Don’t you just want to slap yourself when you go to a cool place and forget your camera? That would be me this weekend on a trip to Bruges, a medieval Flemish city caught and preserved mostly in the 14th century. Thus my photos, when I got back, of things I bought there (chocolate, tapestry pillow, 18th century chimney tile of the Bruges lion) and what I ate there (a perfect facsimile, if I do say so myself).
Am I obsessed with the Flemish soup Waterzooie? Maybe. At least as far as getting it right. I wrote earlier of my very doubtful Lobster Waterzooie in Brussels and couldn’t wait to get back to Belgium to make a correction. Except I forgot to take the camera. *sigh* But this really IS exactly like the bowl I had at Sint Joris (St. George) Brasserie on Markt Square, except with the local Bruges beer instead of this “gloriously bronze” Westmalle Triple that I brought back to Paris with me.
And what I love about this particular Waterzooie is that it is not only delicious and authentic but also totally easy, much easier than my original recipe at http://www.soupsong.com/rwaterzo.html. Try this per person:
- 1 chicken thigh and 1 chicken drumstick
- 1-inch green part of leek, cleaned and chopped
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup water or chicken stock
- 4-5 small waxy potatoes, peeled
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon flour; salt and white pepper to taste
- 1-inch peeled carrot, grated
- garnish: parsley, finely minced
Put the chicken pieces, leeks, garlic, and potatoes in a pot, add the stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover tightly, and poach for an hour–until the chicken is tender but not falling off the bone. Remove the chicken pieces and potatoes, whisk in the flour and seasonings over medium heat until thick, then whisk in the cream and grated carrots. Remove the skin from the chicken pieces, add the chicken and potatoes back into the pot, and let simmer for 10 minutes. In each bowl, arrange one thigh and one drumstick and surround with potatoes, pour the sauce over each bowl, then sprinkle with parsley. How easy is that? Serve with knife, fork, and soupspoon–and don’t forget the Belgian beer.
But my personal recommendation is to go to Bruges, and the sooner the better, to experience it in its own setting. What a city! If you have short pockets and low standards, you can stay in a hostel like the Hotel Lybeer for 27 euros, which includes a great breakfast in a crystal chandeliered common room, a discount card for all city events, and Bruges-by-Day/Bruges-by-Night maps “made by locals” that is hilarious and spot-on for what you should and should not do. But, eek, remember to take a towel for that shower down the hall….