Ostend’s local food isn’t first on the list for culinary excellence but that’s probably because the best critics have not visited or tried our regional specialties which are unique to the region. Ostend’s treats vary from brown shrimp to a sweet treat we call sea biscuits (zeebeschuit) and there are many places along the coast to find this delicious and unique local food. Here are some of our favourite Ostend specialties for you to try while you visit.
As a seaside town, Ostend’s local food is comprised of a lot of delicious seafood and over the years we have perfected cooking and serving some of the highest quality fish you could hope for. Shrimp, sometimes referred to as prawns, are one of our more common dishes. In Ostend we have a particular species called brown shrimp, which is a brown colour when raw but a vibrant pink when cooked. Our Flemish brown shrimp are caught off the coast and cooked in saltwater on board the boat, so they last a long time. They are then they are sold in the fish market, either peeled or unpeeled.
Another delicious food offering in Ostend is our Oysters. For centuries the rich and famous have been dining on Ostend Oysters, which are exported all over Europe. The oyster ponds of Spuikom reopened as recently as 1996 making ‘farming’ oysters a lot more convenient, therefore making Oysters a more accessible food group. The salt in the water and the algae in Spuikom give the oysters their distinctive taste, savoured all over the world but particularly in our local restaurants. Eat them as they are or with a squeeze of lemon and a twist of black pepper.
We have many skilled artisans who work on the sea and many more who farm from the land. One of the finest meat-based products we love here in Ostend is bloeling. It’s a form of spreadable black pudding, not unlike the French ‘boudin’. The black pudding is traditionally made with pigs’ blood and the unique flavour is created by mixing in sour apples, raw onion, sugar and nutmeg. The paste is made using no heat and its firm yet fluid texture can be spread on bread or is traditionally eaten with a sour apple. I’d certainly not for everyone but we promise if you give it a go, you’ll love it!
Ostend’s treats may not be for everyone but give some of them a try next time you visit and we’re sure you’ll find something that tickles your sweet tooth. For example, zeebeschuit a traditional biscuit that has been popular since the sixties. It became popular along the coast with the seamen and sailors as it stays fresh for a long time, lasting longer than traditional biscuits on those long voyages. It is made from flour, water, salt and fat and some bakers also add raisins.
‘Spletters’ or the split waffles of Bakkerij Vanheste are popular across Ostend and coastal Belgium with young and old alike. Traditionally eaten warm with melted butter, Spletters are now made with delicious buttercream or crystal sugar with rum and cinnamon. Even in our oldest cookbooks, you’ll find a recipe for waffles that are meant to be ‘split’ or sliced in two and filled with something delicious. Try one, you’ll love it!
If you’re looking for accommodation that gives you access to Ostend’s specialty dishes and our local food, choose somewhere central like Leopold Ostend. Our location close to the beach means you are a short walk from many of our most notorious seafood restaurants. Booking on our official website means you have access to our best rate guarantee, meaning more money to spend on Ostend’s treats!