Koen’s Birthday!

Gin Tonic

This year Koen’s birthday fell on a Tuesday – my day off. Koen’s parents came to Antwerp that afternoon and we did a lot of groceries – going to the butcher, cheese shop, and Delhaize – so we could prepare a dinner of Koen’s favorite foods.

Koen’s birthday present from his parents is a gift I can also enjoy – a delicious bottle of Filliers Gin and special infusions for the perfect gin and tonic. Above you see two creations – cardamom and star anise on the left and pink pepper, hibiscus, and kumquat on the right. We’re having a lot of fun experimenting!


The two dishes I prepared for dinner happen to be Koen’s signature dishes. First I made the starter – shrimp cocktail. I brought it to the table for Koen to sample, and had to keep adding ingredients. Finally after the third tasting it was deemed delicious enough to serve!

Shrimp cocktail

For the main course, Koen’s parents prepared their signature dishes; Dook: the steak with bearnaise sauce, and Els: Caesar salad with homemade dressing. But what is steak and Caesar salad without homemade Belgian-style fries? I have to admit that this is the very first time I have made fresh fries. It’s Koen’s speciality and I have only helped with the peeling and cutting. Belgian-style means that the fries are bit thicker and you need to fry them twice – first at a low temperature so that they’re cooked and warm all the way through (and then pat away all of the excess oil with paper towels) and they fry them again at the highest temperature to make them crispy. So much work but worth it! Luckily I had experts talking me through the process!

Caesar salad


Birthday meal

We ended the birthday dinner with two desserts! First an assortment of cheeses – including one blue and two reds – served with fig and nut bread. The second dessert is Koen’s all-time Italian favorite – Spumante with lemon sorbet!




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