You eat first with your Eyes.
After just having spent a week in Belgium, I can attest that the Belgians are in, on this little secret. The pubs and cafes have an endless love affair with slate and chalk. Shades of black, grey and white have been the trend for hundreds of years, yet it is endlessly fresh and hip. The decor is clean, simple, yet ultimately inspiring and makes you feel chic just being in its presence.
However, if you are lucky enough to be invited to a Belgian’s home, then you will see and understand that they rank among the top when it comes to entertaining at home. Is Martha from Belgian descent? She, more than most, have impressed upon us the importance of visual presentation when it comes to entertaining. I couldn’t agree more.
Even the most casual affair in Belgium, say breakfast, is not taken without great consideration to its presentation. The flowers must be fresh, without too much scent, brilliant in texture & color, enhanced by other small table decor items, like tiny comquats, miniature antique books, wee bit colored glass candle holders and vases. The food, best presented as a moveable feast, is an abundance of…well EVERYTHING. Tiny spoons beckon you to try the speculoos on that fresh-baked and still warm croissant or whole grain bread. The noir chocolate spread whispers to you that the calories only count on the second time, not the feast of the eyes. (I am not so sure). There are tiny yoghurts in glass jars, jams, spreads, cookies and macaroons served up with fresh squeezed juices and Nespresso coffees. It’s not breakfast, its Heather in Wonderland where the calories don’t count because it’s just too pretty to be fattening.
A Belgian dinner party is …even better. More cheeses than you have time to identify, each with their own mmmm factor. Breads that put the French baguette to shame. There are dozens of breads and each as tempting as the next. Then come the meats. Salamis, prosciutto, bresaola, sausages and delicate pates with cornichons. The accompaniments are innumerable; mustards, pestos, tapenades, onions, pickles, relishes, chutneys and a dizzying array of aoli. It goes on and on. I can’t even mention the Belgian chocolates. Let’s just the say all the vicious rumors are true. Melt in the mouth good.
No detail is ignored, right down to serving the white wine, beer and other cold drinks in big antique baskets or having Belgian linen napkins in handmade belt buckle “rings”. Personal touches are the signature style of the Belgian hostess.
I am hooked. Martha is almost put to shame with some of the home entertaining that I was lucky enough to be invited to. It’s pure sophistication and grandeur. Yet, ego, is checked at the front door. Warm, inviting and generous, the Belgians know how to throw a party morning, noon or night with seeming effortlessness and grand charm.
Many thanks to those who filled my eyes, my stomach and my foodie soul last week. (You know who you are Dominique 😉