Mussels from Brussels…

Or Ghent…. or Bruges… or Leuven… or, in my case, Antwerp.

Like stoofvlees, the dish known as moules-frites, mussels and fries, appears on restaurant menus across Belgium. So when Tourism Antwerp treated me to an amazing meal at Grand Café Horta (Hopland 2), I decided to forgo the lobster and try the mussels instead.

Grand Café Horta didn’t list any sides with the mussels. When I asked the waiter what Belgians ate with mussels, he laughed and answered, “Fries! This is Belgium, we eat fries with everything.” Clearly, I did not need to worry myself over such details. Instead, my choice revolved more around what style to order.

I chose wisely.

The waiter brought a huge pot of perfectly prepared mussels coated in a spectacular beer sauce. (Does it get more Belgian than that?) In addition, the chef added a delicious mustard-based dip on the side just in case the beer sauce wasn’t enough. YUM! If beer sauce is not your thing – which would be pure insanity – most restaurants offer mussels in wine sauce, cream sauce, or simply steamed.

Another phenomenal meal. As I feasted, the sun set and a powerful rain storm swept in. Sitting under the overhanging awning working the mussels out of their blue-black shells, it began to pour down around me. Colorful lights illuminated the wet cobblestones turning the city into an impressionist work of art.  It was one of those perfect moments, which you can only enjoy while dining alone in a distant land.

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