Our sixth “Follow them Friday” features Breandán & Elisa from BELGIAN SMAAK blogging & vlogging in English.
When did you start blogging?
We started blogging in February of 2014. It was almost a year into our time together in Belgium and was a tangible expression of our growing fascination with the diversity, quality and taste profiles of Belgian beer and chocolate. We were starting our own adventure in taste and wanted to start blogging to bring people along with us – it’s more fun to share these experiences with others.
How did you decide on the name of your blog?
When friends of Breandán from Ireland came to visit, they couldn’t get over the flavours of the beers they were drinking. And whether it was the earthy homeliness of a milk chocolate ‘studentenhaver’ with its nuts and raisins or the sophistication of a dark chocolate truffle, Elisa’s experiments with chocolate were all about the magic that was happening in the mouth. ‘Smaak’ is the Flemish word for taste and in English, you ‘Smack’ your lips in eager anticipation of food and drink. The name is all about Belgium. It’s all about beer and chocolate. And it’s all about taste.
What was the title of your first ever blog post?
Do you prefer eating in or eating out?
We love both! We enjoy cooking – Elisa with winter oven dishes, summer salads and desserts and Breandán with Mexican, Italian or Irish cuisine. But we also go out to eat – both as a couple and with groups of friends. It’s a real treat and we are always up for trying out new things, for exploring, for going on a little adventure in taste.
What is your favourite dish to share?
Hesperollekes (a traditional Belgian oven dish made from ham rolls with chickory, a creamy bechamel sauce and mashed potatoes, with a crispy cheese topping).
What is your favourite comfort food?
Shepherd’s Pie. Washed down with a beer. And followed by some chocolate.
What is your favourite dessert?
On warm evenings, it’s a Belgian chocolate mousse. And when it’s time to huddle up on winter evenings, we go for moelleux (molten chocolate cakes).
How do you like your eggs in the morning?
If we’re in Ireland, we’ll opt for fried eggs to go with an Irish fry up and pot of Irish breakfast tea. If we’re in Belgium, we go for scrambled with baked bread and fresh coffee. If we’re making sandwiches to go to a Gaelic football match, it’ll be simple boiled egg sandwiches with some mayonnaise. If we’ve got visitors, we might offer poached. And if it’s not the morning, we are partial to an omelet.
Was there a particular dish that got you into cooking?
For both of us, it was helping our mothers with special dishes that inspired us to cook. For Elisa it was her mother’s ‘Hesperollekes’ (see above). For Breandán it was his mother’s homemade lasagne.
What has been your biggest recipe failure?
Individually, we have had a few. Breandán’s setbacks all came during the time he was learning to cook at University in Dublin. Elisa sometimes struggled with eggs in the past. Thankfully, there haven’t been too many failures in the kitchen together as we work really well as a team and reckon we have enough knowhow to salvage most disasters between the two of us.
What is your earliest food memory?
For Breandán, it’s large family picnics in the summer on windy Donegal beaches. For Elisa, it’s a special mix her mother used to make from biscuits and fruit.
What are the three things you always have in your freezer?
1. Bread from our wonderful local bakery (Depredomme)
3. Meat (mince, chicken, steak… you name it)
How do you spend your time when you’re not blogging?
We love to travel and often go on camping and kayaking trips. We also visit breweries and chocolate shops to hear new stories and pick up tips. Breandán enjoys filmmaking and sports – particularly Gaelic football. And Elisa loves making chocolate whenever she has a chance.
Who are your favourite food bloggers?
As we blog about Belgian beer and chocolate, we follow quite a few sites which blog on these themes.
Beer: Christopher Barnes of I think About Beer writes a really informative and entertaining blog on Belgian beer. We enjoy his style of writing and his obvious passion for Belgian beer and Belgian beer culture.
Chocolate: Michelle of Foodagraphy by Chelle mixes her chocolate making abilities with some really amazing photography skills. We love nothing more than to get lost in some of her delicious and absolutely beautifully shot chocolate recipes.
Food: Flemish food lover Pieter Declercq brings his love of journalism, cooking and travel to his blog Hot Cuisine de Pierre. Perhaps the most exciting of his many food projects are his ‘Dessert Battles’ during which he goes up against established Belgian chefs to produce desserts for a group of lucky attendees.
Who are your favourite non-food bloggers?
We love travel, film/photography and the internet, so we follow quite a few bloggers in these areas.
Travel: Two of our friends from the time we spent travelling together blog from Don’t Forget to Move, a great source of inspiration to help you get more out of your travels.
Film and Photography: Philip Bloom shares photography and DSLR filmmaking tips, reviews on equipment and lots of great stories on how to maximise your potential behind the camera.
Online Media: Gary Vaynerchuk used an online video blog to turn his father’s drinks store into a multi-million pound wine business and now blogs about how to engage people and market online. His forward thinking approach to social media and his honesty on business issues are nothing short of inspiring.