Antwerp’s delicious aftertaste…

Sun, happy vibes and excellent food, aren’t these usually thé key ingredients to create that glorious holiday mood? Past days, for us, that didn’t even involve airmiles or long drives…for four long days Antwerp’s Waagnatie was centre stage for the culinary festival ‘Antwerpen Proeft’ freely translated as Antwerp tastes…tastes how? Quite delicious!

Antwerpen Proeft

Invited by Elvea1885, the brand that brings excellent quality and Italian flavours into your kitchen, and accompanied by the lovely weather last Saturday we found ourselves heading to Antwerp Waagnatie premises, located in vibrant ‘het Eilandje’.

Antwerpen Proeft

The culinary festival, the 12th edition already, has a tradition of bringing the world and its kitchen on your plate with a variety of restaurants and culinary experts presenting their signature dishes in bite-sized portions and a cost-friendly price setting. In addition there is room for a full programme of demonstrations and workshops, from Weber grill expert Academy to AEG-sponsored baking and cooking classes for young and old.

ProefMee

Antwerpen Proeft

For those among you that are of the ‘forever in doubt’ type…this festival will be quite a challenge, but of the fun kind! Take a few strolls and absorb flavours and colours before your stomach sounds indicate a decision will have to be taken eventually. No matter the dish(es) of your choice it will taste great!

Antwerpen Proeft

Antwerpen Proeft

Antwerpen Proeft

Antwerpen Proeft
Divin by Sepi

Our eye fell on the attractive food presentation and expert and passioned explanation of Gå Nord, presenting a fusion of scandinavian and oriental cuisine, inspired on the wabi-sabi philosophy, thus combining pureness and simplicity.

Of the two mouthwatering dishes on display we chose the Knäckebröd with horse-radish, flakes of cedarwood-smoked salmon and pickled vegetables. Colours and flavours in perfect harmony, truly yummy.

Antwerpen Proeft

Antwerpen Proeft

Outdoors the inviting seating by the water seduced us to enjoy an excellent Belgian Entre-deux-Monts Chardonnay wine, provided at the Belgian wines-stand. If not a wine lover, then head for one of the cocktails, belgian beers or water stands! Sip, relax and watch the world go by…

Scheldt river

Attending the festival and location is easily to combine with some shopping and city-stroling, either in Antwerp historic city centre or stay closer and explore what ‘t Eilandje’ has to offer.

Conclusion: a festival that leaves a sweet, lingering aftertaste…will YOU be joining next year’s edition?

Ingrid

Xxx

Antwerpen Proeft

ps you can find out more about the festival and its participants here or stay tuned on upcoming Antwerp events here

Raise your glasses…Happy 2018!

First things first: wishing you all a happy, healthy, joyful New Year! A year filled with joy and hope, a year plenty of dreams and projects, new horizons to discover, old and new friendships to cherish…let’s raise our glass to that!

Speaking of raising glasses, at Antwerp city brewery ‘De Koninck’ they take that quite literally!

glasses brewery

You can discover the history of this working and iconic Antwerp Brewery through an interactive and unique tour. Without spoiling to much of the fun in case you have a visit planned soon, expect to be immersed into the world of hops and malt, make a fun delivery drive through Antwerp’s city center and get some first hand juicy stories from the brewery owners…oh and there’s plenty of beers to taste too of course!

stop hand brewery
stop, the hand shows you the way to beer heaven
interactive tour Antwerp city brewery
Tour Antwerp city brewery

city brewery

city brewery
Jean Blaute and Ray Cokes, beer lovers and among other things famous for the fantastic Tournée Générale tv series

city brewery

Apart from the beer the brewery site houses some great food concepts, stores, restaurants and bars that make any foodie drool: from recently Michelin-rewarded ‘The Butcher’s Son’ to Cheesemonger-shop by Van Tricht, Jitsk chocolatier and many more fun projects and concepts.

city brewery

‘Tastemakers’ and the brewery teamed up and an urban beekeeper takes care of the beehives installed in a beertank on the parking lot… that’s around 160000 very ‘beezy’ workers producing some runny yummy honey!

city brewery, beer tank, honey

Antwerp city brewery

Antwerp city brewery, bolleke Koninck

And if you thought women and beers didn’t match…

Antwerp city brewery

…but you’re wrong, cheers to you Josephina!

Ingrid

xxx

happy 2018

visit brewery

The Butcher’s Son restaurant

busy bees at the brewery

Antwerp chocolate walk, the bold and the sweet…

Yesterday, for the first time, I attended one of the many activities organised by Samana, the division of CM health insurance, offering support, distraction and a variety of activities for chronicly ill patients and their caretakers. The activity that caught my eye was a culinary chocolate walk in Antwerp…need I say more?! As for the bold and sweet…just read till the end…

Neuhaus chocolates
Neuhaus chocolates
our guide and one of the Samana hosts

The walk comprised a guided tour along some Antwerp hotspots linked to chocolate or sugar and of course some tasty stops and according treats! Along the way the process of chocolate making from bean to the yummy stuff was explained and its history through time.

Did you know ‘Suikerrui’ one of Antwerp’s streets leading to the river got its name from the sugar (suiker in Dutch) that was stored in the below street-level canals (rui)?

Vlaeykensgang Hoogstraat Antwerp
Vlaeykensgang Hoogstraat
ok, but can we have a chocolate with that?

Luxury Belgian brand Neuhaus offered us two of their signature ‘pralines’ the ‘Caprice’ and ‘Tentation’ both created for the World exhibition held in Brussels in 1958 and named after a quote from Brigitte Bardot, mr Neuhaus himself being a fan of mme Bardot…

Neuhaus chocolates
Neuhaus chocolates

Apparently the colour of chocolate you choose tells something about your character, if you prefer dark chocolate, like me, you are rather tough and determined, the strong one!

No chocolate tour in Antwerp without stopping by Dominique Persoone’s ‘the Chocolate Line’ his company existing 25 years this year and innovative and enthusiastic as ever, he has every reason to celebrate!

Dominique Persoone
Dominique Persoone
chocolates The Chocolate Line
chocolates The Chocolate Line
The Chocolate Line shop Antwerp
Birgit, one of the participants, trying to choose
Chocolate truffles
Chocolate truffles

Well that’s all for now…enjoying my little goodie bag filled with yummy chocolate…didn’t I show enormous character not touching it on the bus ride home?! Must be true then, dark chocolate and being tough and strong!

You can find a list of the houses we visited below and another treat, curious if you will recognize him…

Till next time,

Ingrid

xxx

The Chocolate Line

Neuhaus

Sofie Sucrée

Elisa Pralines

Amylin’s Cupcakes & Macarons

De Zoete Verleiding

spotted him twice on our tour on different locations…maybe he has a sweet tooth too…

Ron Moss in Antwerp
Ron Moss in Antwerp

Luxury sea escape x royal the Hague – part two

city exploring the Hague

To continue my previous post, after a wonderful night’s rest and relaxing stay in The Pier Suites, we decided to leave early to make the most of our day ahead in the Hague. Next to being the political and royal heart of the Netherlands and city where the International Court of Justice houses, the Hague keeps it’s relaxed city vibe offering a wide range of highlights and attractions, on every level whether you are a lover of architecture, culture, food, history, nature, shopping, this city seems to have it all!  Time to discover!

You can not go exploring on an empty stomach, so we stepped into indoor shopping mall De Passage and had a quick boost of energy in Du Passage, perfect place for a quick or slow breakfast, lunch or anything in between. The Mall is Hollands oldest indoor shopping mall and the interior deco is stunning, think grandeur, spotless clean and a variety of exclusive and worth-discovering shops.

Passage, shopping mall, the Hague
Walk this way…

Our eye fell, what can I say, once a foodie, always a foodie, on the gigantic Dok Cookware store…it’s the real thing, I could have spent the whole day there exploring and spending those euros!

 

Den Haag
City Centre
Den Haag
Native Dutch?

Time to step into the historic centre…the so called ‘Binnenhof’ or Inner Court is the centre of Dutch Politics and also houses the House of Representatives and the office of the Prime Minister. There are tours to follow, however the Inner Court is freely accessible, as is the adjacent pond.

view on Mauritshuis and Inner Court, the Hague
view on Mauritshuis and Inner Court

We also enjoyed the walk along the ‘Lange Voorhout’ a beautiful tree-lined lane leading you to the iconic historic Hotel des Indes…celebreties, royals, when in the Hague, this is where they stay!

Hotel des Indes, the Hague
Hotel des Indes

Do not skip the Heulstraat with the wonderful interior and deco-shop Il Regalo and Denneweg, one of the city’s oldest streets and a must if you are into lifestyle, deco, fashion and food…just go there that means!

Did you know the Hague had its own Chinatown? Both entrances are marked with a gate, the area was originally a Jewish quarter, however after the Second World War it became more and more abandoned and in the 1970s the area became increasingly inhabited by the Chinese.

the Hague Chinatown gate

Are you in for some culture? 2017 marks the centenary of the founding of the Dutch art movement called De Stijl (the Style), which is known for its bold horizontal and vertical lines encasing blocks of primary colours. Best-known artist is Mondrian. This whole year is dedicated as tribute and special activities indoors and outside are planned…even if you are not a museum lover, the city will treat you no-charge on colour and art as with the world’s largest Mondrian painting replica on the city hall. And for those who are into musea and art, do not forget Vermeer’s famous Girl with the pearl earring is waiting for you in the ‘Mauritshuis’.

Mondrian pimped city Hall
Mondrian pimped city Hall

All roads lead of course to royal Palace Noordeinde, the Kings working palace, if the royal flags flies above the palace…the King is in the House! The gardens and stables are located behind the residence and gardens are open for visits accept during state or royal visits etc…the classy Noordeinde district is where you will find various stylish, exclusive shops.

Paleis Noordeinde the Hague

Den Haag

All this city exploring make’s you hungry, right?!

city exploring the Hague
where to next?

We had lunch at ’t Goude Hooft, the Hague’s oldest inn, right in the vibrant city centre and went for a sweet treat at Lapsang, breakfast, lunch and winebar.

Conclusion, a must visit! Like I started this post, this city has it all and we haven’t even explored half of what it has to offer during this short visit, we’ll be back!

city exploring the Hague
let’s explore!

 

Ingrid

xxx

Visit the Hague – tourism info, attractions and highlights

Dok Cookware store

De Passage – shopping in style

Il Regalo – interior and deco

‘t Goude Hooft – hotel and restaurant

Lapsang – breakfast, lunch and winebar

 

 

 

Swan Market x Antwerp

The so called Swan Markets, regularly held in the Netherlands and Belgium offer starting entrepreneurs a platform and chance to showcase their craftsmanship and creative skills on a larger scale as it usually attracts a very large crowd. As was also the case last Sunday in Antwerp where the ‘Grote Markt’ and sunny weather formed an excellent décor for this lively market.

colourful and exotic, Antwerp Swan Market
Couleur locale Swan Market Antwerp

Handmade jewels, fashion accessories, home deco and lifestyle items, modern or vintage…whatever your preference or style, there’s something to be found for every person and budget. Letting my eyes wander over the colourful, detailed pieces and products created with passion made my heart jump! And then I didn’t even mention the extremely tempting smells coming from the different food trucks, taking you on a world journey with oriental flavours, U.K. Fudge,  American style BBQ, oysters, pancakes,…

Enough written, some impressions…

spicyscarves
Spicy Scarves Amsterdam

I must admit I have a terrible weakness for scarves…luckily Spicy Scarves Amsterdam has just the cure! Double or three layered and all handmade! Depending on your mood or the season you can go for the colourful ones or more toned down, sportive or sophisticated, believe me, very hard to choose! I met Waheeda, the lovely lady in the photo and creative brain behind the brand, during our trip to The Hague last week  where she has a shop at the pier in Scheveningen,…if a trip to Holland is not scheduled in your near future travel plans, do re-consider, or just visit their webshop of course!

vintage

 

paper holic
handcrafted paper bags and holders, all washable

Buying a This is Liger t-shirt will guarantee you a very unique piece of garment. Each year six visual artists are asked to team up with the brand, each artist designs a limited edition of only 360 pieces. You can find the unique number on the shirt, the designs are all very cool, couldn’t resist so bought one for our son.

Liger shirts
This is Liger shirts
Cork wallet

Plants and flowers run through Stefanie’s veins, not only hers but also her family’s and this for already four generations and going. With her plant caravan she brings all that is lively and green to you or to markets like this one.

plantencaravan
Plantencaravan

oh, and never ever throw away again your old toilet 😉

With the colourful scarves of ‘Sjaal met Verhaal’ you do not only end up with a quality scarf, as the name suggests, there is a bigger and warm story behind it: buying here means supporting women entrepreneurs and projects in Nepal and Thailand, securing a job and an income for several locals. Do check out their website, support their project and get yourself a lovely handmade scarf!

Sjaal met verhaal
Sjaal met Verhaal

Who doesn’t like candy?! However, over the years the word has gotten such a bad connotation…Tante Toos to the rescue, all sweets are pure fruit, pure flavour, all paleo and often vegan and raw too…no obscure additives, these fruit ‘mats’ only contain pure fruit and some herbs and are then rolled like a yoga mat…they come in different flavours: raspberry, strawberry, applepie, mango and forest fruit. Store them in a closed container up to six months,…though I doubt you’ll have them that long! I tasted the raspberry and applepie and oh my, though as thin as a slice of paper it is truly a full explosion of freshly baken homemade applepie! Fun and original way too to finish off or decorate a homemade dessert…

Matties apple pie

 

Tante Toos Matties
Oyster bar
She works hard for her money…making potatoes on a stick!

 

Greetings from Antwerp!

Ingrid

xxx

Spicy Scarves Amsterdam

This is Liger

De Plantencaravan

Sjaal met Verhaal

Tante Toos Matties – snoep zonder troep

Swan Market

Visit Antwerp

 

Weekend Namur…the city part

Our city break last week, brought us to Wallonia’s capital Namur, in the previous post you could follow in our footsteps along la Merveuilleuse, hiking up the citadel. In this post, time to explore the city itself, however, no hastiness, just follow the rhythm of the city and the stream as do les Namurois.

we arrived at Namur late morning, enough time for a first exploring stroll…

Tourist season hadn’t begun yet last week, usually that starts around the 1st of April, and that showed. Namur sure plans on doing things right, we spotted a lot of constructions sites near the river, a city so it seems that keeps reinventing itself, however, when getting closer to the inner heart, keeps traditions and culture intact.

La fresque des Wallons can be found in the small garden of the city hall, the facade-high mural refers to about 250 persons and events marking a stamp on Walloon identity, may that be important historic figures, artists, scientists, regional produce,…

Time for lunch…our eye fell on Le Pâtanthrope, I remembered it was highly recommended in ‘Le Petit Deborsu’ written by local and fully-declared Namur lover Christophe Deborsu. Gastronomy on the plate without showing astromic prices on the bill, now that’s the way we like it! Wondering were the name comes from? It’s a mix of pâte, which means pasta and philanthrope and their you go! I had scallops as entree, my husband had tartare of green asparagus, baked foie gras and ravioli. As a main, we had beef Rossini on a gallette de rigatoni and I chose stuffed squid with chorizo and ravioli. Desserts brought us moeulleux au chocolat and a delice framboises with macarons. Needless to say we sat more than two hours in the restaurant…and still needed to climb the citadel! However, all dishes were airy and light, as was the bill!

 

Time to move on, after the restaurant, we first explored the citadel, more on that here Weekend Namur…the citadel part and returned later for a quiet stroll through the car-free streets. A lot of them situated around the St-Loup church, Jesuit order, founded by St-Ignatius. Baroque-style church, same architect had also built the Barrolus Borremeus church in Antwerp and it shows. It is the church where famous poet Charles Baudelaire had a massive stroke, leaving him in semi-paralyzed-state before his death. Struck by beauty? By overwhelming emotions? If only time to visit one church in Namur, St-Loup is definitely the one to go to, the church often acts as decor for concerts and events too and volunteers are availabe on site if you want a tour.

‘In can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no melancholy’     (Charles Baudelaire)

Marché de légumes is thé square in Namur for people watching, we were there just around the hour schools had finished…the square was packed with young and little less young, enjoying the sun and their regained freedom after a day at school and/or work. Enough bars to choose from, though when the weather is fine, no-one to spot inside: everyone sits, stands, hangs in the middle of the square.

 

and all this under the watchful eye and shadow of St-Jean church, the oldest church in town, though the tower was only added later, as the first one was hit by lightning. Story goes the workmen at that time, 1616, spent more time in the local pub, leaving the bell tower not perfectly straight as was the intention.

IMG_5239

At the river border you will find the Walloon Parliament, no worries, hardly to miss, the colour pop’s out! The walk upto the citadel starts right after the corner.

We made this little trip discovering Namur winning a contest organised by Pays du Vallées. Our package included an overnight stay in b&b La Noiseraie, a 10′ drive from centre Namur. the b&b is located in a commerical zone with factories, however when going evenings and weekends like we did, these are all abandoned and all is peace and quiet. The domain itself is large enough, green and besides the b&b activities it is a walnut oil producer, hence the name, la Noiseraie. Would recommend to visist in autumn, to get the most out of that experience!

 

Another post, discovering some of the surrounding villages will follow shortly, stay tuned!

Ingrid

xxx

Pays des Vallées

Restaurant le Pâtanthrope

b&b La Noiseraie

Visit Namur

Tea and chocolate, a ‘matcha’ made in heaven!

Last week, during our stroll through Antwerp, my husband and I discovered a new hotspot for chocolate and tea lovers…my weary feet and aching back in much need for a rest were drawn in by the most wonderful smell of chocolate at the Japanese Royce’ shop located on Wapper square next to Pomax deco store, another fun shop by the way, if you are in search for home deco items or gifts. However, let’s get back to the neighbouring store! It appears Royce’ opened this flagship store end 2016 and is on a mission to promote Japanese-style chocolate. The store is located on the ground level floor of a lovely restaured building and on the first floor you will find the Blue Lounge, offering tea, coffee and Royce’ patisserie and chocolates of course.

Royce’ Flagshipstore Antwerp

Royce’s story began in 1983 in Sapporo, the capital city of Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. With cooler climates and wonderfully natural terrain, it is the ideal location for sourcing the freshest dairy products. Over the years, Royce’ has become known for crafting unique chocolate products such as Nama (meaning ‘fresh’), maccha chocolates and potatochip shaped chocolates that are now enjoyed in over 14 countries outside Japan, and counting…

We both made our choice out of the patisserie assortment, tea for me, coffee for the husband and relaxed and enjoyed with all senses! I noticed a flyer announcing a tea workshop offered by Obubu Tea Farms matching their teas with the chocolates…no need to say I was interested! Therefore, a few days ago I headed back to Antwerp to immerse myself into the wonderful world of Japanese tea.

 

Instructors to guide us along this path were the vice-president of Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms mr Yasuharu Matsumoto and International Department Lead Simona Zavadckyte. Assisted by a translator when necessary they told us a little about the history of the company, the location of the farms and the importance of quality. As only 2-3 % of all Japanese tea is exported, it is their mission to bring their exquisite teas and enthusiasm and love for their produce to us and the world.

Obubu Tea Farms is a small Japanese tea company located in Wazuka, Kyoto, a historic tea-growing region where tea has been farmed for more than 800 years. Their teas are grown and processed by Obubu’s President and Lead Farmer, Akihiro Kita. In between the storytelling three different teas and accompanying sweets were served.

If ever in Japan, when visiting the region, and I was assured it is absolutely worthwhile, a Japanese tea tour can be arranged, visiting several fields in the surrounding mountains, tea tastings and hiking tours.

First we were offered the Hojicha amber tea with some Nama champagne chocolates,

followed by a  silky and smooth Samidori Matcha tea and delicious patisserie.

We ended with a Genmaicha, one of Japan’s most popular teas made by mixing Yanagi Bancha leaves with roasted rice. Must say this one was my favourite! It was accompanied by a little eclair and the Nama maccha, white chocolate mixed with grean tea.

Such an informative, lovely and very tasteful way this was to set off the weekend!

Obubu teas can be bought at the Royce’ shop in Antwerp, for other points of sale or to see if there is a tasting workshop nearby planned soon, please check their website!

As always, hope you enjoyed,

Ingrid

Xxx

Obubu Tea Farms

Royce’

A cup of tea is a cup of peace (Sen Sshitsu XV)

 

 

When life brings you lemons…

…making lemonade is an excellent choice of course, but one needs to eat too, right, and food needs seasoning…we’re making herb salt!

img_4938
Herb salt

This is what you need:

  • +/- 250 gr salt
  • zeste of two lemons, chopped up
  • Leaves of two branches of rosemary, chopped up
  • Leaves of two or three branches of thyme, chopped up

 

This is what you do:

  • chop up the herbs
  • mix with the salt
  • let it dry out and place in a sealed container…that’s it!
img_4937
herbs and spices

You can do a little twist and use oranges instead of lemons or you can use more or other herbs. It tastes great with some roasted meat, use it when seasoning fish or chicken, etc…

Trust no one, unless you have eaten much salt with him (Cicero)

Enjoy,

 

Ingrid

Xxx

Open tuna burger

You don’t always need a large list of ingredients to make a savoury dinner or lunch, or sometimes you’re just in a hurry and don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen or you know that feeling that after an exhausting day your stomach and soul are just craving for some comfort food? Well, this dish ticks all the above boxes, how great is that! And no worries, though the list may seem long, most of the items are already in your kitchen pantry!

ingredients tuna burgers
Ingredients tuna burgers

 

This is what you need:

(will feed about 4-6 persons depending if you add some sides or not)

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 tins of tuna (natural brine)
  • 1 small tin of anchovies, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika powder
  • A few drops of Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 grated cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 8-10 tbs of breadcrumbs
  • Ciabatta divided in smaller pieces or 8 small bread rolls
  • Olive oil
  • Some slices of mature cheese or whatever you prefer, I use cheddar

 

This is what you do:

  • Glaze the chopped onions in some olive oil and set aside. Meanwhile open your tuna tins, remove the excess liquid and transfer the tuna flakes to a large bowl. Add the eggs, the chopped anchovies, the paprika powder, the Worcestershire sauce and the onions. Flavour with the garlic, salt and pepper.

 

  • At this stage, you can either proceed of put aside in the fridge to use later in the day or in the evening when you get home from work. If you proceed, or after removal from the fridge, check the density and start adding the bread crumbs to absorb any leftover liquid. Make sure everything is mixed thoroughly and the mixture is moist however not wet.

 

  • Take your bread rolls or chopped up ciabatta and slice horizontally in half, brush them with some olive oil and grill in the oven. Take them out, start filling them up with the tuna mixture and end with a nice slice of cheese on top.

 

  • In the oven this goes, for about 15’ at a temperature of 200°C

 

There’s a whole lot of fish in the sea, but you’re one hot tuna!

You can serve this with a yummy green salad or just eat them as such…oh, and I know you can’t wait to take that first bite, but remember the quote and beware not to burn the palate…hot, hot, hot, let them cool off for just a few seconds!

davEnjoy!

 

Ingrid

xxx

A touch of frost

Any leftover cranberries after the festive season? Always fun to sugar-coat them…

3
sugar-coated berries in a row

Make a syrup of sugar and water, turn off the heat, add the berries and let them soak at least a couple of hours or overnight.  Point is to reduce the extreme sourness of the cranberries.

4
Cranberries in syrup

Then drain using a colander and make sure to keep the liquid as you can still use that when making cocktails!
Dry the berries lightly with a paper towel, they shouldn’t be completely dry, otherwise the sugar won’t stick.

Time for the fun part! Pour some sugar in a bowl, add some berries and toss them around until coated. Do not add too many berries at once, it will make the sugar clump and that’s not what you want at this point.

Leave them to dry on a rack or plate and that’s it!

5

2

 

I used mine decorating a chocolate mousse and added some in my morning oatmeal bowl.
 

image1

Sweet, sour and frosted instant happiness!

 

Ingrid

X