Foodie Friday: Antwerp Belgium

Last spring I was on a Viking River Cruise that went through Holland and Belgium. One of the first stops in Belgium was the wonderful city of Antwerp.

If you don’t know a lot about river cruising, one of the many benefits of the experience is that there is one tour included in every port you dock in. There were ports where optional tours could be purchased, but if you didn’t want to, you could enjoy the included tours and then spend your free time wandering around these beautiful cities. That is exactly what we decided to do that day.

Our walking tour took us from the along the waterfront to a castle. From there we window13walked through the city’s cobblestone streets and walkways looking at the buildings and learning the history of Antwerp.

Each guest on the cruise has their own “audiovox” headset which is the best way to go on a tour. You have a head set that is set to your tour guide’s frequency and you can follow along at your own pace and still listen to everything he/she is saying. It is really a great way to tour, since you have people walking at different paces, and/or people like me, who like to take a lot of pictures.

We walked for a few hours, looking at sights, and the final stop for the tour was at the Cathedral of Our Lady in the centre of town. The Cathedral in the home to many pieces of art from Peter Paul Rubens and many others.

While walking to the Church we passed a lot of cafe’s and shoppes that we didn’t have time to visit on the tour. A few of us decided that instead of walking back to the ship for lunch, we would spend the rest of our free afternoon sampling all the delicious local treats of Antwerp.

Our first stop was a local street vendor who had a dried fruit and nut stand in the Ant1middle of the town square. We wanted to take pictures of his dried fruits and nuts since they were so colourful, so we spent some of our money, then took our photos.

After that we decided it was time to have some frites. We asked some locals where was the best place to have some frites and were given a few options. We chose one and went up to the counter. Obviously not speaking the language, we didn’t really know how to order. You chose your size and then if you wanted ‘saus’ on the frites or on the side. We chose on the side, and they give you a paper cup for the dipping sauces.

ant4In Holland (and obviously Belgium) they dip their frites in Mayonaise. This stand had about 8 different kinds of dips, ketchups, etc. They had curry flavoured ketchup. We wanted a couple of cups to try different sauces, but were scolded by the lady behind the counter. Picture Seinfeld being yelled at by the soup guy, that would have been us.

Then it was on to the trattoria for some pizza. I know that pizza is not a dutch treat, but we walked by this place at least three times on the tour and the amazing smellsant5 wafting onto the cobblestone streets, how could we not stop. And let me tell you it did not disappoint. We ordered a pizza to share for the three of us (since we had already had the frites and had much more to go) and we polished the plate clean!

Before we heading to the chocolatiers shops on our way back we had to stop for..wait for it…WAFFLES of course. We walked past this really cute shop on the tour, but it wasn’t open yet. By the time we got back there, it was open and you could smell the wonderful scent of waffles in the air. You could have with ice cream, whipped cream, fresh fruit, chocolate sauce. Name your pleasure. I don’t think words could do them justice. Even the photos do not do them justice. They were out of this world delicious.ant7

Last but certainly not least, were a few stops to some chocolatiers stores. There is a chain in Belgium called Leonidas which was basically your Starbucks of chocolate shops. Then there were some that were much more high-end, and you could see by the intricacies of the designs, the flavour combinations, etc. We all bought boxes of chocolate to bring home.

Our afternoon in Antwerp was divine. We had perfect weather, we ate delicious local food, took lots of great pictures along the way and had a lot of laughs. It was a day on the trip that will be a long-lasting memory.

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Road trippin’ – Eischen’s Fried Chicken

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Back in the winter, B and I were having a discussion about planning a trip to see each other this spring/summer. After some back and forth about where to go, he came up with a ‘crazy idea’. It was going to be his high school reunion in the town of Altus, Oklahoma, and since I have never really seen that part of the country, that it could be fun to make the trip to this area of the good ole US of A. It didn’t take me a lot of time to decide and thought it would be a great idea.

The trip was broken down into three parts – the reunion weekend, driving to Dallas, Fort Worth and then back to Oklahoma city to tour around and see the sights and spend the 4th of July there.

Of course I had done some foodie research and for our first night on our trip, based on the recommendations of B and his sister, we went to the oldest bar in the state of Oklahoma – called Eischen’s.   This bar/restaurant was established in 1896. It eichens1was destroyed by a fire and re-opened in 1993. They have a piece of the bar that was made in Spain in the 1800’s that is still on display in the restaurant.

The menu makes it easy for you. They have a total of 8 items on the menu. When you know what you do well, don’t mess with it. They do fried chicken – VERY WELL!

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We ordered two chickens and fried okra. I had never had that before, so I thought I would try it. I know it is a southern staple, but I really didn’t think it had much taste. The chicken however, was seriously good fried chicken. The kind you see them making on the food channel all the time. With the whole fried chicken they served it with bread, sweet pickles, dill pickles and onions.

The atmosphere is very casual and informal. Much like I learned at some other BBQ restaurants later in the trip, you don’t need plates or cutlery for some of these types of food. Waxed paper at Eischen’s was the name of the game, and napkins…lots of napkins.

It was the first of many fun food experiences I had on my road trip.

Are you hungry now? Stay tuned for more!

Famous Fried Chicken

Famous Fried Chicken

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The tables at Eischen’s – local advertising

Fried Okra

Fried Okra

Restaurant Review: Sea Witch Fish and Chips

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What do you think of when you think of a neighbourhood restaurant? I think of knowing the owners and seeing them behind the counter, fresh food and an ambiance that feels like you are eating at a friend’s house. All of that you can find at Sea Witch Fish and Chips.

When I first arrived I was greeting by one half of the Sea Witch ownership team, Kevin who was behind the counter where food Sea1was already being prepared and frying for our group. The restaurant has one main “family style table” down the centre, and then some booths up the sides. I chose to sit at the family style centre table so that I could speak to other people in our group.

Kevin’s wife Jackie came out to introduce herself to us and we got started on what we all came to do, which was try out the great offerings that the Sea Witch has to give its customers. Kevin worked at Penrose Fish and Chips and he is solely responsible for the fish they chose, how it is prepared and fried.

We got to taste a sample of what makes this sea5fish and chips place great. We started off with the chowder that Jackie makes herself. Hearty and creamy loaded with vegetables and chucks of pickerel and halibut. Jackie also comes from a restaurant background at the London Pub in Richmond Hill. She makes the chowder, the slaw and the baked sweet end of the meal treats.

We sampled the halibut cakes with pickled onions that come as mini appetizer size or on the manu as a full meal size. A sample of their onion ring tree and then onto the main event – the halibut fish and chips!

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Sea3The portion sizes are very large and fulfilling. I would recommend if you are there with a friend, one gets fish and chips and one gets fish and upgrades to the rings so that you can share. They fry in beef tallow which gives the food a very hearty taste.

The focus of home made food with locally grown products, combined with the pride of the owners and the love of food and their neighbourhood,makes Sea Witch a great place to enjoy fish and chips. If you like tartar sauce with your fish, you will enjoy Jackie’s made from scratch version of the fish condiment.

If you live in the area, call ahead for take out. More than half their orders are take out.

I am looking forward to making a date with some of my friends to go back and enjoy more of what Sea Witch Fish and Chips has to offer. Bring your appetite!!

For more information:

Website: www.seawitchfc.com

Location:

636 St. Clair Avenue West (416) 349-4284 (416) 34-WITCH

Social Media:

Twitter: @seawitchfc

Facebook: seawitchfishandchips

Instagram: seawitchfc

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