Chad’s parents watched Evan for the weekend a few weeks ago, so we took advantage and spent the evening exploring Historic Occoquan. Occoquan is a small town in Virginia about 24 miles southwest of Washington D.C. There is parking available under the State Road 123 bridge and plenty of shops and dining are within walking distance.
View of Historic Occoquan and the Occoquan River from State Road 123 Bridge.
We stopped by Mom’s Apple Pie to check out their fresh preservative-free pies and other baked goods (including autumn-themed cookies). You can also find wine, beer, gelato, and gourmet items. There is another location in Leesburg, VA.
Walking along Mill Street, there are plenty of shops to explore and some beautiful waterfront townhomes.
Tastefully Yours is a gourmet food market and cafe on Mill Street. They offer specialty items, wine, cheese, beer, chocolate truffles, infused olive oils, and gelato. Chad got a bag of butter pecan coffee beans and I took home some blood orange infused olive oil.
For dinner, we went to the Cock and Bowl, a small Belgian restaurant in the heart of Occoquan. It is a small restaurant built into an old house. There are 8 tables inside, 4 on each floor, plus an outside patio. If you are wanting to eat at a peak time, I definitely recommend calling ahead. There is no room to wait inside the restaurant, but they will call when your table is ready. We went early in the evening and did not have an issue. Cock and Bowl is also not well-equipped for small children. Well behaved dogs are allowed on the patio.
Chad had the special of the day, Pan-Seared Salmon with a Blood Orange Buerre-Blanc over Polenta. I ordered the Walloon Salad- baby greens and spinach tossed with a strawberry vinaigrette, tossed with mandarin oranges, candied pecans, and goat cheese and a side of Pommes Frites (Belgian Fries). For dessert, Chad had the Vermont Belgian Waffle, yankee-style topped with butter and maple syrup. I had the ganache style waffle, topped with warm Belgian chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Everything was absolutely delicious. The Pommes Frites were actually a highlight for both of us.
I wanted to recreate the Belgian style waffle at home. The Belgian Waffle is actually an American creation, introduced during the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. In Belgium, the most popular types of waffles are the Brussels Waffle and the Liege Waffle, plus many other variations. The Brussels Waffle is closer in taste to what Americans consider a Belgian Waffle. It is made with a yeast, and sometimes baking powder, batter and cooked in a rectangular iron. I used the rectangular waffle plates on our George Foreman grill. It didn’t make the waffles as crispy as I would have liked (the browning was also a bit uneven), but it did the job. I topped my waffle with whipped cream, powdered sugar, and warm chocolate sauce. Other popular toppings include just powdered sugar and fresh fruit.
I never keep self rising flour in the pantry, but it is easy to recreate on your own. For every 1 cup all purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Brusselse Wafel (Brussels Waffle)
Adapted from The Hungry Belgian
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) whole milk, lukewarm (105-115 degrees F)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 eggs, separated
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) sparkling water, room temperature
16 3/4 ounces (~2 cups) self rising flour
1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5.3 ounces (10.5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
Melted butter for greasing waffle iron
In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over the lukewarm milk. Let sit for a minute, then stir to combine. Let sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, lightly beat egg yolks. Mix in the milk and frothy yeast. Gently mix in the sparkling water. Beat in the flour, sugar, and salt until no lumps remain. Mix in the melted butter.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Lightly fold into the batter until no streaks remain. Let batter sit until bubbles form on surface, 20-30 minutes.
Set waffle iron to high heat.
Grease the heated waffle iron with melted butter. Spread the batter over the prepared waffle iron, about 1/3 cup per waffle. Heat until waffle is golden and crisp on outside. Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve with powdered sugar, whipped cream, chocolate, or fresh fruit.