No.1 travel guide for Belgium; dedicated to Belgian beer and food culture.

Exploring the Tastes of the Scheldt Region


Email  •  Print

Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2013-03-24 09:40:18 +0100 / Last Updated: 10 months ago

Belgium, Antwerp, Scheldt River, de Schelde, Paling in t'groen, De Koninck, Belgian Beer, Flanders Bornem Castle
© BeerTourism.com


ANTWERP - I am on a culinary journey from the source of De Koninck to the banks of the Schelde. Having enjoyed a freshly drawn ‘bolleke’ in the shadow of the brewery, I am tracing the upstream course of the river Scheldt towards Temse.

Resting on one of the dykes, I enjoy the fabulous interplay of wind and clouds above the river finish my feast with a healthy helping of eel and vegetables, locally known as ‘paling in ’t groen’. How much more ‘Antwerp’ can you be?

I have to come clean. For many years, I have been a fan of the refreshing and freshly drawn ‘bolleke’, with a frothy collar at least two fingers thick.

This beer, with the ‘handy’ trade mark, is an excellent thirst quencher and always leaves one wanting more.

De Koninck (5% alcohol) appears amber in the glass. This high fermentation beer has a zesty and slightly bitter taste with a velvety soft aroma and a full creamy head. De Koninck uses hop cones from Saaz and a mixture of pure malts for their 'Bolleke', without the addition of maize or other brewing sugars.


Green & Verdant

I am walking along the Oude Schelde, an arm of the river Scheldt that was cut off from the river’s main flow when it changed its course in 1240. Before the 13th century, this branch was the main course of the stream, but the river silted up, cutting off this tributary. Bolleke, De Koninck, beer, Belgian beer, Antwerp, Flanders The Sheldt River
© Erik Verdonck - BeerTourism.com
At the entrance to Weert village, near the Temse bridge, you will find the oldest ‘sas’, or lock, in Belgium.

This lock used to connect the ‘old’ with the ‘new’ Scheldt. The orphaned arm of the river is now one vast fishing paradise. On very rare occasions, when the water is covered with a thick layer of ice, you can put your skates on and enjoy a fairly tale landscape with Bornem castle in the background.

Ever since the popular TV series “Stille Waters” was broadcast, day-trippers have been rediscovering the banks of the Scheldt. A nice sunny day will see the terraces in Hingene, Weert, Sint-Amands and Mariekerke flooded with walkers, cyclists and bon viveurs. Away from the river, there are other worthwhile views.

The vast panoramas from the dykes of the Scheldt give way to more intimate landscapes with fishing ponds, swampy forests, reeds, marshes and wet meadows in a natural reserve hardly touched by human hand. Ancient homes and farms, once inhibited by fishermen, clog makers or basket weavers have been transformed into cafés or restaurants.


Silent Waters

Until just after the First World War, fishing for eel was an important economic activity in Scheldt villages such as Mariekerke, St-Amands and Weert. Paling in't groen - Eel in green sauce Banks of The Scheldt
© Erik Verdonck - BeerTourism.com
However, with the increasing pollution of the river, this harvest died a silent death. Enjoying eel by the banks of the Scheldt remains a folkloristic activity.

Mariekerke’s annual eel festival attracts hundreds of people during the Pentecost weekend. And the quality of the waters of the Scheldt increases a little each year. However, if you want to make certain of the quality of your eel, you are better off going for imported or farmed fish.

“Paling in ‘t groen” is the outstanding regional dish in this small area of Klein-Brabant. It translates literally as “Eel in the green”.

The recipe uses typically medieval herbs: aniseed, marjoram, chervil, watercress, thyme, bay, garlic, sorrel, spinach, tarragon, parsley, pimpernel, green sage, white nettle, watercress… These are the wild herbs found by the fisherman next to the pond where he landed his catch of eels.

I drive on to Sint-Amands, where I find restaurant ‘t Ebdiep, located next to the grave of local poet Emile Verhaeren. From the most beautiful terrace on the Scheldt, I enjoy the view over the still waters and the excellent paling in ‘t groen.


Walking The Trail...

There are 13 walking trails in Bornem and its associated villages of Mariekerke, Hingene and Weert. Most of these walks are signposted. Distances vary: 6 km, 10 km, 14 km, 20 km…A handy folder with maps and local attractions can be picked up from Toeristische info Scheldeland.

My favourite destinations are: Café d’Oude Poort, d’Ursel castle and the hunting lodge De Notelaar in Hingene, het Buitenland (Bornem), Bornem Castle, the Schelde dyke walk from Hingene to Branst, the view over the Scheldt from Mariekerke and Sint-Amands.

Try and visit Bornem Castle You can take in the castle without an appointment every 15th of August, on the last two Sundays of August and the first two Sundays in September from 1.30pm to 1pm (admission: €6 per person). In addition, you can visit by prior arrangement from 15 April to 1 November (a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 people per visit).


Bolleke, De Koninck, beer, Belgian beer, Antwerp, Flanders © Erik Verdonck - BeerTourism.com


Cycling The Scheldt Region

The dykes of the Scheldt and their car-free towpaths provide an excellent cycling experience. Also, the ferries make it easy to ‘cycle’ to the opposite bank. Bolleke, De Koninck, beer, Belgian beer, Antwerp, Flanders Bazel
© Erik Verdonck - BeerTourism.com
You can use the services of the ferryman (or woman) every day of the year.

The countless locks and bridges – such as the handy bridges for cyclists across the Nete and the Dijle, the legendary Mira bridge in Hamme and the imposing iron construction across the Scheldt in Temse - will also get you across in the blink of an eye.

The new cycle path network of Scheldeland completes the regional cycling experience. The network has 570km of new tracks plus 100 additional ‘nodes’, or junctions, where you can switch from one numbered route to the next.

These can also be found in the provinces of Antwerp (400km), Oost-Vlaanderen and Vlaams-Brabant. What’s more, the cycle tracks are signposted in both directions.

The network brings you safely to your destination in the Scheldt region, Antwerp, Mechelen (Malines), Lier and het Dijleland.

You can also book a cycling holiday that takes you to the locations of the “Stille Waters” television series, or the culinary cycling tour “Fietsen en genieten in het Scheldeland”, on which you can enjoy the gastronomic delights this region has to offer.


Recent Blog Posts

Val-Dieu, celebrating 800 years of Belgian beer culture
VAL-DIEU - Those monks certainly picked some beautiful spots for their abbeys. The rumble of the busy motorway lies far behind me as I swap the flat northern Belgian landscape for the gently rolling ... [ read more ]
Belgian beer culture recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage
BRUSSELS - “We have won the World Cup!” exclaims Sven Gatz, Minister of Culture for Flanders. In his former role as Managing Director of the Federation of Belgian Brewers he immediately lent his ... [ read more ]
Chimay Grande Réserve Vieillie en Barriques 2016, a touch of wood
CHIMAY/COGNAC - Chimay Bleue stands out as a classic amongst Trappist beers. Nevertheless, its brewer continues to break new ground. The first ‘limited edition’ Chimay Grande Réserve Vieillie en Barri ... [ read more ]
Brussels Beer Challenge 2016: Belgium holds its own in the beer world
BRUSSELS - For the fifth running of the Brussels Beer Challenge the organisers selected a location steeped in history and prestige. After touring from Brussels to Liège, Leuven and Antwerp, ... [ read more ]
The Belgian Beer Book: Tapping into Belgian beer culture
BELGIUM - How do you write an unbiased review of a book that you yourself have written, pouring your entire soul into it? I’ll immediately give up on that impossible task and instead I’ll offer you a ... [ read more ]

Comments



SHARE:
 



BLOG

POSTS
Antwerp: A Market for Everyone

In the heart of Antwerp, street names testify to a rich history of markets in the city. However, if you visit the ‘Schoenmarkt’ or ‘Eiermarkt’, don’t expect a sea of stalls selling shoes or eggs. The place to be nowa... [ more ]

Iconic café De Pelgrim reopens in Antwerp

ANTWERP - Meet Cesar Van Gorp, 91-years-young. He is the oldest customer of café De Pelgrim, strategically located right opposite the De Koninck brewery in Antwerp. “I have been a regular since 1948,” ... [ more ]

The De Koninck Antwerp City Brewery experience

ANTWERP - The new interactive De Koninck brewery tour will completely immerse you in the world of the Antwerp City Brewery. In exchange for just €12 you can find out everything there is to know ... [ more ]

De_koninck_apa_225

More Beer

This Antwerp classic, launched over a century ago in 1913, catches your eye straight away. That's thanks to its intense mahogany colour and its robustly frothy collar. De Koninck ... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.

Name:
Email:
TWITTER
    FACEBOOK