Belgium indulges Chennai

Belgium is the land of the Smurfs, waffles, chocolate and diamonds, and beer, of course. Lucky us - the Belgian Consul General's office decided to indulge Chennai with a taste of Belgium and flew in some awesome beers, exotic ingredients and renowned chef Vincent Tibau who cooked us a fine dining experience that included a Smurf tart!!

Chef  Vincent with Chef Mauro

The Arena, 365 A.S. is the venue of the 10-day festival. Mark Van de Vreken, Belgium Consul-General inaugurated the festival that showcases some of the country's food, brews and techno music.

Seriously?? 800 kinds of beer??

Chimay Rouge

The evening was warm but there was lots of beer to cool parched throats. Chimay, Delerium, Affigem and Hoegaarden seemed to be popular choices of the evening. The Chimay Red that I tried is a Trappist ale, strong, darkish and slightly fruity with a good head. These beers are brewed by Trappist monks and the beer is served in customised glasses. In fact, all the beers were served in custom designed glasses.

Herring roe decorates cream of cauliflower with parsley coulis

Asparagus a la Flamende - you could be forgiven for thinking this was penne pasta!!

The food was a surprise. Chef Tibau had laid out a good variety of Belgian dishes that included quite a few vegetarian ones. Ingredients had been flown in from Belgium and what was interesting was that a couple of dishes had been cooked in beer. The cream of cauliflower was a sufficiently light appetiser and the herring roe on it, a nice touch. Flemish-style white asparagus had lengths of the tender vegetable paired with boiled eggs, perfect harmony of flavour and colour.

Mussels in Belgian white beer sauce

Pommes pont neuf; lobster and fish in foamy emulsion

By now, everyone knows that French fries actually originated in Belgium. Pommes pont neuf were thick cut and cooked three times till the outside was crisp and the inside floury and soft. They were served with Chef Tibau's special tomato sauce.

Braised chicory with creamy cheese truffle sauce

North Sea shrimp croquettes

Parsnip & mushroom in Belgian beer; Vincent's twist on waterzooi

The shrimp croquettes were delicious, no wonder too as the making was labour intensive. Braised chicory in cheese truffle sauce was a study in contrasts - the slight bitterness of the vegetable was offset by the flavour of cheese. Parsnip and mushroom in beer was another interesting combination. The flavour of beer was mildly discernible and the vegetables and sauce were fab. The chef's twist on waterzooi, a chicken stew, looked very pretty but the chicken skin that was served with it was very salty. 

Smurf tart; waffle with raspberry jelly & chocolate; brownie with coconut gel & meringue; pannacotta cherry beer granita

We had an assortment of desserts to end the meal. There was Smurf tart but thankfully, nothing blue about it. It was a disc of pastry topped with apricot compote, whipped cream and a sprinkling of white chocolate. The waffle was not the Liège version but the tangy raspberry jelly and sweet chocolate sauce made for a comely pairing. The brownie had strong coconutty overtones but the best was the pannacotta with cherry beer granita. It was tart and sweet and being a fan of anything almond flavoured, this was the absolute standout for me. 

Belgium will continue to indulge Chennai till May 6th. It's a wonderful opportunity to taste Belgian brews that will soon be available at Chennai. Chef Vincent Tibau's specialties too will be available à la carte.

Do reach Hyatt Regency Chennai at +91 44 61001234.


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