Sunday, August 24, 2008

Le pré sale

I couldn’t in good conscience let Y spend a weekend in Brussels without a trip out for moule frite. It just wouldn’t be right. Deciding against chez leon, tourist institution purveyor of not-too-bad moule frite in rue tourist-trap des bouchers, we ventured into the fishier and slightly grungier streets of st Catherine.

st Catherine feels a little weird – it feels like it’s missing a large body of water, or a tiny boat bearing canal at least. Rows of seafood restaurants line the square which used to be a dock. In the wisdom of early Brussels town planners – they silted up the river and the dock became redundant, but somehow, the waterside feel of the place still lingers.

Le pre sale was heaving when we walked through its doors. We were offered a table after an hour’s wait. No worries – that suited us fine – lunch was still lolling about in our tummies and the extra hour digesting would make space nicely for a kilo pot of mussels. And chips of course. And mayonnaise. We considered all this while sitting along a tiny water feature in the place of where the dock used to be. And it made us hungry.

It was a little pointless giving me a menu – I had been contemplating all afternoon which moule flavour I was going to go for when I decided that we were going to le pre sale for dinner. Being extremely partial towards white wine and cream, but equally enamoured towards just lashings of garlic and butter, it was a difficult choice to make. The chalkboard menu solved my dilemma – they had garlic, and cream, and garlic and cream.

A large steaming pot of mussels came, plump and fat, dotted with chunks of celery and lashings of cream and garlic. It smelt delicious. I love moules. I can’t get enough of them. Bathed in the milky succulence of the moule steeped cream, I was so thankful I wasn’t planning on snogging anyone that night as I ate the garlicky goodness with abandonment.

The frites however, far surpassed any other chip I had ever tasted. I could eat them all day long and forget all conventional wisdom about cardiac health. They were the perfect size, finger length batons having the width somewhat in between the lanky French fry and the chunky English chip. It had attained chip nirvania – the finely tuned ratio between crunchy surface area and internal fluffiness which came from probably having been fried twice for ultimate crispness.

I love moule frite.


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