MUSSELS AND KWAK WAS ONE OF OUR FAVOURITE MEALS IN BRUGES:
In Bruges, it was suggested that we may like to try a dinner of ‘Belgian Stoemp and Kwak’. The Dutch language is not an easy one to figure out, well at least not for me. If you’re not a beer person, you may well think that a ‘Kwak’ is some kind of exotic bird, but not so. And as for Stoemp, the mind boggles.
Stoemp, we discovered, is a popular Belgian dish whose ingredients I believe are similar to Bubble and Squeak in England or Hash Brown in the States. It is made of mashed potatoes with a mix of root vegetables like onions, leeks, carrots and shallot. Some may add bacon to it. It is served with a kind of sausage called ‘boudin‘, with bacon or as a side dish to a fish dish like cod. It’s more in the category of comfort food rather than haute cuisine and it goes well with beer.
Mussels and KwakWe thought better of the stoemp and instead had our favourite Belgian mussels and Kwak at the Central Cafe on Bruges market square. This restaurant enjoys a prime location facing the Belfry and Kwak seems to be their sponsored beer.
The Kwak Story
Kwak is Pauwel Kwak, one of the three beers brewed by Brouwerij Bosteels. This family brewery was founded in 1791 and it is still operated by the same family who are seventh generation Bosteels. This amber ale was named after Pauwel Kwak, an 18th century innkeeper and brewer.Kwak is served in its own very unusual and distinctive Kwak glass which reminds me of a huge laboratory glassware. The laboratory flask-shaped glass is held upright by a wooden stand. As the story goes, it was designed by Pauwel Kwak, brewer and owner of the ‘De Hoorn’ inn, for the coachmen who would stop at his tavern. The coachmen were not allowed to leave their coaches and horses and hence were not able to quench their thirst. Pauwel Kwak designed the glass that could be hung on the coach so that the coachman could drink his Kwak beer safely.
Tony ordered a 50 cl glass of Kwak and you can see from the photo how tall the glass is – holding the glass involves quite a skill. It was such an unusual glass that it attracted other diners’ attention and we seemed to have start a trend of Kwak at every table.
This was the first time that Tony’s had this strong Belgian beer and he rather enjoyed it. A 50 cl serve of Kwak at a Central Restaurant was Euros 9.50.