Discover Benelux, Issue 24, December 2015

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I S S U E 24 | D EC E M B E R 2015









“Designers of your image” “Tailor made 3D printed titanium eyewear”

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Discover Benelux | Contents

Contents DECEMBER 2015



COVER FEATURE 30 Lucas & Arthur Jussen

They are the Netherlands’ most popular piano brothers with best-selling albums, including music by Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart, and who fly all over the world to perform live. We asked the young men to tell us more.


(Hand)made in Belgium

Authentic, hand-made products are hot and happening. Read all about Belgium’s top independent craftspeople who create original, quality products.

FEATURES 10 Introducing: Martijn Nekoui

Jack-of-all-trades Martijn Nekoui, owner of MOAM, stimulates new talent by connecting young designers with big names in the Dutch fashion industry.

72 Hergé, the master drawer of Tintin

In Somerset House, four rooms have been transformed into a Tintin heaven for the exhibition TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece. We went in to see what was going on.

BUSINESS 63 Company profiles, regulars and more

20 Magical Maastricht

In December, the southern Dutch city of Maastricht transforms into a magical place, perfect for a festive getaway or a day of Christmas shopping surrounded by thousands of lights.


34 Winter in the Dutch capital

This month we focus on two characteristic districts in Amsterdam, highlighting the top shopping, food, drink and sleep spots. The Jordaan, from page 34 Amsterdam West, from page 47

In our business section, we highlight an expert catering company, a specialist in investment administration and our columnists discuss test running communications and whether unions still matter. PLUS: Business calendar, page 67

DON’T MISS 6 Fashion Picks | 8 Desirable Designs 76 Out & About | 81 Columns

53 Inspiration guide for a fabulous Belgian wedding

We feature the best facets of hosting a wedding in Belgium, from wedding planners to florists, venues and stunning cakes, helping you plan the best day of your life. PLUS: Winter wellness retreats, from page 59



Issue 24 | December 2015 | 3

Discover Benelux | Editor’s Note

Dear Reader, Last month, the attacks in Paris and the ensuing hunt for the suspects in Brussels dominated the news. After being at the highest mark for nearly a week, the security threat level in the Belgian capital was finally lowered (albeit slightly), just as this edition of Discover Benelux went to print.

Print Liquid Graphic LTD

Josiah Fisk Lidija Liegis Liz Wenger Matt Antoniak Michiel Stol Mirjam van Biemen Mirre Oost Paola Westbeek Paula Hammond Rosanne Roobeek Steve Flinders

Executive Editor Thomas Winther

Stuart Forster Toyah Marondel Xandra Boersma

Creative Director Mads E. Peterson

Cover Photo Dirk Kikstra

On social media, a request for silence is almost never obeyed and immediately the Twitter handle #BrusselsLockdown started trending. But instead of posting photos of police in the streets of Brussels, or accidentally sharing sensitive information, users started to tweet images of cats. The internet certainly is a fascinating place.

Editor Myriam Gwynned Dijck

Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Micha Cornelisse Kirsten Schoon Sophie Plenert

Cats in Superman outfits, Puss in Boots standing watch and other funny images of the feline friends of Brussels’ residents started to flood the Twitter timeline. It very much lightened the mood of how people discussed the events of the past weeks online and brought some positivity back into the discussion.

Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3YT United Kingdom

It is very heart-warming that, amid these tragic events, Brussels did not only cooperate fully with the request of the police, they did it in the best way possible, with humour and creativity. And this is important, especially online, where negative rhetoric can quickly spill over into fearmongering. Let’s hope the resilience of the Brussels public will continue until the threat level is back to normal.

Discover Benelux Issue 24, December 2015 Published 12.2015 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group

Copy-editor Isa Hemphrey Graphic Designer Lauren Glading Contributors Anne Faber Berthe van den Hurk Caroline Dhont Cathy van Klaveren Ella Put Els Du Mont Emmie Collinge Hanne Couderé Janine Sterenborg

Phone: +44 (0)870 933 0423 Fax: +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email:

© All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

4 | Issue 24 | December 2015

With soldiers patrolling the city, the metro closed off and schools and universities shut, normal life in Brussels was grossly disrupted. While the police carried out raids to find the perpetrators, they requested a social media blackout. If information on the whereabouts of the police teams reached the wrong people, it could compromise an entire search operation.

Myriam Gwynned Dijck, Editor

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Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks


Glitter and glamour With the upcoming holiday season and its parties, it is time to update your wardrobe with the latest dazzling and shiny trends. Make the most out of this wonderful time of the year by alluring your guests in an outfit filled with glamour and glitter. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: PRESS PHOTOS

1. A wild Christmas Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most glamorous of them all? With this dress with leopard-skin inspired pattern and cool chain boots designed by SuperTrash you can give your glitzy look an edgy touch. Dress: €155 Shoes: €165

2. Good as gold

6 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Dutch brand Josh V is notable for its glamourous outfits. Their shiny gold body con dress with deep décolleté and envelope effect is going to be the ultimate eye-catcher this Christmas, turning even the shyest wallflower into a true Hollywood star. Also available in black and metal. €110

Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks

3. Dazzling shoes Inspired by the classic brogue shoe and casual sportswear, Dutch brand United Nude designed this pair of sporty chic shoes giving it an edgy twist with its golden skin and perforated edges. €219

4. Step out and shine! There are a couple of things that never go out of style such as dots, the colour black and the blazer. So why not combine them all in your glamorous party look? Blazer: €80 Dress (left): €80 Dress (middle): €90 Dress (right): €110

5. Blingtastic blazer Eating glitter for breakfast, according to online brand Modemusthaves, is the best way to help you shine all day. And what better time to show off a shimmering outfit than during the holiday season? Combine this blazer with leather pants and black pumps and you are good to go partying. €65 Issue 24 | December 2015 | 7

Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs


Made and given with love The month of gift giving has finally arrived. As inspiration for your inner Santa Claus, we have selected the best festive items from the Benelux that are made with love. Spoil your loved ones and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with family, friends and these desirable designs. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PRESS PHOTOS

1: Message on a bottle

2: A recipe to remember

Dutch design couple Tim and Merel are converting old wine bottles for quirky new purposes such as candle holders and glasses. Their carafe with chalkboard coating is the ideal way to turn your bottle of mulled wine into something a little more personal. €9

What better way to compliment the chef of this year’s Christmas dinner than by having their recipes immortalised with the beautiful illustrations and handwriting of Dutch designer Annemarie Gorissen. Now you know how. From €52


1. 3: A portable light in the darkness This lamp is the most sustainable gift ever. It is recyclable and with its sleek design the lamp is a very stylish addition to any living room. The lamp is available in four colours and four models, named after Dutch cities. €30



4: Ministry of silly talks From t-shirts to teapots, any object that can be written on has been getting a cheeky quote from the Flemish Ministry of Unique Objects. But the most fantastic gifts of all are their timeless Christmas cards turning the classic holiday postcard into a sassy surprise. From €2 8 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs


6. Cuddle Christmas Annette Versteege was bursting with creative ideas and a huge collection existing out of vintage blankets. So she turned her ideas and dreams into plans and made a collection full of pillows with Dutch words such as ‘kusje’, meaning ‘little kiss’, or ‘welterusten’, meaning ‘good night’. It is the ideal way to surprise your loved ones and make someone familiar with the Dutch language. From €33


7: Cuteness in a cup These pretty little cups, made by Belgian designer Helen B, will be the cherry on top of a Christmas brunch. Decorated with beautiful and funny illustrations the tableware will be an eye-catcher on the Christmas table. From €13

5. The Baking Bag In this bag you will find all the ingredients you need to bake a dream cake. Give it to someone with extremely good baking skills and, who knows, you might enjoy a little bit of this present too. From €10


Make fire in just a few seconds with this do-it-yourself campfire set. No magic is needed for this, unfortunately. But with this portable fireplace you can set up a fire whenever and wherever you like. From €36

9. Party in a box During the stressful holiday season people can find themselves slowly burning out, no matter how many burning lights there are in the Christmas tree. But Belgian creative studio De Firma Dankt U has the ideal solution: the anti-burnout matchbox, one of their many hand-made and personal matchboxes. No matches, but a party in a box. Their philosophy is: big surprises do not have to come in big boxes. From €6

8. DIY Campfire

8. 9. 10. 10: Authentic accessory Designer Jules Bean believes in following your heart, instead of trends. Therefore she creates hand-made, one-of-a-kind, personal jewellery for any budget. A unique gift for yourself or for another special person. From €17 Issue 24 | December 2015 | 9

Discover Benelux | Introducing | Martijn Nekoui


Martijn Nekoui Brander, curator, event creative and occasional Christmas jumper model, Martijn Nekoui is a jackof-all-trades. Being the owner of Amsterdam-based fashion platform MOAM, he has been stimulating creative talent in the Netherlands by connecting young designers with big names such as Viktor&Rolf, Doutzen Kroes and Jan Taminiau. Discover Benelux had a chat with the young creative to ask him about MOAM and turning smoked sausages into fashion gimmicks. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: MOAM VOOR HEMA

10 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Discover Benelux | Introducing | Martijn Nekoui

First of all, could you explain what MOAM is all about?

What kind of projects are you working on?

It is a creative platform giving young talent the opportunity to collaborate with established names in the creative industry. MOAM gives young talent a studio, the chance to develop themselves and to focus on what they do best: designing and creating.

We have two projects every year. First there is the MOAM Collective, which is a group of young designers who create a complete collection for a catwalk show. This is all about experimenting with craftsmanship and creative freedom. Secondly we have MOAM for HEMA, which is a group of young designers who create a smaller collection for Dutch department store HEMA. That is all about making fashion approachable for a bigger audience, thinking commercially.

How did you come up with the idea for MOAM? It started as a graduation project. I studied Fashion and Branding at the AMFI [Amsterdam Fashion Institute]. I observed and saw that we have so much creative talent in the Netherlands. We always have, look at Frans Molenaar and Kiki Niesten. But because of the Dutch Calvinistic and down-to-earth mentality, we never really connected those talents. So I thought, why not stimulate and motivate young talent by letting them meet and collaborate with those big icons from the industry? It’s a great learning experience for both parties.

And how do you connect new talent with big icons? First, I search for young talent on social media. But I also visit the graduation shows of all the Dutch academies. And for the older generation, well, you have to realise that everyone started somewhere; the same goes for today’s icons, I think when they started out as young creatives they would have loved to be given the opportunity to meet their idols. Everyone in the Netherlands has a phone or goes to parties. When I am at a party and I see a big name from the fashion industry, I start a conversation with them. Just because they are dealing with million dollar contracts and big fashion shows, doesn’t mean they are not approachable or willing to help a new generation. I introduce the concept of MOAM and ask them if they would like to come to our office.

Almost all of the previous MOAM fashion graduates now work in the industry, you have hosted shows at the Rijksmuseum and Eye Theatre and MOAM was the first external brand to collaborate with HEMA. How do you explain your success?

So what about the fluffy jumper with a sausage on it, where does this fit in? Well, HEMA is famous for their rookworst [smoked sausage] and it fits the thought of the classic Christmas jumper made by your grandmother. Those two thoughts combined resulted in the sausage jumper. It’s a fun addition to the collection.

What are your plans for the future? I think a concept like MOAM in Amsterdam can be applicable to every city. There is young talent everywhere; the same goes for experienced creatives. I would love to go and take MOAM abroad, but first I want to enjoy the success of MOAM in the Netherlands.

I think success is always so difficult to put your finger on. I don’t like to take ‘no’ for an answer, that’s for sure. But the benefits of this are twofold: if I get my teeth into a project, I will not let go of it. But I don’t push it beyond reproach; I know when a ‘no’ is a ‘no’. On the other hand, if there is a one per cent chance of succeeding, I will try to find that single percentage.

On 8 December, MOAM will launch this year’s clothing collection for HEMA, now for the second time. Could you tell us more about the collection? In our previous collaboration with HEMA we found out that especially chic clothing items, such as a tailored suit for ladies, were a big hit. The average Dutch woman wants to dress up for the holidays, therefore we decided to do a Christmas collection with more of those chic yet affordable pieces.

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 11

Discover Benelux | (Hand)made in Belgium | Top Designs


(Hand)made in Belgium All over Europe hand-made products are hot and happening, from independent bakeries to micro-breweries, cutlery and clothes. The same goes for Belgium, where customers appear to look more and more for authentic products made by experienced and honest craftsmen and women. TEXT: ELLA PUT | MAIN PHOTO: BASTALPE

Photo: Hoet Optiek

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Photo: Fja-Oeyen Mol

Discover Benelux | (Hand)made in Belgium | Top Designs

Photo: Bastalpe

Genuine, authentic and quality products are at the top of the shopping list of many consumers these days. In Belgium, the entrepreneurs’ organisation UNIZO is giving craftsmen of original, hand-made products the ‘Handmade in Belgium’ (HIB) label. The authenticity label recognises producers of authentic and quality products and it promotes the modern craftsmen and their unique trades by putting them in the limelight. But why are handcrafted products from Belgium so popular? Sophie De Ville, coordinator of the HIB project, explains: “We are living in a digital society where a lot of what we buy seems to be artificial, similar and perfectly produced. People have started to look for those authentic, special products, hand made by craftspeople. In addition, there is a renewed interest for the way particular handicrafts or techniques are mastered by a craftsman.”

Photo: OLA Jewelry

All over the world a ‘do-it-yourself’ culture is emerging: “If you put the handmade trend in a bigger social context, you can see that it also has to do with the economic crisis,” De Ville says. “People are more aware of what they spend and what they save. We also learn more about the sometimes terrible working circumstances in third-world countries, where a lot of our cheap products are made, so that triggers people to invest in goods made and produced more locally.” For the enterprising Belgian craftsman, this revival can be seen as a blessing in disguise. De Ville explains: “It is great that there is so much attention for authenticity and craftsmanship. But these craftsmen need to constantly make sure they can distinguish themselves from hobbyists as well as mass production manufacturing.”

The sudden renewed interest in handmade products is also a challenge for entrepreneurs who are desperately looking for knowledgeable and skilled staff: “Practical courses are considered less prestigious, everyone wants to be educated at university level. So now the older craftsmen are seeking a new generation to teach them their professions. With a new project called ‘the Makers’, we are stimulating youngsters to embark on vocational training.” With the guild houses on the central square in Brussels being one of the most popular touristic sights in Belgium, it is no surprise that the Belgians are quite ‘fier’ of their handicraft culture, Flemish for ‘proud’. This is another reason to support those who produce by hand and who stimulate a new generation of craftsmen and women. Issue 24 | December 2015 | 13

Discover Benelux | (Hand)made in Belgium | Top Designs


Glasses are no longer solely a means to increase eyesight. Today, they are very much an extension of your look. At Hoet Optiek they know it is essential that eyewear matches your style and taste and they are experts at finding you the perfect pair. Hoet Optiek is a true family business, now in hands of the sixth generation. The company began from a travelling spectacle pedlar in 1884. By now it has two stores in Belgium, in Brussels and Bruges and several collections with designs that are also sold throughout the world. One of their collections is the renowned Theo line, named after an anagram of ‘Hoet’. It is available in over 1,400 stores globally. Frederik Ghesquière, who runs the two stores with Lieselotte Hoet, says: “Thanks to our laser cut technology we use for Theo, we can create more refined and lighter glasses so they are more 14 | Issue 24 | December 2015

comfortable to wear. Innovation is key at Hoet.” For more exclusive designs, the company launched Hoet Eyewear. This collection comprises of gold, black or grey spectacles made out of titanium, stainless steel and buffalo horn. “We only introduce two or three new models a year, to keep the collection exclusive,” he says. “We don’t follow trends. This keeps the models timeless and elegant so you can enjoy wearing them for a long time.” For even more exceptional spectacles, the company has the Hoet Couture collection made with 3D printing technology. Currently it includes five different models, each of which will be personalised according to the wearer. “We were the first to develop bespoke, 3D printed titanium glasses after developing the technology over a four-year period. The model will be adjusted according to the shape of the face, such as distance between the

eyes and to the ears so the glasses will have the perfect fit,” Ghesquière explains. He expects 3D printing technology to become even more important for opticians and spectacle designers in the future. He predicts that in a decade, most glasses will be made with this technology so everyone will have a unique and custom made set of spectacles. “In the world of tomorrow, clients would have their faces three-dimensionally scanned, so the spectacle designer can create a technical drawing of the model, which can then can be adjusted and printed on demand.”

Discover Benelux | (Hand)made in Belgium | Top Designs

One candle, 95 hours of brightness TEXT: HANNE COUDERÉ | PHOTOS: INGE-LISE VERMEIRE

On the outskirts of the Flemish city of Ghent, Inge-Lise Vermeire passionately manufactures some of the finest candles Belgium has to offer. She makes around 10,000 a year. All by herself. A sweet smell fills the small atelier. Every two minutes Vermeire gets up from her chair to check on the stove and whether or not the melting paraffin has reached the right temperature. She has been doing this for ten years now, ever since she took over the business from her mother. Forty years ago, during a five-year stay in Denmark, her parents started making candles to give to their Belgian friends as a warm gift from the north. The candles became so popular that in the mid-‘80s the hobby turned into a booming business. Nowadays BIKA, as the company is called, focusses on the Dutch market, where it sells almost 80 per cent of its candles. “Partially because of connections,” Vermeire explains, “but also because the

Dutch burn more candles than the Belgians.” With a new webshop and deliveries to retailers in France and Dubai, Vermeire is gradually broadening her scope. Her candles strongly differ from mainstream ones, which are often completely burnt out after lighting them a fifth time, leaving nothing but a tiny flame inside. The quality of a candle is defined by the purity of the paraffin, the wick, and the pigments used. “Our candles are made from 100 per cent pure paraffin, and last longer. A 20-centimetre long candle burns for up to 95 hours! Because the wick is drained in paraffin, a BIKA candle can easily maintain a three-centimetre flame until the end. Due to the qualitative pigments, only the inside of the candle melts down and not the outside, causing an elegant ‘curling-down’ effect thanks to gravity.”

the website. “I mix the pigments manually, which provides me with endless possibilities for colour combinations, and two batches of red candles are never the same.” Vermeire is clearly enjoying the liberty to decide which course to follow. “Although I plan to expand in the future, I will keep BIKA a small-scale craft business. The more I grow, the more tasks I will have to delegate, and I just love to emerge myself in all the different aspects of the business. This is what keeps me passionate.”

What also defines Vermeire’s candles is their incredible spectrum of colours. You can choose from 85 different shades on Issue 24 | December 2015 | 15

Discover Benelux | (Hand)made in Belgium | Top Designs


With 60 years of experience making down duvets, the Fja-Oeyen Mol family business still values quality and handcraft the most. Without losing their tradition, they look for new ways to expand. “Too few people know that a down duvet drastically increases your sleep comfort. Teaching people more healthy sleeping habits, that’s our mission.” A certain welcoming familiarity grips you when entering the Fja-Oeyen Mol business in the Belgian city of Mol. The kind that reminds you of your childhood, and almost makes you feel like you are coming home. Possibly because Piet and An Oeyen – both husband and wife and business partners – are discussing sheet patterns in between having coffee with their three sons. Or maybe because you are surrounded by waterbeds covered by soft down duvets in silken sheets. Or perhaps it is the passion, commitment and con16 | Issue 24 | December 2015

viction radiating from everyone in the store, which is rare to find among salespeople nowadays. The down duvets and bed linen are still hand made in the company’s own workshop in Mol, according to the traditional processes. Each duvet is given a specific passport number which is recorded in an antique notebook. New down duvets are packed in carton boxes printed in a four-generation-old design, recognisable to all whose parents or grandparents proudly owned an ‘Oeyen-down-duvet’. Call it nostalgia, but it is this philosophy that guarantees quality and a personalised treatment, both during the purchase and the aftercare. “From nightcaps to dog jackets, any special request we can produce,” An smiles.

Increasing sleep comfort The Oeyen family was the first to introduce the down duvet in Belgium, and until today it remains one of the few companies

worldwide offering high-quality down. Piet’s grandfather, Frans Oeyen, a tailor by trade, was deported to Germany during the Second World War. While doing all kinds of sewing jobs for the Germans, he became inspired by the traditional German and Scandinavian way of making down duvets. After the war, he and his son started experimenting with down and plumes. Profiting from the prosperous economy in the late 1950s, their small business became a success. When Piet and An took over the helm, they were confronted with a changing market and increasing competition; they had to choose between mass production or quality. They chose the latter. Their sons, who now represent the fourth generation, feel the same way. “Oeyen will always be a synonym for excellence. But looking at the future, there is certainly room to grow. We have one store in Mol and one in Antwerp. We now have to look at how to expand – in Belgium,

Discover Benelux | (Hand)made in Belgium | Top Designs

TOP LEFT: Piet Oeyen holding up down. MIDDLE: Seamstress sewing duvets in Mol. TOP RIGHT: Washing down duvets. BOTTOM LEFT & RIGHT: Fja-Oeyen showroom in Mol.

or even abroad – without breaking from our traditions.”

Like snow Behind the showroom where all down products are displayed, from baby sleeping bags to king-size duvets, pillows to slippers, lies the storage room, washing room, and sewing atelier. Everywhere, down falls like snowflakes. “It’s a scarce product of nature, considering one goose can only deliver ten grams of it a year,” An clarifies. As opposed to the meat industry, where animals often live in poor conditions, only geese and ducks that live in natural environments and are bred specifically for down can deliver the finest quality. “Our down originates from many countries including Canada, the Falkland Islands, and Hungary. We buy it from German companies that strictly control the quality according to European standards.” Fja-Oeyen Mol offers five types of quality, ranging from ‘down mixed with plumes’ to ‘pure down’. The higher the quality, the longer it lasts, but also the lighter the

weight of the duvet: a bigger layer of air increases the isolation effect. Down does not give you warmth, but it maintains your body heat at 37 degrees and absorbs sweat. An: “The entire year you can sleep under one and the same down duvet: they are nice and warm during the winter, light and fresh during the summer.”

getting back to business. “And aren’t eating and sleeping the two most important things in life?”

Everlasting down Every 100 per cent down product has a lifelong guarantee. “After seven years, a down duvet should be cleaned,” An explains, while showing the laundry machine. “We tear open the duvet, wash the down with water and soft soap at 120 degrees, dry it, and wrap it in a new duvet. After washing, the down opens up like a flower and takes its exact same form again. Pure down never loses its quality.” Plumes on the other hand, are structured differently, and will break after a while. After washing a mixed down-plumes duvet, the volume will shrink. Not so much of a problem, as the content can be refilled. But by doing so, the weight will increase, lowering the isolation effect. “Down is a life-long investment,” Piet argues before

ABOVE: Fja-Oeyen down scarf. LEFT: Fja-Oeyen down duvet and cover. BOTTOM: Down collection.

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 17

Function combined with comfort TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: BASTALPE / WWW.TOMLINSTER.BE

The furniture by Bastalpe is one of the best-kept secrets for many stylish outdoor settings. With their humble designs, its modern garden tables and chairs are so discreet you nearly overlook them. Yet with their clean lines and excellent functionality, they can make a real difference to your garden. Sebastien Talpe is the owner and name behind Bastalpe, the brand that designs and manufactures hand-made garden furniture. With the motto “your time is precious, make it delicious”, the builder-turnedfurniture-designer creates comfortable, elegant and useful furniture for the precious and rare moments we spend making time for ourselves. A garden with good furniture can be the perfect getaway from busy schedules, work and stress that often dominate our lives. With over 15 years of experience in the building sector, Talpe decided to turn to garden furniture design in 2007. When asked about how he came up with the idea, he jokingly says: “I already had machines from my building company and the knowledge of materials and manufacturing, so it was just a matter having good taste when it came to designing the furniture.” 18 | Issue 24 | December 2015

His CUBRICK collection comprises of garden tables and benches in various dimensions, forms and colours. With it, Bastalpe has created a collection that is weather resistant and which perfectly fits the outdoors because it can be customised according to the needs of the customer, it can be adjusted by the millimetre. The same goes for the POT collection, comprising of eye-catching flowerpots from powder-coated aluminium.

uminium CUBRICK chair, with its elegant frame and curved seat; this piece of furniture allows you to sit comfortably for hours.

His designs have always been characterised by their functionality; less is more. Or, as Talpe says himself: “Nothing too little and nothing too much. I always try to stay true to the first design I sketch.” One of Bastalpe’s best-loved pieces is the al-

Bastalpe’s designs are available in selected shops in Belgium, as well as at The Modern Garden Company in the United Kingdom.

Talpe states that he is focussing on giving his customers quality instead of quantity: “I don’t want to manufacture large furniture collections. I still want to design and create everything by hand from scratch. That is also what Bastalpe is about and what makes the company unique.”

Discover Benelux | (Hand)made in Belgium | Top Designs

Jewellery straight out of the printer TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN


Necklaces, bracelets and rings made out of steel or nylon powder, hardened with a laser and defined by hand; it is what OLA Jewelry is known for. Only trading for as little as two years, OLA and its creative owner Ina Suffeleers behind the brand, wants to offer original, wearable and affordable pieces of jewellery. The jewellery is all designed by Suffeleers and created by a 3D-printer. That is where the magic happens. The rough model comes out and afterwards it is finished, meaning that it is coloured and crafted to perfection by hand.

Before, she worked as a tech marketing consultant for about 20 years and has used her experience to launch her jewellery brand. “I closely followed the news about innovative technologies, 3D-modeling and printing, and I immediately knew I wanted to use those techniques for my jewellery line. Since I was little, I have designed a lot on my own, but I didn’t always know exactly how to produce everything the way I wanted it to. 3D-printing has helped me do that. You can do a lot with this technique.” It shows, because one of the first shops Suffeleers contacted immediately ordered her collection. “People are looking for something special. It doesn’t have to be all the same anymore.” Young girls, as well as older women can wear the jewels, she says. “The lines in the designs are very straightforward, that makes it modern, but also timeless.” OLA Jewelry is available in about 70 shops in over ten different countries.

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Magical Maastricht There is a reason why the city is called ‘magical Maastricht’ during December. The many Christmas activities at the Vrijthof square, next to the city’s romantic Saint Servatius Basilica and the 18th century outlook, turn the southern Dutch town on the Maas into a true winter fairytale. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: NBTC

Overlooking the Jeker valley, south of Maastricht, you will find hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant Château Neercanne.

20 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Discover Benelux | Introduction | Magical Maastricht

With direct train connections to and from Utrecht, Amsterdam and Liege, the city of Maastricht can be easily reached. Arriving at the central station, built in 1913, it is just at walking distance from all the shopping and cultural excitement the city has to offer. On this side of the river Maas (Meuse) you can find Centre Céramique, a centre which honours cultural heritage through many exhibitions and performances. A little bit further upstream, the Bonnefanten Museum showcases extraordinary artwork from masters such as Picasso and Matisse (see more on page 23). Crossing the river by walking over the arched Saint Servatius bridge, which leads you to the town centre, already gives you taste of Maastricht’s rich history. In approximately 58 – 50 AD, during the Gallic Wars, the Romans conquered the former Belgian settlement, which is now known as Maastricht. The name is derived from the Latin Trajectum ad Mosam, meaning ‘crossing at the Meuse’. The name refers to the bridge that was built by Romans around 50 AD. In 1274, after connecting the east and west bank of the river Meuse for almost 12 centuries, the Roman bridge collapsed during a procession. Six years later, the arched stone footbridge, named after the city’s patron and first bishop Saint Servatius, was built as a replacement for the one that had crumbled. While the Saint Servatius bridge was largely rebuilt after the Second World War, the original structure is thought to make it the oldest bridge in the Netherlands. It would be wise to note that visiting a historical town such as Maastricht requires a good pair of walking shoes. The many cobblestone streets are a true taste for the eye as well as a pain for the feet. The necessary Christmas shopping can be stressful enough, so a little bit of foot comfort will help you enjoy the sights and delights of the most romantic city in the Netherlands the best. The possibilities in Maastricht’s car-free shopping zone are endless. If you are looking for chic boutiques, head left after the bridge, where you will immediateIssue 24 | December 2015 | 21

Discover Benelux | Introduction | Magical Maastricht

ly enter the fancy Stokstraat district. The former decayed working-class neighbourhood is now notable for its exclusive shopping boutiques such as Kiki Niesten and Shoebaloo. Next to that, the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-plein, the neighbourhood’s square, is a wonderful place to have lunch at any time of the year. Or you can light a candle for your loved ones in the Basilica of Our Lady. If you decide to go straight ahead after the bridge, you will end up seeing the Bijenkorf, the Netherland’s most famous upmarket department store. If you walk a little bit further you will end up on the Grote Straat, where you will see other Dutch high-street chains such as V&D, HEMA and C&A, selling clothes, gifts, food, electronics and more. Again, the shopping possibilities are limitless. From here, the high street in town, you can enter one of the many side streets that lead you to the central market of Maastricht. But it is more fun to walk all the way to the end of the Grote Straat, turn right and discover the gothic Dominican Church; a former house of God that is now the house of books. The many shelves built on top of each other, give you an overview of their seemingly endless collection and the height of the church, an impressive sight indeed. In the back there is a café where you can read your newly bought books or one of the magazines from their broad collection.

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Next to the Dominican Church, the modern Mosae Forum is situated, a shopping mall selling familiar international brands such as Hollister, ZARA and H&M. From that point there are two ways to go, either go east and find yourself at the Grote Markt with stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables and fabrics. Or head west, where you will find the city’s characteristic Vrijthof, the square where the famous Maastricht violin player André Rieu performs his annual summer concerts and where, during December, a whole Christmas village comes to life. The Vrijthof is the place where the city comes together, with the Museum aan het Vrijthof showcasing the history of Maastricht, a Christmas market and winter fair and the beautiful Basilica of Saint Servatius looking over the square (see more on page 24). The Vrijthof is the heart of the city and it is filled with activities, restaurants and amusement. This, and indeed

the whole of Maastricht, is the perfect place to spend the most wonderful time of the year. BELOW: Past and present collide at the Kruisheren Hotel. Its modern interior stands in a harmonious contrast with the 15th century church and cloister building.

Discover Benelux | Art & Culture Attractions | Magical Maastricht

Discover the unknown and extraordinary TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: KIM ZWARTS

With a name derived from the museum’s former location, an old convent and orphanage called Bonnefantenklooster, the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht has stayed true to its heritage. The museum can be perceived as an ‘orphanage’ for artworks from different places, artists and time periods, including works by Brueghel, Ai Weiwei and Grayson Perry.

ements such as the high dome and industrial steel for the construction, the building reflects the various architectonic qualities of this city, with its typical mix of Romanesque, Renaissance and industrial building styles,” says Stijn Huijts, director of the Bonnefanten Museum. “Rossi used multiple dynamics to tell different stories and hidden truths, connecting past and present.”

Located along the banks of the river Maas, the Bonnefanten Museum, with its cupola reminiscent of a rocket, is one of the city’s most remarkable sights. It houses 5,000 square metres of exhibition space and was built on a former industrial estate. Its designer Aldo Rossi described the building, which marks its 20th birthday this year, as a ‘viewing factory’.

Telling stories from the past and the present is something the Bonnefanten Museum embraces too. From medieval paintings to modern art, and from ceramic sculptures to wall carpets, the museum is known for its broad and unusual collections. It combines works by various artists from different eras, with work by local and international artists, uncovering buried parts of art history. For example their latest exhibition shows the use of ceramics by 20th and 21st century artists, including Matisse and Rodin.

While the structure was designed to display art, the museum building is an artwork on its own. “By using classic el-

Displayed at the heart of what used to be the city’s ceramics centre, the exhibition counts over 250 ceramic artworks. It is one of the largest and most diverse displays ever shown on the subject. “Because ceramic is an ‘earthly’ material, made from clay and mud, ceramic art was undervalued for a long time. Even though artists such as Picasso and Gauguin worked with ceramics, it has never been on display in a major exhibition like this. It is a hidden chapter in the history of art, uncovered at the Bonnefanten Museum,” tells Huijts. Walking up the museum’s impressive staircase you can delve into this veiled world of art, discovering the unknown and extraordinary, different and usual: the “secret canon” as Huijts puts it.

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 23

Discover Benelux | Art & Culture Attractions | Magical Maastricht

Humbled by history The centuries glance down on you from the west site of the Vrijthof square in Maastricht, where the imposing basilica of Saint Servatius rose thousands of years ago. The oldest church of the Netherlands is an eye-catching landmark but, above all, it has significant cultural, historical and religious value. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: RICHARD HANSSEN / BUREAU PAUL SMEETS

Surrounded by national monuments in which restaurants, hotels and shops are located, the Catholic basilica dominates Maastricht’s historic centre. The grandness and majestic appearance of the building will humble you: the rich history is almost tangible and it is as if you will go back in time as soon as you close your eyes. The basilica is much more than a memory of past times though as the church exhibits artefacts in their religious context, hosts an annual and septennial procession and offers church tours and daily masses.

Showing of the relics The basilica of Saint Servatius harbours many breathtaking relics, such as the 24 | Issue 24 | December 2015

bust of Saint Servatius, a part of the arm of Apostle Thomas, wood splinters of the holy cross and the silver key to the gates of heaven, which is believed to be handed to Servatius by Saint Peter. The most important artefact is the shrine of Saint Servatius. “This shrine, as well as other reliquaries, contains one of Europe’s largest collections of oriental silk fabrics dating from the fourth to the 15th century,” Dr. Jacques van Rensch, chairman of the Treasury Foundation explains. “Artefacts were wrapped in these silk textiles from Eastern Europe, Turkey and Egypt and Southern Italy. What makes the collection exceptional, is the outstanding level of preservation of the fabrics.” Also,

many ivory and silver relics can be seen in the treasury. “All these Saint Servatius relics still have their religious function, and we present them in their religious context,” Van Rensch explains. “For instance during our septennial ‘showing of the relics’, which is the most famous of its kind in the Netherlands.” This ‘showing of the relics’ started in the 14th century as a pilgrimage to the grave of Saint Servatius. It developed into an 11-day-long religious and cultural event with not only processions, but also liturgies, performances, exhibitions and a traditional festival. To attend the next showing of the relics, you will need to have some patience though as it will

Discover Benelux | Art & Culture Attractions | Magical Maastricht

take place in 2018. The annual procession through the city centre is also worth a visit. It takes place on the Sunday after 13 May, during the week of Saint Servatius when his solemnity is celebrated.

Who was Saint Servatius? Bishop Saint Servatius is well celebrated, being the patron saint of the city of Maastricht and one of the five ‘Ice Saints’. According to the legend, he was born in Armenia, as a distant relative of Jesus Christ. A vision told him to continue the work of the deceased Belgian Bishop Valentinus. Servatius set off on a pilgrimage to the city of Tongeren. Another vision would later show him that he should relocate his predecessor’s relics to Maastricht. And so he did. It was only a few days later, on 13 May in the year 384, that he passed away. On top of his supposed grave, a wooden chapel was built. Because it often collapsed, it was replaced with a brick church 200 years later. This was the beginning of the impressive basilica as we now know it. In the years afterwards, it was destroyed by Vikings, rebuilt, expanded and restored, mostly between the years 1000 and 1450, when the Roman and gothic

Thousands of years of historical, cultural and religious value are almost tangible when the impressive Saint Servatius basilica towers over you in the heart of Maastricht.

elements took their roots. It has known many functions as well: it was a bishop’s, pilgrims’ and an emperor’s church. In the early 19th century it became the parish church it is now, and in 1985 Pope Johannes Paulus II awarded the church the honourable title of basilica.

Current masses Characterised by two large, pointy towers, the basilica rises above all buildings and trees. One cannot miss this landmark when visiting Maastricht. And no one should. The church is still in use for regular daily and weekly Catholic masses, which are quite the experience. Van Rensch: “Every Sunday, a comprehensive mass, graced by a choir, is held in the large and gorgeous chapel. During week days, you can attend a mass in the smaller day chapel and in December we host

solemn Christmas celebrations, including a nativity scene.” Tours can also be booked. “Whether you’re interested in seeing an impressive piece of architecture, visiting an important monument, admiring the treasury or are looking for a connection with a higher power, the basilica is impressive on all levels,” Van Rensch concludes. Issue 24 | December 2015 | 25

Discover Benelux | Best Boutiques | Magical Maastricht

Finding the finest blend of flavours TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: DAVIDOFF

“Cigar smokers enjoy the good things in life,” begins Mick Felix, manager of Maastricht’s specialty tobacco shop. “They are very conscious people and quality is important to them and we want to be able to offer them the perfect cigar.” Mick has been working in the shop since it opened almost 15 years ago. She knows their collection of cigars, cigarettes and accessories inside out and is keen to make recommendations. “We will often tell our customers about new cigars that just came in or make suggestions based on their personal tastes. Entering our walk-in humidor is like going on an adventure.” 26 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Their range includes Cubans, but more importantly the complete range of Davidoff luxury cigars. Mick: “Davidoff is well known for producing top-quality cigars. They closely monitor the entire production cycle, from their tobacco growers in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua,and Brazil to sampling every harvest and rolling the cigars. This way they can guarantee that their cigars have an excellent blend of flavours, ranging from very mild to heavier ones.” A typical cigar has three or four different types of tobacco. Leaves from the top of the plant are always stronger than those from lower down the plant. Mick says: “Currently, tobacco from Brazil and Nic-

aragua are increasingly popular as they have different flavours from tobacco grown in the Caribbean.” Differences in flavours are created by the origin of the tobacco and the soil they were grown in. She adds: “This means there is always something new in the world of cigars, which keeps my job interesting!” The shop can be found on the corner of the Rechtstraat and the Wycker Brugstraat, on the way between the train station and Maastricht’s city centre. “It is the perfect location and we get all kinds of people visiting us, from first time cigar buyers to experts,” she concludes.

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | Magical Maastricht


Located in a listed 18th century building, looking out over the prominent Vrijthof square, Le Theatre Hotel offers an authentic Maastricht-experience. The small-scale hotel, with an elegant ‘20s Parisian Art Deco interior, is a perfect starting location to explore the magical city of Maastricht. With just 20 rooms, the recently opened Le Theatre Hotel resonates with the cosy vibe of a stylish and modern boutique hotel. “With our custom complimentary services we do our utmost to fulfil our guests’ wishes,” general manager Väös Rosier explains. “And most rooms look out over the tranquil courtyard. So even though you’re in the heart of the city, a surprisingly quiet night is guaranteed.” For even more relaxation, make sure to book one of the beautiful spacious superior rooms equipped with a bath, or indulge in a spa-like experience in the suite’s grand tub.

The four ‘square view’ rooms, on the other hand, look out over the Vrijthof square. “We’re very pleased to be located at one of the most beautiful squares in the Netherlands,” says Rosier. “Many events take place here. In December there’s Magisch Maastricht for instance: a Christmas market with an ice skating rink, food stands, a Ferris wheel and more, bringing a great atmosphere to the city. And the neighbouring Theater aan het Vrijthof offers a wide range of interesting shows.” Besides a good night’s rest and a cultural experience, you can enjoy a meal in the hotel’s Parisian-style bistro. Rosier: “Our heated, south-facing terrace makes it delightful to have breakfast in the sun, even in winter time!”

The secret of perfect Dutch fries TEXT: TOYAH MARONDEL | PHOTOS: FRITURE REITZ

Friture Reitz is a famous restaurant on the Old Market in Maastricht, a city with French and Spanish influences, close to the Belgian border. If you visit the capital of the province of Limburg and have not tried their fries, it is like you were not there at all. With a century of business experience under their belt, Friture Reitz is now part of the local culture. The oldest ‘friture’ of the Netherlands, dating from 1909, was taken over by Ronald Consten and his partner Jacqueline Smits in 1998 from

Consten’s parents. The family-owned business was initially run by the Reitz-family until 1987. So what makes the ‘Dutch fries’ at Reitz so different from other variations? Consten says it is both the way they are served, in the hand twisted, red-checkered ‘tuutes’, and the fries themselves; cut to a thickness of 11 millimetres, fried twice for extra crispiness and accompanied by one of a variety of adventurous sauces. The Friture Reitz has some specialties such as homemade mayonnaise, zoervleis (sour meat, a Limburgian traditional stew) knien (rabbit stew) and mussels. Reward yourself with a large portion of genuine, homemade fries with zoervleis and mayonnaise after a nice Christmas shopping day in the capital of the Netherlands’ southernmost province.

We are looking forward to getting a glimpse of the new eye-catching restaurant in the heart of Maastricht in 2016.

And Consten adds: “In January we will change the interior of our restaurant. From 23 January, Reitz will boast an exceptional interior design: a contemporary interpretation of 1920s and 1930s flair.” Issue 24 | December 2015 | 27

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | Magical Maastricht

Nothing is more Italian except for Italy itself TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: DA GEPPETTO

“When an Italian would come to the restaurant right after his arrival in the Netherlands, he or she will still believe they are in Italy.” And truth to be told, owner Giuseppe managed to create a place which cannot be more Italian, except for Italy itself. Located at the magnificent market square in the city centre, Da Geppetto is a household name in the Dutch city of Maastricht, ever since it opened in 1985. It is a family restaurant which serves only authentic and true Italian dishes. Giuseppe: “All the products we use are imported from Italy; the flour, the coffee, the wine, the buffalo mozzarella. No synthetic cheeses, only the real deal. Even the staff is solely Italian.” 28 | Issue 24 | December 2015

The restaurant looks Italian without being stereotypical; a modern and trendy design that has an intimate ambiance. “We want to stand out from other Italian restaurants not only by our capacity or ambiance, but especially by our food. The recipes we use are over 30 years old, we make almost everything ourselves, and all the food is of the highest quality.” The restaurant specialises in large groups, provides a fast and friendly service and offers the best Italian food from far and wide.

ther training, whether it is in cooking or the Dutch language.

Giuseppe takes great care of the restaurant and its staff. Within a few months two new chefs will arrive from Italy, who are currently attending professional culinary training. Giuseppe believes it is important to invest in your staff by offering them fur-

Da Geppetto has a special offer for anyone who makes a reservation via the website in December; a free glass of Prosecco and a Panetonne (a typical Italian biscuit).

Starting in March next year, the restaurant will have a new menu every three months. Which means that many dishes offered are seasonal. Giuseppe: “We will still offer the pizzas we have had all these years, but we also want to try new things. We are constantly looking for new recipes and the latest trends from Italy, to continue to differentiate ourselves.”

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | Magical Maastricht

The affordable appetite TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: DE BENGEL

Located near the river Maas, overlooking the medieval Saint Servatius Bridge, restaurant De Bengel serves freshly made meals and an impressive selection of locally brewed beers. The Maastricht restaurant is known to give guests the full Burgundian experience, part of the ‘bon vivant’ lifestyle the city is known for. “We just decided to throw ourselves in at the deep end,” says Kimberley Souren, co-owner of De Bengel, who started the restaurant with her parents one year ago. Their mission was to open a restaurant at a beautiful venue in Maastricht serving delicious homemade food at an affordable price. After a tough first year with ups and downs, they have now accomplished their goal: “We just worked really hard and had a little bit of luck.”

The dishes on their menu are made by Kimberley’s mother and include specialities such as ‘Grandmother’s meatballs’ and the Bengel Burger, which comes with a delectable homemade sauce. There is also a special menu for children, and for those who do not fancy a big meal during the day can enjoy a delicious slice of ‘vlaai’ pie, a local delicacy. When it comes to drinks, guests can choose from over 50 different beers, there is something for everyone. This festive season, De Bengel will have a special Christmas menu including some outstanding wines. De Bengel is also an ideal place to host a party – whether you want to celebrate a wedding, a jubilee or just a gathering. With their restaurant overlooking the city, you get a beautiful panorama of Maastricht as well.

An unforgettable stay where past and present come together TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: KRUISHERENHOTEL MAASTRICHT & CHÂTEAU NEERCANNE

If you are looking for unique historic experiences this Christmas, then with Maastricht you have picked the right destination. The city and its surroundings boast many impressive sights including the Basilica and the Medieval arched bridge. To make your visit complete, why not stay in a place that is equally steeped in history? At the Kruisherenhotel Maastricht, contemporary design and ancient architecture collide. The luxury design hotel is housed in a 15th century church and cloister, right behind the Vrijthof square. The vaulted, gothic stone complex stands in stark contrast with its modern interior, creating an unusual yet surprisingly bright interior. “The two styles form a beautiful harmony,” says Bastiaan Klomp, general manager. “Moreover, the entire interior is reversible; all the modern additions are built separately from the church, so it can be returned to its original state.”

Just south of Maastricht, on the border with Belgium, lies a spectacular restaurant called Château Neercanne. The 17th century terraced castle is the only one of its kind in the Netherlands. From the Michelin-star restaurant guests can take in the impressive panorama over the Jeker river valley and Mount Saint Peter. Peter Harkema, general manager, says: “Our head chef Hans Snijders is extremely experienced. The menu is French-orientated with influences from modern Dutch, Italian and Asian cuisines. He also includes ‘forgotten’ vegetables and herbs in his dishes that we grow in our own vegetable and herb garden on the castle grounds.” Both locations will be in a festive spirit throughout December. Combine your stay in the Kruisherenhotel Maastricht with dinner in Restaurant Château Neercanne and experience it for yourself. Make sure to book a stay in advance to avoid disappointment and get the best out of your visit to Maastricht. Issue 24 | December 2015 | 29

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Lucas & Arthur Jussen

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Lucas & Arthur Jussen


The dexterous piano duo They are the Netherlands’ most popular piano brothers, Lucas and Arthur Jussen. The pair started playing at a very young age and are now flying all over the world to perform live. With a résumé of best-selling albums, including recordings of Beethoven, Schubert, Ravel and most recently Mozart, we asked them what it is like to be two young men in the mature world of classical music. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: DIRK KIKSTRA

When we called the brothers, they had recently come back from a tour in Asia, playing in Japan and South Korea. Lucas, the eldest of the two at 22, says: “It was a very interesting experience, and thankfully the concerts also went well. It is always fun to be allowed to stay in countries with different cultures.” It was their second time in Korea and third time in Japan. Despite being located close to each other, the brothers discovered a great deal of difference between the two cultures, including when they were on stage. “In Korea they are very exuberant and somewhat louder. They really shout and cheer after a concert. And the Japanese are much more reserved, during the concert they sit in silence in the hall, but then afterwards, even after we have left the stage, they continue to applaud for another 15 minutes,” Lucas remembers. “But even in the Netherlands, between the regions and the big cities, it is always different. It is nice to see how different people react to it.”

Performance day The brothers have travelled all over the world, both together and as soloists, ever since they released their first album Beethoven Piano Sonatas in 2010, which reached platinum status in the Netherlands. At the time Lucas was 17 and

Arthur was only 14. By now, preparing for a performance is a familiar routine. Lucas explains: “In the morning we have a nice breakfast, and try not to inflate the concert too much. The bigger you make it yourself, the more pressure you put on it. We try to have a normal day leading up to the concert, but we always do a warm up session well in advance. We obviously don’t take our own instrument with us, so we are always depending on the instrument available. It is important to get a good feeling of the instrument and take in the atmosphere in the hall so we can start to feel at home on stage.”

Playing with four hands After their debut, the brothers released three more albums, Schubert Impromptus in 2011, followed by Jeux in 2013, and their most recent album Mozart Double Piano Concertos was released October this year. On the records they perform both individually and together. We asked Arthur, 19, what he liked about playing solo. “The good thing about playing alone is that you are completely free. You can decide everything yourself, from the interpretation of the music to how you receive the applause, those little things,” he says. “It’s also nice to experience something together, make music together and go for a common goal, that is also really special.” Issue 24 | December 2015 | 31

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Lucas & Arthur Jussen

Especially on television performances, the brothers are often seen playing ‘à quatre mains’, or together behind one piano. Arthur explains this way of performing can be quite intense. “You feel each other’s breath, it’s not like you only hear it, you actually feel it. You really have to come together, and there is no way out of that because you are touching and sitting right next to each other.”

Playing with classical greats On their latest album, with music by Mozart, they play together with the famous Academy of St Martin in the Fields orchestra, led by the legendary conductor Sir Neville Marriner. It was the first time they recorded together with other musicians. “I actually really liked it,” continues Arthur. “It was definitely a lot more sociable because there were more people, there was more activity. And because there are also times when it is just the orchestra playing, you get a little moment of rest, where you can concentrate on the

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moments that you do play. I thought that was rather nice.” The Academy of St Martin in the Fields was set up in 1959 by Marriner in London and is known for also recording film music, including for the Mozart biopic Amadeus. “We really wanted to record these pieces by Mozart,” states Arthur. Their management had already reached out to the orchestra and then this summer, when the brothers ran into them at the Robeco SummerNights in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, it really got the ball rolling. “They played the day after us, so that is where it started.” Marriner, 91, is accredited with being one of the greatest conductors still alive today. Needless to say, he has a wealth of experience, which the brothers eagerly took in during the recording process. “First of all, it was a great honour to work with someone like that, and secondly it was a fantastic learning experi-

ence. The knowledge just oozes from the man, it is incredible how much baggage someone can have,” Arthur recalls. “He has done everything multiple times, and then the fact that we as two young guys can work with someone like that, that is a great honour and we tried to learn from every second and take all that knowledge home.”

Following your own interpretation In the classical scene, most new albums are covers of music that have already been recorded before. This is especially the case with popular composers such as Mozart. But the fact that thousands – if not millions – of other pianists have played the same pieces did not deter the brothers. “Every single interpretation of the music has probably already been recorded to perfection. But if you start to think like that, that you have to do something different, then it becomes very constructed,” says Arthur. “I don’t think that is the right way to make music, but it is

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Lucas & Arthur Jussen

something I sometimes think about myself to be honest; why would you record something that has already been done? But you have you trust yourself, what you think you should do with the piece, and then it goes naturally.” One of the things the two are known for is reaching a new, younger audience. Thanks to being young themselves and doing many media appearances in the Netherlands and abroad, they have introduced classical music to a generation of people who are not familiar with the genre, and they are eager to continue this. Arthur says: “It is very difficult to become popular with a younger audience. I think because we are young and because of who we are, we are part of the process to make it more popular. If we will succeed, I don’t know, but I hope so.”

The brothers were keen to share their must-visit places in Maastricht for Christmas. “The whole city is decorated with lots of lights, so if you like that and want to get into the Christmas spirit then it’s a good city to go to. I would definitely go in the Ferris wheel, also decorated with lights, and grab a drink at the Our Lady square.” “And go to Café Sjiek!” says Lucas. “Yes, you can have a delicious meal there,” Arthur agrees.

Turn to page 20 for our Magical Maastricht Christmas special.

Young lads in the classical scene When we ask why this is important to them, Lucas interjects: “Because for us it would also be nice to have some beautiful girls in the audience, and not just people of over 75,” he laughs. “Of course, it isn’t normal to constantly be among people that are almost 50 years older. It is not always bad, but it would be nice if there was more of a balance.” Aside from their talent, their age has also been their prominent niche, having started recording their debut album in their (early) teens. We asked whether growing up is changing how people view their performances: “I can’t say that anything has changed, or that we should be more conscious of the fact we’ll be judged purely on our performances as I feel this has been the case for much longer,” starts Lucas. “I believe, perhaps naively, that the audience would see right through these kinds of things, if our ‘cuteness’ factor had been bigger than the quality of our performances.”

A merry Christmas in Maastricht The pair, who grew up in Hilversum, have a strong connection with Limburg. Their mother is from Maastricht and their father from Vaals, nearby, and they still regularly head over to visit family, including for the holidays.

See Lucas and Arthur Jussen live This month, the Jussen brothers will perform Mozart’s concerto for two pianos and orchestra, KV365 No.10 in E-Flat major with the Residence Orchestra. 18 December – Zuiderstrand Theater, Scheveningen 19 December – De Doelen, Rotterdam 20 December – Tivoli Vredenburg, Utrecht

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 33


Amsterdam’s most charming district Centuries ago the Jordaan was known by another name, the ‘kingdom of slums’. But with its Renaissance-style Western Church, urban gardens and the many bazaars of the Northern Market, the Jordaan is now one of the most picturesque and charming neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: NBTC

34 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Discover Benelux | Introduction | The Jordaan in Amsterdam

In 1612 the Jordaan was built as an expansion of the city of Amsterdam, to house the poorer part of the city’s growing population: the working class and the immigrants. Amongst these destitute individuals was the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn who spent the last, and poorest, years of his life in this district, after being declared bankrupt. For over two centuries the population increased even more and the Jordaan simply could not keep up with the continuous flow of people settling in this part of town. As a result, the quality of life in the Jordaan depleted significantly, existing out of slums. Even its canals were used for both transport and as the sewer. It would take one century and a world war before the area was finally renovated, which happened from the 1970s onwards. After the reconstruction of the area, the rent prices started to rise and a majority of the original residents of the Jordaan moved to satellite cities of Amsterdam. Their migration allowed for a younger population, specifically urban professionals, to settle in the area, a transformation also seen in other major cities in Europe. As a result, the Jordaan went from slum to city chic, becoming one of the most popular areas in town with currently around 20,000 inhabitants. This is just one-fifth of the population that lived here in the 19th century. It has also expanded in other ways, with a whole spectrum of architectural styles. On one hand you have the modern, colourful boutiques, studios and coffee bars, and on the other there are the renovated 17th century canal houses in the neighbourhood’s narrow streets.

The sound of inspiration From being the inspiration for over-thetop sing-a-long songs to the décor of movie scenes, the Amsterdam Jordaan is probably the most described, sung about and pictured neighbourhood in the Netherlands. What was built to be a neighbourhood for the working class is now home to students, young families and artists. The grave of Rembrandt is at the Wester Kerk, the largest protestant church in the

Netherlands. Here, the Dutch Master bears witness to the bells that traditionally dictated the borders of the Jordaan depending on how far away you could hear them. Yet, officially, the Prinsengracht and the Lijnbaansgracht define the Jordaan boundaries. The district is situated on the west side of the Prinsengracht, just in walking distance of the central station. Anne Frank called the sound of the Wester Kerk bells in her diary ‘the sound of a faithful friend’. Her wartime home on the Prinsengracht, just next to the church, is where she wrote her famous journal. Now it is the Anne Frank House, with more than one million visitors each year coming to see the place where she hid from the Nazis during the Second World War. At the museum you can take a look at her original diary, which is part of the permanent collection. Just a ten-minute walk from the Anne Frank House, you can find a square named after another famous inhabitant of the area: Johnny Jordaan. This colourful square, with a statue of Johnny Jordaan, honours the late singer. According to Issue 24 | December 2015 | 35

Discover Benelux | Introduction | The Jordaan in Amsterdam

many he was ‘the uncrowned king of the Jordaan song’, a melancholic music genre specially dedicated to life in the Jordaan. Next to the statue of Johnny Jordaan on the square, there are also statues of his contemporaries Manke Nelis and Tante Leen. They were, just like Jordaan, singers of the ‘levenslied’, a Dutch version of the French chanson. With an area bursting with history of the musical genre, there is no better way to experience this than visiting one of the area’s cosy cafés where these artists once performed, such as Café Nol on the Westerstraat. Your visit can be combined with a visit to the famous Lapjesmarkt or fabric market, held on the same street on Mondays. Or visit Café Lowietje, also the décor of one of the Netherlands’ best-loved detective series Baantjer. Another famous square to shop and sightsee is the Northern Market on the foot of the Northern Church. The square is known for its large antiques market on Monday mornings.

Le Jardin There have been many theories about where the Jordaan got its name. Some say that there was a family called Jourdain living in the neighbourhood. Others say the Prinsengracht, connecting to the Jordaan, was nicknamed the Jordan River. But most likely its first settlers, French 36 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Huguenots who fled to Amsterdam in the 16th and 17th century to escape prosecution in France, named the area after its many courtyards ‘Le Jardin’. Later this became the Jordaan. These courtyards are still present in the modern-day Jordaan. Hidden behind houses, you can find beautiful courtyards with romantic barns and peaceful gardens. Some of the alms-houses are only open on specific days, but if you do come across an unlocked entrance, most residents will not mind you taking a peek. The Jordaan has certainly changed over time, growing from one of the poorest neighbourhoods in late 19th century Europe, to the new hotspot area in the Dutch capital. But even though the area is now home to many fancy boutiques, galleries and studios, the Jordaan will always keep the spirit of the working-class neighbourhood it once was, with its humble and cosy

streets, countless living room cafés and the inhabitant’s love for extravagant and alcohol-induced sing-a-long sessions. Or, as Johnny Jordaan put it: “You have to be in the Jordaan to go happy through life. You can sing, you can dance. That is how the Jordaan is. And that will never go to waste.”

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | The Jordaan in Amsterdam

The café on the canal TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: HET MOLENPAD

Situated along the Prinsengracht, one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful canals, you can find a small, quintessentially Dutch café called Het Molenpad. It offers a splendid view over the idyllic canals and the café serves great Dutch cuisine including delicious stews and hearty pea soup. The ideal retreat during a cold winter’s day. Originally established in the 1970s as a typical ‘brown café’ (a traditional Dutch pub), of which

many are dotted throughout the Dutch capital, Het Molenpad was recently in need for an update. A few years ago, Thijs Kerkhof, owner of Het Molenpad, decided to rebuild the café on the canal: “We wanted to create a modern, attractive interior. But most importantly, we wanted to maintain our atmosphere; cosy and relaxed.” With contemporary lampshades and old wooden tables, Kerkhof and his staff have created an ideal mix of modern and antique, giving Het Molenpad an authentic vibe. Situated in the heart of Amsterdam, near to the shopping area of the Nine Streets, the café attracts both newcomers and regular Amsterdammers. Whether you decide to eat your meal before or after a shopping trip, their affordable and tasty seasonal dishes are a real treat for any visitor. Even if you swing along by boat, you can enjoy one of their five beers on draft or the popular sharing plate of Dutch mini croquettes, or ‘bitterballen’. Kerk-


Near the Anne Frank House and the famous Westertoren, lies De Vergulde Gaper. What once was a pharmacy is now one of the cosiest cafés in the city. De Vergulde Gaper, which means ‘the gilded yawner’, gets its name from a wooden head hanging on the outside wall. It impersonates a yawning man with a golden hat. In the 17th century in the Netherlands, these ‘yawners’ were used

as a sign for a qualified pharmacy and to attract clients to the drugstore. Nowadays, fewer than 50 of these yawning heads remain in the Netherlands. The café has the ambiance of the pharmacy it once was with its antique medicine cabinets and old medication adverts covering the walls inside. But nowadays medicines have made way for delicious shrimp croquettes, beers and pea soup.

hof adds: “And we are proud to provide our guests with the best service out of all the cafés situated along the canals of Amsterdam.”

Whether you have just visited the Northern Market nearby and want to enjoy a morning cappuccino while overlooking the canals, or you are looking for a good meal for less than 11 euros, De Vergulde Gaper offers something for everyone. And by everyone, we mean everyone: aside from the good food and wonderful views, it is also a nice place for tourists and locals to meet and mingle. In December the café will also have a live jazz band playing every Sunday afternoon, making one of Amsterdam’s cosiest restaurants just a little bit cosier this winter.

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 37

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | The Jordaan in Amsterdam

The best service to make you feel at home TEXT: MICHIEL STOL | PHOTOS: AMY MURRELL

Located in three 17th century canal houses in the middle of the beautiful Jordaan, Canal House is a boutique hotel combining the glamour of the Dutch Golden Age with contemporary design, luxury and excellent service. “It is our passion to make guests feel at home and take care of them throughout their stay,” says general manager Kristel Dom. Canal House opened its doors in 2011. It is designed in a monochromatic scheme with black, purple, grey and copper colours. The interior is styled with the original features of the building, but also designer furniture from Ebesco, wallpapers from Vescom, light switches from Berker and Marcel Wanders lamps. There are 23 bedrooms in five categories: Good, Better, Great, Exceptional and Best. Each room has its own style, but you feel the excellence of the ho38 | Issue 24 | December 2015

tel in all of them, with either a view of the Keizersgracht canal or the garden. Some rooms have an open-bathroom plan and in every room you will find a range of Green & Spring bath and body products. Canal House is part of A Curious Group of Hotels, founded by Peter and Jessica Frankopan. A Curious Group owns L’Hotel in Paris, The Portobello Hotel in London and Cowley Manor hotel and spa in the Cotswolds, England. “Each hotel has its own identity, but we all have the Curious gene, which is the love for our guests.” It is that love for the guests that makes Canal House special. Kristel Dom: “We will do everything we can to help make a stay with us as comfortable as possible.” It starts at the check-in. “We do not just check you in to your room, we love to get to know you: what you like and what your needs are, but also what you are looking for during your time with us.”

There are 23 staff members. Each of them has their own duties, but they all work together to make the guests feel good. Dom: “My team will do whatever it takes, you can refer to them as a ‘human library’: they know everything about Amsterdam and encourage and help our guests to get around the city and see it through their eyes. It is just one of many things to make those who stay with us feel really at home.”

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | The Jordaan in Amsterdam

An invite to L’invité le restaurant TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: L’INVITÉ

Imagine spending a lovely evening in a 1628 canal side house, overlooking the canals of Amsterdam while enjoying a meal from the French cuisine and a nice glass of wine. It might sound too good to be true, but at L’invité le restaurant, all this and a little bit more is offered. Situated in the heart of the Jordaan, L’invité le restaurant provides the ambiance that the Jordaan neighbourhood is famous for: warm, welcoming and easy going. In the same street where Dutch Master Rembrandt once had his studio, you can now enjoy a lovely evening at L’invité, a restaurant with an appreciated selection of wines from all over the world and well-seasoned dishes inspired by the French classics with a modern twist. It is open every day of the week and serves delicious recipes, for example their maquereau, a starter with tartare of mack-

erel, parsnip, wasabi, popcorn leaves, shrimps and cornichon sorbet. Or try L’invité’s veal loin and cheek with pumpkin toffee and King Bolete mushrooms. “We are putting our modern twist on the French cuisine,” says Sico de Moel, owner of L’invité le restaurant. “We get our food from local productions and we use less butter, sugar and salt than old-fashioned French chefs do when preparing a dish. This makes our dishes lighter and tastier.” L’invité brings a little bit of France to de Bloemgracht, known for being one of Amsterdam’s most photographed canals and most beloved by locals. “But it’s nothing too pretentious, we’re all really relaxed here,” assures De Moel. Just like the French name implies, you are invited to a laid-back evening at one of the most beautiful locations in the city.

Sushi that makes you smile TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS:SUGOI SUSHI

Looking for healthy fast food? The answer is Sugoi Sushi. With its 30-minute delivery service, restaurant and catering company, it makes sure to serve its customers high-quality sushi fresh and fast. Sugoi Sushi is situated in what is described by many as the cosiest and most welcoming neighbourhood in Amsterdam, the Jordaan. Surrounded by trendy galleries and shops, Sugoi Sushi is the ideal pit stop for a quick lunch or take-away. For dinner, the sushi restaurant also offers a splendid catering service. Take for example Sugoi’s speciality ‘the

Dragon’. This main course is shaped as a dragon and is made out of fried prawns, grilled eel and avocado topped with fiery Japanese mayo. Incredible to see and to eat, you can order this platter at the restaurant or as a take away for just ten euros. Sugoi Sushi only uses high-quality ingredients and it has a solid kitchen team with a wealth of experience. It is no wonder that Sugoi Sushi was voted one of the best sushi restaurants in the area, including by culinary blog Catch 5, local radio station and in the hotspot list of Yourlittleblackbook. The raving reviews called the sushi “sensational”, the staff were “always smiling” and their fast delivery service was described as “the perfect start for spending an evening as a couch potato”. With fresh, delicious food, experienced cooks and their fast and friendly couriers, Sugoi Sushi will put a smile on your face in no time. Issue 24 | December 2015 | 39

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | The Jordaan in Amsterdam

‘Our love for pancakes makes them the best’ TEXT: MICHIEL STOL | PHOTOS: PANCAKE BAKERY

three; the one on the left is called ‘Faith’, the one on the right is ‘Love’. The characteristics of the building remained over the centuries and are still tangible in the restaurant today: narrow, deep and a low ceiling with heavy support beams give it its nostalgic atmosphere.

“The recipe is simple, the result divine.” Bastiaan Schaafsma says this sums up best what The Pancake Bakery is all about. Schaafsma is the owner of the pancake restaurant on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. The recipe: quality, fresh products and excellent service. The result: great pancakes made with love, in a great nostalgic setting. The Pancake Bakery is housed in a 17th century Dutch East India Company (VOC) warehouse, called ‘Hope’. The building is one of

The restaurant started in 1973. At the time, Schaafsma and his family lived above it. In 1980, his parents bought the restaurant and later Schaafsma became co-owner. In the time it has been open, The Pancake Bakery has not changed its interior. He adds: “When a Canadian couple came in recently, they remembered it exactly the same as 20 years ago, when they ate here on their honeymoon.” On the menu are over 75 different pancakes with fresh ingredients, made with the Pancake Bakery’s own dough. Schaafsma: “My father wanted a dough which always has the same quality. With his brother, a food engineer, he


With its delicious, traditional Mexican food and welcoming ambiance, Los Pilones is a favourite among locals and visitors to the Jordaan. The restaurant prides itself on its authentic food from Mexico while making everyone feel at home instantly.

Los Pilones was set up 15 years ago by three Mexican brothers. Their concept, to serve authentic Mexican food, was an instant success. Currently, there are four Los Pilones locations in Amsterdam, including the one in the Jordaan which opened seven years ago.

The restaurant radiates a friendly, laid-back atmosphere. This is enhanced further by the food, as many of the plates are ideal for sharing, allowing for an unforgettable night in a relaxing setting. Added to that, Los Pilones has an incredible selection of 185 tequilas, all aged in a different way, giving each a unique aroma. One of their most popular meals are the tacos, one of Mexico’s most famous dishes. At Los Pilones they come in traditional soft-shell corn tortillas, served with appetising, spicy sauces. Aside from that, the menu includes tasty dishes inspired by Mexican street food, as well as all the classics such as enchiladas, quesadillas and flautas.

The brothers are still very engaged in the dayto-day running of the restaurants. Two of whom can be seen making cocktails behind the bar, and the third is the head chef in the kitchen. They named the restaurant Los Pilones as ‘pilon’, meaning ‘perk’, is what they want their guests to experience: giving them a little something extra.

40 | Issue 24 | December 2015 Aside from the location in the Jordaan on the Eerste Anjeliersdwarstraat 6, Los Pilones can also be found in the Nieuwmarkt (Geldersekade 111), the Leidsebuurt (Kerkstraat 63) and next door at Kerkstraat 59 for breakfast and lunch only.

created his own in a laboratory. We are the only one that uses it.” The pancakes are all made and served with love. “It’s our love for pancakes that makes them the best.”

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | The Jordaan in Amsterdam


Would it not be ideal if you could take the privacy of your own home with you whilst travelling and unwind in style? Thanks to Jordaan Apartments Amsterdam, this becomes a reality, as it offers travellers a true home-awayfrom-home in one of the capital’s bestloved areas. The apartments are stylishly furnished and offer guests a real place to come home to. Expat Remco Bol has been staying with Jordaan Apartments Amsterdam every year since 2009. He says: “As I travel a lot for work, I can get quite fed up with hotels. There you always feel like you are a guest at someone else’s place. With an apartment you have your own space, it really feels like a home. You have your own fridge, you can cook or receive guests. There’s more flexibility, and just more space.” Bol has been based abroad since 2007, but every year he returns to his former home of Amsterdam to see friends and

family. Having lived nearby, the Jordaan is his favourite district. “It is small scale, everything is at walking distance, it is not as touristy as other parts of the city centre. It’s a friendly, pleasant neighbourhood with lots of typical little restaurants and cafés,” he says. Jordaan Apartments Amsterdam is a small company that is keen to get to know its clients personally. All its staff live and work in Amsterdam and know the city inside out. Founder and director of Jordaan Apartments Amsterdam, Sicco Sicco Behrens says: “We know how to put ourselves in the shoes of our international clients because we all have lived abroad. Plus the apartments are owned by the company, so our guests don’t have to worry about third-party landlords or owners who left belongings in the apartment. All our apartments are within listed properties but offer modern comfort, it allows for a modern lifestyle in a world heritage setting.”

The company specially caters to an international business market, but also welcomes leisure visitors. “We can offer all the services a hotel does, but we go a step further. For example, we can set up a dedicated internet connection to ensure secure business transactions, or turn one of the bedrooms into a study by swapping the bed for a desk,” Behrens adds. Jordaan Apartments Amsterdam has 20 adjacent apartments with one, two or three double bedrooms. They are all located in the Jordaan and the minimum stay is one week.

For stays in the rest of the world, Jordaan Apartments Amsterdam partners with

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 41


The real Jan Klaassen and Katrijn Several famous Dutch figures have lived in the Jordaan in Amsterdam, including Dutch Master painter Rembrandt van Rijn. But the two most remarkable inhabitants were probably Jan Klaassen and Catharina Pieters. The couple are accredited with lending their names to the Dutch version of the world famous puppeteering duo. In other countries, the pair are known as Punch and Judy, Pulcinella, Guignol, Kaspers and Poesjenel. TEXT & PHOTOS: MIRRE OOST

42 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Discover Benelux | The Real Jan Klaassen and Katrijn | The Jordaan in Amsterdam

In the 17th century, many craftsmen settled in the area of Jordaan, a typical working class neighbourhood. So did Jan Klaassen, who was a weaver by trade. At the age of 20, he married Catharina Pieters (also known as Katrijn) in the New Church in Amsterdam. For the couple, married life did not go without a hitch. Jan Klaassen disliked hard work, and Catharina was always drinking. They therefore had many marriage problems and disputes. Theatre director Jan Roosenboom says: “At home, Catharina was really wearing the breeches. She wanted Jan Klaassen to make money. As she drank more, she began to react very fiercely. Their shouts could be heard by the whole neighbourhood.” Eventually they had to answer to the church, because they were a bad example of Christianity. After a while they decided to live separately. Jan Klaassen lived in the Anjeliersstraat and Catharina in the Tuinstraat, which runs parallel. The number they lived at remains unknown as house numbers were only introduced in the Jordaan much later. But there is another version of the story about Jan Klaassen. In the first, as described above, he was a weaver who did not earn enough money; in the second sto-

ry, he was a musician in the army of Prince Frederik Hendrik in the 17th century. If both are true, it is still a mystery which one refers to the original Jan Klaassen. Roosenboom commented on the second story: “He was a trumpeter in the army. After a while, many soldiers and trumpeters were fired, but he still needed income.” To earn money, he began to hold performances at the Ronzebons Theatre in Amsterdam. Later on, he would tour the city with a portable puppet theatre, putting up plays at different spots throughout the city. Eventually, ‘ronzebons’ even became synonym for puppet play. This Jan Klaassen also performed in the Jordaan as a puppeteer. Whether the original Jan Klaassen was a weaver or a former trumpeter, there is one thing both men had in common aside from their name. “Jan Klaassen was a person who didn’t want to work hard,” says Roosenboom. “He occasionally did performances with the puppetry. By doing so, he got more income than through a normal job, at the end of the show he collected quite a lot of money. Moreover, in the play he could tell a lot of stories about his marriage.” The show was reminiscent of the Italian puppet character Pulcinella, a comical servant from the Italian theatre tradition ‘commedia dell’arte’. In the Jordaan, the dolls were named after Jan Klaassen and

his wife Catharina, who chased him with a rolling pin. Over the years, Jan Klaassen became a foolish figure with a red nose, protruding chin, pointed hat and clogs. The puppet called Katrijn is a spirited woman who is the boss at home. Several versions of the puppets are known in the world. In Germany he is called Kaspers and has a big round nose. In the United Kingdom, it is Punch (Jan Klaassen) who likes to drink a lot, not his wife Judy. What connects them all is that the couple quarrels all the time, but there is always a happy ending to their adventures. Often there is a power struggle in the story, like a local policeman or army general who Jan Klaassen, as the folk hero acting as the voice of the people, gives a hard time. It is a subtle reference to disputes in the past of the real Jan Klaassen. Today, the show of Jan Klaassen and Katrijn can still be seen regularly in Amsterdam. Until the 20th century, the profession of puppeteer was passed down in the family from generation to generation. For the last 100 years the profession has largely disappeared, but some people still chose to pursue it as a career. In 2001, the now 39-year-old Egon Adel took over the Puppet Show on the Dam, and every Sunday in the summer he can be seen on the central square of Amsterdam. Issue 24 | December 2015 | 43

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | The Jordaan in Amsterdam

Authentically Amsterdam with great pie and good company TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: CAFÉ PAPENEILAND

Along the Prinsengracht, you will find a characteristic Amsterdam sight: canals in the foreground crossed by an arched bridge, with streets connecting it to a picturesque, 17th century step-gabled building. It is no surprise this corner café is one of Amsterdam’s most photographed places. But after capturing the scene, make sure to step inside, as a typical Amsterdam experience awaits.

At Café Papeneiland it is as much the idyllic location as the people that craft its cosy atmosphere. “We don’t play music, so you can chat to one another,” says Tiel Netel who runs the family-owned café. “There aren’t enough places around anymore where you can just sit, relax and have a nice conversation, but here you can.” The café is the ideal place to relish in a moment of rest in the Dutch capital while enjoying a drink. Netel also serves food such as sandwiches and hearty soups. “But our customer favourite is our homemade apple pie,” he adds. Showcasing its popularity, Netel recounts when a famous visitor entered the café. “One Saturday, former president Clinton came in and had a piece of our apple pie,” he says. “He liked it so much, they asked to take a whole pie with them as they left. Afterwards we even

‘Tasty, tasty, tasty!’ TEXT: XANDRA BOERSMA | PHOTOS: PREGO

In a small, cosy street on the edge of the Jordaan, the Herenstraat, you will find the French Mediterranean restaurant Prego. You will miss it if you do not pay attention. And that would be a shame, because it is just as welcoming and comforting as its neighbourhood. The smell of freshly baked bread is noticeable the moment you step inside, which is not the only thing they make from scratch. Desserts, bonbons; you name it. “There’s only one can in our kitchen: tomato paste,” owner Jeroen van der Slikke says. “It’s a lot of work, but we see 44 | Issue 24 | December 2015

how our guests enjoy it, that’s why we do it. It just has to be tasty. Tasty, tasty, tasty.” Which is also how they choose their wines, a very important part of Prego. Actually, loving wine is what got Van der Slikke into the restaurant business in the first place. “I’m actually a teacher, but I really enjoy tasting different kinds of wine.” And he is good at selecting them too, because he has an award-winning red house wine: the best of Amsterdam. “It’s a challenge for me to find the best wine for a good price. One that also matches the dishes perfectly, of course.” Maybe that is why Prego has been up and running since 1992. But is that all? “No,” Van der Slikke says. “Service is very important too. Good food, good wine, good service. It’s simple, but as soon as one of those is not right, guests will notice and they will not come back.” Good thing Prego has it all.

received a thank you note, which now hangs on the wall in the café.” For those who want to hire a boat, Netel can also organise a tour starting on the Prinsengracht outside the café. He can arrange to have food and drink from the café on board, including their famous apple pie. Café Papeneiland is open daily.

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | The Jordaan in Amsterdam

Located at the heart of the Jordaan district, Stout! is a great night out for both tourists and locals longing for a different dining experience with excellent service.

Local restaurant offers a true dinner experience TEXT: MIRJAM VAN BIEMEN

Entering Stout! is like entering an art gallery with a sleek design and lounge music playing, but this is also due to the big photographs of famous Dutch photographer Carli Hermes, decorating the walls. For about 13 years now, Menno Berkhout has run Stout!, an Amsterdam restaurant in the Jordaan neighbourhood. Business is going well. Even on a regular Wednesday night it is a full house. But what is his secret? Owner Berkhout says: “You don’t just dine at Stout! It’s an overall experience when your reserve a table with us. All too often we hear bad stories about impolite waiters serving in Amsterdam bars and restaurants. We try to make a difference. We believe that good staff creates the best ambience, so we train them well to make


guests feel at home. Our employees know about good wine and are eager to provide service with a personal touch. We easily uncork a ‘Sancerre’ for example, that only sells by the bottle, if a customer just prefers one glass. Instead of calling them regular house wines, our personnel suggest their ‘favourites’. We select wines and beers from all over the world, many of them available by the glass.” It works. Stout’s clientele, who are on average 25 years and older, love the place. As well as his good staff, Berkhout is very proud of his lunch and dinner menu. “We mostly cook with local and organic ingredients and try to create crazy and different dishes. That’s how we came up with the name Stout, which means naughty or cheeky. So don’t be surprised when you

find oysters with wasabi froth on the menu or marshmallows made of licorice on a stick for dessert.” Stout’s cooking is international with a classical French base and an Asian touch. If you cannot choose from the wide range of courses on the menu, just go for their special; Platter Stout, which is all the main courses of the menu in mini version on one plate, like eating tapas. “This is our unique selling point,” explains Berkhout. “It’s very popular amongst our guests.” During the day Stout! also serves a regular burger, all different sorts of sandwiches and nice salads for lunch.

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 45

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | The Jordaan in Amsterdam


While it was not always the case, the Haarlemmerstraat is now a bustling street brimming with an array of interesting shops, including some of the city’s finest food addresses. One of those not-to-be-missed culinary locations is Thai & Co., a restaurant that proudly exemplifies Thailand’s mouth-wateringly vibrant cuisine. When owner Gina Ramos purchased and renovated the location that would become Thai & Co. in 2001, the Haarlemmerstraat was yet to become the popular street it is today. Luckily, that all changed: “During the last decade, the Haarlemmerstraat has become hip, with many trendy shops and delicatessens opening their doors,” says Ramos. Her tastefully decorated restaurant, housed in a building dating from 1756, is a must for anyone who enjoys the immense array of colourful flavours and textures of Thai cooking. Character-

istic is the use of fresh ingredients and fragrant herbs and spices such as sweet basil, lime, coriander, galangal and chili peppers – flavours that are healthy, invigorating and delicious. The dishes served at Thai & Co. are freshly made using quality ingredients. For those who are not partial to heat, it is good to know that the spiciness of all dishes can be adjusted to your liking. Examples of delicious choices include the spicy beef red curry composed of Thai vegetables, coconut milk, lime leaves, chilies and sweet basil; and the chicken with cashew nuts with oyster sauce, red onion, whole-dried chilies, mushrooms and spring onions. Washed down with one of their Thai beers (Singha or Chang), these meals are guaranteed to keep you warm and satisfied. Thai & Co. is a restaurant that, once discovered, is bound to become a favourite. The restaurant prides itself on many satisfied

clients who keep coming back for more of its delectable offerings.

A Spanish experience in Amsterdam TEXT: XANDRA BOERSMA | PHOTOS: H. J. KAMERBEEK

The first thing you will hear when entering Duende Dos, in the middle of the Jordaan, is Spanish music. This is an important part of the restaurant. Various famous musicians have played here and the food is good too; so what are you waiting for? Reservations come in from all over the world, but also people just around the corner visit it with pleasure. Which is exactly what Duendo Dos is about. “Everybody is welcome, that personal touch is very important to us,” owners Jacky and Erik Dos explain. And everybody shows up: kids, groups of friends, families, grandparents and even the occasional celebrity enjoys the Spanish atmosphere that you feel when walking through the door. Ever since 2002 this family-owned restaurant, where Mum, Dad and their three children work, serves you tapas, paella and more elaborate 46 | Issue 24 | December 2015

dishes. On Sunday the big pan will come out for a spectacular dining experience. “Our pinchos are a favourite; Spanish finger food. We experiment a lot so you’ll always be able to eat something new. But there are some things we can never stop making. Like calamares, meatstew or baked chorizo, some guests will kill us if we do.” All products are homemade, preferably with ingredients that have a story. “For example: we get vegetables at a farm that helps ex-drug addicts get back on track. We like being socially involved and eco-friendly.” Also, cultural involvement is important to them, which is why they let artists exhibit on their walls and musicians come over to play more often than not. It all contributes to the easy-going atmosphere that is part of the Duende Dos experience.


The capital’s most cosmopolitan and upcoming area Oud-West, De Baarsjes, Westerpark and Bos en Lommer; the many diverse parts of Amsterdam West make the neighbourhood almost a city on its own. From the renovated streets in the older neighbourhoods to the up-and-coming clubs of Bos en Lommer, the area combines a busy urban lifestyle with family life while also hosting some of the most romantic and beautiful cafés. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTO: LOT SIXTY ONE / JELLE RIETVELD

Its inhabitants come from 178 countries in the world, making the neighbourhood one of the most culturally diverse areas in the entire country. This diversity is reflected at the Foodhallen, Amsterdam’s first indoor food market. Try the delicious recipes from all over the world at a place perfect for hipsters, foodies and tourists

with an appetite for the best of international cuisines. With a full stomach, continue on to the bustling shopping streets of Amsterdam West. Discover vintage stores, antique markets, underground cultural centres and upmarket furniture shops inside el-

egant 19th-century town houses. At the end of the day you can settle in one of the neighbourhood’s cosy restaurants situated in the typical small streets Amsterdam is famous for. Reminisce about your wonderful day in one of the city’s undiscovered, yet most cosmopolitan, parts of town. Issue 24 | December 2015 | 47

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | Amsterdam West


An immediate feeling of calm overcomes you as soon as you leave the hustle and bustle of the Amsterdam quarter De Baarsjes behind and enter Rein City Spa. Let yourself be pampered in this tranquil oasis with one of the versatile treatments, relax with a cup of tea and a healthy snack and feel reborn afterwards. Rein City Spa is pure and clean in everything they do: “We use only chemical-free, organic skin care products for an optimal nurturing effect,” owner Fouzia Boussatta explains. “And with Buongiorno’s coffee and our herbal teas, we serve nature’s candy, like goji berries. These foods nourish the body from the inside.” The treatments Rein City Spa offers include manicures, relaxing massages, facials and more. Happy Feet for instance is a treat for, indeed, your feet. Soak them in a foot bath,

get them scrubbed by one of the well-trained specialists and conclude with a beautiful nail polish of choice. The Brow Wow gets your eyebrows back in shape, while the Rein Signature Facial is adjusted to your skin’s needs, based on an analysis, followed by a facial mask and a massage. “We adapt our services to the goals of our guests, and make sure they leave satisfied,” Boussatta adds. All treatments take place in a beautifully designed location in De Baarsjes, decorated with calming shades of green and blue. Five massage cabins, a Sex and the City-like pedicure couch and nail polish table offers enough space for a small group outing, but are also perfect for individuals to unwind during Rein City Spa’s broad opening hours.


It is best enjoyed on a cosy couch, in a warm environment and with good company: a good cup of coffee, or ’a cup of comfort’, as the Dutch refer to it on occasion. Buongiorno Espressobar offers such a coffee experience in a homely atmosphere. “From students to families with children and from freelancers to a group of friends, there is a place for everyone in the bar on Admiraal de Ruijterweg, the first espresso bar in the now up and coming quarter De Baarsjes,” says owner Dries Boussatta. This is beyond doubt, with Buongiorno’s comfortable chairs surrounding a long table where you can work or study, a relaxing area to peacefully read a book and a children’s corner for kids to play while Mum and Dad reboot their energy. Their coffee is for everyone as well. Boussatta: “The blend, roasted especially for us by a local 48 | Issue 24 | December 2015

roastery, consists of 50 per cent Brazil, 30 per cent Costa Rica and 20 per cent India beans. Combined with our traditional Italian way of brewing, it gives our coffee a delicious, neutral taste.” Boussatta started Buongiorno after a successful soccer career. The coffee specials, with names like Bergkamp, Maradona and Van Persie, reminisce of this. “It’s a tribute to these great soccer players,” Boussatta explains. The different coffees are served in all six Buongiorno locations in Amsterdam West, the bar at the Admiraal de Ruijterweg being the largest. Some guests spend up to six hours in the homely bar. Which is easy, because it has everything you need: besides coffee, a wide selection of teas, smoothies, soft drinks and lunch are served.

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | Amsterdam West


If you are looking for the perfect night out this holiday season, or a swinging start to your weekend, there is no better place to be than at Amsterdam’s North Sea Jazz Club. Founded in 2012, the club boasts top-quality sound and lighting and continues to attract internationally renowned and up-and-coming artists to perform at their intimate, New York-style venue. Jamie Cullum, Erykah Badu, Dr. John and Stanley Clarke – just some of the names that have taken to the stage at the North Sea Jazz Club, located on one of the Dutch capital’s most hip and happening culture hotspots, the Westergasfabriek. Just like the world famous North Sea Jazz Festival, the club features a diverse line-up of artists and on top of that, it guarantees an unforgettable evening that can be combined with drinks, dance and even a three-course dinner.

“We distinguish ourselves with the combination of dinner and live music in our intimate setting,” says marketing and PR manager Dennis Molema. “Artists are just a few metres away. So close, you can almost touch them.” But that is not all. The club, along with the accompanying jazz café and neighbouring Westergastheater, can be rented for a myriad of events accommodating up to 1,500 guests. Catering and entertainment can be arranged upon request. Mark your calendars: this month, after last year’s successful performance, soul singer/keyboardist Frank McComb returns with his trio for a Christmas concert (available with a special fourcourse menu) on 25 and 26 December. On the 27, pianist Peter Beets and singer Ruben Hein pay tribute to Frank Sinatra during a lunchtime concert; and on the 31, wave the year good-bye to the jazzy sounds of saxophonist Benjamin Herman with his trio and singer/pianist Daniël von Piekartz.

Hamming it up in Amsterdam: The finest Spanish jamón TEXT: TOYAH MARONDEL | PHOTOS: JABUGO BAR IBERICO

Jabugo Bar Iberico is the finest place for Spanish nibbles at the Amsterdam Foodhallen. The food stand sells jamón ibérico that is touted as the most delicious ham in the world and is treasured for its complex, salty and somewhat woody flavours that seem to become more intense as you chew. Dominique Spijker established Jabugo Bar Iberico in 2014 after developing a passion for gourmet food. The delicatessen was named after a Spanish village in the heart of the Sierra de Aracena, in the province of Huelva. Jamón is the trademark of Spanish cuisine, and Spijker sells the king of cured meat: jamón ibérico, which is produced mostly in the westerncentral and southern parts of Spain. The curing process of Iberico ham is regarded as a sacred art, with many producers honouring traditions that go back thousands of

years. “Three times a year I’m going to Spain to visit farms in Extremadura and Andalucía to select the highest quality ham,” says Spijker. “The meat comes from the Iberian breed and is made according to very specific practices, yielding a very special and often costly product,” he explains. Nutty, rich, slightly sweet and savoury, the taste of the jamón ibérico is one of the most distinctive in the world. Jabugo sells bocadillos (sandwiches), conos (paper cones full of meat) or assorted tapas platters, including gourmet cheese and olives. A second branch of the specialty ham and gourmet food shop will open its doors on 10 December in Amersfoort. Make this Christmas a Feliz Navidad with a gorgeous gift package from Jabugo with Mediterranean flavours. Issue 24 | December 2015 | 49

Discover Benelux | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots | Amsterdam West


After setting up a string of successful cafés across New York, Adam Craig and Paul Jenner headed to Amsterdam to open Lot Sixty One in 2013. They settled their specialty coffee roastery in the up-and-coming Kinkerstraat, which has now arguably come into its own within the city – largely thanks to their much-needed boost to Amsterdam’s coffee culture. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the corner café (and citywide coffee supplier) is sparsely decorated, with an equally pared-down menu: black, white and filter. But it gets better: delicately roasted and expertly prepared, Lot Sixty One’s coffees includes their bestselling espresso from a KVW Spirit machine (considered the Bentley within the barista world) alongside other single origin espressos and exclusive high-grade filter coffee, including some that cup over 90 plus out of 100 points. Then, of course, there is their hand-brewed single origin on their Hario V60 2_0_3C_Online_Advert_half_page_Layout 2 07/05/2015

drippers and the laboriously made Cold Brew Coffee which, Craig reveals, is rivalling the goto flat white in terms of popularity. All served within sight of their custom-made Probat L12 roaster, their bags of fresh wholebean coffee sell out rapidly. Yet much more than just a caffeine fix, Lot Sixty One has become a crutch within the community and the city, offering packed-out latte art workshops and team-building coffee masterclasses. Alongside a selection of baked goods, including the local’s must-have chocolate chunk cookies with sea salt, the intricacies of their coffee as well as their laid-back attitude are why Lot Sixty One have become the go-to roasters, supplying numerous boutique shops, restaurants and businesses. A young and dynamic team, they appear to have captured the vast potential for innovation within the world of coffee, creating their own brews and even craft beers. And it definitely helps that they create arguably the city’s finest cup of coffee. 09:34 Page 1

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Discover Benelux | De Foodhallen | Amsterdam West

Visit Gustafson before its grand closure TEXT: MICHIEL STOL | PHOTOS: GUSTAFSON

Inspiring people with design, events and culture, Gustafson is a pop-up bar, restaurant and soon-to-be hotel at the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam. Gustafson is located in an old municipal building of the old gas factory. “Three weeks after we got the keys, we were up and running and could serve our first guests their dinner,” says Elvira Wilthagen, one of the co-founders. “We want Gustafson to be a design platform with international allure, giving everybody with a different, creative mind an opportunity to share that.” This passion for creativity shows in the hotel’s concept. It will not have the conventional kind of rooms, but five daring ones with, for instance, a tent or sleeping capsules. What makes this hotel even more inventive, is that it will also host numerous events such as lectures, launches of collections from young designers and musical events. Gustafson will

certainly be an excellent exhibition spot for young artists, musicians and designers. Gustafson will be a hotel with a bar and restaurant, where you can enjoy delicious homemade sandwiches and salads during the day and a range of international meals accompanied by tempting fine wine or cocktails at night. In the coming months Gustafson will remain open while it expands and changes and it wants its customers to be a part of this. All will lead to the ‘Grand Closure’ on 30 September 2016. Wilthagen: “Until then our doors will be wide open for everyone who loves design, food, drinks and an extraordinary overnight stay.”

A brew to make your day TEXT: ROSANNE ROOBEEK


Coffee to-go has become the new norm. People spend an increasing amount of time (and money) working and socialising in cafés, while enjoying a good cup of coffee. CoffeePlaza plays into the demand of its customers and offers coffee that is made with passion and attention for detail. Their formula wants to stress the experience of taste and quality of coffee. It is about enjoying a perfect Dutch espresso with a good sandwich. “I value the things that make our lives special, sometimes it is small, sometimes it is big, but it should always be real and intense,” says Joop van Dee, Coffeeplaza’s owner and managing director. “CoffeePlaza will surprise its customers with real baristas who treat them with delicious new recipes,” he adds.

Since 2015, CoffeePlaza serves coffee from its own coffee-roasting factory. “We have taken a conscious decision to make our own coffee, as people are looking for higher quality espresso and try to find exclusivity,” Van Dee says. The green beans from Brazil and Ethiopia apply to the highest quality criteria during the growing process. Once in Amsterdam, the beans are roasted almost daily and directly served at CoffeePlaza. “We are very proud to serve 100 per cent Arabica with a ‘specialty’ quality designation,” Van Dee says. CoffeePlaza, however, does not only make quality coffee, but offers freshly baked focaccias, paninis, cakes and juices. All four shops are currently based in Amsterdam West, the capital’s most cosmopolitan and upcoming area. Issue 24 | December 2015 | 51

Photo: Driekoningen / Steve Vercnocke

Discover Benelux | A Fabulous Belgian Wedding | The Inspiration Guide

Photo: Feriatus

Photo: Maison Fleurie


Inspiration guide for a fabulous Belgian wedding In this wedding special we feature the best facets of hosting a wedding in Belgium. Ranging from wedding planners to expert florists, fabulous locations and stunning cakes, we will guide you through planning your wedding day in one of the most undiscovered, romantic countries in Europe. TEXT: ELLA PUT

Ahead of the best day of your life, quite a bit of preparation is needed. That does not have to be a bad thing. While a great deal of planning might go into aspects such as finishing official paper work or choosing the perfect dress, it is all part of the pre-wedding fun. This is especially the case when you are getting married at one of Belgium’s romantic locations, such as in the historic city of Bruges, at a Medieval castle in the countryside, a former brewery (see page 58) or in a quaint village near the coast (see page 54). To make your long walk to the altar easier and more fun, we present future brides and grooms with some top advice in this issue of Discover Benelux. If you prefer to

let someone else do the planning, turn to page 55 and find yourself an experienced wedding planner. If you like to arrange everything yourself, planning a wedding in Belgium is not difficult. Just know that one of you has to have a Belgian citizenship or both of you have to have been living in Belgium for three months or longer. In Belgium, unlike countries such as the United States, you need to get formally married in the city’s town hall. This is by no means a bad thing as most Belgian town halls are beautiful 18th-century state monuments that have been well maintained throughout the centuries. They certainly add a touch of magic to

your day. Afterwards, you can host the religious ceremony in one of Belgium’s beautiful, gothic churches. When it comes to the wedding cake, you will have a large variety to choose from in Belgium, as you can find out on page 56. Also, the flower arrangements come in all shapes and sizes, making your special day even more memorable (see page 57). The country’s cuisine is famous for its chocolate, waffles and beers, and these will certainly be enjoyed by even the biggest grouser in your wedding company. Just remember, before walking down the aisle, to try not to spill any Belgian chocolate on your dress.

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 53

Discover Benelux | A Fabulous Belgian Wedding | The Inspiration Guide

Leaving nothing to chance on the best day of your life TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: DRIEKONINGEN / STEVE VERCNOCKE

In the west corner of Flanders lies Beauvoorde, an idyllic artist village ten kilometres from the Belgian coast. Here, with the romantic, Renaissance-style Beauvoorde Castle in the backdrop, you will find event location Salons Driekoningen, which specialises in hosting unforgettable weddings. With over 30 years of experience, you can trust that Driekoningen’s head chef Xavier Dehouck and hostess and sommelier Ria Fleurbaey will think of everything, down to the smallest details. “We always aim for perfection,” says Ria. “We listen to the wishes of the couple and then strive to exceed those. When people are so enthusiastic, they tell us the day was far better than expected, that’s when we’re satisfied.” 54 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Driekoningen is a wedding event complex with a restaurant, outdoor veranda and luxury hotel rooms for up to 30 guests. “And for the happy couple, a night’s stay in the wedding suite will be free,” she continues. “We also have excellent connections with the many bed and breakfasts in the area, if more guests want to stay over.” Whether a formal, sit-down dinner is preferred for up to 320 guests, or a ‘walking dinner’ with canapes and small bites, Xavier and Ria will help the couple create a tailor-made menu. “Our chefs have years of experience in creating exquisite food. To guarantee the quality, we only work with fresh ingredients and everything will be made in-house, including desserts,” says Ria.

The name Driekoningen, or Three Kings, comes from the 16th century tavern that was located here. “We wanted to keep this heritage alive,” comments Ria. The adjacent barn still dates from this period, which can be booked for smaller events and dinners. “It is a stunning, authentic barn with an intimate atmosphere.” The gardens around the complex lend themselves perfectly for outdoor celebrations and barbeque receptions for up to 400 guests. “And with the castle in the background, it is also ideal for making beautiful wedding photos. We can of course help to arrange photographers,” Ria adds. Moreover, she can help the couple with their church service held nearby with a local pastor and DJ bookings.

Discover Benelux | A Fabulous Belgian Wedding | The Inspiration Guide


No request is too big for Nadine Winten, who will make reality out of weddings ideas that started as stories you could only to fantasise about. Winten is the head of the company Feriatus, located in Maasmechelen and Knokke (the ‘city by the sea’) in Belgium. She makes fairytales into real life experiences. That being said, two weddings are never the same, as are the ideas that Winten explores. “Most of the time, clients have an idea of what they want. But from there, I need time to think it over to make the event as beautiful as it can be. Of course, it has to fit with the clients.” Weddings are not just about taking care of the ring, the dress and the cake. Every detail is carefully thought out by Winten and her team. “You can think about a customised emblem for the couple, which

you can see on items throughout the day. On napkins, on table legs. We plan the entire day to make sure the couple doesn’t have to think about anything.” To plan an event, she is occupied with it for about a year. “Not all day, every day. But this way I get to know how the clients are and that shows when organising their event.” Feriatus does not only plan weddings in Belgium and the Netherlands, but Winten also gets asked if she can organise a dream wedding abroad. “Once I was on vacation and when I sat by the swimming pool, I noticed people were having a wedding on the opposite side of the hotel. That to me, was the perfect motivation to look for scenic places where weddings could be celebrated without the whole world to see, but just for your loved ones.” While weddings abroad may take on a little more logistical planning, it does not look as if Winten cannot handle it. The

wedding she organised in Tuscany in Italy last year only got compliments. Winten approaches small events, with maybe 25 guests, and bigger ones, with about 150, the same way. She makes sure the theme is right and that the party fits best with the client. Winten will take care of it all.

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 55

Discover Benelux | A Fabulous Belgian Wedding | The Inspiration Guide

Say yes to the wedding cake TEXT: ELS DU MONT | PHOTOS: CATHY VANMECHELEN

Long gone are the days of simple wedding cakes. The art of baking has always been something to admire, but nowadays in particular the wedding cake business is booming. The better the innovations and the more creativity the artist puts into the cakes, the more skilled they become, which is what you will find with Cathy Vanmechelen, owner of ’t Suikerhuys. Looking for the perfect wedding cake? Thanks to the professionalism and expertise of ’t Suikerhuys, you will find the most suitable cake. “With multiple, in-depth conversations with our clients, listening to their wishes, we succeed in creating the ideal cake for each couple. Anything is possible,” Vanmechelen says. 56 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Having studied event and project management, Vanmechelen went on to found ’t Suikerhuys in 2012, which was influenced by the birth of her daughter. It is hard to imagine that four years ago she was a teacher. For her, ’t Suikerhuys is a dream come true. With honest dedication, passion and the support of family and friends, she creates stunning cakes. “It is an incredible feeling to see my clients gratified when they see the finished cake. Therefore I strive for a personal approach to achieve a romantic result,” she says. The company offers five standard flavours, specially composed for wedding cakes. Very popular is the vanilla cake with a raspberry coulis and a ganache of Belgian white chocolate. The company

stands for quality and over the years it has started to collaborate with florist Bloemen en Decoratie Carpe Diem. They provide real flowers for decorations, adding great detail to each wedding cake. “Martijn, the owner of Carpe Diem, is like a mentor to me. Two heads are better than one.” Ambition hardly covers how the driven Vanmechelen runs ’t Suikerhuys, but what is the next step? “I hope the company can expand even more than it already has. This summer, the company was booming and we hope we can continue to deliver the same top quality that our clients truly deserve,” concludes Vanmechelen. Hospitaalstraat 1, 3900 Overpelt +32 472964273

Discover Benelux | A Fabulous Belgian Wedding | The Inspiration Guide

‘Flowers are emotion, they give energy’ TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: MAISON FLEURIE

What started out as merely a hobby, has grown into a full-time and successful flower arrangement business. Within four years, Veerle Desmet has created her own piece of heaven with Maison Fleurie. Desmet’s Maison Fleurie, located in the gorgeous city of Bruges, Belgium, does not have a boutique or shop, but instead she works from her own studio or on location. Desmet: “A shop makes you tied to a location, at this moment I have all the freedom I need. I have only recently started as a full-time flower arranger and organising workshops. Up until a few months ago, flower arranging was only a secondary occupation. My previous job did not give me any positivity in life. Flowers are emotion, they give me much energy. The colour combinations, the types of flowers and the fragrances, all these elements give positivity.”

Maison Fleurie has two main pillars; organising several types of workshops and creating flower arrangements for weddings, for example. Throughout Belgium, Maison Fleurie has created special flower arrangements and bouquets for weddings, church decorations, reception banquets and even provides photographs of these events. Organising workshops gives Desmet great satisfaction. “People like to come over and go home happy with a great flower arrangement they created themselves. Everything is taken care of, people do not have to bring any material with them.” The workshops are thematic, holiday and seasonal themes come back every year. On Valentine’s Day, Desmet invites 20 men to come over and create a wonderful flower arrangements for their loved ones. At the end of the afternoon, they are all invited to have a celebratory dinner together.

There are several businesses and service clubs who hire Maison Fleurie for workshops, including Rotary, Lions and Zonta. “It is so much fun to combine a workshop with a whiskey or wine tasting. And, of course, these workshops are also perfect for businesses and teambuilding.” Desmet makes sure all assignments are delivered in perfect condition and are excellently arranged. According to Desmet, many regular customers recognise a flower arrangement created by Maison Fleurie. “I have my own style, which is romantic, classic. No technical structures but purely flowers. I always want to have personal contact with the customer, to make sure I know who they are and want they want. Creative freedom is important, but I always listen to the customer and their wishes.” Issue 24 | December 2015 | 57

Discover Benelux | A Fabulous Belgian Wedding | The Inspiration Guide

Out-of-the-ordinary wedding at an old Belgian brewery TEXT: CAROLINE D’HONT | PHOTOS: GRAND CAFÉ LAMOT

architectural spaces, giving the hosts maximum flexibility. From the foyer you get an amazing panorama over the historic city of Mechelen, with staggering views of the river Dijle and St. Rumbold’s cathedral, beautifully lit at night. If the weather is good, receptions can be held outside on the banks of the river. There is also a nice dance floor with a bar, serving Belgium’s finest beers. Grand Café Lamot in Mechelen is not your classic wedding venue. It is a historic brewery, renovated to a unique event location. The notable building is preserved, including the old brewing kettles, however a modern glass structure has been built around it, for a very spacious and light feel. This wedding venue can welcome up to 700 guests. There is a wide range of different

A special mention goes out the wide range of catering options. From a casual reception to a fancy sit down dinner, guests will be treated with a broad selection of culinary delights, from Belgian specialities to classics from around the world. The venue offers all-inclusive, tailor-made wedding formulas, adapted to the happy couple’s wishes and needs. The staff have a broad ex-

From the foyer you get an amazing panorama over the historic city of Mechelen, with staggering views over the river Dijle and the St. Rumbold's cathedral.

perience in hosting events. They will provide you with the right advice and suggestions, resulting in an elaborate script for the entire festive event to take care of even the smallest details. In advance you will be presented with an all-in price offer, ruling out any financial surprises afterwards, assuring hosts and guests a stress-free and unforgettable feast.

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Discover Benelux | A Belgian Winter | Wellness Retreats

Thermengroup offers a large range of spa and beauty treatments with a fantastic stay in one of their hotels.

Bathe in an oasis of silence TEXT: ELS DU MONT | PHOTOS: THERMENGROUP

In these busy times, true relaxation has become a great luxury. At the divine Thermengroup wellness hotel, which will open next month in Londerzeel with a wellness programme, you are guaranteed to unwind. The idyllic spa experiences are a true cleanse for body and soul. “The moments in life which count, are those when you forget all about the time. We want our guests to discover and experience a sophisticated blend of relaxation and peace with the opportunity to recharge their batteries as well as for enjoyment,” says Johan van Looy, owner and founder of Thermengroup. The love for detail, professionalism and giving their clients a day of full relaxation is what Thermengroup prides itself on. Step inside and prepare to be wowed.

Three different hotels with the same core values Thermengroup was set up in 2000. Van Looy had already toyed with the idea of opening a hotel next to the wellness centre for a long time, so he founded one in Rijmenan close to Mechelen. Because of its enormous success and Van Looy’s drive to improve, he decided to expand. As a result of his hard work and dedication, there are now three hotel locations spread across Belgium – Rijmenan, Londerzeel and Dilbeek (near Brussels) which specially caters to international guests.

Calm intimate surroundings The concept of wellness is what fuels Thermengroup, offering the opportunity of true relaxation. The hotels play into this, by focussing on a luxury stay for guests. “They can enjoy the best French cuisine.

And you do not even have to go outside to have a wonderful stay in our hotel. We are all about listening and being sensitive to our clients’ needs. Guests can combine their stay at the hotel with different experience packages such as the ‘Healing Roses’, with this package you can enjoy an oriental facial massage, hand peel, a scrub and a full body massage,” says Van Looy. The tranquil atmosphere and stunning settings will guarantee that a stay at Thermengroup will have a lasting, positive effect on your body and soul. Weynesbaan 34, 2820 Rijmenam +32 15 51 57 57

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 59

Discover Benelux | A Belgian Winter | Wellness Retreats

With an eye for detail The small but vibrant town of Merelbeke, near the Belgian city of Ghent, is one of the country’s top thermal spa and beauty institutes. In the past six years, owner Stefanie Rasschaert has transformed Sens into a true household name, where people can expect an honest, but fabulous, spa experience. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: SCHOONHEIDSTHERMEN SENS

A young and professional team of beauticians welcome guests with a smile. They offer several advanced anti-aging treatments with long-lasting results and highly efficient body treatments. This includes for example: removing local fat deposits, cellulite, as well as skin strengthening, but there are also classic beauty treatments available. All with a special eye for detail. “We want to offer our clients the best products and treatment available on the market,” says Rasschaert. “Quality, honesty and friendliness are absolutely key to us.” “We make sure that all our beauticians have had the best and highest education possible in their field,” says Rasschaert. “All our employees have to participate 60 | Issue 24 | December 2015

in several training courses and refresher moments, in-house as well as elsewhere. We have our own treatment book. This book contains all treatments that we offer. Sometimes it is just good to refresh your memory. This way we are able to give the same and precise sequence of a particular treatment to all our customers. Obviously, we also need to learn new treatments and techniques, therefore we have outdoor workshops and courses. To us it is very important to be up to date and to have all the knowledge about the newest treatments possible to provide the very best to our customers.” Knowing all about the newest treatments does not mean that Sens applies all these new techniques or possibilities. Accord-

ing to Rasschaert it is very important to do proper and thorough research. After all, the world of beauty science is not always as scientifically justified as we might hope or want. The beauticians of Sens

Discover Benelux | A Belgian Winter | Wellness Retreats

are always up to date about the latest development, but they always use the same brands. For example, they believe Environ and Jane Iredale have the best skin products available. Rasschaert: “Sometimes regular customers try other brands, which might give a financial benefit, but eventually they always come back to use our products. These brands, Environ and Jane Iredale, are honest, pure and they do what they promise to do.” The Sens team believes strongly in honesty. Rasschaert: “When people come to us to make the shadows under their eyes disappear, we give them the options and explain the potential results honestly. Or, when people want to lose some weight, we cannot always help them. And of course we are always very aware for medical conditions. Sometimes it is just not responsible to start any treatment without the approval of a doctor. Therefore there are times we have to say ‘no’ to a customer, but at the end of the day they always appreciate our honesty.”

Sens also offers a private spa, which is fully compliant with the Vlarem II legislation and approved by SVB (Sauna Association Belgium), something which is not easy to achieve and maintain. Sens also offers numerous special packages, spa experiences and provides à la carte packages to cater to anyone’s personal requests. What makes Sens exceptional is that Rasschaert started this business only six years ago, at the age of 23. Directly after her studies, she began Sens as a sole proprietorship. Now Sens has six employees, and the company is still growing each year. Rasschaert: “We truly want the best for our customers. Our customers trust us and we want to keep that trust.”

the perfect and easy gift for the holidays, or for any other occasion. The gift cards are available in various price ranges and are easy to purchase via PayPal. Rasschaert: “Our main principle is to indulge and pamper the customer. All we want is to give every customer a great feeling and a smile of satisfaction.”

The beauty institute has a wonderful new collaboration with Les Ciseaux, a local hairdresser. This way it is easy to combine a beauty treatment with a new coiffure, for example for special occasions like a wedding or another special event. In December, Sens offers special online gift cards, Issue 24 | December 2015 | 61

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Discover Benelux | Business | Best of Belgian Catering


Delightful delicacies, composed by professional cooks: Coeur Catering provides exquisite, tailor-made food experiences for any event. Mouth-watering bites and meals, homemade with only the best seasonal and local foods, are the fundamentals of Coeur Catering’s service. “Working with these foods compels us to be highly flexible,” explains owner Sebastian Tips. “This flexibility is in our DNA, and allows us to provide tailor-made catering and jump on food trends before anyone else. We’ve translated for instance trendy concepts like food sharing and food truck festivals into high-end delicacies.” A burger made the Coeur way is a true luxury. Tips: “Our burger is a blend of Belgian cow breed Blanc Bleu Belge, lean meat and lobster.” A surprising combination.

And what is better than sharing the experience of these taste bud teasers with your companions? With ten years of experience and serving over 100,000 people annually, Coeur Catering knows how to provide the ultimate catering solution for any event from ten up to 3,000 people for business parties to weddings and festivals, in Belgium and beyond its borders. Their mobile kitchen adds to their flexibility and allows them to supply catering at any location, a unique characteristic within the catering business. Tips: “We’re for instance the official caterer for Film Fest Gent, providing high-quality foods to guests and VIPs. Recently we catered the annual street festival Gentse Feesten in our concept ‘CHURCH’, a peaceful culinary pop-up bar in the St James’ Church. We loved

seeing so many people escaping the hustle and bustle to enjoy a healthy meal.” Besides event catering, Coeur Catering collaborates with a wide range of event locations and runs the wholesome allergy-friendly, vegan and vegetarian brunch spot BOOM, as well as Gaston rooftop, which provides the most magnificent views over Ghent. Gaston’s restaurant is open only three months a year, in July, August and from mid-December until midJanuary, when it will bathe in a festive Christmas atmosphere. The rest of the year it is available as an event location. Both restaurants have limited opening hours and have become quite popular, so be quick if you want to make a reservation for a memorable lunch, brunch or dinner. Issue 24 | December 2015 | 63

Discover Benelux | Business | Funds and finance


Top-notch money managers Luxembourg-based CF Fund Services provides all the necessary administration services for the investment vehicles market. The two partners, Murad Ikhtiar and Maurizio Tonelli, in association with two directors Bertrand Gourdain and Pascal Schiltz, offer a wealth of international experience in the field. They combine a skillset formed from backgrounds in law, accounting, finance, business administration and risk management. TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS: CF FUND SERVICES

The 22-member team prides itself on being able to assist with a wide variety of work, such as portfolio valuation; maintaining and archiving accounting data; transactions accounting; net asset value calculation, and financial and legal report preparation.

A full-service firm The company provides assistance as an administrative and registrar agent, and also handles domiciliation services, client communication, structuration and adviso64 | Issue 24 | December 2015

ry work. Founded in 2008, the group has since built up a notable client portfolio. Senior founding partner Ikhtiar is especially proud of CF Fund Services’ growth: “We started off as a single-client business seven years ago, and we now act for over 100 major clients from Switzerland, France and Belgium.” As a registrar agent, CF Fund Services keeps shareholder registers; it registers and performs transactions including subscriptions, buy-backs, conversions,

transfers and distributions; it settles and monitors transactions, and convenes shareholders to AGMs. The risk management team applies anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism rules and controls procedures to all transactions. As an administrative agent, the group manages accounting for all transactions; portfolio valuations; reconciliation of portfolios with accounting records; checking of investment restrictions; calculation of taxes and levies; calculation and publication of net asset values; liaison with

Discover Benelux | Business | Funds and finance

LEFT TO RIGHT: Directors Pascal Schiltz and Bertrand Gourdain and partner Murad Ikhtiar.

external auditors; preparation of consolidated financial statements with required accounting standards; and preparation of financial and legal reports.

A 100 per cent client-focused package According to Ikhtiar, one of the things that sets the group apart from other financial services providers is its sharp decision-making ability and the fact that a senior partner is always involved. “We provide a quick turnaround time, and we work efficiently and always in an ethical way,” adds chief operating officer (COO) Pascal Schiltz. Head of legal services Bertrand Gourdain says that their objective is to ensure that no question remains unanswered for a client: “We aim to cover all the bases and ensure our clients are fully satisfied,” he explains. In addition to its work as registrar and administrative agents, CF Fund Services offers domiciliation and client communications support. This encompasses general secretariat, correspondence and administrative management; organising board meetings; holding ordinary and extraordinary shareholder meetings and/or acting

as a representative; managing notifications, notices and legal announcements; registering companies; managing invoices and securing access to confidential data; maintaining, storing and destroying documents; and providing corporate officers and offices as required. On the structuration and advisory side, the group assists clients with the launch of investment vehicles. CF Fund Services is fully owned by BDO Tax & Accounting Luxembourg (Compagnie Fiduciaire Group), a major Luxembourgish accountancy, audit and consulting firm. It is regulated by the Luxembourg financial authority and follows the International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE 34-02). Thanks to BDO’s first-rate experience in corporate and tax law, combined with the team’s profound finance and administration experience, CF Fund Services is well placed to help clients administer and set up investment fund vehicles.

says it is maintaining a consistent high quality of work in a constant changing environment. For his colleague Gourdain, another challenge is reconciling a client’s needs at the beginning and trying to respond to all of their demands: “It can be challenging explaining to someone that not all of their wishes may be granted.” For Ikhtiar the qualities necessary to succeed in the profession include being convincing, highly qualified and constantly rigorous to mitigate any risks. The highlight of the job for all of the partners is working with an esteemed and diverse client base.

Challenges and future directions

With regard to upcoming projects, the team is reluctant to give too much away, but hints that for the next three years, the group has set its sights on the Middle Eastern market and will focus on expanding in the region. With Arabic speaker Ikhtiar on board, CF Fund Services already has a clear advantage. Thanks to the firm’s impressive portfolio and clientoriented approach, it is one of the leading names in regulated investment vehicle administration in the Benelux.

When asked about the most difficult aspect of their professional lives, Schiltz Issue 24 | December 2015 | 65

Discover Benelux | Business | Columns


Why it’s always good to test-drive your communications

Whether you love or loathe the advertising industry, there’s one thing they’re good at: controlling every aspect of the messages they deliver. So it was a bit of a surprise – okay, it was fun – to find a lapse in the industry’s ‘we-think-of-everything’ professionalism. At Findel airport in Luxembourg, there’s an escalator down to the gates. Right over the escalator is an impressive multi-screen video display. Even more impressive is the location. There’s nothing else to look at, and your hands are too

full of carry-on baggage to reach for your smartphone. Whoever sited that display here knew what they were doing. So far, so controlled. That goes for the messages too – an endless loop of pleasant but generic images and words of welcome. Imagine my surprise, then, when this slick, efficient, hi-tech communication machine wished me “a peasant flight”. I looked again. Yup. Peasant. Was this their way of saying they knew I was flying economy? Okay, we all know they meant “pleasant”. They even wrote “pleasant”. But, as luck would have it, the “l” landed right in the gap between two screens, rendering it invisible. Oops. Most likely, this was a simple case of nobody telling the graphic designer where the screen gaps fell because nobody saw the potential for trouble. But whatever

The dinosaur in the room Last year I went to an HR conference in the UK full of inspiring talk about employee engagement, the war for talent, and how HR should take the boardrooms of Britain by storm. But all the while, noone seemed to notice the dinosaur in the room plaintively waving a faded red flag with the words ‘What about the unions?’ embroidered on it. The unions were mentioned hardly at all. British unions may be unpopular with the right-wing press in the UK, but they still represent a quarter of the national workforce, well over six million people, and few of these are intent on fomenting revolution and hanging capitalists from lampposts. In fact, the CIPD, the main UK body for HR professionals, reports that its members are generally happy with the industrial partnerships that have been built up since the confrontational days of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Strong partnerships between man66 | Issue 24 | December 2015

agement and unions benefit everyone in all sorts of ways and some unions are changing, for example by working for improvements in local communities, not just in the workplace. In the UK, union learning reps are doing more than anyone else to eradicate the shame of a national workforce functional illiteracy rate of 20 per cent. Union confederations campaign to protect workers’ rights at European and international level. Indeed, if I had to give just one reason why we need stronger unions globally, I would say ‘Rana Plaza’: that’s the building that collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013, killing 1,134 garment workers, the logical outcome of a process of denial of employee rights. But I’m worried about my dinosaur. Dinosaurs do, after all, have a habit of becoming extinct. UK union membership today is half the 1979 figure. Male, pale and stale union leaders do not inspire younger workers who only have a hazy notion of


the cause, the solution is the same: you test-drive your communication. You look it over and read it from the viewpoint of the user. You question your assumptions relentlessly. And you check out the product in situ. That way you can truly know what the audience is seeing. And if there’s a problem, you’ll be the first one to spot it. Instead of the last.

Josiah Fisk is the head of More Carrot LLC, a clear communications company with offices in Boston and Luxembourg.


what a union is. Unions need to reinvent themselves, to drag themselves from the 19th century into the 21st and to make their organisations exciting to belong to. If they could learn to support the young, the precariously employed and the unemployed, the service worker as well as the manufacturing and public sector worker, I believe they could once again become a great force for good – locally, nationally and internationally.

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, now based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally:;

Discover Benelux | Business | Calendar

Business Calendar TEXT: ELLA PUT

Business Software Event 2015 1 December Den Bosch, Congrescentrum 1931, the Netherlands Business software is a necessary tool to achieve the best results with your company. With over 600 annual visitors, 30 lectures and eight workshops, the Business Software Event 2015 is essential for everyone who wants to learn more about software, especially for engineering, production or trade companies.

Dutch Data Science Summit 2015 1 December Eindhoven, the Netherlands Humans and communicational businesses are becoming more and more intertwined with the digital universe. Ninety per cent of the digital data in the world has been created in the last two years. As a response to the growing volume and importance of data, the Eindhoven University of Technology has created the Data Science Center. With speakers from different parts of the ICT industry, this event will teach its visitors more about the changing world of data.

Annual Economics Idea Forum 2015 2 December Brussels, Belgium This annual high-level conference brings together the best economic experts, EU heads of state, ministers, business leaders and other influential stakeholders from around the world. The Forum provides an opportunity to discuss new innovative ideas and solutions to solve the economic problems the EU is facing. Topics among this year’s discussion will be the sharing economy, balancing energy security and the digital economy.

OnBrand 2015 3 December Amsterdam, The Heineken Experience ‘Fuel your brand’s growth and take it to a next level’, that is the mission of the OnBrand event held in one of the Netherlands’ national monuments, the former Heineken brewery. Discover the newest brand management technology, get digital insights in the world of brand management and mingle with some of the industry’s leaders such as Manfred Gotta, owner of GOTTA brands and Tom Dorresteijn, CEO at studio Dumbar.

TTIP debate 6 December De Balie, Amsterdam The TTIP is a suggested trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. Never before has there been so much debate about a treaty that has not even been signed. Fred Teeven, Member of Parliament for the conservative-liberal party VVD and Jasper van Dijk, Member of Parliament for the socialist party SP, will discuss their different points of view on the economic trade agreement.

Luxembourg Internet-days 7 – 8 December Chamber of Commerce, Luxembourg The Luxembourg Internet-days are the response to the newest trends, developments and challenges in the ICT world in Luxembourg and beyond. With conferences, panel discussions and several presentations this edition of Internet-days will be all about the growing importance of protecting data security.

British Chamber of Commerce Christmas Lunch 18 December Chamber of Commerce, Luxembourg With the Honourable Alice Walpole, British Ambassador to Luxembourg, as guest speaker, the British Chamber of Commerce is organising their annual Christmas Lunch. It is the ideal place to mingle with friends, colleagues and business associates in an informal setting where everyone is cordially invited.

TTIP debate Photo by Jan Boeve / De Balie

Photo by Luxembourg Internet-days

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 67

Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | Belgium

R E S TA U R A N T O F T H E M O N T H : B E L G I U M

Dine, drink, dance and be merry Have you still not got any plans for New Year’s Eve or for a pre-Christmas meal? Trying to please everybody – family, friends, colleagues – but not sure where to go? Belga Queen is the answer: it is a restaurant, bar, cigar lounge and club in one vast space. TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS: BELGA QUEEN

68 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | Belgium

In the 14 years since it opened, Belga Queen has become synonymous with a feat of gastronomic delights. This Brussels and Ghent-based restaurant is fêted for its superb high-end Belgian and international cuisine. It is known for its innovative use of Belgian ingredients – this includes those grown or cultivated locally, in addition to produce made by expats. For example, the drinks menu includes a fine selection of wines produced by Belgian winemakers from around the world, as well as top-notch sparkling wine made in Belgium. Whether you are looking for classic Belgian fare or celebrating an occasion with oysters and champagne, Belga Queen has something for everyone. So why come here during the holiday period? As explained by founder and owner Antoine Pinto, there is no other place like it in Brussels. “Belga Queen is unique: we have multiple spaces in addition to the dining areas [the restaurant and a seafood bar]; we have a beautiful aperitif bar with many kinds of gin and champagne, a cigar lounge and a club. It’s an ideal location to celebrate any occasion,” says Pinto proudly.

New Year’s delights Would you prefer a less formal setting to the grandeur of the main restaurant? L’Ecailler, the stylish seafood bar within the complex, is the place for you; diners can watch the seafood being prepared and indulge in lobster or a mixed seafood

platter, perfect for special occasions. Customers can also order dishes from the main restaurant. For New Year’s Eve, Belga Queen offers an evening of dancing to live music. There will be a choice of two menus: a royal menu, consisting of a lavish main platter of seafood delights such as crab, oysters and lobster, or a tantalising fivecourse menu. The latter includes hotbaked scallops served with delicate Belgian-grown saffron and vanilla; roast hind of beef with quince chutney, and pan-fried John Dory in a butter and beer sauce with a side of smooth Belgian caviar pearls.

Home-grown talent The star behind the success of the restaurant is Belgo-Portuguese founder Pinto. He came to Belgium as a 17-yearold political refugee in 1974, having fled his native Portugal. An interiors architect by training, he began his career as a chef whilst studying at the Académie des Beaux-Arts. He has founded several restaurants in Belgium and managed over 100, and he also runs a highly successful interior and architectural design practice. His restaurants showcase his creative talents in multiple ways: both through the superb cuisine and via the avant-garde combination of elaborate old building structures with modern furnishings. Besides the faultless food and impeccable service, one of the many reasons

people are drawn to Belga Queen is the grand atmosphere and beautiful interiors. The restaurant is housed in a former bank, with a vast entrance and stainedglass windows. The décor is modern but showcases the belle-époque features. The restaurant seats 200 people, but also has many intimate corners for couples. Diners can mingle at the bar, cigar lounge or club. A second restaurant can be found in Ghent, located in a former 13th century grain storage building. Like the Brussels branch, it also hosts an oyster bar and several other lounges and spaces to have drinks. The restaurant is closed for Christmas as, during this period, Pinto says he prefers to celebrate quietly at home with his family and children. When asked about festive traditions, he says that he cooks capon, a type of young rooster fed on a diet of milk or herbs, which is “tastier than turkey”. So even if you do have plans for New Year’s Eve, cancel them to spend your last hours of 2015 with family and friends feasting on sumptuous foods and then dancing the night away after midnight. Belga Queen offers an unforgettable experience in central Brussels or Ghent: so raise your glasses of Belgian champagne to a wonderful 2016. The restaurant will be closed on the eve of 24 December, and all day on 25 December.

Belga Queen in Brussels is housed in a former bank. The original, grand features of the building are still visible today.

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 69





Everyone deserves to enjoy the journey. Our two Superferries sail by day or overnight from Harwich to the Hook of Holland - the most direct route to Holland by ferry from the south of England. Enjoy superb onboard facilities including two stylish restaurants and bars, a blockbuster cinema, luxurious en-suite cabins and our first class Stena Plus lounge.

Everyone deserves a break. Book at or call 08447 70 70 70 *£10 service fee applies to all bookings made by telephone. Subject to availability and restricted space. For full terms and conditions visit

Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | The Netherlands

Smoking-hot steaks No need to search for a place with the best American steaks in town. We have found it for you. Right between the picturesque Vondelpark and the bustling Leidseplein, restaurant Midtown Grill will welcome you into a warm, cosy restaurant with excellent steaks. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: ANNELIES VERHELST / AMSTERDAM MARRIOTT

Located in the beautiful western part of Amsterdam, Midtown Grill brings a little bit of America to the Dutch capital. The steakhouse sets itself apart by serving the finest cuts approved by the American department of agriculture. It focuses on pureness, fresh ingredients and quality. Next to their steak specialities, the restaurant also offers excellent seafood and salads. “We select the best local produce from Holland’s artisans and growers. During the year we adapt the menu, including only the best food the season has to offer. The menu is a mix of our own specialities and American classics inspired by firstclass New York-style steakhouses,” says executive chef Andreas Schiffer. Enjoy the best sizzling steak while overlooking the busy streets of Amsterdam. The interior has wooden floors, warm colours and an open kitchen, creating a warm setting. It almost feels like you just crossed the Atlantic and stepped into a real American steakhouse. After dinner, you can end the evening with a nice cigar and a good glass of bourbon, a local craft or a cocktail at Sorel’s bar next door.

Get ‘bourbonised’ at Sorel’s Sorel’s in the Marriott Hotel in Amsterdam is a one-of-a-kind bar where you can discover twists on classic drinks mixed into personal creations by the bartenders. It serves an extensive selection of bourbons, cocktails and local liquors including many jenevers. Enjoy a Jenever Manhattan cocktail, a Dutch Rye whiskey or have a smoke in the exclusive cigar lounge, which offers a large collection of cigar brands. The bar joined its love for cigars and bourbon in the food menu too; they offer a smoky barbeque glaze for certain meat dishes, and they have ‘bourbonised’ their burgers for a new flavour experience. Relax at this old-meets-new bar in the centre of Amsterdam and do not leave the Dutch capital without drinking a Dutch jenever.

Issue 24 | December 2015 | 71


Here’s to Hergé Overlooking the Thames, inside one of London’s finest neo-classical buildings, something strange is happening. In a little corner of Somerset House, home of the Courtauld Institute of Art, four rooms have been transformed into a Tintin heaven. Thompson and Thomson (Dupont et Dupond) were nowhere to be found, so Discover Benelux went there to do a little detecting of our own. TEXT: PAULA HAMMOND | PHOTOS: HERGÉ-MOULINSART

72 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Discover Benelux | Culture | Hergé, the master drawer of Tintin

The exhibition TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece, takes visitors inside the wonderful world of the artist-author and his most famous creation. Echoing the playfulness of the Tintin strips, the exhibition is a riot of fun with wallpaper designed to look like the endpapers of a Tintin album. Specially created maquettes show Tintin’s apartment on the Rue du Labrador, Capitan Haddock’s ancestral home, the ticker tape parade he receives in Tintin in America, and the Avenue Louise, where Studios Hergé have made their home. Windows are a reoccurring theme in the Tintin stories, often giving a deeper psychological meaning to events. In the exhibition too, the window theme is apparent. The rooms no longer look out on Somerset House’s great courtyard. Instead Tintin peeks and climbs through, in, and out of the building’s windows, on the way to a great adventure.

The devil’s in the detail TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece is more than just an homage to the boy reporter. It ex-

plores Hergé’s art, from his first sketch at the age of four, to his simple, early newspaper strips, and genre-defining later work. And what we see is the evolution of a remarkable artist. Born in Etterbeek, Brussels, Georges Remi took his more famous pen name from the French pronunciation of his initials, reversed. According to his parents, as a child R.G. “was only as good as gold when he had a pencil and a piece of paper in his hand”. Although they later paid for him to have formal art lessons, he found them boring. Hergé’s art came from the soul: instinctive and expressive. He was a natural draftsman, with a fluid line and an eye for detail. Like all artists, he was a compulsive mark-maker and, in the exhibition, you will see the pages of a school book filled with doodles. He was, says Tintin expert Michael Farr, “skilled in graphic art in all its shapes and forms… all of which were successful but in the end there was one which was so much more successful.” Issue 24 | December 2015 | 73

Discover Benelux | Culture | Hergé, the master drawer of Tintin

As Hergé matured, so did his art. His spontaneous lines were replaced by cleaner, tighter penmanship. The technique is called ligne claire (meaning ‘clear line’) and Hergé was its pioneer. Unlike American comics which have heavy, inked lines, this new style was unmistakably European. While his art was unfussy, detail was vitally important to Hergé and, as Tintin’s popularity grew, he would spend days ensuring the tiniest details were correct. For Blue Lotus he even learnt to draw with Chinese brushes to create background scenes. His pen was continually restless, always seeking that perfect line, pose, or expression. “I scribble, cross out, erase, and start over again until I am satisfied,” he said. “Sometimes I end up piercing the paper because I have been reworking the character so much.”

Then and now To modern eyes, Tintin exists in a world trapped in sepia. It is always 1929. At the time, though, the albums were a running commentary on contemporary events, fads and fashions. Tintin in Tibet came out the same year that the Dalai Lama fled his home. Tintin in America featured Al Capone who was jailed the year the album was published. Alph-Art was awash with jokes about modern art. 74 | Issue 24 | December 2015

As Hergé’s art matured, so too did his storytelling and new, more complex characters were added to the tales. Farr, who knew Hergé well, comments: “If Tintin was an alter ego of a young Hergé, who was a fan of scouting and good deeds, then Haddock was an alter ego of an older Hergé who enjoyed drinking and swore too much.”

height of the comic strip’s success, when Hergé got his studio to handle much of the time-consuming drawing work, he never allowed anyone else to draw the character of Tintin. If they did, he said “it wouldn’t be Tintin any more”. TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece is on at Somerset House until 31 January 2016, admission free.

While Tintin was an instant hit, the character’s popularity reached its peak during the Second World War when Belgium was occupied. People loved the escapism of the stories and Tintin came to represent the undaunted Belgian spirit. He still does. Later Hergé and the staff of Le Soir newspaper would be accused – and cleared – of collaboration with the Nazis, but the mud-slinging hurt him greatly. “It’s been suggested that he was politically to the right which is absolute nonsense,” says Farr, “if he was anything, he was left-liberal… these accusations depressed him terribly. For him, Tintin was something pure and unsullied.” These days the controversies are in the past, and Hergé and Tintin are, once again, Belgium’s two favourite sons. Sadly though, fans will have to be satisfied with just 24 Tintin stories. Even at the

Tintin expert Michael Farr

3d printed jewelry :: designed in Belgium

Puss in Boots Photo by Ro Theatre

Out & About With the long-anticipated holidays ahead of us, we should spend quality time with our loved ones. Cosy up at one of the many Christmas events, spend a nice night at the theatre or learn a little bit more about the world at one of the many exhibitions. Enjoy time together at our culture and Christmas events during the most wonderful time of the year. TEXT: ELLA PUT

Gustafson’s Jazzy Westerpark Jam-sessions Amsterdam, the Netherlands, every Tuesday Every Tuesday there is live jazz music at pop-up bar and restaurant Gustafson in Amsterdam West. Experience live jazz and jam-sessions with great musicians from Amsterdam from 8pm till 11pm. Join in or just relax and listen (read more about Gustafson on page 51).

Grand Opening: ADAM Museum Brussels, Belgium, 11 December On 11 December a new museum for modern art will open its doors, the Art & Design Atomium Museum. With a temporary 76 | Issue 24 | December 2015

collection the ADAM will be showcasing more than 2,000 plastic items dating from the 1950s to 2000.

will be ‘friendship’, a perfect oppurtinity to visit the festival with the people you care about.

Amsterdam Light Festival

Miró in the Netherlands

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, until 17 January 2016 The dark days are over. At least, in Amsterdam they are. During the 55th edition of the Amsterdam Light Festival, not only Paris, but Amsterdam will turn into a city of lights too. Contemporary artists from all over the world will show their work at several locations in the city. During this annual event for the young and old, everyone from locals to tourists are treated to a spectacle of lights. This year’s theme

Amstelveen, the Netherlands, CoBrA Museum of Modern Art, until 31 January 2016 After 60 years, Miró’s work is back in the Netherlands. The exhibition investigates the relationship between Miró and the CoBrA movement by showcasing more than 120 pieces of the late Spanish painter’s work. The exhibiton will show a shared playful and poetic attitude that was shared by Miró and the CoBrA movement by presenting Miró’s better known colourful

Discover Benelux | Culture | Calendar

The Power of Poison

sculptures and ceramics as well as some other works including visual poems and other assemblies.

tell the history of Dutch fashion throughout the past hundred years. Never before has there been such a major exhibition on Dutch fashion in the Netherlands, so it is a must-see.

ports and prostitution. The exhibition will show four of her films and some abstract paintings with graphic colour compositions consisting of patterns and lines. sarah-morris/

Puss in Boots

A religion called ‘cycling’

The Netherlands, until 18 March 2016 in several theatres Every year the Ro Theatre converts an old fairytale into a modern story. This year it is no different, turning the Puss in Boots into the hero and only friend of a miller’s youngest son, who is about to loose everything. The brave but sly booted Puss becomes a favourite of the King and within no time the poor son and his furry friend live in the King’s castle. But is everything as beautitful as it seems? Is Princess Wendy as nice as she looks? And how many lives does a cat actually have? Find out more in yet another fabulous family play from the Ro Theatre this christmas.

Roeselare, Belgium, until September 2016 The Official Roeselare Cycling Museum is being refurbished. So while there is work in progress, the Father’s Church is now the temporary home to the museum. A perfect setting for the exhibiton Cycling is a Religion, which takes the visitor on a pilgramage, a procession of cycling. On the way you have the opportunity to observe unique cycling placements, a peloton of cycling gods and the impressive iron cross.

The Power of Poison Rotterdam, the Netherlands, until 7 February 2016 From live poisonous animals to modern medicine, forensics and fairytales, the interactive exhibition The Power of Poison covers all themes related to poison. Stand face-to-face with spiders, poison dart frogs and even a king cobra. The exhibition was put together by the American Museum of Natural History and is held at LP2.

Ode to Dutch fashion Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, the Netherlands, until 7 February 2016 With big fashion names such as Viktor&Rolf, Iris van Herpen and Jan Taminiau the Netherlands has done quite well for such a small country in the international fashion scene. So the time is now to bring an ode to the Dutch world of fashion in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, which has one of the most important fashion collections in the world. The exhibition will showcase hundreds of designs and

The Sarah Morris Exhibition Louvain, Belgium, until 20 March British designer Sarah Morris makes paintings and films about power structures in cities such as Paris and Beijing, choosing topics such as the Olympic Games, air-

UNOX New Year’s Dive Scheveningen, the Hague, the Netherlands, 1 January 2016 Over 10,000 Dutch people throw themselves into the ice-cold water of the beach in Scheveningen on 1 January. Through the years this annual event has become a real tradition in the Netherlands. And let’s be honest, there is no better to start off the new year than with a dip in the North Sea. Issue 24 | December 2015 | 77

Discover Benelux | Culture | Christmas Calendar Special

Winterfun Photo by Eric Danhier

Christmas calendar special Millions of candles and lit up Christmas decorations will bathe the Benelux into a festive atmosphere. The lights will bring out their romantic spirit even more, so don’t miss your chance to visit these marvellous countries and have a spectacular end of 2015. TEXT: ELLA PUT

Gouda’s 60th Candle Night Gouda, the Netherlands, 11 December In the city of Gouda, situated in the western Netherlands, the annual Candle Night better known as ‘kaarsjesnacht’ is a famous annual Christmas event. All the streets and electric lights in the city will be turned off and the city’s pretty canals, historic churches and the gigantic Christmas tree situated on front of the city’s Gothic town hall will be decorated with thousands of candles. A magical Christmas experience.

Dordrecht Christmas Market Dordrecht, the Netherlands, 11 December – 13 December The Christmas market in Dordrecht is 78 | Issue 24 | December 2015

an annual three-day feast in this beautiful old city near Amsterdam. More than 200 stalls are lined up over 2.5 kilometres, selling hand-made Christmas products. Along the market you will find a myriad of restaurants and cafés where you can enjoy a nice hot chocolate while overlooking the impressive harbour.

The Dickens Festival Deventer, the Netherlands, 19 – 20 December Oliver Twist, Marley and Mr. Pickwick will all show up in the historical town centre of Deventer during the annual Dickens Fesitval. More than 950 characters of the famous Dickens books will come to live. Vagabonds are begging, thieves will be

The Dickens Festival photo by Gerard Dubois

Discover Benelux | Culture | Christmas Calendar Special

Frank McComb Photo by Versie Robert

stealing and wealthy ladies and gentlemen with top hats will be wandering the streets doing their Christmas shopping. You will find yourself in a real Dickens scene, while the romantic times are revived on the streets and in the shops.

Frank McComb Trio in concert Amsterdam, 25 and 26 December American singer and keyboard player Frank McComb plays soul songs with a Christmas twist. After his successful concerts last Christmas, he returns to the club with his trio for two Christmas dinner concerts. McComb is well known for his vocals on worldwide hit song Another Day by Buckshot LeFonque. His vocal abilities are compared to great artists such as Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway and the singer has worked with Prince, Chaka Khan, Teddy Pendergrass, Marcus Miller and Teena Marie. Read more about the North Sea Jazz Club on page 49.

Candle Night photo by Remco Gielen

and a real Dutch delight during the holiday season. Read more about Maastricht in our special this month, from page 20.

Winterfun Brussels, Belgium, until 3 January 2016 For five weeks the Belgium capital will be filled with sparkling Christmas lights, colourful stalls and the enchanting atmosphere of the holiday season. This year’s 15th edition of Winterfun will include a gigantic Christmas tree, a lightshow and the annual RTL Christmas Parade. Next to that there will be attractions such as a big wheel, a slalom and, not to forget, a Christmas monster.

The Winter Efteling Kaatsheuvel, the Netherlands, until 31 January 2016 Enjoy the most magical time of the year in the most magical theme park in the Netherlands, the Efteling. With its fairytale forest, where Long Neck and Big Mouth will be dressed in their Christmas outfit and Red Riding Hood is wearing her warmest winter coat. Next to that, there are many other festivities such as the Pinokkio Musical and Europe’s biggest water show, Aquanura. This year you can enjoy New Year’s Eve in the park too. Watch the spectacular fireworks display with a glass of bubbly in your hand to finish the year in style and start 2016 in the most magical way possible.

Winterfun Photo by Eric Danhier

Magical Maastricht Vrijthof, Maastricht, the Netherlands, until 29 December The Vrijthof square will be transformed into a real winter wonderland during December. Visit the 800-square-metre skating rink or admire the Maastricht skyline from the big wheel. Next to that, there is also a Christmas market where you can look for original gifts for your loved ones. Or have a seat at one of the heated terraces and try an ‘oliebol’, a deep-fried doughnut ball Issue 24 | December 2015 | 79

Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Columns


Ziggy’s back


Echoing Bowie’s methods of a complete sonic and visual performance, the exhibition incorporates a multi-media approach to documenting Bowie – using animations, video installations and sound installation supported by the boffins at Sennheiser. It will be a stunning installation and one that director Andreas Blühm states will link up perfectly with the striking and avant-garde Groninger Museum. After touring extensively and visiting London, Sao Paolo, Berlin and Paris, this will be the last chance to see the exhibition in a European setting.

The V&A’s fastest ever selling exhibition has come to grace Groningen. David Bowie Is… is a mind-bending exhibition encompassing all of Bowie’s years in the limelight, which features over 300 personal objects from the David Bowie Archive. His phenomenal blending of influences such as art, design, theatre, contemporary pop culture and dance means that the exhibition is hugely accessible and not just for the hardcore Ziggy fans. The Bowie disciples will not be disappointed however, with the mountains of neverbefore-seen snippets from his life. There are excerpts from diaries, and notes on drawings that give an incredibly human insight into a man who for decades tried to shield the press and public from entering his mysterious private world.

This is what makes David Bowie Is… different from any other Bowie exhibition. It sets Bowie within his wider artistic field rather than going down the well-trodden path of a Bowie career summary.

David Bowie Is… is on at Groninger Museum from 11 December until 13 March 2016.


Tripel Karmeliet Tripel Karmeliet is a strong pale ale brewed according to a recipe dating from 1679. The recipe originated from a Carmelite convent in the Flemish city of Dendermonde. This outstanding brew was awarded the accolade of the World’s Best Ale at the World Beer Awards of 2008. Despite having a powerful kick, the ale is so well balanced most people struggle to identify its strength without checking the label. That being said, the name of this beer is indicative of its strength. Tripel is a style of strong ale that became increasingly popular in the 20th century, based on monastic recipes. Tripels tend to be hoppy beers and golden in colour. Thanks to the current popularity of craft beer, this style is very much en vogue. Tripel Karmeliet is brewed in Buggenhout, a small

town with two breweries (the other being the Malheur Brewery). The family-run Bosteels Brewery was established in 1791 and revived this ale in the 1990s. They also produce the highly regarded Kwak and Deus beers. Three different grains go into the mash. Wheat, oats and barley are used to give Tripel Karmeliet its multi-layered complexity. This is a beer that can claim to be 100 per cent natural. Bottle fermentation adds strength and depth of flavour to Tripel Karmeliet. It means drinkers can choose to pour the yeasty sediment into the branded tulip-shaped glass or leave it in the bottle. Tripel Karmeliet is a finely balanced ale with a pale amber appearance. It has a slightly malty aroma. The beer is slightly sweet with fruity tones and a pleasant, mid-length flavour.


Brewer: Brouwerij Bosteels Strength: 8.4 per cent Issue 24 | December 2015 | 81

Discover Benelux | Festive Recipe | Mont Blanc Mini Pavlovas


Mont blanc mini pavlovas As it is our yearly tradition, we have asked our favourite chef from Luxembourg to supply us with a tasty recipe for the festive season. This year, it is a delicious dessert inspired by Christmas flavours that is also easy to make. TEXT & PHOTOS: ANNE FABER

Anne Faber says: “Traditionally, a Luxembourgish Christmas Eve involves a ‘bûche de Noel’ for dessert. This is a miniature yule log cake, which is usually flavoured with chestnut cream and crème Chantilly. I am playing with the traditional filling and using it as a topping for a crunchy meringue – hoping to surprise my guests with these mini pavlovas this Christmas.”

Ingredients (serves 4) For the meringues:

Anne Faber is a journalist and television chef from Luxembourg. In 2010 she started her

4 egg whites a pinch of salt 150g sugar ¾ tsp white wine vinegar ¾ tsp cornflour 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence

award winning food blog Anne’s Kitchen and

For the cream topping:

she has written two cookbooks complement-

200ml whipping cream 160g Greek yoghurt 40g sugar

ing her television show. Her eclectic food is

Preparation Preheat the oven to 110 degrees Celsius fan. Put the egg whites into a bowl with a pinch of salt and whisk until stiff. Gradually add the sugar, whisking for 30 seconds between additions. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, add the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla essence and whisk. Transfer the meringue mixture into a piping bag. Pipe round meringue disks of approximately ten centimetres width onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Then, decorate the border of the meringue disks with another layer of meringue piping. Bake the meringues in the preheated oven for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues to cool in the oven for another hour. For the cream topping: whisk the whipping cream until stiff, then incorporate the yoghurt and sugar. Refrigerate until needed.

of the Guild of Food Writers and this summer

For the chestnut cream:

For the chestnut cream: mix the chestnut purée with the butter and the rum until smooth, then refrigerate for at least one hour.

she trained as a chef at Alain Ducasse in Paris.

200g sweet chestnut purée 60g butter, softened 2 tbsp rum

Assemble the pavlovas just before serving. Put a dollop of cream onto each meringue disk, then top with chestnut cream.

heavily influenced by her life in London and her travels across the world. Faber is a member

82 | Issue 24 | December 2015

Your Shortcut to Scandinavia Bergen


Oslo Stockholm Bromma

SWEDEN Aalborg






London City

GERMANY Brussels






S n acks

Me al s


Pap ers



SUN AIR Shortcut Skandinavien 215x270.indd 1

18/02/14 16.54

wishes you a pleasant flight

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