charcoal and a chimney underneath to feed the fire and a water basin to extinguish any burning coal falling down and a grill that can hold many steaks, sausages, chicken drum sticks, lamb chops and brochettes at a time.

And yesterday we barbecued! And I didn’t fumble, but operated it like a real man, the testosterone and the heat of the fire making my torso gleam with sweat.

If only there were still mammoths around to hunt.

Posted by Bart at 10:28 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Feeding Frenzy

We had some friends over today, with their 4 months old daughter Zoe. I was in a creative culinary mood, so I drove to the foreigners’ market in Antwerp yesterday morning to stock in on veggies, seafood and meat. I hoped I could do something with fresh spring vegetables, but it’s still a bit early for that and the best I found were beautiful green beans, green asparagus (although rather pricey) and spring onions. Of course there was loads more, but most of it is imported from far away and therefore it doesn’t have the same fresh taste as new veggies. I added a touch of winter by buying some nice big oyster mushrooms.

For the entry, I wokked salmon filets, giant shrimp and coquille Saint-Jacques (scallops) which I served with the green asparagus and Hollandaise sauce. For the main course, I made tenderloin which I sprinkled with salt, pepper and spicy paprika powder. Then I coated the two pieces with mustard and a bit of ketchup (to take the sting out of the mustard). I put it in a pan for a minute or two to make it crust and then it went in the oven for twenty minutes. I served it with sweat potatoes, boiled and then roast in the oven and with a nice topping of home-made garlic and parsley butter. And when I say garlic butter I mean garlic butter. All neighbours in a 500m. radius have been evacuated by the police and the chemical disaster unit. Luckily, our guests were fond of garlic but next time I’ll reduce the number of cloves from seven to three.

So tenderloin with sweet potato with garlic butter with green beans. I used the oyster mushrooms to make a lovely cream sauce, to which I added the spring onions and some fresh parsley.

I’m happy to say that our guests gorged themselves, apart from baby Zoe who is still on a milk diet. She did try some of the sweet potato and seemed to like it. I liked it too, it was the first time I prepared it. Actually, the whole menu was a first that rolled out of my head as I passed between the different vendors on the market. I like taking a bit of risk when I receive guests. But everything turned out splendidly and I got a lot of compliments.

Desert was catered for by the wife, as I really don’t have a sweat tooth. Her cake too was splendid in all its simplicity. All in all a very nice day, with good conversation, a very nice walk in the beautiful spring weather and fine food.

Posted by Bart at 10:04 PM
Edited on: Sunday, April 01, 2007 10:14 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Childhood Smell

12.30: Lunch break

I put my rucksack on my lap and try to fish my lunch out. I can’t identify it immediately between all the stuff that’s in there, so I put my face over the opening to get a peek.

That smell…

It’s the smell of lunch made by your mother. You know, whenever you went on a school trip. Stacks of sandwiches made with love by your mum and enough to feed all your friends too (and bribe the teacher). With a Mars bar for the morning snack and an apple for in the afternoon. Packed in aluminium foil, that you carefully unwrap sitting on a bench in the middle of the zoo, or in front of the museum. And after the official, educational part of the trip we’d go to a playground…

Posted by Bart at 8:37 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Nurse Bart

Mrs. Bartlog has the flue. It started on Saturday evening when we were entertaining some of her old college friends. I slaved the whole day in the kitchen to prepare what must have been the Worlds Most Humungous Wok Dish For Seven Persons Ever. The recipe is quite easy: take 35 metric tonnes of veggies (onions, paprika, carrots, mushrooms (two 40-foot containers) tomatoes and soy sprouts), add one shipload of giant shrimp tails, half a shipload of monkfish and half a shipload of scallops. Forget the cuttlefish rings in the refrigerator so you can wonder the next day what the hell you’re going to do with a truckload of them for just two persons. Serve with China’s year supply of rice and India’s year supply of curry sauce. Oh, and for starters we had cauliflower and endive soup with bacon.

Anyway, everyone like the food and we had a jolly good time but by the end of the evening my co-dishwasher for life became very tired and developed a fever. So for the past couple of days I’ve been promoted to Maker of the Royal Tea and Fluffer of the Pillow. Very distinguished and all that you see. Her stomach was a bit queasy too, so I prepared some light and otherwise easily digestible meals such as wild boar stew in red wine gravy with bacon and mushrooms served with creamy mashed potatoes, and rabbit in Flemish beer sauce with thick applesauce and boiled potatoes. Maybe tomorrow I should make some spaghetti with steamed veggies or something, or else she won’t make it to the end of the week.

Posted by Bart at 9:01 PM
Edited on: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 9:02 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Feeding The Poor

Getting married and organising big wedding parties, going to the other side of the world for your honeymoon, buying real estate and cars all in the same year doesn’t do wonders for your bank account. This month we paid the last bills for the wedding, and we also paid insurance and other costs for the car for the coming year. So our empty bank accounts are gathering dust and cobwebs, while in the supermarket we try to decide whether we will eat white beans with or without tomato sauce today. I tell you, tomato sauce is getting ridiculously expensive these days, what with the rising oil prices and all.

So when people invite us, we start to behave like tramps that accidentally got access to a cooking convention, but with the subtle difference that we don’t stuff food in our pockets… yet. Yesterday we went to celebrate my father’s birthday. He’s become 61 last Tuesday, so let’s give him a warm round of applause here people! Anyway, the menu read stone-grill and as usual my mother had bought enough meat for all of us and for the Red Army’s 4th division should they decide to invade the country that day. However, despite the humungous amount of food, a couple of hours later nothing much was left.

We gorged ourselves, my wife and I. We stuffed every spot in our digestive system and stashed away food reserves in empty places with non-vital bodily functions, such as our lungs. It got to the point were it became a bit embarrassing. Everyone had finished for ages, only the two of us kept laying sausages, mini wiener schnitzels, bacon, steak, chicken on the top grill, while the little pans underneath were used to prepare paprika and potato covered with grilled cheese and mushrooms in cream sauce. And then there was desert...

In return, my father did get some presents of course. My sister had bought them and we were going to split the bill. But we forgot to pay our part. By accident. I swear!

Posted by Bart at 8:12 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Slimy

My new recipe for snot:

  1. Poach deep-fried ray-fins for ten minutes until they’re not quite ready.
  2. Serve with runny spinach and mashed potatoes.
Posted by Bart at 9:25 PM
Edited on: Thursday, October 05, 2006 9:25 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Alle Menschen Werden Lunchen

After a miserably wet month of August, the weather gods have come to realise that it’s not yet autumn after all. The last couple of days have been quite nice, if not to say hot. So lunch in the park it is then!

As I’ve explained before, there’s a strict picking order for the park benches. There are many of those, but not all of them are in the shade and some of them look like a flight of B-52’s dropped bird shit on them. But yesterday I discovered there’s another weird thing about the park. You see, it is situated on the border between the European district, where you can find the European Commission, the European Parliament and hundreds of related office buildings. On the other side of the park, where my office is located, there is a district with ordinary people including lots of immigrants from northern Africa.

The members of the European aristocracy are easily recognisable by their suits or business outfits. They buy their lunches in one of the fancy food shops and restaurants in the shadow of the EU Commission building, the Berliamont, where prices are ridiculously high and food is not that good but served by waiters with a lot of attitude imported from all corners of the Union. The Eurocrats tend to keep to their side of the park.

We, the commoners, make our own lunches that we unravel from their plastic wrap or aluminium foil. Or we buy our lunches in one of the cheap diners down the street. At our side of the park, you will mostly find pita bars, fry shops (our equivalent of the fish and chips barracks) and the occasional boulanger. We too keep to our side of the park. We hang on the benches instead of sitting upright. We play cards instead of quickly reading through a dossier. We play with dogs instead of thinking up regulation to standardise the production of dog pooh in the Union.

You can see here in practice how the Eurocrats are drifting away from the ordinary folk. Maybe we should try to write a European constitution right here in this park.

Posted by Bart at 10:11 AM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Food Fight

We had a fight the other day, the first time we (read: I) shouted at each other (read: her). Some member of the diet mafia had published a study on the feeding habits of the Belgians. According to this study, only one in ten Belgians has a healthy diet. Three out of ten people are overweight. And four out of ten people go more than four times a month to a fast-food restaurant. ‘Eating healthy’ was defined here as eating fruit and veggies with every meal every day. Show me a person who’s doing that and I’ll show you a grey skinned vegetarian guzzling down pills to make up for the vitamin deficiency.

‘You see!’, said she-who-has-to-measure-her-waist-in-millimetres. ‘You really should loose weight.’

According to her, I’m a fat bloke. To put this into perspective, I’m 1.87 m. tall and I weigh 82 kilos. So I’m clearly not fat, although of course a 34-year old office worker doesn’t have the streamlined body of a 21 year old gold medal winner.

My wife however suffers from the delusion that many married women have, thinking that they can kneed their husband in any shape and form they desire, not to mention his social life, his hobbies, his drinking behaviour and so on. So she had been teasing my about my ever-so-slightly flabby waist for the last couple of weeks, making remarks every time I drank a soda and so on.

So there was some shouting and an attempt to slam a harmonica door, which is very difficult. Since this was our first real fight I was hoping for some wiedergutmachungssex, but now she’s feeling ill.

I tell you, if my mood gets any worse, I’ll start biting people.

Posted by Bart at 8:47 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Duck Wuck

During the Christmas Holidays, a Belgian "Love the animals or I’ll smash your brains in" organisation called Gaia campaigned against foie gras. As you all know, foie gras is made of duck livers that are made very rich and fatty by force feeding the ducks in question. They just stuff a tube in the ducks throat and open the valve until the animal almost bursts out of it seams. No chewing required.

So Gaia got in touch with their inner duck and launched a campaign to inform the public at large of these practices, with these posters. I thought they were hilarious, but some people were outraged by them and they even had to be removed in some parts of the country.

I can’t say they had much effect on me; I stuffed at least ten toast cups with foie gras in my throat during the New Year’s Eve party at my friend’s house. You won’t catch me buying the stuff; I’m not going to encourage this kind of behaviour towards animals. But if you put it in front of me, I won’t let it go bad either. That’s just me folks: displaying all the hypocrisy and spineless behaviour of modern 21st century consumerism.

So while all these duck livers are devoured by wealthy anti-ecologists, it’s a shame to let the rest go to waste, isn’t it? That is why I created this lovely recipe with duck’s breast and wok-fried vegetables.

Duck Wuck Wok

Ingredients for two hungry people:

  • Two not too large duck breasts (or one very large one), make it about 250-300g per person
  • A courgette (zucchini)
  • An onion
  • A paprika
  • Broccoli
  • A bag (some 300gr) of wok vegetables, or alternatively
    • A carrot or two
    • A bit of white cabbage
    • Mung bean sprouts
    • Any other vegetable you feel like throwing in
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Soy-sesame sauce
  • Olive oil or any other vegetable oil you like
  • Margarine

Zhe Veggies:

First cut the onion, paprika, carrot, cabbage etc. into pieces. Make sure the broccoli pieces aren’t too small. Cut the courgette in half and then into large pieces.

Put a royal amount of cooking oil in the wok and when it’s hot, add the courgette. Sprinkle a nice pinch of salt and pepper on top and stir fry a couple of minutes until they are a nice golden brown, but not mushy. Take them out of the wok and put them aside in a bowl or a rubber boot or something.

Add some more oil in the wok and when it’s hot catapult the pieces of onion and paprika in there. Stir-fry-stir-fry-stir-fry and add your other vegetables, starting with the hard ones (carrot, cabbage).

When all is nicely stir-fried, tossle in the courgette again and move to part III, ‘Zhe finishing touch’.

Zhe Meat:

Take the duck breasts and sprinkle both sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Melt the margarine in a frying pan that you can cover with a lid. Make the pan nice and hot and when the margarine is molten and brown, put in the duck breasts with the meaty side down (meaning the white fatty side up). The hot pan should sear the meat closed, so it will remain nice and juicy.

After a minute or two, lower the heat and turn the duck breasts upside down, so that they’re lying on their fatty sides. Put the lid on the pan and let them bake on a medium fire for another eight minutes (about 10 minutes of total baking time).

The idea is to get the meat nice and brown on the inside, but still a bit rosy on the inside. This way, it will have a great taste and a juicy bite. If you slice it up and then throw it in the wok, you’ll get dry meat and loose a lot of that typical duck taste.

Zhe finishing touch:

Cut the duck breasts into slices of about half a centimetre thick. Throw them in the wok and mix with the rest of the dish

Add the soy-sesame sauce, exactly 120 ml will do the trick, or in my case half a bottle of Go-Tan Wok Essentials Soy-Sesame Sauce (no I’m not sponsored and I’m not a shareholder). Stir around again and leave for another minute or two.

Serve with rice, bami, mi or whatever you like. And please, don’t cry my name when you have that culinary orgasm in front of you significant other, I don’t want to be held responsible for any relational mayhem afterwards.

Posted by Bart at 8:23 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Does my bum look fat in this skirt?

I can’t deny it to myself anymore: I’m gaining weight. That’s normal, you should think, at the end of the year everyone collects a bit of fat because of all the parties. What worries me is that I missed most parties because I was abroad. And the ones I went too didn’t always have good food, so I didn’t eat that much. Still, the scales were showing higher and higher numbers.

At first, I drew the obvious conclusion that the earth’s core is collapsing under its own mass because the ozone layer has become so thin it’s not bouncing off the sun’s rays as it used to. Because light has both the characteristics of waves/rays and of particles, it was only a matter of time before the extra weight of these particles would lead to a critical augmentation of the earth’s surface matter, which would in turn press on the core, making it collapse into a dark hole and thereby drastically increasing the planets gravity in a matter of weeks, even days.

My other lousy explanation was that the scales broke down.

But apparently, both scales and earth’s core are fine and dandy, all ready for the New Year. Another indicator was the bulging of my belly. You see, I don’t fatten gracefully, the same way that my hairline doesn’t recede gracefully. My body always seems to look for the best way to entertain people, making me look as funnily as possible. So despite being relatively straight of limbs, my tummy sticks out like that of a four-month-pregnant woman’s.

So in real terms, my weight isn’t that dramatic: 79.4 kilos for a 1.87 m bloke is in fact nothing to worry about. It’s just that it was still 74 point something a couple months ago. I’m heading back to the wobbly 85 kg person that I was a couple of years ago, when I still swigged down a couple of beers every evening (ah, student’s life!) But now I don’t drink anymore – well, not that much anyway. If it goes on like this, I may have to start doing… sports.

I used to ride my bike every day when I stilled worked in Antwerp. And I got on a horse again two weeks ago. Oh, and before anyone remarks, riding a horse is hard work, it’s not “just sitting there letting the animal do everything”. If you don’t believe it, try it and feel how your muscles ache like never before the day after! But what I did in the past was just for fun or out of practical need. Not with the aim to get fit and slim and so on.

I’m just afraid I’ll have to start to move because it’s ‘healthy’ or because my doctor told me so. Before you know it I’ll be counting calories and reading food labels to see how many calories and fat it contains. Nooo, help meeee!!!

Posted by Bart at 6:57 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Reaching out to my inner Italian

Well, the weekend was certainly busy. We had six friends over for diner on Saturday, so I spent a lot of time buying and preparing food, and almost got as far as washing up the dishes. It was the first time we received friends in our newly decorated living room, but we still had a lot of cleaning up to do. Luckily, my mother-in-law-to-be gave us a big hand by cleaning up the staircase, which looked like a post-war zone after I spilled plaster all over the stairs.

It also gave me the chance to try out some new recipes. As a starter, I invented a delicious ‘Autumn Soup’, with wild mushrooms. I’ll post the recipe as soon as I can translate the names of the mushrooms. Alternatively, if anyone can tell me what ‘oesterzwam’, “cantarelle’ and ‘eekhoorntjesbrood’ is in English, please let me know. I assume everyone will know what I mean by ‘champignons de Paris’.

The main course was Osso Bucco, and I’m afraid I’ll have to admit that I make the worlds best Osso Bucco, even if it was the first time I tried it. By the way, if anyone has a recipe for ‘modesty’, please send it to me a.s.a.p. please. I couldn’t really find a recipe that I liked, so I came up with the following:

For four persons (double if you’re with eight persons):

  • 1.250 kg of veal shanks: they’re not always easy to find, so you may have to order them. I didn’t do this, but luckily I have a great butcher.

Fresh from the market:

  • 4-5 carrots, cut into disks
  • Two medium onions
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic
  • A kilo and a half of tomatoes, cut into pieces to make them turn into tomato sauce faster
  • 2-3 whites of leek, cut into disks

Also featuring:

  • A small can of tomato concentrate (double concentrated)
  • Two cubes of beef bouillon
  • Olive oil and a bit of margarine
  • ¾ litres of water
  • Mild paprika powder
  • Black pepper
  • Hot chilli powder
  • 2 tea spoons of thyme
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • About an hour and a half of your time, including an hour of cooking time.

Peal the onions and cut them into relatively small pieces. Take a LARGE pot and put it on a small flame. Pour in the olive oil (cover the bottom) and add a small lump of margarine. When the margarine has melted, add the pieces of onions and glaze them.

Take the cooking pot off the stove and add four tea spoons of mild paprika powder. Put the slices of meat on top and then throw in the cut up tomatoes. Add ¾ litres of water, put on the lid and place the cooking pot back on the kitchen stove. Add some more heat, but not too much because it’s difficult to stir with those slabs of meat and otherwise it will all burn. After some 15 to 20 minutes, check if the tomato pieces are falling apart. Add a small can of tomato concentrate and two lumps of bouillon. Three to five cloves of garlic can join the party. Then add some black pepper, some thyme and a couple of bay leaves. Put the lid back on and let it bubble.

Add the carrots after 30 minutes of cooking time and the pieces of leek ten minutes later. Let it boil for another twenty minutes (one hour of total cooking time). Oh, and don’t forget some hot chilli powder.

I served it with white and green (spinach) Tagliatelli. It tasted absolutely fantastic. I gorged on the marrow of the veal shanks. Not everyone is fond of this greyish blubber in the middle, but I like to scoop out every little bit of it. I even stole the bones from other people’s plates (yes, I know).

The diner was an absolute success, although I was very tired from all the running about and the cooking. However, the next day an enormous stack of dirty dishes and glasses was awaiting me. I bravely entered the battle, alone because the GF was off horse riding. But I’d only done about seven glasses when one of the large wine glasses snapped in my hands and left a huge gash in my index finger. Blood was squirting everywhere (anyone still feels hungry?), but I succeeded in controlling the dam burst with a band aid and a couple of meters of cello tape. Naturally, any further dish washing was out of the question, with this gaping canyon in my hand. So I had to continue this ridiculously dangerous task yesterday, and because it was really a huge stack of dirty dishes, I didn’t get to updating the bartlog. I’m sorry, but I’m absolutely sure that when you try this recipe, you’ll feel all better.

Posted by Bart at 9:56 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fries! Camera! Action!

Beautiful weather today, as it was yesterday and will continue to be tomorrow. So during lunch-break, I decided to go for some walkies in the general direction of the Place Jourdan. It is mere coincidence that this nice, green, lively square has one of Brussels’ most famous fry shacks called “Maison Antoine”. Rumours have it that this is the best fry shack in Brussels, and even in the whole of Belgium. According to my friend Zoe, it’s better than the one I got so enthusiastically about a couple of weeks ago, but I beg to differ. What, begging? Hell no, I will never beg. I demand to differ! I need no ones’ permission; I differ when I want to! It’s my bloody universal right to differ!

<takes pill>

<lies down on his bed for half an hour>

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<returns to computer, chases cat of keyboard>

Anyway, I have to admit it’s a popular venue. They have three windows to serve people, and in front of each window there was a cue of several people. It’s more of a fry factory than a fry shack; they even have ordering instructions hanging out to speed things up: first order your meat and then order your fries. So mine was a large one with mayonnaise, a fricandel and a brochette (sate). The fries weren’t bad at all and served in the traditional paper bag. The meat wasn’t great though. All in all, I do prefer the old fry shack at Place Saint-Josse. But on the other hand, the setting of ‘Maison Antoine’ makes good a lot.

So I was quietly enjoying my fries, sitting on a bench under one of the large trees and observing the people around me. Mostly kids and students, mixed with civil servants, politicians and delegates from the nearby European Parliament and other EU institutes. It’s a bit surreal to see those stiff expensive suits with their white security badges eating such a plain dish as fries out of a paper bag.

Suddenly, a car from the RTL-TVI television pulls over. A cameraman and an apparently well know presenter (RTL-TVI is a French language TV chain, in general I don’t like to watch those because they tend to drown you in endless blah blah blah) get out and start interviewing the fry-eaters. Some of them are Eurocrats that don’t master the French language, so the reporter switches to an awful kind of English. “Doo yoo like zoo eat ze frieys?”

They didn’t interview me, because I’d already finished my fries. A serious mistake, if you ask me, not interviewing me. I could have told them about my new blog, which is an infinitely more interesting subject than people eating fries on a sunny day. They could have had the scoop of the day! Journalism isn’t what it used to be, I tell you.

Posted by Bart at 10:14 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Washing up

I just spent the last two hours (2 hours, that’s 120 minutes) washing the dishes. It’s not that we’re having that many people over for diner, it’s just the two of us who make everything dirty. But we’re not what you might call obsessed with washing dishes, or cleaning in general. I could pretend we did this out of ecological concerns, but face it, it would be a white lie of the kind you only find at total solar eclipses. We just hate it so much, we only let the water run the moment we are completely out of pots, pans, dishes, forks, knifes, etc. Or when the stacks of dirty dishes becomes so high there is acute danger of avalanches. But we really have to wash the dishes more often.

It’s just not normal that the kitchen closets are bending under the weight.

Posted by Bart at 10:05 PM
Categories: The Hunter Gatherer


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