Crisis averted

Long term readers of this blog may remember The Haggis Crisis of 2021 and the news that the British Store online had been forced to suspend taking orders due to Brexit related supply issues.

I have, of course, been watching the site ever since and am inappropriately happy to report that, when I returned home on Wednesday, I found that they had re-opened. Of course, I immediately ordered as much as I could and it all turned up today.

I now intend on spending the rest of the day overdosing on Treacle and Lemon Curd.

… And Burgers for All

Back in 2014, Belgium decided to tolerate the use of insects as a ‘novel food’. One of the upshots of this was that a nearby zoo started serving insectburgers, and I couldn’t resist. The burgers were nicely meaty, if a bit bland, but they do point towards a much more efficient source of protein.

The insectburger was made from ground mealworms and now these have finally been approved for consumption across the whole of the EU.

The European agricultural strategy ‘From Farm to Fork’ identifies insects as an alternative source of protein that can help make the food system more sustainable.

And we do need to eat more sustainably.

The Haggis Crisis of 2021

As Brexit disasters go, this is quite a minor one but January 25th was Burns Night, a time to drink whisky, eat haggis and recite poetry. But with ongoing supply chain effects, there was no haggis to be found in Belgium, which led to something of an outcry.

More seriously, Stonemanor, which operates two British supermarkets in Belgium, has announced that it will have to close both premises this coming weekend due to depleted stock levels caused by import issues.

Stonemanor also operates a British Store online which is how I manage to keep fully stocked with essentials like Brown Sauce, Marmite and Lemon Curd. This site has, obviously, suspended orders for the weekend as well and are asking customers to check again after 10th February.

We’re not short of anything yet, but I will be checking in again next week.

I have found the site to be a very good one. They are quick and reliable and have an impressive range of foods on stock. Their announcement about suspending orders also notes:

All our orders are processed and dispatched from Belgium, so when this service resumes, there will be no additional shipping or Brexit surcharges to cover customs clearance.

If you are living in the EU and fancy a taste of something British (they also have a decent selection of Indian and Mexican foods) without any random customs costs, I would strongly recommend taking a look at what they have to offer.

Grasshopper

While in the garden recently, I found this guy on my corn. My limited insect identification skills are enough to know that it’s a grasshopper (watch me get corrected in the comments now 😉 ), but I have no idea as to what type.

More importantly, is it edible?

Grasshopper_25702

On a side note, attempting to identify bugs is something that I’m finding quite interesting even though I’m rubbish at it. If anyone can point to any relevant resources, it would be much appreciated.

The little guy has taste

With yesterday being the hottest day of the year so far, we decided to treat ourselves to a barbecue. And, of course, as soon as the food started to turn up, so did a wasp.

But how can I fault anyone who goes straight for the HP Sauce.

WaspHP_173230

I almost opened the bottle for him.

Summer camp and baby orange trees

I nearly forgot to mention yesterday that, as well as the berries and vegetables in the garden, William took it upon himself to attempt to grow an orange tree.

I helped him a bit with getting the seed to germinate and with potting it, but once it was warm enough for the plant to go outside, it has been entirely William’s responsibility.

It’s still alive.

20200719678

I am under instructions to keep it an eye on it for the next week. Although most of the youth group activities the boys normally attend have been cancelled due to the corona virus lockdown, the restrictions were eased soon enough for them to attend the annual summer camp.

It’s a bit different to usual, of course, as the kids have to remain in contact bubbles so they are less able to freely mingle than usual. Also, the Sunday barbecue is cancelled, for obvious reasons.

As ever, the older kids make their own way to the site on Thursday and the following Sunday is when the younger groups are dropped off by parents. Normally this is quite a big event, with a barbecue, drinks and a chance to catch up with how things are going so far.

This year, there’s no barbecue, no mingling and no catching up with anyone. We had to turn up, drop the kids off and leave.

On the other hand, this did mean that Eve and I were able to hop on our bikes and go out for mussels.

Mussels

Next time, though, I will check the tires are properly inflated before we set off.

Takoda and the mad menus

This is a bit of an addendum to yesterday’s post where I briefly mentioned that between the fun day out and the disaster of the drive in, we stopped for dinner.

The Takoda restaurant and ice cream parlour is located directly opposite Alden Biesen and appears to do quite a roaring trade. We’d booked a table and I was rather glad that we had when I saw that they were already having to turn people away at three o’clock in the afternoon. I suspect that they’ve removed about a third of their tables in order to comply with social distancing rules, but I was still surprised at just how quickly the restaurant filled up.

On the subject of viral changes, many restaurants are now using disposable menus. The menu is printed on a plain sheet of paper which can be simply thrown away once everything that can be ordered has been ordered.

The Takoda had a slightly different approach and, I have to admit, that I don’t know if this is in response to the coronavirus or if they’ve always done it like this. Instead of having a physical menu, there are a couple of QR codes on the table — one of them takes you to the main menu, the other to the desserts and ice-creams.

This approach works reasonably well if you have a decent internet connection and a QR code reader installed on your phone — everyone else had to borrow mine — but was undermined a bit once our orders were placed and the water reappeared with drinks and place mats. On the place mat was printed, of course, the menu.

The food, though, was superb. The boys all went for burgers (they had quite a variety) and the waiter was impressed that the twins had managed to eat everything placed in front of them. I was less surprised as the burgers did look spectacularly meaty — so much so that I momentarily wandered if I should have gone for the same. The mixed grill soon put that thought out of my mind, though, because it was glorious.

In fact, the food was so good that I decided to risk an Irish coffee. This is something which, when done well, is fantastic but which is so often no more than a coffee with a shot of whiskey and a blob of squirty cream.

Luckily for me, the Irish coffee at the Takoda is done very well indeed. So much so that I would be willing to go back for this alone.

Now I just need to find another excuse to go back to Bilzen.

Essential purchases

As the lockdown restrictions continue to be eased in Belgium, cross border shopping is now permitted again, and has been since Saturday. A ministerial order went into effect allowing cross-border family visits and this also allows for cross-border trips to go shopping.

People still shouldn’t be taking day trips and should only cross border shopping should be restricted to essential items.

HP Sauce is available in The Netherlands, but hard to find in Belgium. It is most certainly an essential purchase.

Happy Palindrome Day

Today’s date — 02/02/2020 — is a palindrome. What’s more, it’s a Palindrome in both European and American date formats, which makes it doubly special. We shall, of course, be celebrating with beer and pancakes.

That’s not entirely true. The local youth group organises a pancake day every year on the first Sunday in February, and every year we go along to support it — and eat unlimited pancakes. The fun starts at 3:00 this afternoon. Well, for the twins and I anyway.

Macsen has another karate tournament — something else that also always takes place on the first Sunday in February — so he and his mum will be joining us just as soon as they can.

We will probably be skipping dinner tonight.