The Joys of Belgian Food

It’s the Belgian National Day today!

Most of the time, I don’t miss Belgium… I have to admit, though, I miss my friends and it looks like it will be difficult for them to visit me here this year. And another thing I miss is certain Belgian foods. Let’s have a look!

Mosselen met Friet (Mussels with French Fries)

With a little bit of trouble, you can find the mussels in a local supermarket. French fries are no problem. The Spanish have a thing or two to learn when it comes to deep-frying the potatoes though… Finally, I pay extra to buy good mayonnaise because I don’t like Spanish brands. They don’t have that full taste that I adore so much.

Tomaat Garnaal (Tomato Stuffed with Shrimps)

All you need are three ingredients: tomatoes, mayonnaise, and shrimps.

The problem is the shrimps. You cannot find the small, delicate ones in Spain. And stuffing your tomatoes with the bigger shrimps… They don’t have the same taste and texture.

Croque Monsieur (and all its variations)

As you can imagine, you won’t find this on any menu here. Luckily, a toasted sandwich with ham and cheese is easy to replicate here! This one with the egg on top is a Croque Madame.

Belgian Beer

Yes, Mercadona and Dia sell Belgian beers. And I also know that in Granada there is a pub with an international selection of beers, including Belgian ones.


So far, I haven’t seen any waffles here. Guess we have to make them ourselves…


Sure, they have chocolate here… But it’s not the same quality!

Maybe, I am too strict. But aren’t we all like that when it comes to our national food?

I will be back on Friday with a post about a magnificent location in the province of Granada.


A First Exploration of Iznalloz and Its Tapas

Lars and I have been living in Inalloz since the end of February. Now, you will not find our small town in any travel guide. But that doesn’t mean that it has nothing to offer. But first, where exactly are we located?

We are to the north of Granada, about 25 minutes away by car. There are bus and train services (to Granada) as well.

Before the lockdown started, we had already explored part of the surroundings, like the Cubillas Reservoir, where you can cool down during the hot days. And the Sierra Arana where you can go for an adventurous drive or hike. Besides, during the lockdown, there wasn’t any possibility to do some exploring, except for a stroll in the surrounding streets.

Now that the lockdown is gradually being lifted, we are finally able to explore our new hometown. (And a lot more, of course!). Like its parish church, dating from the 16th century and a fine example of Renaissance architecture.

It requires a bit of skill to drive to the church, with all the steep narrow streets leading to and away from it!

There is also a bridge dating from the 2nd century. To be honest, we knew about its existence, but we discovered it by coincidence.

This Roman bridge is actually a picturesque corner of our town. Some locals drive through this neighborhood however at an incredible speed.

Iznalloz has between 5.000 and 5.500 inhabitants, so it’s quite small. Yet, there are a lot of bars and restaurants here. The main street is the Calle Ganivet, home to La Taberna, where we have already spent some agreeable hours. Contrary to most of the bars of Churriana de la Vega, it’s the establishment itself that chooses the tapas for you. Some examples:

These were stuffed with fish!

Two types of hamburgers, one with pork (with tomato sauce) and the other one with beef. I think the pork here is of better quality than in Belgium.

Crispy and cheesy
Fried squid, a specialty from the north of Spain.
The “croquetas” can be stuffed with ham and/or cheese and with fish
More pork
Meatballs, my big favorite!

To be continued…

Fine Dining in the Albanian Sky

Olive oil. Fruits. Fish. Vegetables. And seafood. These are the main ingredients used in cooking in the south of Albania.

In the summer of 2013, Lars and I found ourselves in Sarandë:

We were there for a week, soaking up a lot of sun, swimming, exploring natural and historical sights. And eating and drinking… a lot. We rented an apartment and ate out every evening. The food was not expensive at all and seemed to have borrowed influences from its two main neighbors: Italy and Greece.

I had found publicity for a restaurant, but I was unaware that it was located on top of a hotel with 6 or 7 floors. Only accessible with a glass exterior elevator. And Lars and I both suffer from vertigo!

But we made it. And luckily we did. I mean, look at those views!

Let’s eat!

Pasta with fresh seafood and fish, tomatoes and flat-leaf parsley
Beef with fruit and yoghurt

Simple + fresh = spectacular! Just like the sunset…

No meal is complete without a digestive…

We had to come back a second time… Lamb on the menu.

A bit of lounging afterwards, looking at another beautiful sunset…

Unfortunately, we can’t remember the name of the hotel nor the name of the restaurant. We did some very extensive research but to no avail… But it gives you an idea of what awaits you when you eat out in Albania.

We have a special weekend coming up! And a post about a spectacular mountain drive!

More Foodie Adventures: Tasting Wine in Serbia

Today, we take you to Sremski Karlovci in Serbia. It’s located in a region called Fruška Gora, which by the way is also the name of the mountain there and the surrounding national park. Apart from its picturesque beauty, this region is also known for its vineyards.

Sremski Karlovci is known for its sweet dessert wine, called bermet. And since we are always interested in local gastronomy, we tasted it…

You want more yumminess? More wine and delicious food? Then you better book a room in Vila Prezident! It has a wine cellar with more than 100 kinds of wine, or in other words: a paradise for a foodie. As the website of the hotel says:

Viticulture in Srem is one of the oldest in Europe. The grapevine is outgrowth of fertile land in the hills above Fruska Gora for 1700 years, when the first vine was planted by the Roman Emperor Probus of the ancient Sirmijuma. Grapevine was and remains the pillar of life of many generations of Sremski Karlovci, and the wine sparkled throught Europe, always noble and dignified, among the best. For several centuries Karlovci were considered the seat of Serbian wines…

The restaurant has a rustic atmosphere…

Fruška Gora is known for its production of Traminer and Riesling. So… more tasting.

It is my firm belief that you can find delicious food everywhere…

You can book here.

If you have more time, explore other towns and villages in the region of Fruška Gora like Irig.

Or have a look at one of the many monasteries in this region. This is in Vrdnik.

I will be back on Friday with a post about Denmark. Or maybe tomorrow with a Snap. And I will update the movie website as well!

Foodie Adventures during a Lockdown Birthday

The Situation in Spain

Monday 11 May. 51% of Spain moved on to Phase 1 of the exit of the lockdown. Of the 8 provinces of Andalusia, 2 stayed in Phase 0: Malaga (where we used to live) and Granada (where we live now). This decision was met with a lot of criticism. The province of Malaga is home to the Costa del Sol, one of the most popular regions in Spain. And tourism is one of the biggest sources of income (and not only in the province of Malaga).

Here in Iznalloz – a small town to the north of the city of Granada – reactions were very negative as well. Indeed, so negative that the Ayuntamiento (municipality) had to publish an official statement on their Facebook page declaring that it was not them who had taken this decision. The reason for this outrage was simple: in Iznalloz the number of infections was/is very low. And people felt they were punished for no reason at all.

To be honest, Lars and I were disappointed as well. Sunday 10 May was my birthday and we had hoped to go to a bar the day afterward. But no such luck… We knew we had to do something so as not to feel depressed…

The Pre-Festivities

In my opinion, you always feel better when you have something nice to drink and eat. So, we started our pre-festivities on Friday evening with a BBQ. Steak, French fries, salad, and a bottle of red wine. Maybe this sounds like a simple meal for you… But ever since we came to Spain, we have been having trouble finding a nice steak! Was it the quality of meat? Not sure, since pork and chicken tend to be tastier here than in Belgium. Was it the cut of meat? Probably.

Anyway, the butcher in one of our local supermarkets had exactly what we had been yearning for. The feeling to have a good steak again after 2 years was… indescribable. I was so overwhelmed that I forgot to take pictures.

And on Saturday, yours truly had an excellent Belgian abbey beer. Also available in our local supermarkets.

See that look on my face? Pure happiness!

The Birthday Itself

Sunday. The day started like this:

Rain. And lots of it! Didn’t do much during the day, just streaming movies. And watching paranormal videos on YouTube.

I had come up with a special menu: healthy, cheap, tasty, and easy to make! For once, I was not the cook.

This is a Viking who cooks. With a glass of cava, of course.

The starter was a simple classic: melon with ham. I am not so much a fan of watermelon, but I do love honey melon!

Only 2 ingredients, but so delicious. Melon could have been a bit riper. By the way, we only ate half of it that evening, the rest ended up in a fruit salad with bananas and oranges.

The main dish featured an Italian specialty: polpettes. Italian meatballs!

Yes, I know, Lars is a messy cook.

Empty bottle of cava in the background…

Meatball, slice of tomato, and mozzarella. A couple of minutes in the oven. Served with rice mixed with grated Parmesan cheese and capers.

Strawberry ice cream for dessert.

Presentation is not The Viking’s strong point…

Lars the barman, about to mix whiskey and cola.

And… last but not least: this Monday, Malaga, and Granada finally move on to Phase 1. I hope the bars in Iznalloz are ready for us…

Bye for now and see you somewhere next week!

An Idyllic Day in the Bay of Kotor

A new week, a new country! This time, I’ll take you to Montenegro. The Bay of Kotor is located in the southwest of the country and is home to picturesque villages, magnificent sceneries, monasteries and lots of Catholic and Orthodox churches. Lars and I spent one day in the bay; it was actually our goal to explore the towns of Kotor and Perast. But we ended up on a beautiful beach instead…

This is the view that we had on the beach.

There was a restaurant nearby where we bought delicious tuna sandwiches. That’s actually it: we worked on our tan, swam, admired the stunning views and ate. A lot.

In the evening, we had dinner in the same waterside restaurant. What a romantic setting!

Whenever we are abroad, we always eat local food. This was our starter.

Local wine and grilled fish for our main dish.

While we enjoyed a brandy, nature treated us to this.

Do we regret not having explored the surroundings? A little bit. But that is, of course, the perfect reason to go back!

Anyway, on Wednesday, we start with a new series about our experiences as expats, whereas on Friday, we take you to Germany.

Estonian Food Adventures

Word of warning: do not read this post on an empty stomach!

Today, we take you to the north of Europe, to Estonia. Before we left Belgium, Lars and I knew little about this country, and especially about its gastronomy. Now, I am certainly not going to say that after having spent 5 days in this beautiful country that we have become experts, but today I will pass on to you the little knowledge that we do have about Estonian food. In a nutshell: it’s delicious!

The basic ingredients are rye bread, dairy products, pork, potatoes, beer, and vodka. Estonians stick mostly to seasonal food. In spring and summer, it’s all about fresh produce, such as berries, vegetables, and herbs; BBQing is very popular. In autumn and winter, they will eat pickled and preserved food and hearty dishes such as blood sausage, sauerkraut, and head cheese.

Maybe this doesn’t sound very gastronomic… Lars absolutely hates blood sausages and I am not a big fan of rye bread. It’s not that I don’t like it, but it troubles me that the taste of the bread tends to overpower that of its toppings. Anyway, in recent times, Estonian cuisine has been influenced by its Scandinavian, Russian, and German neighbors. And when Lars and I left Estonia, we agreed on one thing: we had tasted some of the best food in Europe!

Our food adventures started in the capital, Tallinn. Via, we had booked an apartment for three days in the suburbs of the Estonian capital. Upon arrival, a very friendly young man informed us however that the apartment was not available. He could offer us a luxurious apartment in the center of Tallinn and we didn’t have to pay extra for it. Of course, we said yes.

After having unpacked some of our stuff, Lars and I decided to explore the surroundings. It was a warm and sunny day and to our delight, we discovered that we were not far from the Old Town. But priorities, people, priorities; we were very hungry and chose the nearest restaurant, Kaks Kokka. Little did we know what gastronomic delights awaited us there…

“Kaks Kokka” means “two chefs” in Estonian; “kaks” is also the Finnish word for “two”. The restaurant shares the same kitchen with its more expensive and upscale neighbor, Ö. To be honest, the whole menu looked delicious and this is what we finally settled for.

Excellent and tender lamb (for me) and beef, hearty Estonian beer, magnificent apple wine (also Estonian) and desserts that were sweet and tangy at the same time. To. Die. For. Usually, when I eat lamb, I choose cutlets, but this lamb shoulder was simply divine. More information about the restaurant later.

The next day, we tried another restaurant in Tallinn. No need to give a lot of information about it, because Gulfstream doesn’t exist anymore.

Unfortunately, Lars can’t remember what fish he had, whereas I had fishburgers. The sauce with the fish consisted of mushrooms. Apple wine again after the meal. Tasty food, but not the same quality as Kaks Kokka.

The day afterwards, we were at the coast, in a place called Haabneeme.

This is the home of beach restaurant, OKO, specialized in slow fast food. Their sourdough pizzas are very popular, but Lars and I decided to share grilled fish together. Eating fresh food at a sunny beach, consisting of excellent ingredients, and perfect and very friendly service. What more do you want?

Kesk tee 27, Viimsi, 74001 Harju maakond, Estland. Open all year.

Yes, that’s the same apple wine… again. If I can ever taste it again, I will die a very happy person.

We spent our last evening in Tallinn at Kaks Kokka (where else?). It was even better than the first time…

100-minute poached egg. What a delight! And how did they do it? I have never tasted anything like this since.

Lars and I are not sure, but we think he had a variation on steak tartare. A masterpiece!

Mere puiestee 6E, 10111 Tallinn, Estland

I hope you learned something from today’s post or that you at least enjoyed it. Have you ever tasted Estonian food? If not, will you ever try it?

In my next post, I will bring you to Albania. I am not sure yet when I will publish it since I have quite a lot to do on Wednesday. Otherwise, it will be on Friday.

Discover Prompt, Day 5: Dish

Food, glorious food… Let me be honest, I like to shop for food, I love to cook and I certainly like to eat. If possible with a glass of wine or a nice cold beer. Like this one…

Belgian beer!

By the way, as I just wrote on Instagram, lockdown or not, life in Spain is still beautiful…

View from our balcony 😍

It’s true that the lockdown influences what you can cook and eat. When the hoarding started, we suddenly found ourselves with less choices in the local supermarkt. So, I had to adapt myself and 3 weeks into the lockdown, I discovered that this whole situation has made me more creative in my cooking actually!

I made curry last evening with chicken sausages, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, curry paste and cream instead of coconut milk. I know, I know, not exactly a traditional Indian dish, but it was delicious and that is what is most important!


When I made this couscous, the only meat available in the supermarket were hamburgers! So, I cut them in pieces and stir-fried them with leftover vegetables. Then I mixed everything with couscous, spices and eggs. Again, not something traditional, but it was so yummy.

Sometimes the Viking cooks… Lots of deep-fried food, I added the salad.

Sorry for the quality of the pictures, but I shot all of these with my phone. Anyway, the picture above features my take on a Greek salad.

Anyway, lockdown or not, hoarders or not, we are still eating well here in Spain! And, excuse me now, I am going to finish my Belgian beer.

Introduction to Portuguese Cuisine

Visiting a new country also means getting acquainted with new gastronomy. So when my travel buddy visited Portugal with me for the first time in the summer of 2018, his tastebuds worked overtime. Welcome to the country of olive oil, spices, and seafood!

Grilled Swordfish

I know that I have featured this picture before, but grilled swordfish is one of my favorite Portuguese dishes ever! Portugal is actually the country where I discovered this kind of fish and it’s even better on the island of Madeira. Cod and sardines, however, are by far the most popular fish. Anyway, grilled (sword)fish is usually served with fried potatoes and a salad. And lots of olive oil!

Piri Piri Chicken

Piri Piri is a kind of chili and the combination with chicken is a classic in Portugal. Don’t worry if you don’t like spicy food; this dish is more aromatic than hot. This is actually one of the very few meat dishes that I had in Portugal.


Cataplana is actually the copper pan that resembles a clam in which this dish is prepared. It comes in a lot of varieties depending on the seafood and/or fish (even eel) that is used. It can be served with fresh coriander and usually also contains garlic, white wine, onions, and tomatoes.


If you can’t get enough of seafood, then you should also try caldeirada, a fish and seafood stew with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, topped with bread. To die for!

Deep-fried seafood and tomato rice

And When the Kitchen Is Closed…

…the waiter improvizes: black olives, roasted red peppers, cured cheese and white beans with tuna. A refreshing late lunch.

Mastering the Art of Eating Tapas

If you have ever been to Spain and you made an effort to taste the local cuisine – and let’s face it, you should, you have probably heard about tapas. And maybe you even tasted them as well. If not and you really don’t know what to expect, here is a short guide.


The word “tapa(s)” is derived from the Spanish verb “tapar”, which means “to cover”. This could be associated with the fact that innkeepers used to show their guests samples of their food on a pot cover. But it could also refer to the habit of covering a drink with a slice of bread and a topping to keep insects away.

Nowadays, a tapa is a cold or warm snack that usually accompanies an alcoholic drink (especially beer and wine). In the south of Spain, tapas are included in the price of the beverage, although in touristy areas they tend to charge for it, usually between 1,50 and 2 euro. It’s custom that the waiter chooses the tapa for you – which enables you to discover the local specialties, but there are lots of places where the customer can (also) choose himself.

It’s easy to combine various tapas to a complete meal, which is what we usually do. We hardly ever go to restaurants here because tapas bars are so much cheaper. Going from tapas bar to tapas bar is called tapear and it’s a habit that we have taken over from the locals. By the way, tapas can be extended to a media ración (half a meal) or a ración (full meal), which you usually share with your friend(s) and is an even cheaper option.

Nowadays, we live in Churriana de la Vega, not far from Granada. Gone are the menus in English, because this is certainly not a place for expats! But the advantage is that you learn many new words and get to taste a lot of new local food. By the way, kitchens here usually close between 16.30 and open again around 20.00. And be sure to ask for the tapa(s) of the day! It’s the best way to discover new food!

Classics and Favourites

Maybe not the most typical Spanish dish, but most of the tapas bars that we frequent serve this: a juicy burger! I usually start my tapear with this one. By the way, Spanish pork is of very good quality.

It’s very hard to see, but this sandwich hides a thin slice of fried chicken breast and is very popular with the locals.

Toast with artichoke hearts and anchovy.

A ración of anchovy with olive oil and olives.

A ración of grilled calamaritos (small squid).

A classic: tortilla with potatoes. You can find this easily in supermarkets.

Fried cod is another classic, best to be eaten with some olive oil.

This is by far my big favorite: albondigas, meatballs usually served with tomato sauce.

Shrimps come in all sizes. And all of them are so tasty…

Sausages marinated in white wine and fried with onions.

A refreshing potato salad, cheese and a variation on ensaladilla rusa (boiled potatoes, tuna, olives, and mayonnaise).

On the menu of the day, pork stew with potatoes and green beans.

If you want to see more pictures of tapas, better check out my Instagram feed!

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