Schnitzel Restaurant, Antwerpen, Belgium
Given how rich blood sausage generally is, it’s not an obvious choice as the basis for a springtime dish. On the menu, this was described simply as ‘Beuling, asperges, algenboter’ (blood sausage, asparagus, seaweed butter). Not a combo you see every day, so how could I not order it?
There were are number of things going on in this dish that reflected the overall tone of our dinner – clever, but comfortably so. In some ways, you can see a riff on the traditional Benelux springtime dish of white asaparagus and ham – except here with blood sausage – known as ‘beuling’ in Vlaams and Dutch. There is also a echo of the classic French-Belgian-Dutch bistro salad with a round of bucheron-esque goat cheese adding richness and heft to a plate of greens. But the addition of seaweed, fried cripsy strips of which were mixed in with the greens, added a whole other element, with the seaweed picking up something astringent, and stony-metallic in the blood sausage. That may not sound like a good idea, but it actually worked really nicely, and brought an unusual freshness to the dish. A lovely thing to enjoy, sitting on their patio in a small plaza, on an April saturday during the first warm weekend of the year.
Schnitzel’s menu changes periodically, but I have seen other beuling dishes on offer since then. They also feature less-loved vegetables like jersualem artichokes, celeraic and cauliflower. Looking forward to another visit the next time we’re in Antwerp. (Last visit: April 2018)