waaay back in august i was whisked away for a wonderful weekend in ghent by the lovely folk at alpro, to experience the final night of their month-long residency at a fab little pop-up restaurant in the city.
along with fellow ambassadors coralie and carole, we begun our alpro adventures getting a little more closely acquainted with the city that houses their headquarters, taking to the water to view the city in the most traditional way; by boat. located in the flemish region of belgium, ghent grew up on the confluence of the rivers scheldt and leie and was one of the largest and richest cities in northern europe during the middle ages. as the graslei is one of the most scenic places in ghent’s old city centre our tour of the waterways started there, in the most comedic of fashions.
from the brilliant blue skies overhead as we stepped aboard our vessel, to a sudden torrential downpour that ended almost as soon as it begun, to another out-of-the-literally clear blue skies deluge which had us clinging to shelter under a little footbridge, we certainly had an amusing and eventful introduction to the city!
largely due to the excellent wit and humour of our tour guide, as we climbed out of our boat with our jeans drenched and our hair dripping we couldn’t be more upbeat about the hilarity of it all. drying off quickly at our hotel we turned swiftly around and headed back out to experience that most belgian of traditions; the waffle.
freshly made and piping hot, i kept mine plain and simple with lashing of dark chocolate sauce, but i love these combos lauren and coralie chose: whole banana with chocolate sauce and fresh strawberries piped with an immense amount of whipped cream – delish! in fact, i enjoyed mine so much i’m contemplating investing in my own waffle iron and concocting some recipes using alpro almond milk, but that’ll be a whole other post i’m sure…
after a brisk walk around the city streets to walk off the excess calories we headed back to the hotel to relax and recharge before the day’s pièce de résistance; dinner at m with a view.
we were collected by taxi from our hotel and driven towards the outskirts of the city and a vast wasteland of abandoned buildings and warehouses. to say we were intrigued does not even begin to cover it! 30m up, atop the former “nieuwe molens” flour milling factory was our dining venue for the night, accessible only by a bright orange industrial lift fixed to the exterior of the building. thankfully i’ve been in worse lifts on press trips (the lift on the exterior of 33-storey orlando towers in soweto, for example) so i was able to take this in my stride, but i can imagine many a diner struggling to keep their appetite after travelling up in this noisy, vibrating contraption, even if it does only take 14 seconds!
as we reached the top the venue of our dining experience was revealed; a glass skybox with spectacular 360 degree views across the municipality. like kids in a candy store we all scattered and clambered aboard the scaffolding surrounding the restaurant (in 4 inch heels!), eager to capture the beauty of the view in the glorious early evening light.
photos taken, we settled down to eat. the five course dinner menu had been especially created using alpro products, incorporated into tantalising amuse bouches using high quality local ingredients. as someone who has recently gone entirely dairy-free it was both fascinating and reassuring to see how many wonderful dishes can be created using alpro’s selection of plant powered dairy alternatives and it certainly got me thinking about how to incorporate some of their wider range of products into my diet, beyond my everyday staples of almond milk and vanilla yoghurt.
we spent the rest of the evening chatting – mainly about blogging (!) – and as the sun set over the city we were left mesmerised as the ghent’s lighting plan kicked in, illuminating all of the buildings in a magical display of light and dark, carefully crafted by lighting designer roland jéol.
the following morning we were back again, this time to indulge in a meal more traditionally associated with alpro products; brunch!
it was a great opportunity to try out some of the alpro products that haven’t made it to uk shores yet, such as the blood orange yoghurt (who says citrus doesn’t work in a yoghurt? this was so good i’m going to start a petition!) and their soya spreadable margarine, which is also available in a cook & roast variety.
as well as the traditional yoghurts, croissants, cheese and breads, there was also a selection of couscous and cold meat salads to complete the buffet offering, as well as poached eggs with soldiers to add an additional protein hit before we headed out to spend the rest of saturday exploring the town.
thanks so much for such a fabulous trip alpro, i truly had a blast!
m with a view, gasmeterlaan 110, b-9000 ghent