Next stop: somewhere to sate the appetite. Hans van Wolde, award-winning chef at restaurant Beluga Loves You is the typical Wyck guy (even though he hails from Rotterdam). At once rugged and refined, he prefers eating with his hands and is happy to challenge convention (two Michelin stars doesn’t mean his staff can’t wear sneakers), yet gets emotional over dessert. His place among the best in town, which says a lot in Maastricht, where eating and drinking are almost synonymous to breathing. As far as Van Wolde is concerned ”cooking is about eating, drinking and enjoying food in each other’s company. Talking about it too much is a waste of time.” And to prove his point, he reaches for a razor-sharp knife with which to cut the carefully crafted tartlet in front of us and on which the words ‘Hit me’ are spelled out in confectioner’s sugars. He takes a bite of the divine sweet before giving me a handshake and hurrying back into the kitchen. Never before, have I been so aware of my taste buds. That’s because in Wyck, the scents just lure you in. Aromas of freshly-baked bread, pungent cheese (lovingly called ‘stinky Limburg’), fresh fruit tarts, spicy roasts; it’s almost like they’re doing it on purpose. At a restaurant like Harry’s, it’s jam-packed at 3 p.m., and at the Bread & Delicious bakery people are queueing.
It’s not only in hip and happening Wyck that restaurants, delicacy stores and cafés seduce your senses. In ‘old’ Maastricht within the Roman fort, it’s a true culinary feast, too. Bars and terraces, for instance, can be found all around the immensely popular Onze Lieve Vrouweplein (Square Of Our Lady), and thanks to patio heaters, you can take a seat all year long and enjoy Limburg´s famous local delicacy: devilishly delicious fruit tarts known as vlaaien. The basiliek van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw (Basilica Of Our Lady) looms over the square, and its most famous devotion – Our Lady Star of the Sea, a wooden statue appointed with a red-and-golden cape – is highly cherished among pilgrims. The fact that a castle once stood in this very spot can be verified a few steps further down the square, in the basement of nearby Hotel Derlon, where an underground museum is devoted to the subject.