In de Wulf, 2

June 17, 2014

In de Wulf has become a super-trendy restaurant among foodies. Its young chef, Kobe Desmaraults, is a star at cuisine festivals like Flemish Primitives and Cook It Raw. In de Wulf was just declared the best restaurant in Europe by Steve’s foodie-centric OAD poll. (Click here to see it.) To see some of the restaurant’s history, and our meal three years before, click here.  Linda and I returned for dinner, and to stay the night on June 4, 2014.

We had one of three bedrooms in the new annex, with a terrace facing out over a pond to a lush cow pasture. It was simply decorated, but comfortable. The dining room continues to be spare, but welcoming, with elegant wood tones. It was not full the night we were there. The table of eight Germans on the left and the two men on the right seemed to be serious foodies. The rest of the diners seemed to be Flemish, out for a good meal, and us.
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We started with glasses of Champagne: “Fidèle” by Vouette & Sorbet. We chose the complete menu at 145€. We did not take the wine pairings, but ordered a bottle of good Meursault, the name of which I forgot to note down. We eventually ordered a glass of the red wine paired with the lamb course: 2011 Cuvée Romanissa Matassa from near Perpignan. We were given a printed menu in English on rustic brown paper with titles of each course. They are shown in boldface below. I have tried to expand on the descriptions, but some have escaped me, either at the time or before I settled down after our trip to write this blogpost.

The first snack was
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The crisp piece of pork skin was enhanced with dabs of mustard and some mustard powder.

Crispy potato
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The crinkly potato nests were topped with potato mousse and chick pea sprouts. Excellent.

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The sea snails were chewy; they tasted of the sea.
A bowl of bay leaf vinaigrette was served alongside for dipping.

Mackerel, curryplant, mange tout
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The mackerel had been smoked with mugwort. The two pieces for us to eat were balanced on a mackerel carcass and topped with local Holstein beef fermented in the Korean style. Alongside was a thick cold pea soup served in a bowl of ice. Both halves of this dish were very good, but it was not evident to me why they went together.

Radish, egg yolk
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A soft-cooked egg yolk was in the bottom of the eggshell. It was enhanced with spring onion bits and topped with radish sprouts and flowers.

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A round sourdough bread was just baked in the wood-burning oven outside the dining room. It was served with salted butter and with pork fat with pork bits from the farm of “Beau Pays.” In de Wulf receives a pig from that farm every week. There are different parts of the pig throughout this meal.

Dogfish, kohlrabi, rhubarb
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I never did understand the composition of this dish, but it was good.

North sea crab, carrots
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Underneath the braised carrot rounds was a mound of flaked crabmeat. Both components probably had several elements in their preparations, but they were not evident to us. They simply brought out the native flavors; this is one of the fine skills of Kobe.

Dune asparagus of “Ghyvelde”, goat cheese of Uxem, verbena
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The sections of white asparagus were served with a goat cheese sauce, little crunchy bits and verbena leaves.

Lobster of Audreselles
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Lobster pieces had been butter poached and served on a shellfish/butter sauce.

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This is a version of a traditional local dish. A potato purée is made with buttermilk and served atop a potato skin gel. Fingerling potatoes from Le Touquet are roasted in a salt/clay mold and sliced. One dips them in the purée; they were exceptionally flavorful.

Sepia from the Northsea, swiss chard
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Shards of cuttlefish were wrapped in Swiss chard for cooking. They were served on top of a squid ink sauce.

Snails of Comines, spinach, velouté of young garlic
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Inside the snail shell is a very strong garlic, parsley butter which provided a dramatic version of a traditional flavor combination.

Cauliflower, whey-mussel sauce
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The cauliflower had been roasted until somewhat caramelized. The whey-mussel foam was appropriately subtle to go with it.

Brill, young shallot
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The charcoal broiled brill, which is like a small north sea turbot, had a mild, but elegant flavor. The vegetables, which included North Sea capers, were very good and not too strong for the fish.

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A flaxseed tarte with creamy pork brain was served on a pig’s skull. Unusual and excellent.

Lamb, ramson capers, spring onion
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A good piece of spring lamb was naturally accompanied by spring vegetables.

The chef offered us a special extra course: pigeon aged in smoked hay for a week, then smoked and aged two weeks more in hay before being lightly roasted.
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It was carved and presented so that one had to eat it with the fingers. The flavor was sublime, particularly next to the bone.

Flamiche Vieux Lille
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This is a version of a local specialty, cooked in the wood burning oven. An extra ripe version of local Maroilles cheese is melted into brioche dough and dressed with fresh greens from the garden. Very good.

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There was chocolate inside the shells.

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A sorrel flavored and colored brioche was served with a dab of crème fraîche and flowers.

Spruce, pineapple weed
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There was spruce ice cream in the meringue cup. On top were chamomile and spruce flavors.

Strawberry, fresh cheese
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Wild strawberries with fresh cheese were in a cup formed by poppy leaves.

In the morning we had breakfast.
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This is the stove on which the breakfast hostess cooks the eggs.

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Here is the wood burning oven out in back of the dining room, near our annex. It was used for bread and several other dishes.
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Well, our meal was superb. The ingredients and combinations were excellent. The local origins of ingredients and traditional recipes was an attractive feature. There were no dishes which we found disappointing. The portions are just right, enough that one could enjoy a few bites and then move on. The service by the many young sous-chefs who prepared the dishes was charming and efficient. The pace was just right. The noise level was low. Bravissimo, Kobe.

To see our meal at In de Wulf in May, 2011, click here.


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