Spa, Belgium, February 29, 2012—
THE FOOD IS CERTAINLY more à la français: we have moved a country closer to Paris. We first noticed this in 1974, when a similar trip took us from Netherlands through Belgium to Luxembourg and ultimately France. The architecture and the social institutiions are less to my personal taste, as I understand them, but the cuisine I respond to more, er, intuitively.
We begin with an amuse-geule: Russian salad, to tell the truth, in a shot-glass, with a teeny shrimp in a pastry tube, perched above a pool of catsup. Olives flavored with anchovy and lemon, a glass of rosé. (Well, but Lindsey had the house apéritif: sirop de concombre acec du Curaçao.)
Next, for me, pheasant ravioli in rather dense house-made pastry with mushroom sauce, and them a rib beefsteak, Irish I was told, with cream mushroom-black-peppercorn sauce, a whole steamed potato in butter, a half grilled tomato, a little endive and courgette.
Then dessert: chocolate mousse on chocolate cake base. Sounds simple; looks elegant; comes from a local patisserie-confiserie; tastes delicious.
Vin rouge en pichet: Merlot
• le Relais, Place du Monument, 22a, Spa; +32 0497/15.96.86