Lent lasted longer than usual this year and that makes the longing stronger!
Plenty of time to find new energies.
So let the party begin.
Our ship is newly rigged
The harbour master cuts the ribbon
And the captain sets sail:
a safe journey full of surprises!
In the remains of spring and with the prospect of a splendid summer the yummy fairway has been opened.
All hands on deck!
Lean back and enjoy, we take care of the rest.
It is okay to use Forgotten vegetables, Misunderstood delicacies and Undervalued ingredients again, in fact they have to be used! The method of preparation underwent a small facelift, but apart from that everything stays the way it was. It seems that we were right all these years! The only difference is that with us the fine brew with its unlimited variations took up a place of honour in the dishes and next to them rather quickly. The customers immediately came round and today ‘t Hommelhof is widely known for its dishes based on heavenly brewages. But quality without a soul is not a solid recipe for success. We therefore take a minute almost every day to greet Sabine. Her brilliant smile lent lustre to ‘t Hommelhof and will keep on doing so. With an indomitable hospitality, which was so typical of Sabine, we offer a gastronomic experience to those who in the first place want to enjoy the peace and quiet in style.
Stefaan and the team of ‘t Hommelhof
It is a well-known fact that the Westhoek (Maritime Flanders) is inspiring and it goes without saying that Watou plays an important role in this. Nature, peace and quiet are undoubtedly the most important assets, but vision, respect for the patrimony and tireless efforts are added values which should not be underestimated. Just add some proverbial hospitality and then enjoying your stay to the fullest is merely a matter of will. Since about 30 years thousands of interested people have come here to have a taste of our Kunstzomer (Summer of Arts). What is more, every three years music addicts can rejoice over our Gregorian festival. Music, theatre, visual arts and poetry; that is all that is needed to open up our borders to the public and to let our well-preserved town shine for two months before it slowly turns back to its easy-going self. But do not be mistaken! It may be quieter here in the off-season, but there is still a lot to do. Partly due to the above-mentioned events our arts village has slowly turned into an unalloyed Cockaigne. We have had breweries here for ages and they are still alive and kicking. The hotel and catering industry is extraordinary varied and diverse. The exoticism of the French border created the folklore around Blauwers (Smugglers) and Kommiezen (Customs Collectors) leaves the “feeling of a foreign country” intact. Bicycle routes, trails etc. bring you to the most heavenly places. For the ones who are more substantially-minded, there are tons of museums and places of interest within a radius of 30 kilometres. There is Ypres, Poperinge, Veurne and Diksmuide and Cassel, Dunkirk, Lille, Bergues etc. on the other side. In short, too many to mention. Just come and take a look yourself, and please take your time.
I was meant for a career which “I did not have to soil my hands on”. Still â€“ against all good advice â€“ I ended up in a kitchen. At home, in Antwerp, they called me “an obstinate mule” (even though father was from Poperinge himself), but it was that self-will and a fair share of luck that brought me back to my roots in Watou. ‘t Hommelhof, the meeting point for gourmets with a preference for recipes based on beer, has existed for 28 years now! Of course the path was not always strewn with roses, but the beautiful moments definitely outnumber the less memorable. After my training at “Ter Duinen”, a hotel and catering school in Koksijde, the laborious journey from coolie to chef began. A lot of passionate â€“ both national and international â€“ chefs taught me the tricks of the trade. Eventually I received the key to the tabernacle from the hands of Marc Paesbrugghe. The chef of the former starred restaurant “Sir Anthony Van Dijck” showed me that boundaries do not exist and that you have to go further where others stop. The magic word? Creativity! Cooking means both thinking and doing! It is a fact that tastes complete one another or contrast, but the most important thing is to find the right balance. Like many others I thought that uncommonness was the key to success at first, but I soon started to realize that simplicity is complex enough. Trends and novelties are only granted a short life. Besides, you have to depart from the thought that only the best products are good enough, and for that you often have to wake up with the lark. Gradually I got to know special and devoted producers, who were sometimes living just around the corner. Working with locals offers you the priceless advantage that you can follow the growth and breed process from beginning to end and acquire an unbelievable product knowledge.
Of course you cannot start up a suchlike project on your own. Luckily, we are all on the same page, so work and family are linked up with each other perfectly. Moreover, our team has always consisted of highly motivated people. Some of them have left in order to start on their own, and I am always very pleased to hear that they are doing well. As they often ask me for tips or advice and because I want to please everyone, I wrote down my inspiration in a bulky reference work around “Cooking with Beer”. In this book I have tried to explain the be-all and end-all of using beer in meals, the way experience taught me. Of course I did not invent the wheel and it is a fact that beer has been used in the kitchen since time immemorial, but I can say that my clever experimenting has often lead to pleasant surprises. I am more than happy to continue my fascinating voyage of discovery, as I am sure that the ultimate taste sensation is waiting for me somewhere along the way. Once I have reached that point, you will be the first to share in my ecstasy!
Closing days: Monday evening, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday Evening
It is a well-known fact that the Westhoek (Maritime Flanders) is inspiring and it goes without saying that
Watou plays an important role in this. Nature, peace and quiet are undoubtedly the most important assets, but vision, respect for the patrimony and tireless efforts are added values which should not be underestimated.