Benelux – A Foodie’s Paradise that’s close to home

Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg are well known for their cultural heritage but what is less well known is the fact that they also have a very long culinary tradition. Peter Morrell reports

Chefs in Luxembourg

Chefs in Luxembourg

Antwerp at Night

Antwerp at Night

Market in The Hague

Market in The Hague

A couple of recent trips, one to Bruges in Belgium and the other to Amsterdam reminded me of the quality of food in the Benelux countries. Den Gouden Harynck, the Michelin starred restaurant in Bruges is the showcase for the cooking skills of chef Philippe Serruys while in Amsterdam establishments like The Stork and Anna are creating inventive modern European dishes from fresh, seasonal, local produce.

Probably best known for moule and frites Belgium can also claim endive au gratin with cheese, waterzooi, a hearty fish stew and waffles with chocolate sauce as their own. And not forgetting the wide range of beers they brew which come in all strengths and flavours.

In Holland, pork and bacon dishes are widespread together with apple pie, which was probably taken to the US by the Dutch, pickled herrings are popular as are pancakes (pannenkoeken) which can be either sweet or savoury. Cheese also needs a mention with Edam and Gouda having universal appeal. Drink wise Jenever or gin which can be flavoured with all sorts fruits and spices is definitely worth trying and the De Colonjes vineyard in Groesbeek produce some excellent red and white wines.

With the Moselle River running through it, Luxembourg produces some very good wines including Cremant, a sparkling very similar to champagne. Food wise two of their classic dishes are F’rell am Rèisleck, trout in a Riesling sauce and quetscheflued, a damson plum tart with a selection of fine wines to match.

To help you discover the unique culinary treasures that the three countries offer Railbookers, who are experts in European train travel, will be offering a specific Benelux by rail taste tour later in the year. This cross border, tailor made rail experience will showcase the extraordinary range of tastes, expertise in food production, local delicacies and gastronomic dining to be found in the region.

The journey starts on the Eurostar at London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet or Ashford and the first stop is the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. It is famed for having more Michelin stars per square mile or per head of population than any other country.

Next stop is cosmopolitan Antwerp, Belgium’s second largest city, it is home to a range of culinary delights. The latest craze to hit Flanders is the popularity of “Young Chefs” in the cities and there is the opportunity to dine out at in range eateries offering an eclectic choice of food and drink at all levels.

The final stop is The Hague, Holland’s third largest city. Often referred to as the Royal City by the Sea, The Hague boasts some of the freshest seafood. And nowhere else is the Indonesian dining culture more strongly rooted than in The Hague where you can sample some of the most authentic Asian cuisine in Europe. Quality traditional and local ingredients is very much in evidence during your trip which is a must for the adventurous foodie.

Railbookers (www.railbookers.com) offer a 5 night holiday by rail to Benelux. Prices start from £579 per person and include all train travel from London, Ebbsfleet or Ashford, 2 nights central 4* hotel accommodation in Luxembourg, a night in Antwerp and 2 nights in The Hague, all including breakfast. For more information, call 020 3327 1597

For more information follow the links below

Flanders www.visitflanders.co.uk/
Holland www.holland.com/uk/tourism.htm
Luxembourg www.visitluxembourg.com/en
Railbookers www.railbookers.com
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