zondag 30 augustus 2015

The Wicked Lady Chef

I have been busy this Summer... and in less than 1 day I will be officially back at work.  Oh yes, it were surely two months that flew by.  You know what they say about when you are having fun. Looking back at my break and having and scanning over the pics that I took with my iPhone I can only state that I had a lovely time not being anyone their teacher for a while.  Oh wait, that is not true..I ended up tutoring a Y12 student for her history retake.  Surely something that involved teaching methods and trying to keep a teenager focused for longer than a Youtube-clip.  That this student passed that exam surely was one of the many times that my break did feel extra special. 

Yes, I have not been sharing a lot out here and my previous blog post was mostly about my brain trying to find some peace and quiet.  My body tells me that I have not managed to do so but then I have been ignoring a few things that I am better at during the school year and I am working at it to get back on track.  It surely would help if those specialist who I need some help from in order to get back in shape would get back to me.  Answering machines are an useful invention but I seem to have the impresssion that they are sometimes used to ignore some people. They better get back to me asap after the weekend or they might end up with finding some less friendly messages on there.

Looking at my self in the mirror also tels me that I have spend some time in the sun and my nails tell me and you that I still prefer a beautician getting her hands on those instad of my stress.  The reflection also tells me that I did finally find some time to get a hair cut and some highlights.  My skin feels softer and so I do assume that my vitamin D intake surely went up.   All well while hanging around in front of the mirror then? Uhm, well I think I might need a crash diet because I did gain some weight.  Oh yes, I have been enjoying food and drinks wile the sun did hang around.  Most of the time in very good company.  But there is perhaps one spot that did stand out this summer.  One spot, that I surely had not a instant crush on.  No, it even asked for some forcefull language of P and being less prejudice about a certain kind of cooking and the name certainly will not ring a bell that easily because it sounds very down to earth as well: TERO.

The first time that P took me there I was not even in the mood.  The thing was that he had been there for a 'fantastic' lunch and that he wanted to go back.  The 'They have got quinoa, hummus and grilled vegetables.'-tag line was not that what I was after after a long day waiting in vain for him to show up at the promised time.  At that point I was graving for a real steak with fries and mayonnaise.  Also A whose turn it was to pick out the restaurant had his mind set on a hamburger.  So that was two against one and we headed for the brasserie where we know the menu by heart. 

Turns out that on that day half of Belgium was dining out and P then decided to just ignore our wishes and drove to this one place where food sounded not as inviting to A&Stallie.  A even told us that he would rather stay in the car than having to have the food that his dad had been describing.  When we did get there the place even looked deserted and I even admit that I secretly I hoped that they were closed.  'Mum, I don't want to go in there. I want to go for burgers.', A kept repeating over and over.  I did feel sorry for him because honestly P his description of the food is not what an 11 year old is after on a Saturday evening.

Five minutes later the three of us were seated on the outside terrace and scanning their no nonsense menu.  Desperately I tried to keep my smile up when A found out that there was no Fanta or Coca Cola on the menu.   Not one fizzy drink in sight at all and so I expected  a summer storm to break loose at the opposite side of the table.  I started to worry even more because guess what?  TERO has got no childeren's menu and nothing that sounds similar to words like 'chicken nuggets' or 'fish burger'.  Even the word 'pasta' was not be found on the tight black&white list of dishes.  So I did panic that my son was going to run out of there and even  walking home on his own.   Even myself, was having  a hard time to find food that produced positive 'dining out-vibes'. P at the other hand was already in food heaven.   'Wait till you tasted the bread and the olive oil.', he told us and so I gave him at that moment the benefit of the doubt.

Well, when the bread arrived I did notice first of all that it did smell nice and the color of the olive oil also told me that this was nothing prefabricated.  The moment that I dipped my brown piece of slightly still oven warm into the golden liquid I did sense something in the air. Okay, I was very hungry and I do have a very weak spot for bread in general.  The thing with bread at restaurants is that it can already tell you a lot about the food that will follow.   Some chefs will fully agree with me.  The bread is where the culinary experience starts with.  Nowdays there are also those people who try to stay away from gluten and that is understandable but bread is the calling card of a restaurant that wishes to stand out.  Dietwise bread is surely not your best companion but I do advise you to have at least one bite of the bread they serve at TERO.

Now the other thing you need to know about  the menu is that for dinner is that you are not supposed to pick out the classic starter and main course.  Nope, here you pick a few dishes out of a list and share those with your table.  Sounds a bit like that formula that the Spanish call tapas, doesn't it?  Well, you are right. P was already in full swing picking out his dishes and I still was under the impression that the bread was the only thing that A would have.   Next I started to have a more depth reading of the menu and then my eyes came across some ingredients that can make me smile while the sun is out and temperatures call for 'al fresco' dinning.   The moment I saw the words 'ceviche' I knew I was going to live happily ever after.

So now keeping A alive and kicking.  Words like sun dried tomatoes and Buratta pulled him over to the more 'content' side of the table.  'Mum, they don't have coca cola?', was of course the only thing that kept him still on the edge.  'You can have instead water.', was P his response.  'I don't like that. Why did we have to come here in the first place?', my son replied.  Surely very light dinner conversation when at the point your waiter shows up.  This young guy still looked very crispy in his white t-shirt and was beaming all over with positivity.  Plus the boyish grim on his face also told me that he knows how to please the hungry ladies that are after a nice light dinner and a few compliments.  But I was more worried about A at this point and did not pay that much attention to him.  (I can tell you that this changed the next time we paid a visit!)

P shot his order at him and next up was me and surprisingly there were four dishes on that list that I just could not wait for to come out of the kitchen.   I then ordered for A three things that I was sure about that he knew what they tasted like.   At this time I did feel a bit more at ease and that by now the terrace was almost full of hungry guests.   Most of them were women and A was the only child.   'Guess that this is not a spot to bring children in the first place.  What were we thinking?!', my mind was shouting at me.  A had by now emptied the whole bread basket and forced us kindly to order more bread.   I couldn't blame him at this moment but I did hope for more positivity to come out of the kitchen soon!

By the time our dishes arrived my stomach had already communicated that it needed food.  And then... well then I fell in love with food... Nope, don't expect impressive molecular cooking and complex looking dishes.  That is not what TERO is after.  Everything that the menu had told me I met up with in my mouth.  A had gone silent by now what I not always consider a good thing.  He was inspecting his food up close and personal.  But after I saw him swallowing down his fist bite of the Italian cheese and producing a positive sound I relaxed.  P looked at me and said:'Good food, isn't it?'

Good????? That word did not even come close to what my taste buds were telling me.  I was at the beach somewhere in Southern America looking at the sun set while having a few bites of nicely and fresh cut up fish bathing in some lemon juice and the nice glass of perfectly chilled Cava did surely help out as well.   I was in a very happy spot and I refused to be disturbed by anyone or anything.

So when one of these lovely waiters checked if everything was okay he only saw smiles and we produced happy sounds.  Yes, including A and that did fill me up with even some pride. Okay, he must have been hungry but he had managed to finish most of his plates.   The atmosphere had now for sure changed at our table. We were only surrounded by empty plates when our still good humored waiter came to clear our table.  'So, you enjoyed?' I did not even give P time to answer:'Oh, yes and even the little gentleman over there did.'  A had his angelic face on and wondered if we could have dessert? 'Oh, that is good to hear.  After all, if we manage to let children eat this food we know we are on the right track.'   I could only agree with him.

The desserts that is always a league of their own.  Desserts are the cherry on the pie and some chefs know that they are their forte or their achilles heel. That star restaurants have a chef de patisserie never surprises me.  Now P, A &I love desserts and so we will hardly skip that part of dining out.   We love the words you come across on a dessert menu.  It can make us even more happy but we also are fully aware that it can be risky and that chances do exist that it might be dissapointing.  It can make you leave a restaurant less upbeat and your memories of the meal will be a bit less fond. It is a bit like a roller coaster ride of which you are wondering if it will end with a great looping or rather a downwards hill that will suddenly come to a total stand still.

The dessert list at TERO is not exhuberant and sounds again very down to earth.  The best news of all is that your friends who have to enjoy a gluttenfree life will be able to share the fun and chocolate lovers out there have to taste the chocolate dessert for sure.   So we enjoyed the last course of the evening as much as our first bite and also the coffee and tea they served along got 2 thumbs up.  And so yes, we paid our bill with a smile on our face and promised to be back soon... very soon.  

Simple food, a love for fair and natural ingredients, being proud of what we can produce close to home, kicking out the additives and trying to stay true to your principles that is what I did taste while I was dining at TERO for the first time.  What a delight, what a fresh summer breeze I felt that night. There is nothing complex about what leaves this kitchen and they are hiding nothing from you (proof the see through windows) and it seems their only hope is that you will rediscover the wealth in simplicity.  Well, in my case: mission accomplished.  While walking out I waved at the chef ,who seemed to be content as well in her kingdom, and I was thinking:'You put me under a spell! One I am planning to enjoy over and over again.  You surely deserve a hug you wicked lady chef!'

Next week TERO celebrates their first anniversary and I do hope from the bottom of my heart that the modest lady chef and crew who has more than once brightened up my Summer will keep up their cooking and good work for a long time to come. 

And because the proof of the pudding is in the eating...  what are you waiting for?

PS: The perfect movie and music that goes along with this entry is  'The Hundred Foot Journey.'  Watching it after having dinner at TERO will make you even fall more in love with food and life, the simple life and the passion for cooking.
And as an extra two more: One the song by Berlinda Carlisle 'I won't say' because I have to say now out loud that P made me fall in love with something that I not so easly am won over for.  And the other one is the Muppets clip that A&I just love when it comes down to cooking.  Enjoy 

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