Moules Frites

Moules Frites

Antwerp, Belgium

The beauty that is Antwerp is one I had always been unfamiliar with. The architecture whispers stories of an olden life within the backdrop of ominous churches and a medieval/coastal village; the market square one could easily mentally picture populated with crowds of people from 100's of years ago. But now? Filled with a wandering and hungry Paolo and I (and some local friends). 

Rudy from Brussels recommended we go to the best restaurant in town for Moules Frites (mussels and fries) - another Belgian staple that has made it's way into the hearts of many restaurants worldwide. Maritime is a fancier place and we feel that as soon as the eyeballs shoot straight to the band-dude-looking Paolo and I… it's as if the record was stopped as soon as we popped our heads in. C'est la vie. I order a Crecl (I think that was the spelling?) beer and we start with some olives. Huisgemaakte Garnaalkroketten is the starter - a croquette even better than the ones from Grimbergen. These have cheese in an almost mashed-potato consistency with shrimp; a panko-style crust on the outside - heavenly. My mussel choice (and there were quite a few) was the Moisselen Room En Koflook Creme A Lail. The bucket that was laid before me was of gargantuan-proportions; the necessary frites came alongside and were dwarfed by the steel bowl of mollusks. 

I'm sure you've seen mussels and fries here and there globally on menus… and yeah - at the wrong place, you'll be in trouble; but here at Maritime - it was the best. The best moules frites of my life. This Belgian staple had never before impressed me as it did upon it's introduction to me that night - I was in love. I finished every last bit and savored that moment. Something real special was just consumed in Antwerp. 

Feeling like a nightcap, we hit a random spot on the walk back: Da Vegant Jenever Cafe. Jenever is the Belgian liqueur of choice - and I'm not entirely sure what it is. I order a coconut Jenever and a De Koninck beer and kick back at the wooden bar that was my current residence. 

All in all - for a city that delivered the best mussels and frites of my life; it was a great day off. 



Brussels and Grimbergen, Belgium

It was the morning of the Brussels show on the In Flames, Trivium, Ghost, Rise To Remain, Insense tour when Paolo and I were picked up by one of our good pals (and incredible photographer) Rudy. Rudy's plan for us for the day was to take us to the town of Grimbergen for some great Belgian chow. For those of you beer fans out there, Belgian beer is some of the truly great stuff of this Earth - and Belgian frites? Fuckin A - The Belgians wrote the book on a good frite. 

It was a grey, chilly European day on the drive to the small town of Grimbergen; scenically, the leafless tress and blue/grey-haze of the sky looked quite metal to say the least. Brasserie De 3 Fonteinen was to be our lunch spot; a well-built newer looking structure that had a traditional/modern-vibe to it; families chowed down on their Sunday meals over a low-chatter. 

I start with a goblet of Grimbergen Blond beer (a delicious little morning treat) and we begin the ordering and chatting. We order Huisgemaakte Kaaskroketjes (croquettes) and Stoofkarbonaden Met "Grimbergen" (a typical Belgian beef stew made with beer). The ubiquitous frites we were told would accompany. Paolo, Rudy, and I shared stories of other good times eating with friends, Metal, and our mutual-love for the state of Florida. Rudy spends the occasional holiday overseas in our native state that Trivium calls home.  

These were without a doubt the best croquettes I've had in Europe; melty, almost-liquid cheese tucked within the fried-to-perfection little orbs. The beef stew was hearty and reminiscent of Goulash - only - Belgian and delectably beer-tasting. I traded stomach real-estate that would have been wasted on the greens with those perfection frickin' frites. The Belgians, it is said, are quite possibly the inventors of the frite/fry - and not the French (but this is typically a topic of debate); and no - don't ever call it a "Freedom Fry" ever again (those were dark times…) Aside from an abundance of frites and beer - the Belgians love their sweets, and man do they do em well. Desert was a whopping portion of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, melted chocolate, a profiterole, and a couple banana slices (for good measure). You know that's the kinda stuff you want. 

After lunch, we headed back to the gig and had an amazing show as Belgium always offers; post-set, Austin, Paolo, some of our local friends and I headed to a legendary bar we were told legends of: Delirium Bar. This bar allegedly has the largest beer selection of any bar in the world, boasting a Guinness World Record for it's collection available to the public. We head into the basement room (as one must when at Delirium) and are welcomed by the loud clamor of people having a raucous good-time. We sample loads of different beers throughout the night, sharing many a pint with friends new and old and people who were just at the show. The show stopper of the night was the Mongozo Coconut beer. Coconut beer you question? Wait till you try this hard-to-find delicacy of the beer-realm. The flavor is like the best damn coconut cocktail you've ever had… only it's simpler than that - it's beer and natural coconut flavor. This shit is nuts - I've searched all over in other countries for this stuff… and it's damn near impossible to find outside of that very bar. Highly recommended.

Post bar-rage, in our drunken-stupor - we were all overtaken with hunger. What does one do in Europe when drunk, wobbly, and needing the truly good stuff do? Kebab shop. If you live in North America and haven't been to Europe… the Kebab shop is where all people of all political backgrounds, races, sex and sexuality all flock to post-drinking; and they're usually open 24 hours a day. It's the booze-mop that will prevent a massive hangover (but will deliver some serious reflux). We load up on some mystery meat kebabs and frites covered in mayonnaise (the European way). 

Belgium brought it.