A night in the Kingdom

Did you know that the Kingdom of Belgium encompasses all the best that Western Europe has to offer in an area no bigger than the State of Maryland? The world’s main Diamond Center is in Antwerp, Brussels and is the capital of the European Union and also the headquarters of NATO. Belgian Chocolate is considered to be the gourmet standard by which all other chocolate confections are measured (even the Swiss imported the basic recipe from Belgian chocolatiers). It is the original home of French Fries, and Belgian Beer is internationally recognized for its real flavor and character and variety (over 450). To top it off, Belgium has one of the highest densities of Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe. Brussels has more Michelin-starred restaurants than Berlin or Amsterdam. The wines served at these top-tiered restaurants are French from the southeastern region.

Rupa Mathur and Alfred Van Gool treated the Wine Stewards to a gastronomically delightful evening experiencing and tasting the flavors of this unique country.

The evening commenced with Belgian beer and appetizers. Beer in Belgium dates back to the age of the first Crusades in the 1100s: the beer varies from pale lager to lambic beer and Flemish red. Most beers are bought or served in bottles rather than cans, and almost every style of beer has its own particular uniquely shaped glass. Using the correct glass is considered to improve its flavor.

The main course was Flemish Carbonades, the quintessential Belgian beef stew dish cooked in beer, which visitors to the country always end up talking about. Alfred prepared it from an old family recipe. On a lighter note, Nrussels sprouts were served as a side dish. French wines from the South Eastern region accompanied the dinner. The regions represented were Cotes du Rhone, Cotes du Ventoux, Cotes du Luberon and Cotes du Provence. These regions produce a wide variety of reds, whites and rosés from the combination of several grapes. These regions have been producing wine from pre-Roman times. Rupa and Alfred closed the evening with servings of Alfred’s handmade Belgian chocolates. Who could resist the melt-in-your-mouth sensation of chocolate crème filled confections? Wine, Beer, Gourmet food, and decadent Chocolate. It was an evening to remember.