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!
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!
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.
‘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!
How do you you feel about citytrips? I appear to have a strange love-hate relationship with them…they both seem to energise ánd drain me, recognisable? This being said, looking back, ‘the energy-drainage’ balance was way in favour of the first feeling. We have spent five glorious days in this charismatic city though still haven’t had time to explore to the fullest if you ask me… This is a city of historic discoverers travelling the world and the seven seas bringing wealth and fame, a city having known its portion of bad fortune and catastrophies too, being rebuilt after earthquakes and risen from ashes to what it is today…an absolute shining jewel to discover! In the next posts will share some pics from our little side trips to Belém and Sintra, this one however is all about strolling through Lisbon’s city neighbourhoods, each with its own identity and taking you around some of our favourite sightseeing spots, experiences and photos. Like tiny appetisers that tickle your taste buds and make you longing for what’s next this city reveals itself step by step, (and you can take that literally being built on seven hills, do bring some comfortable shoes) and taste by taste with more goodies and jaw-dropping vistas around each corner!
Lisbon is nestled high (remember the hills) and comfortably on the Tagus river bank: city of eternal sunshine, nostalgia and renewal, the sound of fado and screeching trams…delicious fresh sardines and upcoming Michelin-star chefs, jaw-dropping architecture, fascinating tile-work and street art…a city where the day starts off with a cup of coffee and one, or more, pastéis and evening rewards you with breathtaking views…a city with an historic passion for discovery…
Are ‘you’ all set to explore?!
Covering the height levels on foot may be challenging from time to time, but doable, and if I say so, remember I am not the fittest person due to my back issues! However, if there is a quicker, more relaxing and definitely more fun way…don’t hesitate! Many options make life easier, offer you great views and your feet will thank you…Taking a ride on the historic tram 28 is a must but you can also book an eco-friendly tuktuk ride, take an ‘elevador’ or ‘ascensor’ to help you carry up those steep hills…
Elevador de Santa Justa
Arco Triunfal da Rua Augusta
View on Tagus river
welcome shadow on the Praça do Comércio
If you want to visit a place where you can still feel and witness the impact and enormous devastation of the 1775 earthquake, head to Largo do Carmo in Chiado District and visit the ruins of this convent…it has never been restored, which gives you the opportunity to walk through history in an open-air architectural historical museum.
After visiting, take some time to relax on the Largo do Carmo, the lovely square just outside the convent. Plenty of shade, artists performing, surrounding shops and restaurants and a typical ‘Quiosque’ to order a drink and some little snacks…
Want to bring a fun gift for those at home? Head to ‘The Fantastic World of Portugese Sardine’ shop on Rossio Square, very funky shop with a circus theme and star role for the sardines of course which are packed in birthyear printed cans.
Embaixada, in Principe Real district is well worth a visit if you like to match shopping with design…this old Moorish designed palace houses small shops, young designers, start-up concepts and regular cultural events and exhibitions.
Meanwhile, down by the river…you can enjoy a morning walk like we did or enjoy the artists performing and all sorts of food and fashion stalls late afternoon or evening and multiple ferry routes bring you to the opposite bank where you can admire the Christo do Rei statue or enjoy a wonderful meal as sun sets on the city…
Foodwise, you won’t starve in Lisbon and lunch and dinner are quite affordable, a lot of value for little money!
Bar and restaurant Ti’ Camila
We stayed at Airbnb Inglesinhas 5 in Madragoa district which I can higly recommend, hosts Paula and Andre welcome you with a big smile and open arms and help you out with any planning or questions you still have. Some great coffeebars and restaurants nearby as well as excellent public transport connections.
We found the Lisboa card very useful and value for money, especially compared to the similar cards in other cities…if you plan on using public transport during your stay and visit some museums and attractions, do consider this…
Hope you enjoyed this little stroll around Lisbon and you’ll tag along next time when I’ll take you around Alfama district and on the trips to Belém and Sintra!
The second day of our Namur weekend break was reserved to breathe in nature and fresh air and discover some of the surrounding tiny villages, part of ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonië’
First stop on our route was Thon-Samson, the drive up there coming from Namur is great, following the banks of the meandering river Meuse, you can admire the lovely bordering mansions and the crown on it all: view on Marche-les-Dames, marvelous rock formation where Belgian army troups have their training facilities. To us, Belgians, Marche-les-Dames will forever hold a place in history books as it is the place where king Albert the first, though an experienced climber, found his tragic death.
Back to our destination, Thon-Samson, with Samson referring to the little river running through the picturesque town. A perfect spot to stretch the legs, breathe in that fresh morning air and admire the limestone buildings and view on the valley and surrounding green hills.
Next stop, Mozet, again most houses in limestone and rooftops often in slate. Up on the hill, the church serves as an excellent viewpoint on the area. The Royer farm with its protected Romanesque tower can not be missed and walking further down the same path leads you to the originally 11th century castle now property of the local scouting organisation and serving as holiday and meeting centre.
Heading back north we slowly were making our way back home, however decided to take some smaller backroads as we noticed some road works and a traffic jam earlier and didn’t want to be caught in them. Now that was a smart move, as it lead us to the tiny village of Balâtre, tiny indeed, as no larger than the town square and a few streets, but we discovered a great restaurant/hotel there called ‘La Fourchette à droite’…only had to take one look at the menu to decide we were really hungry all of a sudden and yes, they do things with a little twist here, the fork is on the right-hand side!
What a perfect way to end this weekend! We have had it all, great weather and food for body and soul with Namur and its lovely surroundings as great hosts and companions, we’ll be back!
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’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 Farmsmr 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.
VP of Obumu Tea Farms and the proud workshop instructor
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!
Any leftover cranberries after the festive season? Always fun to sugar-coat them…
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.
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!
I used mine decorating a chocolate mousse and added some in my morning oatmeal bowl.
No worries, I haven’t disappeared from the blogger’s great universe, just needed some mind and mainly body recovery time…when I know my mind is on food again and thinking of Christmas preparation and deco I know I’m on the mend…well at least for now, as that’s the curse of chronic pains, but hey, we’re in the up, so staying cheerful today!
A usual dinner conversation at our home always includes the options for the menu the next day…earlier this week this recipe came up. It had been ages since I made it, albeit in a slightly different version, so on general family members request, here we go!
This is what you need:
chicken breasts filets (1 normal sized per person should do)
a few slices other cheese like old Gouda or you can use Parmesan too
bacon to wrap it up
salt and pepper
This is what you do:
Preheat your oven at 200°C and oil your baking dish
butterfly the chicken breasts and spread them with seed mustard
layer with mozzarella cheese, season with pepper, and another layer with cheese of your choice
close the filets and wrap them with bacon
give them another seasoning with (a little salt) and pepper
finish in the oven for about 30-40′ depending on thickness of the filets
I serve them with grilled green asparagus and cherry tomatoes.
Some cheese will run out, that’s the yummy part, if you don’t like that, stick with the harder cheeses or use thinly sliced mozzarella.
Make some hours in advance and put in the oven when your guests arrive, easy! This dish leaves you several opportunities to mix and max and play with the stuffing:
use pesto, mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes
drop the cheese stuffing, use lots of herbs and pesto or sun-dried tomatoes and cover the filled filets in egg and panko before putting in the oven and you’ll have a yummy tasty crunch
replace the bacon with Parma ham
add herbs like sage or basil or other flavour makers of your choice
The word foodie, you see or read it a lot nowadays, right?! It seems to me lately everyone with a latte or salad posting a pic adds the foodie hashtag. And that’s just fine by me as long as you are savouring it with inner joy and an even bigger outer smile!
‘Foodie: onewhohas an ardent or refinedinterest in food; a gourmet.Alsocalledfoodist.’
If this definition is the standard, then yes, I tick the box, consider me a foodie…when in a book store, I head straight for the new releases on cookbooks, I adore tv shows mixing food and origins and culture like the Rick Stein series and The Two Greedy Italians. I love it when a recipe doesn’t only show the ingredients and how to proceed but tells a background story, like for example in Nigella’s books or Flemish Pascale Naessens, oh and need I say I adore cooking and baking, that is when my back allows me, and do not forget the eating experience!
Yep, I’m probably an addict: when breakfast I already think about lunch or dinner, when throwing a party, putting together all the pieces of the food puzzle gives me joy and thrill, and okay I admit stress too sometimes, and drop me on a farmers market or a food store or in a restaurant and I’m in heaven!
Even the small town I live in has the luxury to have access to farmer market produce, due to the rising awareness that we are what we eat. Food isn’t just about keeping us alive, keeping our body engine up and running, it’s so much more than that: it brings us together, that moment around the table, the great expectation, all the senses on sharp as to not to miss the aromas and colours revealed when the dish is served! That’s what gives me joy, it’s the total package: the food, the table setting, the company, the occassion: it may be just your daily lunch or dinner or a family or friends get together, make it something special, food shoul be fun! If the mood is perfect, any dish prepared with care and love tastes great!
I don’t have to convince you of the benefits of healthy food, enough studies have been published on that and there are people far more qualified than I am to tell you something on those topics. I am not a fanatic, not in my general everyday life and behavior and not in my food. I don’t buy the expensive so-called superfoods, I believe in a balanced food plan, I like my piece of dark chocolate when I drink my afternoon tea, I appreciate a glass of red wine by the fireplace. Like another Flemish cook and author Jeroen Meus, recently said, it’s all about using your common sense. Keep it in balance, there’s no harm in eating a cookie or two or a piece of cake, just not the whole cake! Invite some friends over to share and enjoy the goodies of life 😉
That being said, all this food thinking made me really hungry, so made some of Jeroen Meus’ apple muffins today, the recipe is in dutch, however think it’s pretty clear and if not, just ask me, then I’ll translate for you. The apples have been diced and caramelized in a bit of butter and maple syrup before adding to the batter. The recipe mentions brown sugar, but I used half brown, half white, only because I was running low on brown sugar and it is pouring outside so another run to the shop was no option.
Belgium’s little gem Durbuy, situated in the province of Luxembourg and nicknamed smallest town in the world, could not leave you more enchanted than on the last day of October when the medieval town centre becomes the magnificent open-air stage for the annual Halloween celebration. Think Captain Jack Sparrow parading in the winding cobbled 17th century streets, fairies and witches, jugglers and other costumed street artists performing, lots of food and drinks of course, musical acts and a show with light and sound effects and fireworks to end the festivities with a sparkle.
Halloween not your thing? No worries, Durbuy and this region have so much more to offer: nature lovers can stretch their legs and catch some oxygen in the surrounding woods or tiny hidden villages. Those searching for some more adrenaline can go kayaking or head for the outdoor adventure parks and if you are searching to excite your taste buds, look no further, this region has a large number of gastronomy level restaurants and chefs using excellent local produce.
Being blessed on this little getaway of ours with plenty of sunshine and temperatures around 18 degrees Celsius have our batteries recharged. Nothing beats a wonderful yummy breakfast, some nature exploring and lunch and dining al fresco when end of October/early November, right?!
Just like four years ago again we stayed at b&b La Lisière, just outside Durbuy city centre. They have three lovely cosy and spacious rooms, one gîte and one cabin in the garden, all offering nature views. Bénédicte and Stéphane, your hosts, are keen on reducing their ecological footprint, this also translates into fresh local produce at breakfast and promoting local beers which you can enjoy relaxing in the cosy bar.
Well, Halloween has left us for this year, peace and quiet have returned, but plenty of good excuses remain if you want to plan a trip to Durbuy: November hosts a lot of hunting season concerts and December says Christmas market of course! Just check out the city’s tourist info page for more detailed info on upcoming activities or nature inspiration.
From all desserts made in this home over the past many, many years, I think clafoutis definitely ranks number one when it comes to made most often. It definitely wins when it comes to easiest and quickest one, that is if you cheat a bit and use a jar of sour cherries. Personally, it ranks absolute top on comfort food too!
Traditionally made with cherries but you can use apples or, one of my personal favourites, the green reine claude plums…you get the idea: just use what’s in season! But let’s get back to the real thing! As the name gives away, we are talking a French dessert, mais oui, finding its origin in the Limousin region where local griottes, sour cherries, are used. The name is said to come from the Occitan dialect word ‘claufir’, which means to cover or fill. you can find many recipes on the internet or in culinary magazines or books, some use butter, some don’t, this is how I make it…The combination of fresh juicy fruit and the sweet batter will transport you to dessert heaven, promised, so head towards your kitchen!
What you need:
1 round baking dish and a little butter or oil to grease
4 large eggs
4 tbsp of flour
100 gr sugar + extra 2 tbsp for baking dish
185 ml cream
125 ml milk
+/- 400 gr cherries
I usually add a little Kirsch too
Optional: a few drops of almond essence, two or three, just to give a hint, you don’t really need to flavour
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 180° C.
Grease a baking dish large enough to hold the cherries in one layer, add two tbsp of sugar. Spin the dish round to coat the inside with the sugar, remove any excess if any, then set aside.
Mix the dry ingredients, then add the milk and cream and next add the eggs.
Layer the cherries in your baking dish. If you use a jar, let them go through a sieve first, but catch the liquid, you can use this for a nice gelato sauce or to accompany your clafoutis.
Pour the liquid (not to worry, it’s a very liquid batter) over the cherries and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden and puffy.
Dust with icing sugar and serve lukewarm or lightly chilled depending on your own preference.
The other day I got inspired by a recipe in a German magazine called ‘Frau und Familie Ratgeber’. Well, I am a woman, I have a family and never say no to some good advice, especially if it involves desserts and some sweetness in life!
The article covered some desserts that didn’t need any baking: just your two hands, some time to spare and in the fridge it goes…sounds easy right?!
The cover showed a delicously looking blueberry layered cheesecake, well, had to test that one, being full berry season now!
If you’re thinking it might be just the thing for you to try, get your hands on the below ingredients and follow the instructions!
5 slices of pumpernickel bread (or use a mixture of cookies/chocolate or cookies/ speculoos like I did)
60 gr butter
2 tbsps honey
6 gelatine leaves (or 7 if you think your mixture is rather runny)
1 bio lemon (orange is an option too)
200 ml cream
500 gr cream cheese
250 gr quark cheese
1 vanilla pod
120 gr Sugar
4 cl Cointreau or another liquor based on oranges or just use oranje juice
500 gr blueberries or a mixture of red fruits as to your own taste or like
Line a springform pan(24 diameter) with parchment paper, break the bread into pieces and mix it with the melted butter and honey. Replace the bread by cookies if you prefer a sweeter cake bottom. Press with your fingers or the back of a spoon so the mixture is spread evenly and set aside in the fridge.
Dissolve the gelatine leaves in cold water and whip the cream up until stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese, quark cheese, vanilla, sugar, lemon or orange juice and zeste until you have a smooth mixture. Heat the Cointreau in a small bowl or pan, just gently, it doesn’t need to boil and then press out any water from the gelatine and place it into the liquor mixture. Add two big spoons of your cheese mixture to the liquor, mix and then transfer to the big bowl with the cheese and sugar mix in it. At this point you can add the whipped cream, making sure you have a smooth mixture without lumps in it. Transfer to your springform, spread evenly and set aside for at least 4 hours. You can add the fruit just before serving.
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Note1: preparation time is about 35-40 minutes, quicker if you make the cake bottom the day in advance and you can start straight away with the filling and topping.
Note2: I used 400 gr Philadelphia light and 350 gr cream cheese, as that was what I had in fridge at that moment, works fine!
Note 3: fun too, instead of using a large classic springform, to use tiny cups, great if you’re hosting a party as no fuss about who’s to cut the cake and gets the yummiest fruit parts…