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I S S U E 2 | D E C E M B E R 2 0 13 - J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 4

RUBEN LENTEN THE BUSINESS OF THE MEGALOOP P ROMOTI NG B ELGI U M,

THE

FLEMISH FOODIES, ANTWERP A N D A V I S I T TO U T R EC H T PLUS: DESIGN, CULTURE AND TOURISM

NETHERLANDS

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Discover Benelux | Contents

Contents DECEMBER 2013 JANUARY 2014

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COVER FEATURE 6

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Ruben Lenten Phil Gale discovers how one super cool Dutchman made a career from his hobby and won a ton of medals along the way. Today, Ruben Lenten is one of the most extreme and business savvy athletes the world has seen.

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Special Feature: Introducing: GOOSE 2013 has been pretty special for Belgian band GOOSE as they headlined one of Europe’s biggest festivals and continued to impress thousands of people with their lightshow-tastic electro-rock.

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Ever dreamt of fine dining 120m above Brussels? We meet the manager behind the current most exclusive restaurant to hit the European capital, but you had better get in there quick.

go-to guide for events and entertainment from right across the region.

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REGULARS 50

In their words Each month one significant Beneluxer gives us an insight into their life. This month: The Dutch Ambassador to the UK compares her adoptedlife in the UK with her home in the Netherlands.

Antwerp: A fashionable history of Belgium’s fashion capital Immi, our resident fashion guru, gives us a fashionable history of Antwerp. Charting the rise of Belgium’s hippest city from the early days when the fashion school first opened, right up to the graduating class of today.

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Special Feature: Brussels

Flemish Foodies serve up Christmas With Christmas approaching at the speed of light, we wanted to introduce you to some of the best talent you can find in a Flemish kitchen.

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Utrecht uncovered Travel journalist Peter Morrell gets the chance to traipse around Utrecht, exclaiming over the architecture, the canals, and the cafes.

FEATURES 16

Cooking up a storm in Anne’s Kitchen It might sound strange but British cuisine hype is hitting Luxembourg thanks to the efforts of one passionate London-based Luxembourger Anne Faber. We meet this friendly character to see just what drives her desire for food.

Culture Culture in Luxembourg has never been so celebrated. This month Discover Benelux meets the Duchy’s young creatives and (50) interviews the husband-wife pair whose book just won’t budge from the bestseller list.

PLUS 47

Out & About A hand-picked selection of the region’s top events? Certainly. Make Discover Benelux your

12 Desirable designs from Benelux 14 Fashion Picks 40 Hotel of the Month 41 Restaurants of the Month 44 Business of the Month 46 Luxembourg Perspectives

Issue 2 | December 2013 - January 2014 | 3


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Discover Benelux | Editor’s Note

Dear Reader, Discover Benelux Issue 2, December 2013 January 2014 Published December 2013 ISSN TBC Published by Scan Magazine Ltd.

Publisher: Scan Magazine Ltd. 4 Baden Place Crosby Row London SE1 1YW Phone +44 (0)870 933 0423 Fax +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email: info@discoverbenelux.com www.discoverbenelux.com

Design & Print Liquid Graphic Ltd. Executive Editor Thomas Winther

Kiteboarding, cooking, travel, and electro-rock. Eh? Quite an eclectic mix for our second issue but this selection of the best of Benelux is just the starter of what is set to be some five star cuisine. In fact, cuisine happens to be an overriding topic this month, perhaps in part due to the weather. We just want to cuddle up in front of the fireplace, lazing around while someone else cooks for us. To inspire those cooks, we’ve rounded up some of Flanders’ top, young chefs and they have been kind enough to share one of their delectable recipes with us. Personally I’ve already tried my hand at Hilaire Spreuwer’s quirky take on toast and I’ll definitely be serving that at my family’s Boxing Day brunch. Congratulations are also in order as another of our featured chefs, Dennis Broeckx, celebrates his very first Michelin star!

Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Emmie Collinge

Phil Gale gets his adrenaline pumping as he meets the energetic and enigmatic Dutchman Ruben Lenten, the world’s most extreme kiteboarder, most often found on his windy hometown beach of Noordwijk when he isn’t touring the seven seas.

Contributors Phil Gale Immi Abraham Peter Morrell Heather Welsh Berthe van den Hurk Harun Osmanovic

Reinvention is the name of the game in this issue – as Lenten reinvents kiteboarding and wows everyone with his megaloops, the Luxembourger Anne Faber tells us how she is reinventing British cuisine for her fellow Luxembourgers and Belgian band GOOSE explain how they are reinventing music concerts.

Bettina Guirkinger Cover Photo Toby Bromwich Advertising info@discoverbenelux.com

We have learnt a great deal this month, namely that Belgian chefs are embracing the farm-to-table movement and thereby reviving Belgian cuisine – it’s not just frites and mussels we assure you. Peter Morrell uncovers a more cultural side of Utrecht and Heather Welsh chats to the Edward Steichen award winners about art in Luxembourg. And as if that isn’t enough, we’ve collected all the important dates for December so you have no excuse for missing any of these fabulous festive events. Happy holidays

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

4 | Issue 2 | December 2013 - January 2014

Emmie Collinge Editor, Discover Benelux


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Discover real Private Banking At SEB Private Banking, we acknowledge that everyone has a unique set of challenges. It’s why we do not offer ready-made solutions, concentrating instead on developing meaningful, long-lasting financial relationships and making the effort to really understand you and your requirements. We look after all aspects of your personal and your family’s business finances – from daily transactions to long-term investments. And we offer everything from in-depth financial management to specialist advice on legal and tax matters. As one of the world’s strongest banks and with more than 150 years of experience in private banking, we have just what it takes to ensure your future prosperity. To find out what SEB can do for your personal wealth, contact us in London: Christian A. Hvamstad +44 (0) 20 7246 4307 privatebanking@seb.co.uk

Sweden • Norway • Denmark • Finland • Luxembourg • Switzerland • United Kingdom • Singapore • Estonia • Latvia • Lithuania


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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Ruben Lenten

R U B E N

L E N T E N :

The business of the Megaloop The Internet has caused a boom in the coverage of extreme sports. With one of kiteboarding’s heavyweights, Ruben Lenten, Discover Benelux finds out how he has made his passion for pushing the limits into a business. TEXT: PHIL GALE | PHOTOS: YDWER.COM

6 | Issue 2 | December 2013 - January 2014


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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Ruben Lenten

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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Ruben Lenten

For many, strong winds and bad weather on the coast would spell disaster for a planned day on the beach. But for Dutch kiteboarder, Ruben Lenten, these conditions see him rubbing his hands together, itching to ride, making his home in the Netherlands the perfect base for this extreme athlete. It is an interesting revolution that has taken place over the past 10 years. Extreme sports, which were classed as fringe or niche, have now been thrown into the eyes of the world. With the marketing genius of brands such as Red Bull and the platform of social media, more of us are looking at these visually stunning antics. Not necessarily the true thrill seekers or adrenaline junkies who are at the cutting edge of these sports, we are addicted to watching people push the limits of what is possible, giving us all a good dose of something jaw dropping to watch.

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Lenten has been riding a kiteboard through this revolution, experiencing first hand not only the growth in the sport, but also how to be able to make a profession out of it. “One day when I was 12 I saw a kiteboarder on the beach in Noordwijk,” Lenten recounts. “I was amazed by it. Having already flown some small kites on the beach I was really interested to try it. My parents helped me out to get all the equipment, because it was all I spoke about. I started to ride straight away and was instantly in love with it.” Kiteboarding, or kitesurfing, is a young sport. It sees the rider on a board (similar to a wake board) being pulled over the water by a large inflatable kite. Usually taking place by the sea riders need the skill to both harness the power of the wind, manoeuvring their kite to pull them around, plus read the waves, using them to launch themselves into aerial manoevres. It is a

sport that requires little equipment, a kite with a controlbar, a harness and a board, it is not reliant on waves or boats for propulsion. The only factors it needs are water and wind! Even at that young age Lenten caught the attention of his fellow riders, but it was not until he was 16 years old that a professional contract came into fruitition. Lenten continues: “After turning pro I started to compete, dreaming of winning a World title. I would travel all over the world to compete at the top competitions. It was an amazing time, riding with the best, but it was not really what I wanted deep down.” With riding his life, Lenten was torn. How would he be able to continue to ride as a professional if he did not compete? Lenten expanded: “Competition Kiteboarding is amazing, but it was not for me. I started to


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struggle with motivation. The events are judged on technicality: performing small tricks perfectly. What I have always loved to do is go big, pushing the limits of what is possible on a kiteboard. That is where I get my thrill and what I love the most about the sport. So I decided to take a different direction and move away from the competitive side of kiteboarding” In any sport the top level of competition is normally where the financial gains are to be found. Would Ferrari fund a Formula One car that was focused on breaking lap times, rather than competing on the World stage? Doubtful, and without sponsors who feel that they are getting a return for their investment, life as a professional in whatever sport is very unlikely. This was why Lenten’s move was a risky one, he explains: “It was a bit of a leap, turning to the extreme and cutting edge side of the sport, but it was the right move.”

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Now rather than travelling the world to compete, Lenten focuses on working with his sponsors to make films and run events where he can push the sport to the extreme, a very savvy business move at a time when the world was looking for entertainment. Lenten continues: “It is not until I was injured for my first time that I ever thought about the business side of the sport. With the downtime, out of competition and riding, I soon realised that I had to start to think more about this. How to work with my sponsors, how to promote my own brand and exposure to be able maintain my life as a professional, fund this new move I wanted to take within the sport, whilst also promoting my love for kiteboarding to the world.” Today sees Lenten spending just as much time taking interviews, working on his website, social media and shooting content as he does riding. “There has been a lot to

learn and a lot of work, but it is paying off,” Lenten explains. “The internet has been a great platform for everyone in kiteboarding to promote themselves. Working with great sponsors also, such as Red Bull, has helped me so much. They have really been at the forefront of the extreme sport revolution, promoting all the niche sports, where people are pushing the limits of what is possible.” Lenten’s work does not stop there, being known as one of the riders who consistently goes the biggest in the sport he decided to set up his own events, focusing on going big rather than technical perfection, he highlights: “Basically my event the Megaloop Challenge is based on my signature move and set up as a platform for talented riders to make a name for themselves. I host, judge, and demo at this event where it’s all about who can pull the most extreme Megaloop. The first event

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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Ruben Lenten

Photo: Toby Bromwich

took place in South Africa, Cape Town, where the wind condititons are top notch. We focus on the ‘wow-factor’ of our sport and that’s why this event is the most extreme kiteboarding event around.” Lenten’s event is something new for the sport, which has traditionally seen its competitors follow the same set tour around the world. The Megaloop Challenge only happens when the conditions are right. Lenten continues: “We have a multi-month wind window for the competition so that we can await the best weather conditions. I was always tired of riding in bad conditions when I did other competitions, so to maximise the wow factor we have to have time on our side to score strong winds.”

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As with his riding Lenten is not one to sit still, he elaborates: “Like with tricks and future events for my riding my brain is now ticking on what else I can do to help my brand and the sport to the next level. By working closerly together with my sponsors I develop the best kiteboarding gear

for extreme riding, I am in the process of rebranding my website and also thinking of new events and performances I can set up. Now that I understand the need to mix business with my riding, my mind is happily focused on some awesome challenges and I’m learning everyday.” To be business savvy and able to self market oneself are not really two skills that many would attribute to an extreme athlete, but Lenten uses these skills to promote his much loved sport and lifestyle, he concludes: “Riding is my life and the freedom that I experience on a kiteboard is unparalleled. By promoting the sport and myself, pushing the bounderies of what has been done and what can be done. By giving people the wow factor I can make the sport grow. A bigger sport means that I can ride more, plus more people can experience the thrill that comes from catching the wind in your kite and having fun riding a kiteboard.”


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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Ruben Lenten

Kiteboarding in the Netherlands: “I love the Netherlands, I think that the coast and weather here are perfect for riding. Why? We basicallty get all types of conditions, unlike a lot of other locations on larger oceans. This means that it is possible to ride pretty much something new all the time. Plus the winds create interesting tides and wave formations allowing me to try new tricks.”

Photo: Toby Bromwich

How to get into the sport: “Kiteboarding is really simple to get into. Anyone can do it, all you need is some basic equipment. One thing that I do recommend to any beginer is to go to a kiteboarding school to learn how to set up and fly the kite. There are a lot of schools popping up all over the place and they can teach you the basics. Then once you have a good feel for how the kite works and manage to bodydrag, you can start to get out there, enjoying the freedom that is riding!” www.len10.com

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Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs

Desirable Designs from Benelux With Christmas just around the corner we have hand-picked a selection of amazing gift ideas from some of our favourite Benelux designers. These are definitely items that any appreciative design lover will want to see under the Christmas tree.

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BY EMMIE COLLINGE | PRESS PHOTOS

1: Soft Candle Holder Gold Kiki van Eijk Dutch Designer Kiki van Eijk is fascinated by form and materials and is relentlessly dedicated to designing. This candle holder took our breath away and will certainly be a beacon of light during the dark winter months. €315 www.kikiworld.nl

2: Rooftop Playshapes Koen Crommentuijnis for Stoerrr

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Wooden toys are just that bit more special than plastic ones, right? These shapes allow your child to get creative; empowering them to make and design whatever their imagination comes up with. Price tbc.

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www.stoerrr.nl

3: Twiggy AW Table Lamp Ay Illuminate Netherlands-based Ay Illuminate draw inspiration from their travels to Asia and Africa. Captivated by far-flung cultures and local artisans, Ay Illuminate ultimately produce such incredible, organic lampshades such as this Twiggy AW table lamp. €135 www.ayilluminate.com

4: Mokkuman Mellem

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Luxembourg industrial designer Philippe Schlesser and architect Jean-Paul Carvalho set up Mellem with the principles of creating thoughtful products with longevity and Mellem have really cut into our hearts with this dashing cheese knife. Bring it out for that much longed-for cheese fix after your turkey has settled on Christmas day. €90 www.mellem.me

5: Trioglo tealight holders Ralli Design Ralli Design is a London-based product design company run by brother and sister Louis and Sophie Ralli of Belgian and Greek descent. Their Trioglo is a set of three stylish earthenware tealight holders designed to look like pillar candles. When flipped over they can be used as vases and they also nest inside each other to store. This classic, minimal design is definitely pleasing to the eye. £39 www.rallidesign.com

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Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs

6: Hooded Backpack Eleonore de Ruuk Probably the cutest and most practical backpack for kids and adults alike, this unisex hooded backpack is both comfortable and cool and definitely not like anything we have seen before. Also available in denim. Between €75 and €99 www.eleonorederuuk.com

7: Winterkoning Combikleur / The Winter King throw FLINK We love the Dutch designer Renee Onderdijk who produces eco-friendly, Dutch-made, top quality woollen pieces under the name FLINK. From scarves to cushions, to this cosy throw which we plan on curling up in next to the fire this Christmas until we are forced back into the office in January. €149.95

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8: Dock Tray OBJEKTEN The Brussels-based team behind OBJEKTEN, headed by Alain Berteau, design sustainable, ecofriendly products that keep up with technological advancements. A guaranteed hit with any techno lover this Christmas. €99 www.objekten.com

9: Modular sideboard with old vintage doors and drawers Hopop Design This Brussels studio creates handmade custom furniture using vintage pieces. We have been blown away by their form of ‘upcycling’ and we can really see this sideboard taking pride of place in any home. Price varies depending on size. From €600 hopopstudio.com

10: Mezas table Mellem

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This solid oak table calls out for a big family gathering and what better opportunity is there than Christmas day. Mellem’s strong designs appeal to those who crave innovation but celebrate practicality. Price varies as each table is custom made to fit your needs www.mellem.me

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Discover Benelux | Design | Winter Fashion Picks

Winter Fashion Picks With a climate that's more known for its disappointing fizzle than scorching sizzle, it should come as no surprise that winter fashion is a Benelux speciality. From the young, raw talent of the likes of Doriane Van Overeem to the reliable elegance of Dries Van Noten: these are the items you'll want to be sporting during the cold months (and cause jealousy-induced whiplashes with as you strut down the streets). AS PICKED BY IMMI ABRAHAM. FASHION GURU AND BLOGGER. STYLE4GUYS.BLOGSPOT.CO.UK | PRESS PHOTOS

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WOMEN 1: Sweater Doriane Van Overeem (price upon request) – image source: Servan Ilyne

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From newly-minted La Cambre School of Design graduate Doriane Van Overeem comes this pink little number. You'd be forgiven for screeching “It's so fluffy I want to die” as you first lay eyes on it. When American R&B star Ciara took it out for a spin in Paris, many fashion fans were quick to heave with desire. 2: Bag Niels Peeraer (€545) – image source: Opening Ceremony King of 'kawaii'* is young Antwerp Fashion Academy graduate Niels Peeraer, which he proves once more with this adorable bow-bearing bag. Who knew a grey purse could be so frivolous and fun? 3: Michael Van Der Ham (€650) – image source: Net-a-Porter This refined cashmere Art Deco-inspired knit comes from Dutch-born, London-based fashion favourite Michael van der Ham. Known for his intricately elegant patchwork designs, this designer is one to watch. 4: Christian Wijnants trousers (€330) – image source: Opening Ceremony

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Knitwear has become synonymous with Belgian designer Christian Wijnants' brand, so this season all eyes are on him. After winning the prestigious International Woolmark Prize, Wijnants keeps us on our toes with these marbled trousers. Surprisingly they're not made out of wool, but they're still pretty damn stylish. 5: Belle Sauvage (Luxembourg) (€95) – image source: Belle Sauvage And from Luxembourg hails this 'I Swear To Goth' beanie by up and coming label 'Belle Sauvage' (“Wild Beauty”). Perfect for when you feel like erring on the dark side for the day. *The popular Japanese term for all things 'cute'.

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MEN 1: Raf Simons leopard jumper (€218) – image source: Number3store Cheetah prints may not be part of Raf Simons' signature design staple, but he sure manages stir up beastly rumbles of passion with this jumper. If you're a member of the Church of Raf, wearing this will feel like Christmas morning over and over again.

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2: Tratlehner tee (price upon request) – image source: Tratlehner From one of the members of the popular Dutch rap troupe 'De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig' comes this thick speckled cotton tee. Known for his slurred line delivery, rapper Freddie Tratlehner aka “Vjèze Fur” decided it was time to found his own label with one of his journalist buddies, Perre Van Den Brink of Vice NL. And we're glad they did. 3: Dries Van Noten boots (€900) – image source: Barneys New York Buckle-boots! Not the dreary pirate kind, the Dries Van Noten kind. Slick yet sturdy, these puppies will get you anywhere. As long as you stay within city limits. These boots were not made for Nordic Walking! 4: Tim Coppens shirt (€370) – image source: Ssense Currently based in New York, this Antwerp Fashion Academy graduate has managed to 'make it in America' while most Belgians still fail to recognise his name. What a feat! Just like this paint-splattered shirt, which is pretty exquisite. 5: A Cut Above Antifa sweater (€100) – image source: A Cut Above Streetwear doesn't get much better than Antwerpborn label 'A Cut Above'. Design partners Flo and AJ are steadily taking over the menswear game while simultaneously tearing fascism a new one with this 'Antifa' jumper. A billion street cred points to those wearing it!

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Discover Benelux | Feature | Goose

GOOSE invades your stereo Hailing from a small town close to the Belgian coast, the four-piece electro-rock outfit GOOSE have had their best year to date. Discover Benelux caught up with bass player Tom Coghe, two days after the highly anticipated and incredibly popular I Love Techno festival to find out why 2013 was the turning point for the band and what 2014 holds in store. TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: BOY KORTEKAAS

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Discover Benelux | Feature | Goose

It’s been a busy year for a certain fourpiece Belgian electro-rock outfit. Officially named the country’s “Best Live Act”, an accolade awarded by the esteemed 2013 Red Bull Elektropedia Awards, the band known as GOOSE has come a long way from the music halls of the small West Flanders town Kortrijk, from which all four members of the band hail. Formed around the turn of this century, GOOSE has spent the last decade or so entertaining growing crowds across the globe, and with a number of awards under its belt this year, the band looks set to continue in its success. Discover Benelux decided to find out the secrets of the band’s winning formula. It is two days after the highly anticipated and incredibly popular I Love Techno festival, but GOOSE bass player Tom Coghe is still buzzing from the event. The annual festival takes place every November at Flanders Expo, attracting over 40,000 revellers, and Coghe’s excitement is palpable. “Being voted Best Live Act couldn’t be better for us as playing live is what we love to do and what we do best,” Tom tells us animatedly. “It was such an honour to receive this. We have always wanted to create an experience for the audience, we want to have a cool stage set-up - we’ve worked on our light spectacles for such a long time so that we can add that bit extra to our performances. We knew when we headlined Pukkelpop [Belgium’s largest music festival] that from start to finish we had to have something that brought energy, something that looked good; I think we definitely delivered on that.” Not content with just playing live shows, GOOSE are also simultaneously preparing for their fourth album, collaborating with Fred Perry, and shooting a documentarystyle film which the band plans on releasing next year. “The premise is simple; we’re going to visit all the artists we selected to be on our line-up at I Love Techno - from these visits we want to make a visually pleasing, enlightening and entertaining film.”

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Discover Benelux | Feature | Goose

GOOSE INVADES Far more than just curating a major part of I Love Techno, this concept has been expanded and emboldened to include a film and a Fred Perry T-shirt. Put simply, GOOSE quite literally invades the houses of their favourite artists and makes them a part of the concept., the result of which will become apparent later in 2014.

These selected artists, and soon-to-be film subjects, were the product of GOOSE’s chance to create what they describe as their “dream line-up” for the region’s biggest techno festival in November this year The band says it jumped at the chance to curate one of the rooms at this year’s edition of the electronic music festival, with some of their own musical heroes playing alongside those who they consider to be the hottest, newest talent. ‘It was such a great experience to put on Annie Mac and DJ Falcon; they are both pioneers in terms of electro music and both have had such a huge influence on us. And then of course we picked Compact Disk Dummies, two young brothers from Belgium who we consider to have put out this year’s best EP.’ Their collaboration with the iconic British brand Fred Perry has largely emerged hand-in-hand with I Love Techno. GOOSE

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approached all the artists on their handpicked bill and presented them with a blank canvas. “So everyone we visited was asked to draw something onto the canvas and then using this, we’ve created patterns which are going onto a classic Fred Perry polo shirt.” All four members of GOOSE always turn out well-presented, and they certainly take pride in their appearance, so working together with the well-prepped and preened Fred Perry strikes us as natural evolution.

The unassuming, rather ordinary town of Kortrijk, described by GOOSE as ‘not quite as hip as Ghent’ has been hitting the music headlines recently. Despite boasting a population of just 75,000, a notable number of some Belgium’s best musicians claim to hail from Kortrijk, with Tom reeling off a list as long as his arm of bands which the town has spawned. “SX, Osark Henry, Balthazar and now Compact Disk Dummies, we’re all from Kortrijk,” he says. Is there something in the water? Tom hesitates, “I think it’s to do with its location; it’s no world capital so we have to be creative to have fun, but geographically it’s close to France, close to London, so in that way it’s still quite central - I think this close proximity has had an influence on us all.” In addition to curating the Yellow room at I Love Techno, and headlining Belgium’s biggest festival Pukkelpop, another key highlight for the band this year included


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GOOSE’s Kortrijk “Never miss a meal at César Brasserie in the Grote Markt (cesarkortrijk.be). It’s amazing, they make the steak tartar fresh for you at the table. Paul’s Boutique definitely has the best burgers in town (www.paulsboutique.be).”

selling out three consecutive nights at the infamous Brussels’ establishment, Ancienne Belgique. After such success it would seem difficult to top 2013, but Tom is certain that 2014 will provide more excitement. “We are going to take our GOOSE INVADES concept further, into Europe, we are really excited to tour in South America for the first time as well next year. It’s all very vague now but it’s so exciting to get the chance to travel somewhere totally new and different.’ Tom cites experiencing other cultures and meeting new fans in far-flung places as the best thing about being in the band, ‘other than playing live of course! But we’ve learned so much from travelling and had experiences we would never have had otherwise.’ In fact, the evolution of GOOSE has been phenomenal according to critics. From those early days when “We used to be a lot more

rocky in the beginning, we’ve always been a live band though,” to their 2006 breakthrough debut album, “we just knew what direction to go in then, we were listening to a lot of Zoot Woman and Daft Punk and everything just fell into place.’ It was 2006 when GOOSE first caught Discover Benelux’s attention too, and we’ve followed their progression ever since, with headline shows anywhere from Aalter to Australia. In the recent Red Bull Elektropedia Awards the band’s debut album was ranked fifth in the Best Belgian Electronic Music Album Ever. Coming in just behind Soulwax and 2 Many DJ’s and ahead of everyone’s darling Placebo is nothing to be scoffed at. With three hugely popular albums and over 400 live shows under their belt, GOOSE are unquestionably one of Belgium’s best exports. www.goosemusic.com

Best Belgian Electronic Music Album Ever 1. 2 Many DJ’s – As Heard On Radio Soulwax, Pt. 2 2. Soulwax – Nite Versions 3. Netsky – Netsky 4. Front 242 – Front By Front 5. Goose – Bring It On 6. Technotronic – Pump Up The Jam 7. Arsenal – Outsides 8. The Neon Judgement – ’81 – ‘84 9. Buscemi – Camino Real 10. Placebo - Placebo Red Bull Elektropedia’s as heard in Belgium – Current Top 5 1. Masuka – Whatadime 2. Netsky – Without You 3. Trixie Whitley – Irene (Kid Koala Remix) 4. The Dead Color – Cyanide 5. Kill Frenzy – Footwork redbullelektropedia.be

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Discover Benelux | Food | Flemish Foodies

Flemish Foodies Serve up Christmas

Christmas is a time of culinary delights and indulgence, providing us with the perfect excuse to spoil ourselves during these dark winter months. Whether you are in the kitchen or waiting with your knife and fork poised, getting new ideas of what to serve on Christmas day can be a challenge. Discover Benelux caught up with some of the top, young chefs from Flanders to get some culinary inspiration and find out what these fresh thinkers are serving this Christmas in the hope that they might motivate us to be a bit more creative. Besides three Flemish Kitchen Rebels, we also have the marginally less rebellious but no less talented Wim Ballieu from Balls & Glory. TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PRESS PHOTOS

“The Flemish Kitchen Rebels campaign has been set up by Flanders for Foodies, together with their partners Visit Flanders, Horeca Flanders and the five provincial tourist boards. It is the fifth year that they have gathered the top, young talent from the gastronomic sector. Their objective: bring young Flemish chefs into the international limelight. Our eating and drinking culture is one to be proud of. This is not only because of the many well-known chefs with years of ex-

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perience behind them, but also because of our young people making waves in the kitchen. Flanders is the cradle for the development of this improved gastronomy. It really is remarkable just how many great chefs there are emerging from our small region and many of these are younger than 35; a fact which is truly incredible. For the fifth time a jury of experts has put all young chefs from Flanders and Brussels to the test in terms of creativity and quality. In total 45 chefs were selected to be promoted within Belgium and the international cam-

paign is comprised of 35 chefs. Every single Flemish Kitchen Rebel is an innovator and is contributing to reinventing Flemish cuisine. Flemish Kitchen Rebels shows that Flanders knows its cuisine; it’s hip and happening. With this campaign we hope to attract even more tourists and foodies to Flanders.” Sofie Van Den Bossche Project Manager of Flanders for Foodies


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Photos: Michael Dehaspe

Dennis Broeckx and his concoctions L’ E P I C E R I E D U C I R Q U E , A N T W E R P Ellen Destuyver en Dennis Broeckx, the masterminds behind one of Antwerp’s trendiest restaurants L’epicerie du Cirque, blush a little as they admit they have never had a typical British Christmas Turkey, but in true top chef fashion Broeckx immediately offers the suggestion of putting a can of beer in to keep it moist and add flavour. It is this quick-thinking and innovative approach to food which has earned the pair their first Michelin star, awarded just last month.

Broecks’s passion for food seems unbridled as he tells us about the ‘forgotten vegetables’, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke and beetroots, his go-to vegetables in the winter. When asked about Belgian cuisine, his answer is definite: “It’s got to be the classic stoofvlees [a meaty, beery stew served with fries or mash] If you make it with the cheeks of beef, it is just heaven! We always braise them like Marco Pierre White with ginger and cloves.”

2 large red beetroots 1 large piece of fennel, poached and vacuum marinated with 50% sushi vinegar and 50% grapeseed oil 20 slices of celeriac, prepared in the same way as the fennel 2 tablespoons ground black olives 1 tablespoon inca tears (a variety of salt) 1 tablespoon soya beans 1 small Chioggia beetroot, thinly sliced in icecold water Mixed seasonal herbs 2 pickled herrings

www.lepicerieducirque.be “We serve a lot of game over the Christmas period and on the 31st December it’s really special as we serve our Best of 2013 menu!” Clearly excited at the chance to impress his guests yet again, Broeckx explains: “We are shut on the 24th and 25th but do offer a take-out menu for Christmas, this is really popular.” In fact, their DIYmeals have become so popular that the pair have just opened a delicatessen, Comptoir, selling pre-cooked food direct from the restaurant.

Circus Garden Objective: Liven up those side dishes at Christmas with this laboratory-worthy fusion of flavours. Preparation time: Pickle the herrings in advance. The preparation time is roughly one hour. However, some time is needed to allow the cheese mix to cool. Serves: 6

Ingredients: 2 yellow beetroots pickled in lemon thyme. 2 red beetroots pickled in cabernet sauvignon vinegar

Goats Cheese Cream Sauce Ingredients: 100g water 100g milk 600g cheese 10g Kappa 2g salt Tip: layer the plate with the creamy cheese sauce and place all the salad items artfully over it so that each mouthful gets a taste of that creamy sauce. Spread the pieces of herring over the salad.

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Photo: Micheal Dehaspe

Photo: Roos Mestdagh

Hilaire Spreuwers and his Beerstronomy B I T T E R Z O E T, Z O N H O V E N BitterZoet, headed by husband and wife duo Sofie and Hilaire Spreuwers, draws on classic Belgian culture to create their distinctive beer-based cuisine, Beerstronomy. What makes BitterZoet remarkable is its array of Belgian craft beers and they are also proud to be the only gastronomical restaurant in Belgium without a wine list. Devoted to locally-sourced seasonal vegetables, Hilaire finds it difficult to pick just one favourite: ‘I'm a huge fan of the classics: brussel sprouts, chicory, parsnips. The combinations and serving styles are endless: raw, au gratin, baked. Whatever you fancy!’ He gets animated as he tells us about the seasons: ‘The best thing about this time of year is the chance to eat wild dear or mouflon [a rare variety of wild mountain sheep]. But my real passion is when we can serve asparagus or hop sprouts. Those are the real delicacy.’ While stuffed turkey is no traditional dish in Belgium, the couple suggest teaming the turkey with a fusion of chilli peppers and a fruity garnish: ‘peaches, mango or pineapple would go down a treat.’

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Christmas day will be a quiet affair in the Spreuwers household as the restaurant is closed for the day after feeding a jampacked restaurant on Christmas Eve.

Method: Finely grind the dark bread. Dry in the over at 90°C for one hour. Toast the brioche.

Hilaire has given us a tasty Christmas breakfast idea: his twist on classic toast topped with mushrooms and pork belly using Belgium’s fine beer Malheur 12. www.bitter-zoet.be Malheur 12 toast with wild mushrooms and belly of pork Preparation time: 1-2 hours. Serves: 2/3 Ingredients: 4 slices of brioche 4 slices of dark bread or pumpernickel rye bread 1 black pudding 1 white pudding 2 apples Ginger syrup 400g belly of pork (we recommend buying from LiVar, Limburgs Kloostervarker butchers) 200g mixed mushrooms (shiitake, aniseed mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms)

Cut the black and white pudding into slices of 1.5cm thickness and lay them on a buttered tray. Cut the apples into 7 and bake them on a gently heat. Lay them onto the tray as well and splash them with some ginger syrup. Put the tray into the over for 5 minutes at 180°C. Cut the pork into small cubes and put them into a cold pan over a small flame. When the pork begins to colour nicely, add the mushrooms and cook thoroughly. Pour Malheur 12 over the pan just before you finish cooking. Cut a circle out of the toast on a plate. Fill the hole with the pork and mushroom mix. Lay out the apple and pudding on and around the toast. Put the cut-out circle of bread back in its place and sprinkle to finish with the finely ground powder of the dark bread.


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Photo: Micheal Dehaspe

Julie Baekelandt and her wild game CE JULES, ZOTTEGEM Just outside of Ghent lies the sleepy town of Zottegem where Flemish Kitchen Rebel Julie Baekelandt is busy opening her own restaurant Ce Jules. With big ambitions and lot of nervous excitement, she will recreate the much-loved classics of Belgian cuisine with a modern twist - traditional, hearty food at its very best. If there is one thing this 28-year-old knows is how to serve a smashing Christmas dinner. “The turkey stuffing has to contain truffles, sweetbread from calf, and wild mushrooms,” and having a boyfriend with a passion for hunting definitely works to her advantage. “All the wild game we cook is nicely delivered directly to us!’ This ensures that hare and pheasant take pole position on the menu during the winter months, Baekelandt does not hesitate before telling us the most popular meal on the menu: pheasant with garlic crème from parsnips and wild forest mushrooms on a bed of sprout leaves. Baekelandt has a slightly different Christmas in store this year as the preparations

for the new restaurant are really starting to take over: “I’ll definitely be in the kitchen getting things ready for the big opening in January.”

Baekelandt’s must-use winter vegetables: - Butternut squash - Jerusalem artichoke - Parsnips Baekelandt’s Forgotten Vegetable Tempura with Truffle Vinaigrette and Parmesan Ice Cream Preparation time: Set a good few hours aside Serves: 4 Ingredients: 4 young carrots 100g butter beans 4 Jerusalem artichokes 4 yellow carrots 2 spring onions 1 parsnip Rinse the vegetables and bake until crispy. Cool in iced water.

For the tempura: 200g tempura flour 25 cl beer 1 teaspoon dried yeast Salt and pepper to season For the truffle vinaigrette: 2 egg yolks 1 tea spoon sherry vinegar 1 table spoon mustard 1 table spoon truffle juice 1 tea spoon truffle oil Mix everything with soya oil, add salt to taste. Feel free to dilute the vinaigrette with ice cold water if it is too thick. For the base: Set the oven to 100° and oven-dry olives for 2 hours. Then grind them finely. For the ice-cream 400g parmesan 1l milk 2dl cream 100g glucose Bring everything to boil, add the parmesan into the mixture while stirring. Place in the freezer overnight. When you are ready to eat it, spin it briefly in the Thermomix.

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Discover Benelux | Food | Flemish Foodies

Wim Ballieu and his Turkey Meatballs B A L L S & G L O R Y, G H E N T Over the past two years Balls & Glory fever has spread like wildfire across Flanders and the founder and head chef Wim Ballieu shows no sign of tiring. Now at four locations across the region, Ballieu’s selection of delicious and inventive meatballs using meat sourced from his grandparent’s farm continues to hold food lovers in Flanders captive. The motto: ‘Handcrafted meatballs, filled with things we love.’

recommendations for a tasty Christmas meal. ‘I invite a whole bunch of friends over to my place in Brussels. There definitely will not just be one person stuck in the kitchen all day; we will each prepare a dish so there will be a bit of everything on offer. Of course I’ll do my Christmas meatballs and my standard pudding which goes down a treat: one giant crème brûlée for us all to dip into.’

Balls & Glory began as a pop-up concept but quickly laid its roots in the hip city of Ghent. The restaurant has a contemporary feel; its interior rather more café-like than restaurant-esque as all diners sit around one central table, drinking tap water from stylish carafes. Typically heaving during lunchtimes, their imaginative flavourings of meatballs and vegetable mash are clearly more popular than ever.

www.ballsnglory.be

We caught up with the ever-friendly Belgian Ballieu to chat about Christmas and get his

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1 egg 40g crushed pistachio nuts (unsalted) 700g pure turkey mince salt and pepper to season Method: Remove the top and bottom parts of the mandarin. Place one flat side of the mandarin onto your worktop. Now cut the peel off by slicing from the top to the bottom. After that, slide your knife between the segments and push the peeled segments loose from each other. Heat the oven to 170°C.

Balls & Glory Christmas Turkey Meatballs Inspired by the many turkeys that he has sewn up in his parent’s butchers, this combination of pistachio nuts, mandarin and turkey is a clear winner. Pretty old fashioned too! Preparation time: 40 minutes. Serves: 4 Ingredients: Half a mandarin

Cut the peeled segments into small pieces and mix them together with the egg, the crushed pistachio nuts and the turkey. Make four balls from this mixture and cover them in breadcrumbs. Lay them onto a baking tray and bake them for 30 minutes. Tip: Try adding some mandarin zest or nuts into your breadcrumbs.


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Photo: Visit Flanders

Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Antwerp

DIAMONDS & OTHER ODDITIES A N T W E R P : FA S H I O N C A P I TA L O F T H E B E N E L U X TEXT & PHOTOS BY IMMI ABRAHAM

From the elegantly draped silhouettes of Haider Ackermann, over Walter Van Beirendonck's fetish boiler suits to the rich embroidery on Dries Van Noten's designs: Antwerp fashion bears a signature that is highly recognisable yet remains completely idiosynchratic. With its rich history as an international trade hotspot as well as being the birthplace of the prodigious Antwerp Six, the Benelux capital of fashion has now become more relevant than ever.

Bloody hand To truly understand what makes the fashion scene in Antwerp tick, one must have

a firm grasp on the city's history. Antwerp's quirky soul is pretty much encapsulated in its name. The word 'Antwerp' stems from a tale about the conquering of a giant that plagued the city in the Middle Ages. The towering menace was slain by a brave soldier, who cut off the giant's hand and threw it into the river Schelde ('Handwerpen' is Dutch for 'throwing a hand'). Makes the etymology of New York seem pretty uncool now, doesn't it? Bloody severed hands aside, what Antwerp was mainly known for – and still is – is the impressive amount of economic and maritime trade that the relatively small city has attracted over the

centuries. Diamonds, of course, but also textiles have always been the Antwerp's main exported goods. Surely it doesn't get much more fashionable than diamonds and fabrics?

Heavy heritage As lovely as a spot of bling and chiffon may be, those are not the only things that make up Antwerp's fashion DNA. According to fashion journalist Veerle Windels, in an article published on the Business of Fashion website, Antwerp fashion designers get their uniqueness 'from the lack of national heritage weighing them down'.

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Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Antwerp

Photo: Jacques Sonck

THIS PAGE: The façade of Antwerp’s fashion museum. The museum showcases the most fashionable and most creative of Antwerp's students and designers. OPPOSITE TOP: Antwerp fashion student Jo Woojic has been wowing the fashion crowd at catwalk shows in 2013. BELOW: Sketching, a vital part of the design process. Front: A gorgeous dress by Peter Pilotto SS12.

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Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Antwerp

With Belgium's history of being overrun by pretty much every European country surrounding it, it comes as no shock that the tiny country never really had the time to develop a style identity of its own. For perfecting the recipes of beer and fries, however, there seemed to be just the right amount of time.

“Van Gogh?”–“Present!” In 1663, more than two centuries before Belgium was even an independent country, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts was founded in Antwerp by David Teniers The Younger. Even though the style at the time was pretty outrageous – we're talking giant puffy sleeved corset dresses and oversized lace collars – the Academy didn't start out having a fashion department. Focusing on art, architecture and design, it didn't take long before the institute's prestige was well established around Europe. Vincent Van Gogh even spent some time at the Academy; the kind of alumnus few schools can boast about on their website's 'about' page. It wasn't until exactly 300 years after the Academy first opened its doors, that the world-renowned fashion department saw the light of day.

Pearl-clutching As an addition to the curriculum that was met with quite a bit of controversy in the early sixties, the fashion department immediately made a name for itself. Many people at the time clutched their pearls in the belief that a silly subject like 'fashion' didn't belong in a prim and proper arts academy. Mary Prijot, the very first Head of the Fashion Department didn't agree and took her students on tours across Paris and London to show them how it was done. A trained pianist and artist, Prijot was a big fan of Coco Chanel's 'élegance' and imparted those ideas upon the student body. That the department's aesthetic was a whole lot less outré than it is now, goes without saying. And we have a group of very special students to thank for that.

The Six When the punk movement rolled into town in the mid-70s, a couple of students paid special attention to the tide change in the fashion world. Forming a close-knit (no pun

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Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Antwerp

intended) group comprising of the young Marina Yee, Dirk Van Saene, Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Bikkembergs, Martin Margiela and Dries Van Noten; the students started rebelling against Prijot's conservative viewpoints. After graduating in the early 80s – and with Margiela's departure to Paris – the remaining six designers packed up their individual collections and trekked to the British Designer Show in London in 1986. The show was an instant hit and the designer collective was promptly granted a name and subsequent cult status. Since the foreign press couldn't bother

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to learn all of their 'weird' names, the 'Antwerp Six' became the the poster children for Belgian fashion and continue to rule the industry to this day with their individuality and out of the box designs.

Birthday cake And now, 50 years after Madame Prijot first headed the fashion department, an exhibition has come along to tie all of the aforementioned history together. “Happy Birthday Dear Academie” is the name of the expo currently running at the Antwerp Fashion Museum (MOMU) that allows the world to delve into the incredible archive of

this famous institute. From video walls showing the early days of the academy (including a brilliant interview with principal Prijot telling a baffled journalist that 'boys attend her courses as well') to some of the most prominent graduate pieces; the expo has it all. Next to a special segment devoted to the Six, it's the works of many other high-profile alumni that really attest how special this little creative hub in Antwerp is. Designs by Kris Van Assche, Peter Pilotto, AF Vandevorst, Veronique Branquinho, Niels Peeraer, Cédric Jacquemyn, Tim Coppens, Christian Wijnants, Bernhard Willhelm, Haider Ackermann,


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Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Antwerp

Bruno Pieters and many more stand side by side as a testament to the Academy's influence on their careers. The best part is trying to discover famous designers' current signature styles from their early student work on display.

OPPOSITE PAGE: The city is renowned for its creativity and passion for fashion. ABOVE LEFT: Martin Margiela graduated in 1979 and has gone on to lead one of the world's greatest fashion houses. RIGHT: Eye-catching monochrome by current star student Woojic Jo. BOTTOM RIGHT: Woojic Jo's incredible hat-eye mask and trendy bag stunned the fashionistas at the school's annual fashion show this summer.

Future perfect Though fifty years of great design have come and gone, the Academy's list of notable designer alumni doesn't seem to be grinding to a halt anytime soon. From the graduate class of 2013 alone you've got Minju Kim releasing her very own collection for H&M or Devon Halfnight Leflufy and Jezabelle Cormio being featured by highprofile concept store Opening Ceremony. As each day passes, many more promising possibilities are being unraveled for those who make it through the tough course. Under the care of current head of the departement and original member of the Six, Walter Van Beirendonck, there's no predicting where this powerful legacy will lead to next. But it will undoubtedly be highly intriguing. To the next fifty!

The 'Happy Birthday Dear Academie' exhibit at MOMU runs till the 16th of February 2014

Want more? Make sure to download the 'Fashion in Antwerp' app for guided fashion tours when you visit. The 'FASHION Antwerp Academy 50' book by Suzy Menkes, Hettie Judah and Kaat Debo is now available through Lannoo Publications All throughout the city, there are stacked containers featuring photos of iconic Antwerp designs you can marvel at.

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Discover Benelux | Food Feature | Anne’s Kitchen

A N N E ’ S

K I T C H E N :

Luxembourg’s new foodie Luxembourg, a country obsessed with the best in gastronomy, is embracing British cuisine.Yet Britain is a country that typically receives little praise for its cooking. Discover Benelux speaks to Anne Faber, the Luxembourger creating this hunger. TEXT: PHIL GALE | PHOTOS: ANNE FABER & JONATHON PERUGIA

When you think of Europe’s top cooking nations, Great Britain is not the first to be noted. Countries such as France, Italy and Spain would definitely be at the top of anyone’s list and British cuisine has typically been met with a distasteful look. Pies, stews, fish and chips, plus the revered Full English are not dishes that many would look to embrace, let alone promote, but Anne Faber of Anne’s Kitchen is breaking the trend. This food blogger turned T.V chef from Luxembourg has been creating a storm in her own country with a show, blog and cook book all dedicated to British cuisine with a Luxembourgish twist. The book is clearly a hit within Luxembourg as both the German and the English edition have reached a prime position in the Bestsellers List, with the German language one taking the top spot. Luxembourg, though small, is one of Europe’s heavyweights when it comes to topend dining. Per capita it has more Michelin Starred Restaurants than anywhere else in Europe. No mean feat when you think about the financial and cultural presence of major European cities such as Paris, London and Milan. “Luxembourg is a country that has a huge number of ex-pats from all over the world living in it, due to the businesses based there. This, along with the wealth of the country, are the two main reasons why there are so many high-end

restaurants.” Faber explains: “Ironically with all this gastronomy, our traditional dishes are a lot of simple and heavy foods, originating from the time when Luxembourg was not as financially secure.” It is perhaps this heritage of heavy and stomach filling foods that has made British cuisine so appealing to the Luxembourg palate.

Discovering British cooking Faber’s route into the world of food writing and her love affair with British cooking began when she came over here to study, Faber recounts: “I moved to a town outside of London to study and my first introduction to British food was not really the best. My parents had driven me over in their car.

We went shopping at the local supermarket for some food, getting the essentials, some yoghurt and juice for my breakfast, but were a little lost. The next morning I woke up and got my breakfast ready, a glass of juice and a Muller flavoured yoghurt because we could not find any plain ones. As I was about to start eating I was aware of looks from the others on the table. Taking a gulp of my juice I soon realised why, it was cordial and the yoghurt turned out to be a dessert!” Unfazed by these less than perfect first few mouthfuls of British food 10 years ago, Faber now sings the praises of British cooking, and from her home in London she continued: “London is one of the best places in the world to live for food, and I soon realised that Luxembourgers would love the cuisine here. I have been in the UK for the re-birth of the country’s connection with what it eats and this is one of my key motivators to share my passion for British food.” With the likes of Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Rachel Khoo as motivation, Faber set her sights on providing Luxembourgers with a different style of cooking to follow.

From blogger to TV chef by keeping it simple Anne’s Fish & Chips

“I am not classically trained as a chef, my background is in journalism, but I do not think that this affects my ability to share

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Discover Benelux | Food Feature | Anne’s Kitchen

ABOVE LEFT: Anne Faber is making a career out of her two passions: food and photographer. MIDDLE: Anne's Kitchen’s take on Luxembourg's most popular dish; Judd mat Gaardebounen Pie, Smoked Collar of Pork with Broad Beans. RIGHT: Living in London has inspired Anne to be more creative with her cooking.

British food – Anne’s must eat: I always crave a good bit of pork scratching and a pie when I am back home in Luxembourg. These are two of the dishes that the British are the best at! They really appeal to me as a Luxembourger because we really like our meat and ham. There is nothing I want more when I am away from London than a nice bit of rich and crunchy pork crackling, the ultimate British indulgence. Luxembourg food – Anne’s must eat: If you ask me what my favorite Luxembourg food item is, it would have to be the Rieslingspaschtéit. The first thing I do every time I go back home is run to a bakery and buy a few of these meat pies with white wine jelly. They’re just completely ace! Luxembourg Dining – What you might not know: In Luxembourg it is normal to have only cheese, cold meat, bread and wine for our evening meals. This in stark contrast to the UK, but traditionally we take two-hour lunch breaks so we get our main, hot meals then. Luxembourg Dining British style – What Luxembourgers are craving: One of the biggest revelations for me when I moved to London and started to immerse myself in the food culture is the Gastro Pub. Serving up warming and hearty British food, they are the perfect place to experience the nation’s great cuisine. Since the my show went to air I have received a lot emails from Luxembourgers wanting to experience this, so maybe this will be the big thing for my nation and their eating habits.

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cooking with Luxembourg.” Faber elaborates: “I started working for the Associated Press, but, like any Luxembourger, I’ve always been passionate about food. I started to write a food blog as an outlet for my passion for photographing food, but also because I was so in love with British cuisine. One day I had a thought: Tired of my work with the AP, why don’t I become a food journalist?” Motivated, Anne had already taken a course on food writing 3 years earlier. “The course was taught by Guy Diamond (Food Editor at Time Out) and Lulu Grimes (Deputy Editor of Olive Magazine), and really helped me to focus both my passion and profession.” Thanks to the support from these two prestigious and experienced teachers, Faber continues: “The course led to me by chance to work with Time Out. Whilst dreaming of being a food journalist I bumped into Guy Diamond who took me in as an intern and offered me a job two days into the internship and this was when I really got into food journalism.” It is this experience, passion, and knowledge of cooking that gives Anne’s Kitchen its credibility, making it so popular with the

Luxembourg audiences. Faber expands: “My cooking is not about being over-complicated, I cook in a simple manner unlike top chefs, and I can barely chop properly! All of my recipes are about good, homestyle cooking that everyone can do.” A style of cooking that has been adopted by many well-known chefs in the UK, this has been revolutionary to the Luxembourg public. “One thing that we always wanted to do with my show is keep it dynamic. Shooting in my kitchen gives it the homely feel, like you are getting advice from a friend. Many of the other cookery programmes in Luxembourg are very static, studio-based. I love watching the top British chefs and use them for motivation. That is how the format of my show developed. Now in each episode, along with my take on British food, I also explore some of the rich culinary culture in London, really getting across the feel of the city and sharing Britain’s rediscovery of their food.”

Embracing British cooking: As its first season draws to a close, Anne’s Kitchen has already caused a stir in Luxembourg, being shown at prime time on Friday evening. Faber elaborates: “For me


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Discover Benelux | Food Feature | Anne’s Kitchen

it is still hard to believe that by simply sharing my passion for food and where I live, I have created a huge following. I knew that British cuisine was not really well-known in Luxembourg and would appeal to their palate, but I never thought this much! Almost every day I get people who have seen my show, or cooked a recipe from my book, contacting me about how much they love British cooking.” To make sure that Luxembourgers can indulge in the best of British cuisine, Faber has also released a book packed with 100 of her own recipes, naturally the launch of which had to be a very British affair. “I launched my book in October this year and had to give it a British flare, so I decided to offer everyone Pimms to set the tone for the evening. Luxembourgers do not know this drink and all I can say is that there were a lot of very cheery people asking me to sign their books,” Faber adds with a chuckle. Breaking stereotypes is a challenge, but Faber, with her blog, TV show and recipe book has done just that. “It has been a lot of hard work to get to where I am now and I have a long way to go. Reinventing people’s staid, old views on British cuisine has certainly been interesting, but I knew all along that the comfort food style of cooking in the UK would appeal to the traditions and taste buds of people back home.” But for Faber, Anne’s Kitchen is more than just about exporting dishes to her countrymen, she concluded: “At the moment my show is in Luxembourgish but from December it will be subtitled in English. I am not doing this to make sure that everyone follows my style of cooking or recipes, ultimately I want to get people passionate about what they eat, but more importantly passionate about cooking. Then they will hopefully be able to share in my passion for being in the kitchen.” Anne’s Kitchen the book is now available at Amazon UK and in selected book stores. If you would like to see more of her recipes check out her website anneskitchen.co.uk where you can also stream the show and read her blog!

Anne’s Luxembourgish Christmas recipe:

Chestnut Meringue Roulade What would Christmas be without proper traditions? In our family, the one definite Xmas ritual is having a bûche de Noël for dessert.

making sure it’s at least 2cm thick, and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 150°C fan and bake for another 10 minutes.

My grandmother traditionally buys it from one of Luxembourg’s patisseries, but in recent years I’ve decided to challenge the family tradition by making my own homage to the bûche de Noël. Instead of sponge cake, I am using a soft meringue, into which I put a Mont Blanc-style filling of chestnut puree and mascarpone cream – specked with caramelized almond pieces for some added crunch. A heavenly festive dessert.

While the meringue is baking, prepare the almonds and the fillings.

Serves 8-10 - Prep 25’ - Oven 20’ - A bit tricky For the meringue: 4 egg whites 190g sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp white wine vinegar 1 tsp cornflour For the almonds: 60g sugar 100g whole almonds For the filling: 1 egg white 350g mascarpone 140g Greek yoghurt 40g sugar 1 packet vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract 400g sweetened chestnut purée 4 tbsp rum icing sugar for dusting Start by making the meringue. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan. Line a baking tray with baking paper, and lightly grease with oil. In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Gradually whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, and continue whisking until glossy. Add the vanilla extract, vinegar and cornflour and whisk again. Spread the meringue evenly onto the prepared baking tray,

For the almonds: Put the sugar into a frying pan and melt over a medium heat. Once the sugar has melted, cook it for a minute until it turns golden. Add the almonds, stir with a wooden spoon so that the almonds get covered in caramel. Cook for another minute until the almonds are starting to turn golden and the caramel browns. Set aside and leave to cool. Once cooled, put the almonds in a plastic food bag and crush into rough chunks with a rolling pin. For the mascarpone cream: Mount the egg white to snow. Put the mascarpone, Greek yoghurt, sugar and vanilla sugar into a bowl and whisk. Fold in the egg white. For the chestnut cream: Combine the chestnut purée with the rum and whisk until smooth. Take the meringue out of the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Then, turn onto another piece of baking paper so that the top side is facing down. Peel off the baking paper from the bottom half and set aside. Assemble the meringue: Make sure the meringue is still upside down, so that you’re spreading everything onto the exposed inside of the meringue. Spread the chestnut cream onto the lower twothirds of the meringue. Then, spread the mascarpone cream along the top half of the chestnut cream, so that it sits in the middle of the meringue rectangle. Sprinkle the mascarpone layer with the caramelized almond pieces. Fold the chestnut side of the pastry over the mascarpone layer, then continue rolling onto the bare meringue end. The meringue will be quite brittle, so it’s normal for some of it to break. Cut off the edges. Carefully lift the meringue onto a serving tray and dust with icing sugar before serving. Keep in the fridge until serving.

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Discover Benelux | Feature | The Edward Steichen Award

Honouring Luxembourg’s latest artistic talent The Edward Steichen Award is a tribute to the life and work of Edward Steichen, an influential artist and curator born in Luxembourg in 1879. Created in 2004 to mark the 125th anniversary of his birth in Bivange, the award honours Steichen's artistic achievements as a photographer and curator, as well as his commitment to the arts and nurturing new talent. TEXT: HEATHER WELSH | PHOTOS: JEFF DESOM & SOPHIE JUNG

The first prize was awarded in 2005 and has since seen an array of talented artists take the opportunity to travel to New York City and broaden their horizons in the art world. This cross-cultural and educational bridge between New York and Luxembourg was formed because New York was the city in which Steichen would eventually call home. This year, two talented Luxembourg-born artists won the award; Jeff Desom is a writer, film director and visual effects artist whilst the second winner Sophie Jung creates installation and performance work.

nating. Comparing this to the larger cities I’ve lived in makes me see how absurd our rigorous idea of society and all its terms are. I can sense the mess beneath the well-ordered super structured system.” Delighted to get such recognition for her work, Jung is excited to get her first opportunity to go to America: “I know it will be very fruitful for my practice – I need new experiences, I need to feel slightly out of my depth in order to struggle back to the shore

Desom’s film work combines live-action, found footage and digital effects and his films have been selected and awarded at a number of festivals around the world. Nominated for the award by Carré Rotondes Director, Robert Garcia, Garcia says of his work: “Jeff Desom is a true virtuoso when it comes to image crafting; he manipulates, transforms and ‘grinds’ the cinematographic medium to bring forth a work of a particular poetic and aesthetic nature.” Nominated by Danèle Wagener, Director at the Museums of the City of Luxembourg, Sophie Jung’s installations incorporate video, text, sculpture and performance combining playful anecdotes with a strong conceptual thread. Speaking of Luxembourg as an influence Jung noted it “shaped my way of experiencing community. In Luxemburg you can see how a society works, there are a lot of rules and there’s a lot of gossip – the formal and the informal are so close together, it’s fasci-

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with shiny driftwood.” Jung adds: “I will be part of the ISCP (The International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York), an amazing opportunity to be able to work alongside very interesting people and show my work, have it critiqued by the experts!” The award will provide both artists with a great set of opportunities, celebrating Luxembourg’s talented artists whilst remembering a great figure from their history as well.

LEFT & RIGHT: Stills from Jeff Desom’s work MIDDLE: Jeff Desom

Learning About Heraldry Show by Sophie Jung


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Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Utrecht

U T R E C H T

History, Culture and Lifestyle Peter Morrell takes a short break in this very accessible Dutch city and enjoys all that it has to offer from the past and the present TEXT: PETER MORRELL | PRESS PHOTOS

Utrecht has been at the political, ecclesiastic and commercial heart of European history for almost 2000 years. It was founded by the Romans in around 50 AD as a fort defending their northern border, the River Rhine. The British missionary Willibrord introduced Christianity to the city in the 7th century. The Union of Utrecht, uniting the provinces of the northern Netherlands, was signed there and the famous Treaty of Utrecht, negotiated in 1713, brought peace to a war weary Europe. With so much history, and with such carefully preserved 13th century architecture, it

makes a fascinating city break destination. And getting to the city is easy, with direct flights from many UK airports to Amsterdam’s Schiphol and then a short train ride from the station below the airport.

The Architecture The most significant aspect of the city’s development was the creation of its main transport artery De Oudegratch or Old Canal. The construction of this waterway created an architectural layout unique in the world. Unlike other canal centric cities there is a lower level with wharves for unloading and adjacent cellars extending

some 30 metres for storage. Over the top of the cellars roads, shops and houses were built. The city became a centre for trade but now, apart from the beer and sightseeing barges, the canal boats carrying goods are gone. However, the canal side space and the cellars are the ideal spot for some relaxed alfresco dining.

Stadskasteel Oudaen My first stop was Stadskasteel Oudaen, a former castle that dates back to 1280 and in 1713 served as temporary accommo-

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Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Utrecht

A birds-eye view of De Oudegracht, one of Utrecht's finest canals lined with cafes.

dation for the French envoy De Polignac, one of the Treaty of Utrecht’s negotiators. These days it houses two restaurants, a bar and a brewery. The brewery in the cellars makes the beer for the bar and restaurants, including their signature, Ouwe Daen, a light and refreshing brew also used to steam my lunch, a delicious pot of mussels.

edgeable captain gives a potted history of the local sights and buildings. The round trip really puts the layout of the city into context. A good example is the streetlights, placed between the roads and the wharves to light both levels. Each light has a carved motif at the base to denote what happened in the immediate area; for example plants for the flower market and cattle for the meat market.

Canal Boat Ride The best way to get acquainted with the city is to take the canal boat tour. From the comfort of a glass roofed barge the knowl-

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One of the first significant canal side buildings on the tour is City Hall where the Treaty of Utrecht was negotiated. Interest-

ingly part of this agreement ceded Gibraltar to Britain from Spain.

Domplein Utrecht is a city for strolling and discovering, so back on dry land I walked over to Domplein, an open space dominated by the imposing Dom Tower, the bell tower of St Martin’s Cathedral. Domplein is the physical and spiritual heart of the city and site of the original Roman camp. It evolved into the most important religious centre in northern Europe after the introduction of Christianity by Willibrord.


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Discover Benelux | Xxx | Xxxx

A great way to explore the city is by bike or canal boat to get into all the nooks and crannies.

Coloured cobbles in the square denote the outlines of small churches that once surrounded the cathedral. The main cathedral building and the bell tower are now detached, the result of a freak tornado in 1674 that destroyed the nave. Currently an ambitious project is under way to expose every layer of history under Domplein so visitors can descend from the modern day to the foundations of the original of Roman Fort.

gratch and the Dom Tower. The accommodation was originally a shop and the building constructed in 1644 over even more ancient medieval cellars. The ground floor had a fully equipped kitchen and comfortable lounge overlooking a pretty walled garden. Steep stairs led down to a large bedroom with a luxury bathroom. Drifting off to sleep in the very comfortable antique bed at night and hearing the carillon of bells in the Dom Tower was all very atmospheric.

Chez Marianne I stayed at Chez Marianne, a bed and breakfast, just steps away from the Oude-

Breakfast at Chez Marianne was optional so I went out for a coffee and pastry to the

nearby Cafe Orloff. It’s here that one of Utrecht’s most famous sons, Dick Bruna, used to stop for his morning coffee before going to his studio to draw his most wellknown creation, Miffy the Rabbit.

Restaurant Aal Evening of the first day saw a return to the cellars, for dinner at the Restaurant Aal, a well-established canal side eaterie. The arched roof inside the restaurant gave it a cosy feel and the food was excellent. Owner Andries Klassen is something of a wine buff and recommended

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Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Utrecht

ABOVE: Dick Bruna, Miffy's creator, spent hours inventing her stories in Utrecht.

some very good matches to drink with the meal.

Catharijnecovent Museum Day two and there was still a lot to see. The Golden Age in the17th century saw the rise of religious intolerance, with the Calvanists as the predominant force. Many secret churches sprung up and this period in history is graphically described in an exhibition, Traits of Tolerance, at the Catharijnecovent Museum. The permanent collection has an impressive number of exhibits covering Christian culture including a treasure trove of artefacts in the vaulted basement.

Museums and Galleries A short walk away was the Centraal Museum, housed in what were once the barracks and stables of Napoleon’s troops. The permanent collection was well worth a visit with more than 50,000 objects and paintings. The afternoon was taken up with a look at the unique Aboriginal Art Museum featur-

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Discover Benelux | Travel Feature | Utrecht

The city centre, bustling by day, comes alive at night, lit up by the city's Trajectum Lumen.

ing some very colourful works from Australia including a decorated car.

wharf to the higher road level transported me back to medieval times.

Blauw Restaurant

There was just time at the end of the evening to sit in a bar/cafe and sip a genever, the original gin. As I enjoyed its sweet juniper flavour I reflected on what a lot Utrecht has to offer. There is the history, the mellow red brick architecture, the cobbled streets, the picturesque canals, the food, the culture and the very relaxed atmosphere. Combined with the ease and speed of getting there it makes the ideal city break destination.

The legacy of 400 years of trade between Holland and the Far East is the reason for the proliferation of Indonesian restaurants in the country. One of the best of these is Blauw whose excellent reputation I put to the test by sampling their traditional Rijsttafel. This comprises some 20 small dishes each with a different characteristic, hot, cold, spicy, bland, sweet and sour, all perfectly balanced.

Trajectum Lumen With such a large meal under my belt I decided to finish the evening by following a walking trail called Trajectum Lumen, Trajectum was the Roman name for Utrecht. After dark many of the main buildings and architectural features are very creatively lit to give them a totally different perspective. The belfry of the Dom Tower has cascading lights, the bridges are lit and a walk through the Ganzenmarkt Tunnel from a

Chez Marianne www.chezmarianne.nl Utrecht Tourism www.visit-utrecht.com/en Visiting Holland www.holland.com/uk

About the author Peter Morrell writes about food, travel and culture and is managing editor of the websites AboutMyGeneration and The Cultural Voyager. This year he was awarded ‘Journalist of the Year’ by the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions in the UK

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Discover Benelux | Hotel of the Month | Belgium

HOTEL OF THE MONTH, BELGIUM

Bathe away in trendy Antwerp TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: HOTELO

Owner, founder, architect, and longterm Antwerp resident Jo Peeters had long toyed with the idea of opening a hotel. His vision revolved around offering the guests a true sense of well-being and this ethos is captured in its name HotelO; drawing on the French word for water ‘eau.’ With current manager and experienced hotelier Christophe Ysewyn at his side, Peeters and his team of architects and interior designers strove to get the concept off the ground. Now with two boutique hotels in Antwerp and a tasteful WW1 themed hotel in Ypres, HotelO is going from strength to strength. As a boutique hotel, they focus on reflecting the atmosphere of the area in which each hotel is located. Ysewyn outlines the essence behind the understatedly elegant Antwerp Sud hotel:

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‘Our first hotel, the one I’m in now, is in a really trendy area of Antwerp, opposite the Museum of Fine Arts and surrounded by cool cafes, so here we wanted to provide a boutique hotel, something cool and edgy.’ The concept of wellness, however, is what drives HotelO, epitomised in the unusual but contemporary choice of bathtubs; no two bathtubs are alike and each is stylishly integrated into the suite, offering the guests the chance to really kick back and relax. While the hotel prides itself on its hip interior, it is ever conscious of the need for high quality mattresses, fine linen, an exuberant array of hygiene articles and coffee machines in each room. For those who are looking to host a business meeting in Belgium’s fashion capital, then HotelO Antwerp Sud has the techno-

logically advanced facilities for meetings of up to 25 people, providing a light lunch in the on-site brasserie. In fact, the brasserie is an institution of its own, open from 7am until the early hours of the morning, its clientele ranging from trendy hipsters to well-presented professionals. Yet another distinctive feature of the Sud hotel is the inclusion of a hip design gift shop in the reception area, which ensures that the hotel remains at home in the fashionable museum and artist district. ‘When I’m going out to an event, a dinner or a Birthday party, I inevitably forget to buy a gift in advance so our shop which is open until late in the evening comes in super handy for everyone, and local designers get to the chance to sell their cool products here too.’ www.hotelhotelo.com


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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

The true taste of Belgium TEXT: HARUN OSMANOVIC | PHOTOS: PISTOLET ORIGINAL

Pistolet Original is something of a time machine. This little deli located in the heart of Brussels offers taste-bud propelled travels to the past, a must-visit for anyone interested in discovering authentic Belgium. “Like Proust had his madeleine,” says owner Valerie Lepla, “most Belgians have their pistolet. It is not unusual for locals to start sharing their childhood memories right after taking a bite.” The Pistolet is a traditional little white bread with a crispy crust and a tender crumb that is recognizable by the crack at its surface; “like a little buttock” as Ms Lepla likes to describe it. It is usually stuffed with fine local products and eaten on any occasion. Be it during a Sunday family dinner with charcuterie and cheese, by the seaside

with freshly caught grey shrimp, for a quick lunch along with a local beer or as sweet pain perdu with coffee for breakfast, the Pistolet is to be enjoyed often and “most importantly, it is a dish for everybody, and that’s what makes it such a Belgian classic.”

Lepla recommends the classic Pistolet Haché Pickles - fresh and raw minced pork served with pickles and mustard sauce. Add a few more euros for a Bertinchamps beer. If you fancy a more exclusive dish, you might go for a Pistolet stuffed with a salad of grey shrimp caught that day.

“In the past few decades people have had the chance to discover food from all around the world - alas, our lives have become so rushed that we rarely take time to get in touch with our local craftsmen and farmers. At the Pistolet Original, we want to promote Belgian products.”

And if you are wondering why this bread is a homonym of a pistol, nobody really knows for sure. But when your baker is called Yves Guns, there is no doubt the sandwich will be a killer! www.pistolet-original.be

With the help of Pierre Wynants and Freddy Vandecasserie, two starred chefs, Lepla selects the delicacies and cooperates with some of the best food producers in the region.

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R E S TA U R A N T O F T H E M O N T H , T H E N E T H E R L A N D S

“When guests enter the restaurant, they are family” TEXT & PHOTOS: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK

For Ahmad Alizadah and his brother Wali, dinner is far more than solely the food on the plate. They are storytellers of the Afghan culture. The stories are told through Wali’s food while host Ahmed translates it to the guests, sitting down at the table with you to talk. “In the Afghan culture it’s polite to talk at eyelevel to someone,” Ahmed explains. The Alizadah’s fled their country in 1996, “October 5th,” remembers Ahmed, “it was a complete culture shock.” But they managed, and did a great job getting there. “Now it’s our turn to introduce the Afghan culture to the Dutch people. Our culture goes back centuries, so of course the food goes back centuries too.”

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In a family with seven girls and two boys, it was never obvious that Wali would be the chef as typically it is the females who are responsible for preparing the food. It took two years for his mother and grandmother to teach Wali everything they knew about the Afghan cuisine. “He has done a magical thing. He learned everything so quickly,” pride radiates off Ahmed. The kitchen is small but effective. “There are no scales or recipes. Everything Wali cooks comes from his talent and pure knowledge of the Afghan cuisine and the old family traditions,” continues Ahmed. Afghan cuisine is like no other due to its rich heritage. The country has always been a crossroads of trading routes; a compar-

ison does not exist because it is influenced by both the East and the West, and then created into something new, something Afghan. All five human senses come alive when eating at Sarban, and there is something for all different kinds of eaters. Quality and atmosphere are key for the brothers: “When guests enter the restaurant, they’re family, so we treat them like family.” Family is very important in the Afghan culture, so it comes as no surprise that the entire family is, in one way or another, involved in the restaurant. For the brothers it goes: “In the restaurant we are colleagues, at home we are brothers, and sometimes we’re both.” www.sarban.nl


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Business on the go Now also on iPad

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BUSINESS OF THE MONTH, LUXEMBOURG

Lunch conveniently delivered for when those hunger pangs hit TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: GroupLunch

As any office worker will testify, choosing lunch can be the toughest but also the most rewarding decision of the day. GroupLunch, with whom more and more companies in Luxembourg have been placing their lunch orders, have come up with a solution. GroupLunch’s concept of delivering lunch provides a welcome treat for employees who have neither the time nor the energy to make a packed lunch before the working day begins. It grew out of animated discussions held in an auditing office in Luxembourg City between the Austrian Raphael Rosenberg and Torsten Jansen of German and Chinese descent. Both in their late-twenties and both hungry with ambition, Jansen explains: “We were colleagues at an auditing company and about 6 months after starting, we decided to quit our jobs and found GroupLunch.” But what was the motivation behind the launch of

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GroupLunch? “Every day we would talk and talk and think about business ideas which could work in Luxembourg.” Eventually, after finding a gap in the market, the pair settled on an idea. They envisaged offering daily deals but quickly concluded that a lunch delivery service would be infinitely more popular, and therefore more profitable for the young men. Having encountered substandard sandwiches and salads all too often and aware from their own experience over the years of the necessity of eating well at lunchtime, Jansen and Rosenberg’s concept is ideally suited for the thousands of city workers in Luxembourg. The premise is simple: you log onto their website and place your order any time up until 10am on the day in question, ensuring you have sufficient time in the morning to deliberate over the decision. The pair cooperate with many of the city’s top restaurants, guaranteeing “variety and

quality to the meals.” While Luxembourg’s city workers appear to have an affinity with sushi; craving miso, temaki, maki and nigiri above all, Thai and Indian meals are proving to be equally desired and GroupLunch has its sights set on an area of catering they believe to be rather limited: “Our latest offerings will enable clients to combine meals from different restaurants for their events or meetings.” “As the demand for our deliveries shows no signs of abating,” says Jansen, “we are currently hiring new drivers so that we are able to deliver to ALL companies in Luxembourg City and the surrounding industrial zones at the desired delivery times.” The pair are planning to open an identical service in Brussels early in 2014. www.grouplunch.lu


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Discover Benelux | Feature | The C-Experience

Feast your eyes on Brussels TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: THE C EXPERIENCE

A unique “pop-up” experience: from the 12th of November 2013 to the 11th of February 2014 the C-Experience Restaurant in Brussels opens its doors to provide a breath-taking view over the city while offering cuisine prepared by its starred Chefs.

twenty-four at one table, it invites its guests for conviviality and cosiness. Manager Philippe Borms smiles as he talks of the idea behind the large table: “Eventually, everyone ends up talking with one another, making the restaurant a place for meeting new faces under the stars”.

A concept on its own, this “pop-up restaurant” travels around the world for periods of three months, building its own structure in exclusive locations.

Open at lunch and dinner, the Michelinstarred international Chefs compose a menu according to seasonal activity and their own inspiration. With prices including food and drinks between €267 to €297 per person, guests are invited to come and watch the preparation of their meals, being put together next to the large Kevlar table. With experienced Chefs from Belgium, France, England, Italy and the USA, every day of the week offers a different combination of flavours and textures to make every meal an event of its own. Also

From the top of the IT Tower on Avenue Louise, the restaurant prides itself on its beautiful glass structure, towering 122 meters above the ground. The warm atmosphere it provides is achieved through a minimalist approach of red and black colours, with soft music chosen by the chef playing in the background. Sitting

described by Borms as a “culinary laboratory”, the restaurant provides an ideal setting for experimentation. Built with the idea of providing a “momento” of an experience, the C-restaurant has already been warmly welcomed by its guests, who have appreciated the beauty of this rare view over Brussels, lit by the lights of the large central avenues of the city. The transient nature of the pop-up restaurant can be enjoyed before the last meal on the 11th of February 2014. After its stint in Brussels, the C-Experience will set off for Istanbul, New York, Moscow, Rome, Tokyo and Shanghai. www.the-c-experience.com

Issue 2 | December 2013 - January 2014 | 45


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Discover Benelux | Business Column | Luxembourg Perspectives

Non-changing change in Luxembourg TEXT & PHOTO: STEPHEN EVANS

Luxembourg's politics are strange. For all but six years of democratic era (from 1919), the Christian Social People's Party (CSV) has led the government. Yet after the 20th October election, the party which came third was widely heralded as the “winner”. Thus, the liberal Democratic Party will lead a unique three party coalition with the socialists and greens. Much newspaper comment speaks excitedly of this change, but what will be different now? Many point to the need to combat the “CSV state” in which party members are preferred for promotion within the civil service. Critics also see the continued influence of the Catholic church on government affairs. Yet this is a country which introduced euthanasia in 2011 despite CSV opposition. Gay marriage will be a coalition priority and maybe lower state subsidies for the

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church, but this is hardly a revolution. Debt is the big challenge facing the country. Although small by international standards, the state's borrowing has tripled in the last five years. It is hard to see how this can be controlled without cutting the generous benefits system (for example, unemployment benefits are 80% of the previous salary.) Putting up taxes could scare away many of the international businesses based in the Grand Duchy. Yet will the socialists and greens be willing to cut welfare? The big change will be the departure of the extremely popular Jean-Claude Juncker; prime minister since 1995, finance minister since 1984 and eurozone president since 2005. His replacement will be the equally well liked 40 year old Luxembourg City mayor Xavier Bettel. As a sign of how liberal the country has become, Mr Bettel's homosexuality was a

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non-issue at the election. There will be no change, however, in the senior civil servants who have worked behind the scenes to build the country's prosperity. Luxembourg is changing, but not in a rush. Stephen Evans has lived and worked in Luxembourg since 1990. Raised in Sussex in the south of England, he is married with two children.


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Discover Benelux | Culture | Out & About

OUT & ABOUT Just because the days are at their shortest and the nights at their longest, there is no excuse for staying at home. Benelux is a region that celebrates the holiday season in all its glory so no matter where you are travelling to this month, we bring you the must-do events of the month. TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PRESS PHOTOS

Amsterdam Lights Festival 2013. Projection called 1.26 by Janet Echelman. Photo: Janus van den Eijnden

Luxembourg Christmas Market and Winterlights Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 23 November 2013 – 24 December 2013 The Winterlights display across the city

(until 12 January) ensures that the festivities are not limited to the two Christmas markets which will set up home at the Place d'Armes and the Place de la Constitution. Instead, the Christmas spirit is set to take over the city in its entirety, complete with a giant ferris wheel, concerts, local delicacies, Glühwein, and an unbeatable festive atmosphere. We recommend munching on some roasted chestnuts and Luxembourg’s delicious potato cakes, Gromperekichelcher while you listen to the carols. www.kreschtmaart.lu / www.winterlights.lu Amsterdam Light Festival Amsterdam, the Netherlands 6 December 2013 – 19 January 2014 Amsterdam is poised to glow for no less

than 50 days this winter as it is lit up by international artists with 30 different spectacular sculptures and projections around the city. Take the Water Colors boat tour or walk the Illuminade route to experience this unforgettable event. www.amsterdamlightfestival.com/en Marché des Créateurs Design Market, MUDAM Luxembourg 4 December 2013 – 8 December 2013 MUDAM opens its doors to a whole host of new design talent and this market will be an ideal opportunity to fill those Christmas stockings and browse the young talent coming from Luxembourg. www.mudam.lu

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Discover Benelux | Culture | Out & About

Photos: Visit Flanders

Winterijs Ostend, Belgium 29 November 2013 – 5 January 2014 Boasting a skating rink of no less than 1km for hours of breath-taking excitement, this winter spectacle from the brains behind one of the world’s most popular music festivals Tomorrowland and the city of Ostend itself, will run for six weeks. Glistening with festive lights and projections on the transparent roof, the atmosphere within Belgium’s largest temporary ice rink will be second-to-none. The organisers have pulled out all the stops to ensure that the Winter Ice festival has something for everyone. As the ice-skaters glide over the ice, those of a more nervous disposition can safely relax in the central food and drink area with a prime view around the rink. There is also a separate children’s rink so parents need not worry. www.eindejaarinoostende.be

48 | Issue 2 | December 2013 - January 2014

Christmas in Liege Place du Marché, Liege, Belgium 29 November 2013 – 30 December 2013 Liege prides itself on being oldest and largest Christmas market in all of Belgium with over 200 stalls selling local specialities and artisan handicrafts. Having outgrown the term ‘market’, Liege now hosts a Christmas Village, erecting four specially themed houses which offer a warm welcome to visitors: Gruyere, Ardennes, Jenever and the mysterious ‘House at the foot of the slopes.’ villagedenoel.be/en

National Theatre Live: Macbeth Ciné Utopia, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 10 December 2013 An event not to be missed this December is the live screening of Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth. Shakepeare’s tragic play is on tour and is uniquely performed on this occasion in a historic church as part of the Manchester International Festival. www.utopolis.lu Nieuwjaarsduik New Year’s Dive, various locations, the Netherlands 1 January 2014 Brace yourself for a surprisingly chilly start to 2014 as thousands upon thousands of hardy souls take to the water. Happening at over 60 locations in the Netherlands, with Scheveningen topping the list of participants, this tradition attracts a very var-


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Discover Benelux | Culture | Out & About

ied crowd, all hoping to start the year off with a splash. Belgians can also join in the fun in Ostend on 4 January. www.unox.nl/nl/event/nieuwjaarsduik Dinant Christmas Market Dinant, Belgium 6 December 2013 – 8 December 2013 We at Discover Benelux are completely taken by Dinant; a gem of a town with its citadel high above the river offering a breath-taking panorama. These three days will certainly capture the Christmas spirit and brighten up the month. Check out some of the local delicacies on offer and take a trip up the cable car to really appreciate Adolphe Sax’s hometown. www.belgiumtheplaceto.be

Nieuwjaarsduik Oostende

Luxembourg Christmas Circus

Liege Christmas Village. Photo: Roland Dumoulin

Medieval Christmas Market Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, Dudelange, Luxembourg 6 December 2013 – 15 December 2013 The medieval festive spirit settles in Dudelange this December to bring Christmas to life with spiced wine, medieval entertainment and roasted chestnuts. www.dudelange.lu Luxembourg Christmas Circus Champ des Glacis, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 28 November 2013 – 15 December 2013 You would be hard pressed to find a more entertaining event in Benelux this December. In full circus tradition, this exciting international show will have everyone laughing their socks off. www.luxemburger-adventscircus.eu Events on the Island of Texel (12/14/21 December) Ouwe Sunderklaas / Old Saint Nick 12 December 2013 Texel Christmas Market 14 December 2013 English Christmas Carol Workshop & Concert 21 December 2013 With an atmosphere akin to carnival, the Ouwe Sunderklaas celebration which dates back centuries is a wonderful ex-

Texel. Photo: Anne Marie Kortenhoeven

ample of efforts made to keep local traditions alive. Why not extend your stay and visit the fairytale-esque Christmas Market? Then get involved with some English car-

ols, warming up those vocal chords during the workshop and getting ready to perform later that day. www.texel.net

Issue 2 | December 2013 - January 2014 | 49


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Discover Benelux | Culture

A book about Luxembourg flying off the shelves “Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Luxembourg but never dared to ask (and don’t even start on Iceland)” TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTO: CAPYBARA BOOKS

“Everything seems to work much more smoothly in Iceland,” says author Susanne Jaspers with a wry smile, “its wheels are somehow more oiled – yet it’s pretty similar in size to the Grand Duchy.” Curiosity awoken as to why Luxembourg is the Luxembourg it is today, Jaspers and her partner Georges Hausemer felt compelled to produce a book documenting Luxembourg’s peculiarities. The book, entitled Was Sie schon immer ALLES ÜBER LUXEMBURG wissen wollten, aber bisher nie zu fragen wagten (und über Island schon gar nicht) [Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Luxembourg but never dared to ask (and don’t even start on Iceland)], has now spent over a year on the bestseller list in Luxembourg, a feat which continues to amaze the pen-wielding pair. “Even Jean-

Claude Juncker [Luxembourg’s previous president] who famously does not read, has mentioned our book, and the German broadsheet Die Zeit has praised it,” say the couple proudly. Their witty, self-deprecating approach to Luxembourg, Hausemer’s home and the adopted-home of the German Jaspers, is clearly hitting the spot with their countrymen. Enlightening and entertaining in equal doses, facts interspersed with humorous anecdotes that will have you desperate to share, the pair have captured today’s spirit of Luxembourg. “Because one of us isn’t from Luxembourg, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to look at the country from two perspectives. Admittedly, we’re perhaps a bit critical in some ways as we have the impression that Luxembourg has stalled; unsure of which direction it should go in.”

With a keen eye and an occasionally sharp tongue, they introduce the reader to some of Luxembourg’s greatest characteristics, allowing the reader enough leeway to form their own opinion.

The book is currently only available in German but an English-language version is in the pipeline. www.capybarabooks.com

Beneluxer: in their words Laetitia Van Den Assum has been in South Kensington, London since October 2012. She is the Netherlands’ambassador to the United Kingdom. What I miss most about the Netherlands: Frankly, the Netherlands is only a couple of hundred miles away, every day my work keeps me in touch with what´s happening over there and many Dutch friends visit me in London. It´s the best of all worlds! What the Netherlands has that the UK needs: Well, the Dutch are the Dutch and the British are the British. They themselves decide what they need. But one area where the British could improve and learn from us is infrastructure, ranging from shared road use (cyclists, automobiles, pedestrians) to flood defences, waste management and airport management.

50 | Issue 2 | December 2013 - January 2014

Where I feel most at home in the UK: After 13 months here I am still discovering new places every day. But of the many wonderful places I have visited I feel most at home in the many museums with fabulous collections of 17thcentury Dutch masters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Cuyp, Van Ostade and Frans Hals. Seeing those delicate masterpieces is like coming home. How I'll be spending my Christmas: I really look forward to a quiet Christmas, a chance to retreat from the hustle and bustle of my daily life. No matter how rewarding my job is, quiet time is key, especially with people who are close to me.

You can follow Laetitia on Twitter: @lvandenassum Photo: The Dutch Embassy, London


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Discover Benelux | Issue 2 | Dec 2013 - Jan 2014  

Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg

Discover Benelux | Issue 2 | Dec 2013 - Jan 2014  

Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg