The Flemish Ardennes has all the tastes!
Authentic regional products that you can never get enough of
You can also come to the Flemish Ardennes to enjoy authentic regional products. Get to know the mattentaarten (a unique regional cake) from Geraardsbergen, geutelingen (a regional type of pancake) from Elst, Balegem gin and Oudenaarde brown ale: all top products, based on age-old recipes that were passed on from generation to generation. Because in the Flemish Ardennes, we know 'the good life' all too well!
Geraardsbergse mattentaart: protected European regional product
The Geraardsbergse mattentaart is Belgium's most famous regional product. With traces dating back to the 13th century, it is also the oldest pastry in the world. The curds are made by clumping together three parts whole raw milk and one part buttermilk, straining and leaving it to drain overnight in the refrigerator. The other ingredients are eggs, almonds, sugar and puff pastry. The local bakers established quality regulations as early as 1665. The European Commission therefore rightly and justifiably gave the Geraardsbergse mattentaart the label 'protected geographical indication'. This means that only pastries baked in Geraardsbergen or neighbouring Lierde according to the original recipe may call themselves real Geraardsbergse mattentaarten. Only milk from local farmers may be used too.
In short, a trip to the Flemish Ardennes is not complete if you have not tasted at least one Geraardsbergse mattentaart. This handy pastry map shows 24 establishments where you can try out 'the real thing' to your heart's content. We bet you won't stop at just one attempt. And thanks to the recipe on the pastry map, you might even be baking your own buttermilk pastries soon!
Geutelingen: lighter and creamier than a pancake
For a second sweet delicacy from the Flemish Ardennes, we head to Elst, part of Brakel. A Geuteling – Old Dutch for 'poured cake' – looks a bit like a thick pancake, but is far more airy and creamy. A batter based on milk, flour, eggs, yeast, salt and a pinch of cinnamon is poured onto a clay tile in a red-hot oven. With the inimitable result: a tender and delectably fragrant Geuteling that gently melts away in your mouth.
The residents of Elst traditionally baked the Geutelingen on 9 February, Saint Apollonia's day. Over time, the custom died a quiet death, but since 1972, the Geutelingen are alive and kicking once more. Lieselotte and Pieter work with the time-honoured family recipe every year from September through May in their Geutelingen bakery. In doing so, they use 100% natural and mainly local ingredients. Besides that, Elst also has a genuine Geutelingen Museum and annual Geutelingen festivals are organised there as well.
Fancy a piece of baked heritage for breakfast or a snack? With the exception of the summer months, Geutelingen are now for sale in quite a few places in the Flemish Ardennes.
Van Damme Distillery: the only real Balegem gin
The last warm farm distillery in the Benelux? You can find it in Balegem, part of Oosterzele. The original and still operational distillery is so unique that it is now protected heritage. For seven generations, Van Damme Distillery has been growing its own grain for its gin. By appointment, you can follow the six stages of the traditional distillation process at close quarters: grinding, soaking, fermenting, distilling, maturing and cutting, etc. And tasting, because that is always part of the process. At the coffee house with a gin store, do you go for the lauded O'de Flander Balegem grain gin at 41%? Or do you prefer the young grain jenever at 31%, the old one, full of character at 51%, or the Balegem lemon or cherry jenever? Feel free to try them all! But make sure arrange for a driver to take you home safely.
Roman: the oldest family brewery in Belgium
Roman Brewery from Mater (Oudenaarde) is known worldwide for its rich assortment of craft-brewed beers. And it has been for almost 5 centuries: since 1545, to be exact. Meanwhile, the fourteenth generation is now in place. Over the years, traditional craftsmanship, an eye for quality and thorough perfectionism have formed the basis for such highly flavoured speciality beers as Sloeber, the Ename abbey beers and Gentse Strop. With Adriaen Brouwer, Roman is also upholding the illustrious tradition of Oudenaarde's brown ale. You can visit the brewery after making a reservation (including a tasting). During weekends, you can also test Roman's beers extensively in the tasting room with terrace.
Liefmans Brewery: unique fruit beers on the banks of the Scheldt
Liefmans, too, is now looking back on more than 300 years of Oudenaarde's brewing history. Jacobus Liefmans' original facilities can still be seen in the brewery's museum. In the early 1900s, the brewery dedicated itself to the traditional production of fruit beers based on old brown and fresh local cherries. The result is a unique sweet-and-sour palate. The brewing process has been continually perfected over time, coupling respect for tradition with innovative techniques. You can go and see it all with your own eyes, coupled with two drinks of Liefmans beers.
Brouwerij Van Den Bossche: traditie en erfgoed in een glas
Herzele is another family-based, artisanal and classified brewery with name and fame. At Van Den Bossche, famous beers such as Pater Lieven, Lamoral and Buffalo have been brewed for four generations. Well-made, noble products with a story – they're on board with that. Love and passion for beer and respect for heritage and tradition: this is the formula for success with which Van Den Bossche Brewery continues to develop new initiatives on a regular basis. You can discover how it all works during a personal tour with a tasting.
Organic goat farm De Volle Maan: pure nature
At organic goat farm De Volle Maan in Sint-Lievens-Houtem, no fewer than 600 goats provide the raw milk for delicious, traditional organic cheese. In the winter, they are fed with high-quality forage; in the summer months, they feast on clover and dandelions in the meadows. And you can taste that! The passionate cheese-makers at De Volle Maan use only natural resources. Each cheese is unique and is scooped out, turned, seasoned and packed by hand.
Goat's cheese from De Volle Maan is now for sale in many places in the Flemish Ardennes and beyond. On the farm itself, you can visit the charming farm shop six days a week. In addition to its own production (cheese, ice cream, yogurt, raw goat's milk, seasonal pastries, jams, etc.), They also offer organic bread and natural and organic wines.
De Vierhoekhoeve farm shop: everything home-made and hand-made
The small village of Gijzenzele, in the far north of the Flemish Ardennes, can also boast a family farm with a farm shop of considerable size. De Vierhoekhoeve only sells home-made and hand-made traditional and fresh products: home-made fruit jams, cheeses, fine meat products, desserts, ice cream, fresh farm milk, soup, cold-extracted honey, elderflower aperitif, artisanal juice, etc. In short, the best of what the vegetable garden, the bee forest and the lush pastures of De Vierhoekhoeve have to offer.
Boerkoos: delicious, pure, healthy and fresh from the locals
Looking for a single store with the very best regional and farm products from the Flemish Ardennes? Then you need to be at Boerkoos in Nukerke (Maarkedal), between Oudenaarde and Ronse. A significant part of the wide range comes from this region and contains as many local ingredients as possible, preferably with no additives or preservatives. Honesty is the best way to go, right?
Three authentic cafés
Would you like to enjoy all the good things the Flemish Ardennes have to offer in peace and quiet in an authentic place? Then you should definitely visit some of those delightful cafés and restaurants that are so typical of this region.
In Etikhove (Maarkedal), Hofke ter Musse is an excellent choice. A vintage café was established in the farmstead's old stables. In addition to the wide range of local beers, there are also some very tasty snacks. Pizzas, quiches and geutelingen are prepared in the traditional wood-fired oven.
't Hol van Pluto tavern in Sint-Blasius-Boekel (Zwalm) has more than 85 beers in stock, including a great many regional corkers. Add to that an attractive menu and you will realise why people's bowls are so often full here. In the winter, the Leuven stove spreads a cosy warmth; in summer, the heavenly garden beckons.
Dikkele (Zwalm) is a tiny village full of nostalgic charm. De Casino village inn is an obligatory stop for all those who love the atmosphere of yesteryear: a pub/restaurant where time seems to have stood still, but where the beer range is fully up to date.
And there's more. Much more!
Actually, there's always a nice café, a fine restaurant or sunny terrace where you can relax and where genuine regional delicacies will be lovingly prepared for you, in every corner of the Flemish Ardennes! Welcome to the Flemish Ardennes... and enjoy!
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