A #SantanderStaycation in Belgium

Something that has always bugged me is my inability to make photogenic food. I can sure as hell eat photogenic food – in fact it’s a particular talent of mine – but my own culinary delights are very rarely aesthetically pleasing. Let’s go with rustic, shall we?

This week is the most popular week for holidays but with my trip to Turkey being just over a month away I jumped at the opportunity to do a bit of travelling via my kitchen. I was challenged to host a dinner party reflecting one of many popular travel destinations for my very own #SantanderStaycation.

Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances my dinner party ended up turning in to a party for two, but on the upside that just means all the more food for me…

When it came to choosing my country there was certainly a lot of Pinterest-ing involved. With a great selection to choose from, including Hong Kong and the USA, it was a difficult task but I eventually settled on Belgium. I remembered my love for Belgian waffles and worked my way back from there – discovering a few delicious sounding dishes on the way.

Santander 123 Credit Card have been looking in to the real cost of our summer holidays and Belgium ranks pretty highly when it comes to the average daily spend, clocking in at £88 a day excluding the hotel – eek. In comparison to other popular destinations this has been pretty consistent for the past few years now, rising only 12% since 2010, whereas places like Hong Kong have seen a whopping 113% rise in their daily spend! Ooft…

Belgian cuisine takes a lot of influence from the neighbouring countries of France, Germany and the Netherlands which is pretty clear in a lot of their more popular meals. There are a few distinct national dishes for the country, but the standard fare of burgers and spag bol are also quite popular there too! My kind of country.

To start I decided to put together a little charcuterie/cheeseboard combination with a variety of continental meats and cheeses. You can’t beat a bit of gouda! I also included a selection of pate, alioli and potato croquettes to round it all off.

There is a bit of a debate regarding the origins of steak frites (or good old steak and chips to you and me) however it’s mostly been narrowed down to either Belgium or France. I had never cooked steak before, or chips, so it was possibly a slightly risky decision to make them under pressure. In that respect I suppose it was a blessing that our other guests couldn’t make it! Less people to poison…

In the end it actually turned out really well – despite lots of arguing and a very smoky kitchen. I was kind of surprised by how good the steak was, although a lot of that could be put down to it being a nicer cut, and although the chips were a tad burnt crispy on the outside they were soft and fluffy on the inside. Not bad for a first attempt!

Without a doubt the main event of the evening had to be our waffles. Again, I’d never made waffles before, nor do I own a waffle maker, but with the help of a griddle pan and lots of yummy toppings they turned out to be quite a treat. Obviously I just had to have some Belgian chocolate sauce on my Belgian waffles… it would be a disgrace if I didn’t!

Let’s just say I really want to visit Belgium now…

This post was produced in collaboration with Santander.
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