Old China Hands 8 January

Full house again

Our lunch for Old China Hands 8 January saw a pretty full house with a total of over 30. For once not on the first Friday as that would have been 1 January.
All not bad at some are still stuck abroad, some are still afraid of “crowds” and some are too busy.

This time Chef Renaat prepared a special desert: “Galette des Rois”, in English “King Cake”.
About King Cake and the Festival of Epiphany, see here:

A figurine, “la fève”, is hidden in the cake. A paper crown is included with the cake to crown the “king” (or queen) who finds the fève in their piece of cake. To avoid dental accidents Renaat used a peanut instead of a coin or other. The lucky “King” was Allan!
See how it came out of the oven. The cake is special, some do not like it that much but that’s the way it is.

Next lunch

Just before the rush for Chinese New Year (12 February, Year of the Ox) we will have our next lunch on Friday 5 February. Hopefully the virus situation will not worsen and we can have our lunch without issues.
Morel’s Restaurant will be closed probably as from 8 February, not decided yet.

Another interview of Gilbert

After the lunch I was (once more) interviewed by CRI (China Radio International), that is now part of the new group China Media Group. Later more about that…

Old China Hands 6 November

Full house

Our Old China Hands 6 November lunch had a nice crowd of 34 people. New faces and also some who managed to come back after the imposed quarantine. We can now say Beijing is the safest place to be in this dangerous virus world…
Again our friend Kent surprised us all with a big box of his home-made cookies “Halloween” theme. Thank you Kent!
While the “official” start time is 12:00 half of the tables are full well before midday. All eager to join the lunch!

Renaat Morel, the boss of Morel’s Restaurant still sticks to his special price for our set menu. I guess an increase is due for January as it is really (too) cheap.

Next lunch

The next lunch is set for Friday 4 December, the last one of the virus year.
We hope to see more of our members back from abroad.

Witloof or chicon or endive

The confusion about witloof/chicon

The vegetable that we call witloof or chicon or endive is mostly translated in English as “endive”. The translation is misleading. In Belgium we call it witloof in Dutch and chicon in French.

The correct defintion:
A variety of the common chicory (Cichorium intybus var. foliosum) cultivated to produce a narrow, pointed, blanched cluster of leaves used in salads.
Chicon is the name given to a type of endive. Bitter-tasting and white with yellow edges, this type of chicory can be eaten raw or cooked.
Also called Belgian endive, witloof, witlof, chicon, witloof chicory, Brussels witloof.

For me the signature dish of Morel’s Restaurant is this one:

Simply de-li-cious. But better be hungry to finish it!
Called “chicon au gratin” it is in fact “witloof in hespenrolletjes” (https://www.lekkervanbijons.be/recepten/witloofrolletjes-met-gekookte-ham) – a very popular and traditional Flemish dish – is also called endive and ham gratin, endive with ham and cheese sauce or chicon gratin.

And another description:
Chicons au gratin is a Belgian national dish consisting of braised Belgian endives  (aka chicons) wrapped in slices of baked ham and covered with a Mornay sauce and some grated cheese.  Steaming hot with a creamy cheesy sauce, chicons au gratin is comfort food par excellence.  The bitter Belgian endives mixed with the sweet baked ham also make a winning combination.

andijvie (endive lettuce)

In Belgium and Holland we do have a vegetable that we call “andijvie”; it is a a plant (Cichorium endivia) in the composite family, of South Asian origin, having curled or ruffled leaves with a bitter flavor, cultivated as a salad green. It is closely related to “witloof”.
It is used as a salad or cooked in a few local dishes, or mixed raw in Dutch potato dishes (“stamppot”).

See here the explanation in Dutch and different recipes to prepare “andijvie”, more on the original website:

Andijvie is een typisch Nederlandse bladgroente met een licht bittere smaak. De groente is nauw verwant aan witloof en wordt in de Hollandse keuken vaak gebruikt in stamppotten. Je kan echter nog veel meer kanten met deze groente op. Zo is andijvie ook populair in verschillende diëten. Dit komt vooral doordat er zeer weinig calorieën in de groente zitten, maar wel zeer veel vitaminen en mineralen.

Je kan andijvie bereiden door deze te koken, in de oven klaar te maken, te roerbakken / wokken en nog tal van andere manieren. De groente kan je naast bereiden ook perfect rauw eten. Andijvie is dan ook heerlijk om te gebruiken in een mooie ovenschotel, salade, andijviesoep of in de stamppot (rauw of gekookt).
Zoals gezegd hoef je andijvie niet per se te bereiden, je kan de groente ook perfect rauw eten. De groente is dan ook ideaal om een snelle salade mee te maken of een stamppot rauw andijvie.

Decoration in Morel’s Restaurant

Flower shop?

Our Susan has a weakness for beautiful flowers and she uses her skills for the artful decoration in Morel’s Restaurant with a wide array of fresh flowers; all the arrangements are done by herself and no plastic flowers! All fresh!
See some of her bouquets and arrangements. One flower that stands out is the orange pincushion flower – I had to Google it to learn about it. Pretty expensive…

And she invented a vase with fake ice cubes – they look like it but it is done by … plastic bags in water. Clever!
Ladies also receive a special flower gift (if they are nice). Or, as I do, take it home for the wife who loves it!

Halloween came to Morel’s

Like every year Susan also puts up the decoration for Halloween, attracting the curiosity of Chinese onlookers who take pictures. Susan is part-time artist…

I contributed with the two big pumpkins, first serving as decoration and later for a delicious pumpkin soup!
This year nobody came painted as ghosts, I guess we already look scary enough without makeup. To be on the safe side and keep ghosts away I had a great red wine. Works.