Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

March 23, 2008

Maison Antoine

our Belgian Frites

We took our nap through the lunch 2 hours, and we got up to get some sunlight on our faces, and try to adjust to the 7 hour ahead time change. We also needed to find an ATM and get some euros to for our trip. Before leaving the USA, I did exchange money for 100 euros seed money to get us on the train and something to eat, but 100 euros wouldn't get us too far in this world city. Luckily, there is a great ATM at Central Station (on the subway side not the train side) that seems to take all networks, and seemed to be able to dispense at least 600 euro at a time. The ATM at the Brussels airport had a limit of 200 euro per transaction, and my bank charges $15 per foreign ATM transaction, so I really wanted to take money out once or twice and save on transaction fees, and the Brussels airport ATM did not dispense enough to make my transaction worthwhile.

With euros in hand, we made our way a tourist junk shop, and found a walking map of Brussels with the Flemish street names. Ahhh, much better. We were ready to look around the town. We went to Central Station to get our subway tickets form the manned ticket booth to go a few stops to Place Jourdan, and neighborhood in Brussels that looks quite livable, and near the European Union Parliament. The situation about getting subway tickets is that you need euro coins or a Europe ready "chip and pin" credit card, not the old fashioned swipe strip and sign system we have in the USA. I tried replacing my card with a Europe ready card, but no one I talked to in at the USA 800 number had a clue about what I was talking about. At anyrate, since we just landed, and had only a few coins and a bunch of paper euros, we needed a manned ticket booth to buy tickets for the subway. Luckily, we were staying near the station that seems to be quite well staffed, and we got our multi-ride tickets from the manned booth. We heard the subway train coming, so we took our tickets and ran to the subway train.

What do we do with the tickets? There are no turn-stiles, there are no conductors on the subway, how does Brussels mass transit know we took a ride? It turns out, there seems to be the honor system. There is a little orange box on the wall near the subway stairs that validates the ride ticket. We did not see the orange box on our 1st ride, but every other ride we validated our ticket. We noticed some people validated, and some others did not. There were a couple outpost stations that we went to, and noticed people not validating any ticket and just getting on the subway. Can anyone tell me what the appropriate payment and validation protocol is for riding the Brussels subway? Are there people who get to ride for free? Are there people with monthly passes, who need not swipe their tickets? Are there free ride days or hours?

view of Maison Antoine Frites Stand

Anyway, we got off at the subway stop closest to Place Jourdan, the home of Maison Antoine - the world's most famous Belgian Frites stand. We had no idea what we were looking for because the Brussels guide book did not give an address, just that Maison Antoine was located in Place Jourdan, an area with about 7 feeder streets leading into this little triangular shaped place. We walked all up and down all the feeder streets for about a block, not seeing Maison Antoine. We criss-crossed the triangle multiple times, and then we stopped in the middle of the triangle next to a little boy statue to consult the map, and wonder if this famous frites place might have closed. To laugh at ourselves, as we were about to give up we looked up and there it was, The Maison Antoine. :) Maison Antoine was not a store front, rather it is a small stand that makes up the very center triangle of Place Jourdan.

Belgian Frites are not French fries. Belgian Frites are shaped like large French Fries, flash fried and then set up on the shelf until someone orders frites, and then the flash fried Frites are then deep fried again until done. They dump the twice fried frites in a big steel bowl, and gently toss with a little salt. This makes for a really delightful crunchy outside, and perfectly done inside. The finished frites are wrapped in a cone shaped paper for easy handling. The Belgian Frites at Maison Antoine are served with a sauce, mayonnaise is standard, but Maison Antoine offers dozens of other types of sauces (many are mayo based). Matt opted for the traditional mayonnaise, and I opted for the tartare maison which had herbs and garlic in it. For 1.90 euros, a huge paper cone of frites could be yours! There are so many frites per cone, I would suggest sharing a cone. These frites are so good! I enjoyed these frites so much that we went back again to eat these yummies!



At 3/23/08, 6:14 PM, Blogger H said...


I shared your confusion about the Belgian train system when there. My friend and I were staying in Ghent and wanted to make a day trip to Brugge; we just happened to get on the right train!

One thing that eased our travel was getting a train pass before leaving the states, but the name of fails me now.

At 3/23/08, 8:49 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Heather, OMG, I am so laughing that you had a similar train experience, and then having the joy of actually getting on the right train! I wish you had a blog about your trip, I would love to read about your time in Belgium and France!

At 3/24/08, 7:26 PM, Blogger Laurie Constantino said...

Belgian frites are the very best potatoe fries I've ever had, and your picture made me really want them. Sounds like you are already enjoying your vacation! I know you'll have a wonderful time.

At 3/24/08, 10:38 PM, Blogger Lesley said...

If frites were as common here as in the Germanic countries in Europe, I'd weigh 300 pounds. Yum.

At 3/25/08, 7:45 AM, Blogger Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Oh, yummy! I'd love to go to Belgium for the "Frites" and chocolate!



At 3/25/08, 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loving all your pics from your current adventures. And the "fries" look unbelievable.

BTW, thanks for the Nashville info. I can't wait to get there. we are moving in two weeks!

At 3/25/08, 11:39 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Hi Lannae,
Met you last night at the USN Thai class. We scooted out early b/c *oh the shame* we didn't eat beforehand and all the aromas and ingredients were driving us to distraction. But it was fun, and I'm thrilled to meet a fellow blogger!
Take care,

At 3/26/08, 6:36 AM, Blogger Erica Kain said...

Hi Lannae --

Munich had the same system, so I think I can answer your question. Most people have monthly passes for the trains, so they bypass all of the ticket validation booths. And then, every so often, trains are checked by plainclothes police officers, and everyone needed to have either a monthly pass or a validated ticket. Inevitably, there was one miscreant who had neither, but most everyone was following the rules!

At 3/26/08, 8:45 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Laurie, I hear you! Belgian Fries are just the best!

Hi Lesley! The funny thing is that we had fried potatoes nearly every day of our vacation (amongst other fatty foods) and we did not gain wt. I come home and look at meager cup of plain rice, and I gain 2 lbs. :}~

Hi Rosa, I certainly love to taste those 2 things as well! The Belgians know how to make those very well!

Hi Nicole, I hope you have an easy, and safe move! I can't wait to see ya jogging by my house (the Country Music Marathon goes right by my house)!

Hi Erin, I love your food blog!

Hi Mama! When are you finding time to blog? :) Thanks for explaining that. That makes more sense. What do they do with the people who did not pay? Do they just have to pay?

At 3/27/08, 2:19 AM, Blogger Hazza said...

Hope you have enjoyed your trip. The sights you captured sure looked wonderful. Hope the western european weather (not too good currently) was not too extreme for you.

At 3/28/08, 3:19 PM, Blogger winedeb said...

Just to let you know, I am so enjoying your trip! I am looking forward to more! I am the armchair traveler these days!

At 3/29/08, 1:46 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Hazza, it was just warm enough while we were Belgium and France to make traveling quite comfortable and enjoy able for us. A day later, my London buddy said that NW Europe became quite cold and snowy! I think the 2 weeks were in NW Europe was the perfect time.

Hi WineDeb, let's trade, I will live vicariously through your beautiful warm posts about your food, wine and garden, and you can have a little armchair travel for the next few weeks :)

At 3/29/08, 4:09 PM, Blogger Katie Zeller said...

Ah, yes...the frites! With Mayo. Or, in Spain, aioli...
The transport is on the honor system...
With fines if you try to cheat... Ignorance, doesn't count (usually)

At 3/31/08, 4:50 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

KZ, The frites, oh the frites were so good! Yumm! I really need to go back and get more. About the subway, I am glad that we did not get caught on our 1st subway ride with our un-validated tickets! We were honest the rest of our rides on the subway once we figured out the orange validation boxes.


Post a Comment

<< Home