Belgium – Belgian Mojito

Full Meal Deal

Belgium is a pretty creative place. After all, they are responsible for the saxophone, the Body Mass Index, Club Med, Jean-Claude Van Damme (the Muscles from Brussels) and these culinary treats!

Beer

Let’s start with the fact that there are over 800 brands of Belgian beer. When Mrs. Sip and I were in Belgium many moons ago, we decided to try a bunch of different types of brew (not a hard choice, really) and were handed a menu that read like a phonebook. Each beer comes with its own specialized glass, said to improve the overall experience. It’s estimated that Belgians drink 84 liters of beer per person, per year. Those are numbers to be quite proud of!

Belgian Beer

French Fries

According to lore, it wasn’t the French who invented one of the greatest side dishes ever known to man, but the Belgians. In fact, the Belgians have an entire culture devoted to the French fry, including most citizens owning a deep fryer so they can make their own at all hours of the day. As a sauce man, myself, I’m happy to note that the fine folks of Belgium will use an array of different toppings on their fries, including mayonnaise (the big one over there), tartar sauce, and many others.

Chocolate

The sweet stuff is a big deal in Belgium, with chocolatier and confectionary outlets on many street corners. Point being, they are not hard to find. Some of the most popular chocolate brands in Belgium, include Guylian (makers of the sea shell chocolates) and Neuhaus (inventor of pralines and even the method of gift wrapping chocolate purchases). The world’s greatest chocolate sales occur at the Brussels International Airport, as travelers stock up on the goodies before exiting the country.

Belgium Waffles

I’m not sure what exactly takes a waffle and makes it Belgian (apparently this is a North American term to describe larger, but lighter battered waffles), but if they want to lay claim to this breakfast fixture, I say let them have it. In Belgium, it’s more common to see the term Brussels waffle, but it seems to all mean the same thing. In Belgium, waffles are even sold on the street as a snack on the go and sometimes from ice cream trucks.

Belgian Waffles

Brussels Sprouts

One of the most child-despised food items to ever exist, parents of fussy eaters can thank the Belgians for this culinary gem. The sprout has been grown in Brussels for over 400 years and while it could have originated anywhere, Belgium has jumped aboard the edible bud train. Mrs. Sip has recently got into Brussels sprouts, providing they’re roasted and smothered in cheese. I’m still not onboard with the leafy green, but we have a ceasefire with one another.

Mussels

Or as they know it, moules-frites (mussels and fries), has often been given the title of Belgium’s national dish. I like mussels from time to time, particularly if done in a Cajun-esque style and in one of those big pots with other seafood, potatoes, and corn on the cob. Back to Belgium’s take on the dish, the shellfish is typically cooked or steamed with vegetables such as onions, celery, and leeks, although other, more savoury techniques can be utilized.

Jenever

This ancestor of gin has been the national spirit of Belgium for hundreds of years. In fact, Jenever is a protected product of origin and can only be manufactured in Belgium, the Netherlands (where we will sample it in a few weeks), and parts of France and Germany. The traditional serving method includes a shot glass fresh from the freezer and filled to the brim. The first sip should be taken without the use of hands, before you can return to normal sipping procedures!

Belgium: Belgian Mojito

Belgian Mojito Cocktail

As a beer and French fry connoisseur, I give great praise to the people of Belgium and that’s without even taking into consideration the Sip Advisor’s sweet tooth. I won’t even deduct points for their addition of Brussels sprouts to the international potluck!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I’ve never put together what is basically a Beer Mojito, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity. My drink turned into its own ecosystem with all the greenery in there. It tasted pretty good, though, helping me further my claim to being the ‘King of Mojitos!’

July 20 – Melon Ball

Creative Cuisine

There are some odd culinary pairings in existence where anyone who has tried the combo swears by its deliciousness. Some of these I’ve tried and others I’ve merely only heard about. While I’ll give most anything a fair shot, I must admit that some of these couplings will take more convincing than others. This seems to be a growing field in the gastronomic world, as there’s even an entire site dedicated to the cause. Here are some blends that I’ve tried myself or found around the wild, wild web:

Melon and Prosciutto

For two completely contrasting food items, melon and prosciutto work really well together. Even though I’m not a big melon fan, the mix of sweetness from the melon and salty from the prosciutto produce a melt in your mouth snack that will blow your mind. Of course, prosciutto seems to accentuate a number of other items from crackers to salads and everything in between.

prosciutto-and-melon

Chili Powder and Vanilla Ice Cream

I’ve enjoyed chocolate with chili powder, so I don’t see it as too much of a stretch that vanilla ice cream would also work when paired with chili powder. Heck, some chili powder might be the perfect thing to spice (literally!) up your plain old vanilla ice cream. And if you begin to feel the burn, it shouldn’t be too long before the cool ice cream dulls that tongue-on-fire sensation.

Watermelon and Black Pepper

I’ve professed my love for watermelon through this site on a couple occasions already. That love will never fade and I must admit that combing the melon with black pepper intrigues me. Watermelon can be a very subtle taste, so perhaps the addition of black pepper is simply to bring the devourer back to flavour country aboard the pepper express!

Dark Chocolate and Parmesan Cheese

One suggestion was to enjoy this union as a grilled cheese sandwich and I’m still trying to get my head around that idea. Parmesan is one of the few cheeses I seem to not mind, but mixing it with anything other than a Caesar salad seems like crazy talk to me. I even ran this by cheese guru Mrs. Sip and she couldn’t exactly picture the meal being palatable.

Grilled-Cheese-Dark-Chocolate

Jalapeno and Strawberries

Most times, these odd pairings feature the coming together of two wildly different flavours. In this case, you have the sweet strawberries being mixed with spicy jalapenos. Each bite would be a mix of competing emotions, with the spice surely winning the battle. I only like jalapenos in small doses on nachos and such, so I don’t think this combo would go over very well for me.

Chocolate and Fried Onions

This concept has me quite intrigued. I think I would enjoy a plate of onion rings with a chocolate drizzle laid over them or a little dish of the sweet stuff on the side to dip the rings in. Hell, deep fry anything and dunk it in chocolate and you’ll probably come up with a decent, gluttonous snack. I’ll put money on the fact this concept was first dreamt up in the American south and for that, we thank you!

McDonalds Fries and Hot Fudge Sundae

This combination was brought to our attention by an Australian. The Aussies are known for doing crazy things, but this being on the tamer side, Mrs. Sip and I gave it a shot are were surprised at how well the two products came together. The salt sticks known as McDonalds fries pair very well with the sweetness of hot fudge and the creamy vanilla soft-serve ice cream.

sundae&fries

French Fries and Ranch Dressing

I should be a spokesperson for ranch dressing. I mean, just like the Frank’s Red Hot commercials, I put that sh*t on everything… tacos, sandwiches, pizza, chicken, pasta, and especially French fries. A new combo I’ve been working on of late is to mix ranch dressing with honey garlic sauce before dousing the above items with this hybrid of sweet and tangy that will blow your mind. Patent pending!

Ketchup and Macaroni & Cheese

This is another one that I’ve been doing for years, since I was a little sipper, and don’t find it an odd pairing at all, but it came up a few times in the course of my research for this article. I prefer my mac n’ cheese to be leftovers, where the cheese has dried, rather than fresh with gooey, slimy cheese. Then, just splat some catsup over the bowl, mix it up and you have a perfect quick meal.

Peanut Butter and Bacon

I love peanut butter and I love bacon, so it seems mixing the two together might be a no-brainer. I’ve enjoyed both in chocolate, so perhaps we’d be looking at our first triple threat food pairing if we combined all three together. A PB&B sandwich actually sounds pretty tempting… delicious even. I’m pretty sure I’m going to make one to enjoy with today’s shot du jour.

Drink #201: Melon Ball

July 20

  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with Watermelon Ball

What is your favourite odd food pairing? Give me your best recipes and perhaps I’ll do another post on reader suggestions and how well I was able to stomach them. Sounds like fun for all, doesn’t it!?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
The Watermelon Ball was a nice touch and the shooter was delicious. I was curious about Pineapple Juice being part of the recipe, but it worked well with the Melon Liqueur and you can’t ever knock Vodka for fear of a Vodka Belt reprisal!