Just days after our arrival in Brussels, we celebrated our wedding anniversary. It blows my mind at just how much we have done in our first four years of marriage, especially the big things like getting Scarlett, learning a completely new language, living in four countries on three different continents (and all the headaches and new things that go along with that). We’ve also traveled to many, many different places, learned to make pasta (and bagels and so many other delicious things), eaten lots of truffles, started a wine collection, bought a car that has come with us on many of our adventures, and done countless smaller things.
But back to what this post is really about: our anniversary dinner. From the moment he began work here, Grant has been incredibly busy. As a result, we chose to eat at home most nights so he could have some downtime and just relax with Scarlett and me. I don’t mind cooking, and we often enjoy making meals together, but the first couple of weeks here were a bit rough, since we had to use Welcome Kit knives (and other Welcome Kit items) to cook: the knives are really the worst. In fact, I think the butter knives were sharper than some of the kitchen knives we were given! Needless to say, I wasn’t making anything fancy: the less I had to chop, the better. So for our anniversary dinner, we decided to go out to eat that night and not wait for a weekend evening.
I did research: I asked our social sponsors for recommendations, I looked on TripAdvisor, TheFork, and blogs. We ultimately chose to eat at an Italian restaurant not far from our apartment so we could save on time and in case Grant worked really late, it still wouldn’t be a problem to get there. Let me just say it was a good choice. We rarely eat out at Italian restaurants because we are often disappointed and left with the feeling that we could have done it better ourselves. But this was definitely not the case at La Mamma.
First of all, it’s called La Mamma, how great is that? Secondly, nearly everyone who worked there was Italian. This is always a good sign. The menu is written on big blackboards and changes regularly. Plus the inside of the restaurant is so cute. It is located on a square, so there is a fair amount of outdoor seating, but I think that would be more suited to having drinks and not an intimate, romantic dinner.
We ordered some wine and beef carpaccio to start. I’ve only had beef carpaccio one or two times before and I think I’ve now been ruined for life — it was that good. Then we each had pasta: Grant chose a black pasta with salmon and I picked magliatelle with eggplant, basil, and tomatoes. For dessert, I was stuffed and opted for a glass of Moscato (my favorite Moscato to date), though I did have a few bites of Grant’s affogato. It was too bad, really, that I was so full, since there were a number of desserts that sounded incredible.
It was the perfect meal for us and we realized how much we missed the European way of eating out after a month at home in the US. Europeans don’t rush meals, period. There were a few times we ate out during home leave when we were trying to relax and enjoy ourselves with friends we hardly ever get to see and I just felt incredibly rushed. It is nice being back in a place where that would not happen, even if it does mean the occasional frustration trying to get the bill at the end of the night. (Tip: if you know you’re not going to order anything else, ask for the bill when they come to clear your dinner plates or when they bring the dessert. You can still hang out for basically as long as you’d like after you’ve paid, but this way you don’t have to spend the end of your evening trying to catch your waiter’s eye).
I can’t wait to go back!
I feel the same way about Italian restaurants! We often avoid going to them here for fear of being disappointed and knowing that we could have made something even better (and for much less money) at home! Glad to hear La Mamma surpassed your expectations. Plus, it’s always nice to have a great go-to restaurant close to your home.
What things have you been cooking up at home these days? What are some popular foods at the markets there?
I haven’t been doing TOO much cooking recently (I would like to do more but for some reason haven’t been feeling motivated to do so), but I have been going through a bit of a homemade jam phase…just made two more jars last night!
I’m happy to see you’re enjoying Brussels–love seeing all your pretty pics on Instagram!