Discover Benelux, Issue 77, April 2023

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Located in a quiet area of Woluwé-Saint-Pierre (15min away from Zaventem airport, NATO, Schuman), Coquum restaurant is out of place. Considered intrepid and daring, Chef Cédric Dassonville, also known as the Viking, surprises with his signature cuisine: smoked fish, fermentations, surprising combinations, a lickable plate... an invitation to get off the beaten track, a real culinary journey to taste!

Open Monday to Friday, for lunch and dinner (except Wed lunch) More info at

Photo: Antoine Melis Photo: Antoine Melis Photo: Vivi Pham Cédric Dassonville. Photo: Vivi Pham

There’s something quintessentially uplifting about those first few bursts of spring in early April. The fresh, crisp scent in the air as nature awakens with a spectacular surge of colour and the promise of warmer days are a great incentive to start coming up with ways to get out and enjoy the new season. Living in the Benelux region means we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to planning a weekend city trip. There are so many beautiful destinations within close proximity, and after a few hours’ drive we can be sipping a beer at a terrace in Brussels, sailing along Amsterdam’s historic canals, museum-hopping in Ghent or taking a trip back in time while strolling past the many monuments in Luxembourg City (see our feature on page 64).

In this issue of Discover Benelux, we’ve gathered some great suggestions to keep in mind the next time you visit one of these fine cities: from inviting restaurants and hotels, to special events such as the vibrant Floralia flower show currently in full bloom at Château de Grand-Bigard, located about half an hour from the centre of Brussels (page 58).

Festival season is upon us, and we’re definitely looking forward to letting loose at the many music fests scheduled to take place in the coming months. It’s good to see that in the last few decades, food trucks are no longer just a welcome extra at these events, but instead are taking centre stage. In the Netherlands alone, there are hundreds of gourmet celebrations happening all over the country. We’ve made choosing a little easier for you by spotlighting a selection of some of the most tempting on page 50.

Stay inspired!

Discover Benelux

Issue 77, April 2023

Published 04.2023

ISSN 2054-7218

Published by Scan Magazine Ltd.


H2 Print

Executive Editor

Thomas Winther

Creative Director

Mads E. Petersen


Paola Westbeek


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Mercedes Moulia


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Kristel Balcaen

Jennifer Dewar

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Debby Grooteman

Dana Marin

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Kayleigh Rattle

Noelia Santana

Tea Gudek Snajdar

Paola Westbeek

Cover Photo

Jean-Paul Remy, Visit Brussels

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64 Discover Benelux | Editor’s Note Issue 77 | April 2023 | 3



50 Food and drink festivals in the Netherlands

As soon as spring makes its appearance in the Netherlands, gastronomes all across the country start gearing up for the much-anticipated season of food and drink festivals. Almost every weekend means something to look forward to, whether you’re in the mood for sipping Champagne to the sounds of chansons or tucking in to sizzling street food. This month, we take a look at some of the most tempting gourmet celebrations.


12 Ville de Bruxelles, Brussels city special

From exquisite medieval architecture to iconic culinary delights, there are plenty of reasons to love Brussels. Belgium’s bustling capital is not only the headquarters of the European Union and a major hub for politics and international affairs, but it is also a culturally rich city that impresses at every turn. Plus, we’ll tell you how to experience its splendour from a different angle and include some of the best eateries where you can stop for a bite or drink.

24 Festival season

Food, film, art, poetry, music and more! The festival landscape promises to be exciting this spring. Choosing is never easy, but we’ve rounded up a selection of festivals you might want to add to your calendar.

28 All Spotlights on Amsterdam

While Amsterdam is certainly worth exploring year-round, it’s fascinating to be there in spring – a fine season to soak up the city’s laid-back atmosphere, stroll through its popular markets and parks, sail across the historic canals, or sample a taste of its varied culinary offerings at a lively terrace. We’ve listed the top ways to savour the season and spotlighted some great restaurants to check out – before or after exploring the vibrant Dutch capital.

50 4  |  Issue 77 | April 2023 Discover Benelux | Contents
APRIL 2023

36 Focus on Ghent

Located about an hour west of Brussels, Ghent is a multifaceted city that beckons visitors to discover a plethora of restaurants, museums and cultural events. Though often overlooked, Ghent has the perfect mix of urban flair, rich history and an impressive architectural heritage. In short, there’s something for everyone! And if you’re looking for a place to stay that’s close to it all, make sure to check out our hotel tips.


41 Column, regulars and more

We take a look at the month ahead in Benelux business, as well as profiling the companies you need to know about.


58 Tulip fever in Floralia

Floralia’s flower extravaganza will lift your spirits and ring in the new season in a truly colourful way. Floralia Brussels is Belgium’s answer to Keukenhof in Holland, the biggest spring flower show in the world. The second-biggest show is equally brilliant, centred on a dreamy, lovingly restored, family-owned castle in Flemish Brabant. The stage for this floral spectacular is the fairytale Château de Grand-Bigard, just northwest of Brussels.

64 48 hours in Luxembourg City

Nestled in the heart of western Europe, in a tiny fairytale-like country, Luxembourg City offers a blend of rich history, modern architecture and a relaxed atmosphere. This layered city, unfolding on hills and ravines, is perfect for a short break and will charm you with its historic Old Town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stunning architecture, underground tunnels and museums. We present our favourite ways to spend 48 hours in the city.

70 Vermeer

For the first time in history, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has dedicated an exhibition to one of the most renowned Dutch Golden Age painters, Johannes Vermeer. With 28 out of 37 of his paintings displayed until 4 June, it’s the largest show ever organised featuring the artist’s work.


8 Fashion Picks | 10 Desirable Designs

44 Out & About | 74 Columns

36 Issue 77 | April 2023 | 5 Discover Benelux | Contents



12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 17 8 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 26 23 22 25 24 28 27 29 30 31 32 13

Dopamine dressing

In the final days of winter, we dream of warmer days and the prospect of wearing fewer layers. Punchy colours are a sign of spring, so why not introduce these bold hues into your everyday looks now? Let the sun shine in!

Unconventional tailoring

Ditch the sensible navy suit and invest in a different kind of office wear. You can wear this light-blue three-piece suit as a set or style it separately. The blazer will look incredibly dapper with a plain white T-shirt and your favourite jeans.

Hugo Boss, €505, Henry Getlin Set

The orange factor

White trainers are overrated. Instead, opt for this pair of orange Adidas Gazelle crafted in suede. They are the best way to flawlessly dip your toes into the dopamine dressing trend. Wear them with the light blue suit for extra styling points.

Adidas Gazelle trainers, €105

8  |  Issue 77 | April 2023 Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks

A pop of yellow

Spice up your day – and your outfit –with this brighter-than-the-sun bag from Wandler. Its casual shape means all the attention is on the colour. Go even bolder and wear it with the pink suit for an amazing take on dopamine dressing.

Wandler, €695, Hortensia mini leather bag

Neon scrunchie

An oversized neon scrunchie will quickly update your look for spring. Let this gorgeous statement piece be the focus by wearing it with a low ponytail and a simple outfit. Keep Dutch-based Atelier des Femmes on your radar as the fashion go-to for statement accessories with sophistication as their essence.

Atelier des Femmes, €19.95, Sla scrunchie

The fun-ctional suit

After a long winter, we all need a boost, and colourful tailoring might just be the perfect remedy. Belgian brand Essentiel Antwerp creates bright and interesting pieces that won’t go unnoticed. Their spring suits put the ‘fun’ in functional. Made from recycled polyester with a hint of stretch, you can wear this two-piece with your favourite trainers all day long, or swap them for a kitten heel for your fancy evening plans.

Essential Antwerp, fuchsia double-breasted blazer, €295, fuchsia wide-leg pants, €195

Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks Issue 77 | April 2023 | 9


Engineer your very own ‘wild’ home

As spring blooms, it’s tempting to bring nature inside. Instead of buying more plants, though, you can streamline your green interior. With these practical yet aesthetic designs, centre and celebrate plants in your home this season.

Handmade in House Raccoon’s bright Antwerp studio, these translucent vases promise to bring a touch of intimacy into your home. Dried flowers from days gone by, a fresh sprig picked up on a spring stroll, or a cutting from your best friend’s houseplant – use them to capture and hold your little moments in nature.


Show off your love of the ecosystem with this statement piece. Shiny and multidimensional, the Planthanger lamp will catch your eye as it dangles from the ceiling, evolving with the light from day to night and as the plants change over the seasons.

€60 – €100

We’re starry-eyed for this water-rooting tool. Inspired by the Ancient Greek god of the sun, it can turn cuttings, seeds, bulbs and pits into majestic new life. You can also choose your own adventure with this durable disk: let the brass age naturally or give it a polish to keep its gleam.


Don’t we all dread plant care if we have to do it indoors? By unrolling this compact tarp onto a countertop, you can enjoy tasks like repotting and pruning, without making a mess. Afterward, simply tip any waste into your closest bin, then pack it neatly away. Urban gardening isn’t too tricky now, is it?


You can exhibit more than art in your house. This illuminated display-unit comes from designer Jonael van der Sloot’s passion for bringing nature into the home while saving space for the practicalities of daily life. Play around with this installation to showcase your home garden, choosing plants that deserve to shine the brightest!


TEXT: TAHNEY FOSDIKE | PRESS PHOTOS 5. Glowing roots 4. Potting tarp for urban gardening 1. Planthanger lamp 5. 3. Vaasje Lily 2. Helios 3. 4. 2.
10  |  Issue 77 | April 2023 Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs

Bring your creativity.

We’ll do the same

Elten Kiene is entrepreneurial and recognizes opportunities. He teaches workshops at schools in Rotterdam and in museums and youth detention centers throughout the Netherlands. He also creates programs and recently developed theater programs. This versatile artist uses the spoken word as his instrument.

Elten believes that we must view art through the lens of what it can be. For everyone. “Art is a very important tool for everyone. I believe that art can help make things bearable. Not just visual art but also books, music, or dance. Art can help you understand yourself and can provide comfort and support if you’re going through a rough patch. It’s there for you in good times and bad. I believe that everyone has a creative skill and discovering that skill

can be quite an enjoyable process.”

“For me being an artist in the Netherlands means freedom, possibilities, and discovering new ways of the self. The writing process reveals new ideas, new thoughts about myself, and new values. It also provides clarity on what I want to pursue, or not. Writing takes me on a continuous journey of discovery; a journey that’s always in motion.”

Position/ organization Author and spoken word artist / City Rotterdam

See more on

Elten Kiene (38), a spoken word artist in Rotterdam, was born in Suriname and raised in Dordrecht. He speaks of his journey with gratitude and confidence.


Spring break in Brussels

From exquisite medieval architecture to iconic culinary delights, there are plenty of reasons to love Brussels. Belgium’s bustling capital is not only the headquarters of the European Union and a major hub for politics and international affairs, but it is also a culturally rich city that impresses at every turn.

Guided tour City Hall of Brussels. Photo:, Jean-Paul Remy TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK Grand Palace. Photo: Pixabay

Still wondering where to go for a welldeserved spring break this month? Welcoming ten million visitors per year on average, Brussels is a favourite destination for people from every corner of the globe. Just go for a walk around the lively Grand Place and you’ll see why. Brussels wears its history well and boasts some of the most stunning architecture in Europe.

The city’s main square, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, is the ultimate place to really experience its history and grandeur. Though it has served many purposes throughout the centuries – including being a market hub as well as a place for celebrations and even public executions – today it is the city’s main tourist attraction. And rightly so. The beautiful buildings keeping guard over the square are a sight to behold. Among the most noteworthy is the Gothic town hall, which towers at a height of 96 metres and was built between 1401 and 1455. Equally awe-inspiring is the building that has been home to the Brus-

sels City Museum since 1887, the flamboyant Maison du Roi (also known as the Bread House).

Architecture isn’t the only thing to draw crowds, however. The Grand Place is lined with animated terraces and restaurants where you can sample some of the city’s traditional fare, including ‘moulesfrites’ (succulent mussels served with chips), ‘waterzooi’ (a thick fish soup with vegetables), ‘carbonade’ (a hearty and aromatic stew of beef cooked in beer) and crisp prawn croquettes. All washed down with the city’s hearty brews, of course.

Strolling through the pretty side streets – with a Belgian waffle in hand – promises even more delicious addresses and cultural encounters. Brussels is home to more than 4,000 restaurants, 1,600 bars, 80 museums and 30 public parks. And did we mention Brussels is also the world’s chocolate capital and a true shopping paradise?

Discover Benelux |  Brussels City Special | Ville de Bruxelles
Beers. Photo: Equinox Light Photo Shopping on Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Photo: Pixabay
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 13
Mussels. Photo: Pexels

Merging authenticity, conviviality and sustainability

It was at his grandmother’s side that the young Alain Coumont, founder of Le Pain Quotidien, first discovered the beauty of a perfect loaf. Years later, when he became a chef in Brussels, Coumont knew that he wanted to serve his customers superior handmade bread. The kind that emerges from the oven golden, fragrant and with an irresistibly crisp crust.

Unsatisfied with the quality of bread in the Belgian capital, Coumont founded the first Le Pain Quotidien on Rue Dansaert in 1990. Literally translating to ‘the daily bread’ in French, the bakery-restau-

rant, which has since expanded to some 18 countries on three continents (and counting), prides itself on baking robust sourdough loaves with the same original recipe consisting of only four simple ingredients: water, organic or sustainably sourced stone-ground flour, salt and time. In fact, at their production facilities, known as the ‘atelier du pain’, creating the ultimate loaf using a cold fermentation method takes no less than 34 hours. Bakers adhere to time-tested traditions, shunning the use of industrial methods to speed up the process as well as additives or preservatives. Though artisanal bread is at the heart of Le Pain Quotidien’s con-

cept, it is only part of what makes eating at one of their bakery-restaurants such a memorable experience.

Honouring the tradition of baking bread

“Everything we serve comes from a baker’s mindset,” Annick Van Overstraeten, CEO of Le Pain Quotidien, points out. “Our offerings include quiches, salads and soups (always served with bread), breakfast options such as a yoghurt and fruit parfait with our baker’s own granola, viennoiserie, pastries, desserts, tarts and tartines.” The latter, a generously topped open-faced sandwich made with thick

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Enjoy everything from salads to tartines, all made with fresh, pure ingredients.

A bird’s-eye view of Brussels

There’s no better way to experience Brussels’ breathtaking views than from the sky. Climb aboard the city’s giant wheel, The View, to experience Brussels from a different angle. This popular addition to the Brussels skyline is a huge hit with visitors and residents of the city.

Sitting in Place Poelaert in the heart of Brussels, The View is 55 metres high with 42 gondolas (each fitting six people) and includes wheelchair access. The View experience generally lasts around ten minutes, and the wheel itself has a total capacity of 800 people per hour!

It’s a wonderful way to get to know the city, and according to The View’s CEO, René Bufkens, the giant wheel has transformed the Brussels visitor experience: “Our clients love The View and often return time and time again. It appeals to

everyone, no matter what their age. We have families, couples, groups of friends and tourists. It’s been a huge hit.”

There’s also an audio guide in each gondola, which is great if you’re new to Brussels. And for those who have visited the city before, there’s always something new to learn. It’s the ideal way to orientate yourself on arrival, or a wonderful way to say ‘au revoir’.

Bufkens remarks: “The View has really brought Brussels to life. It is also the perfect accompaniment to the giant lift in the city’s Marolles district.” The View also boasts a VIP cabin with leather seats, tinted glass and Champagne, so you can take in the views of the city while feeling like royalty. The whole giant wheel can also be hired out for special events too, such as team building, exhibitions and dinners.

The View is particularly dazzling at night, as it is illuminated with special energy-efficient LED lighting, which is magical to see from the ground upwards. Prices have been kept low, so it’s accessible for everyone. It costs €10 for adults and €6 for children. The View is open year-round, but from mid-November to mid-January it can be found at Place Sainte Catherine for the Christmas season.

Discover Benelux |  Brussels City Special | Ville de Bruxelles
VIP experience.
16  |  Issue 77 | April 2023
Gondolas lit up.

A new permanent tourist attraction in Brussels, the giant Ferris wheel known as "The View", invites you to climb high above the city and enjoy an unforgettable experience. As the highest point in Brussels, it offers you a breathtaking panoramic view of the capital. The giant Ferris wheel is itself illuminated at night, thanks to its multicoloured lighting, making it an imposing sight on the Brussels skyline!

100% Plant-based Certified Organic Delicious conscious food

In the centre of the city


A passage to India

If you think Brussels is all about ‘moules-frites’, then think again. Situated next to the city’s famous Cirque Royale concert venue, the Chandigarh Indian vegetarian restaurant takes diners on a magical culinary journey, sampling a multitude of tastes, fragrances and colours.

Chandigarh specialises in Thali, a holistic approach to Indian cuisine which follows the Ayurvedic principle, meaning all five flavours (namely sweet, pungent, salty, bitter and sour) appear on the plate. The restaurant prides itself on providing authentic vegetarian and vegan recipes from across the entire Indian continent, using only the freshest local, nutritious ingredients where possible. The dishes are authentically prepared with their own blends of spices imported directly from India.

Opened in late 2021 by brother and sister duo Shreya and Ravi Kaushik, the restaurant is becoming increasingly popular, not only with vegetarians, but also with confirmed meat eaters. Shreya comments:

“I’ve lost count of the number of times non-vegetarians have told us how much they’ve enjoyed our food and how they didn’t miss the meat component at all.”

The Kaushik family has been vegetarian for generations – for hundreds of years, in fact. Ravi: “Fresh vegetables are very important in Indian cuisine, but sometimes restaurants are limited in showcasing their true breadth, so we decided to create a restaurant which celebrates the diversity of dishes and flavours found in vegetarian Thali. When we first began, very few of our customers understood the principles of eating Thali, but it’s become such a success that other Indian restaurants in Belgium are beginning to offer the same format.”

Set in a 1950s building, the interior of the restaurant has been newly designed with inspiration from the legendary architect Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh city project in India. The Chandigarh dining experience was recently taken to a new level with the opening of its ‘Indian Tradition-

al Room’. Customers are invited to take off their shoes, sit on beautiful silk cushions and eat with their hands from low tables. “It’s a more intimate and authentic experience, and our customers love it,” says Shreya. “Indian food, and Thalis in particular, is all about sharing time and space together. Creating this new experience has been a big hit.”

In Sanskrit, Atithi Devo Bhava means ‘Guest is God’, which goes to the very heart of what Chandigarh offers.

Discover Benelux |  Brussels City Special | Ville de Bruxelles
20  |  Issue 77 | April 2023





Authentic Vegeterian Thali

Comfort food with a twist

If you’re looking for traditional food in a relaxed environment, then there are two restaurants which are an absolute must when you’re in Brussels, both situated on Rue de l’Ecuyer in the heart of the city. Zotte Mouche pays homage to Belgian classics, while its sister restaurant, Ricotta & Parmesan, is a love letter to Italian cooking.

As soon as you walk into Zotte Mouche, it’s a feast for the eyes. Housed in a beautiful and elegant building, this typical Belgian bistro has a retro vibe with vinyl covers fixed to the walls and light shades. Tunes from ‘la chanson Française’ often rever-

berate through the restaurant, along with hits from the ‘60s to the ‘90s. Tables and stools are fashioned from old beer barrels, and the walls are covered with interesting things, such as a Belgian version of The Last Supper painting. There’s a long bar too, which makes the place great for socialising, while the restaurant’s disco nights make for a fun night out with friends, family or colleagues. There are regular DJ sets throughout the week and even a tea dance during the day on Sunday.

The Zotte Mouche is all about Belgian food classics, transporting you back to yesteryear. Feast on ‘blanquette de veau’, ‘bou-

TEXT JENNIFER DEWAR | PHOTOS : PAULINE LECLÈRE Renaud Waeterloos has been a restaurateur on the Brussels dining scene for 36 years. Half Belgian, half Italian, Renaud is following a family tradition, as both his mother and grandparents were in the restaurant trade. Ricotta & Parmesan.
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Zotte Mouche.

din’, Flemish stew, meatloaf, fondue and meatballs in tomato sauce. All traditionally made with the best local ingredients. The drinks menu is also special, with a wide variety of Belgian beers on offer from local breweries, plus a great cocktail menu.

Sister restaurant

Further along the road, its sister restaurant, Ricotta & Parmesan, has been a staple of the Brussels dining scene since 1999 and is open every day of the week. The décor is warm and inviting and conducive to a relaxed dining experience. Famous for its wood-fired oven pizzas and traditional Italian food (including 15 varieties of pasta), guests are transported to something akin to a simple trattoria in Italy, with a focus on good old-fashioned dining that ‘nonna’ would be proud of. There’s an emphasis on sharing dishes (or ‘antipasti’) such as charcuterie, and simple, authentic Italian cuisine (such as spaghetti vongole) using fresh high-quality ingredients and served in generous portions. There’s also an extensive wine list.

You can also get Ricotta & Parmesan’s delicious food delivered straight to your door. The restaurant is signed up with Deliveroo and UberEats, so their dishes can be brought to your home or hotel. Gift cards are also available if you want to give someone a special treat, and if it’s your birthday,

you can profit from a €25 discount (with a minimum of four people in the group).

Turning a vision into a reality

The man behind these two Brussels classics is restaurateur Renaud Waeterloos. Trained at Michelin-starred restaurants and as a sommelier, he wanted to create something which was more customer-centric. Waeterloos comments: “For Ricotta & Parmesan, my first restaurant, I wanted to break the rules of how a restaurant should look to create a more relaxed, homely en-

vironment. We used mismatched chairs, exposed brickwork, family photos on the walls – a feeling of an authentic trattoria.”

The opening of Zotte Mouche was something he had been thinking about for over 15 years. His dream was to create an ambience which combined traditional Belgian gastronomy with the Roaring Twenties. “Often people want to have a fun night out, not just eat,” Waeterloos explains. “So, I created a restaurant that combines fantastic food with great music and dancing.” Again, Waeterloos was influenced by his own family: “I have a great nostalgia for music in the period from the ‘60s to the ‘80s and wanted to try and create an old bistro vibe, something like the restaurant my mother worked at.”

Both restaurants are very much influenced by Waeterloos’s family, and particularly, his grandmother’s cooking. Waeterloos: “Our dishes are all about tradition and good flavour. Don’t come to our restaurant if you’re dieting!”

When asked to reveal the secret of his success, he replies: “The customer, the customer, the customer. If you provide quality products and make people feel welcome, you can’t go wrong.”

Discover Benelux |  Brussels City Special | Ville de Bruxelles
Ricotta & Parmesan. Ricotta & Parmesan. Zotte Mouche.
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 23
Zotte Mouche.


Top tips

Food, film, art, poetry, music and more! The festival landscape promises to be exciting this spring. Choosing is never easy, but we’ve rounded up seven festivals you might want to add to your calendar.

TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK Gent Smaakt. Photo: Emily Samyn IFFG. Photo: IFFG


13-16 April, the Netherlands

Film lovers will once again be delighted with the variety of films shown at the International Film Festival Gorinchem this April. Captivating and often surprising, the films deal with current social themes. The programming includes discussions, events, music and more.

Gent Smaakt Culinary Festival

17-21 May, Belgium

This Ascension weekend, the centre of Ghent will transform into a gourmet paradise during the 11th edition of the Gent Smaakt Culinary Festival. Featuring more than 60 food stands offering local cuisine, street food and sustainable products, it’s the perfect opportunity to taste what the city has to offer.

WAAL Festival

10 June, Luxembourg

Merging music, food and art, the first edition of the WAAL (We Are All Lost) Festival held in Luxembourg City will spotlight the beauty of cultural diversity and sharing of talents. Expect a variety of musical genres, art installations and an international food market.

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Festival Season
Kim Yideum at Poetry International. Photo: Hielke Grootendorst Nha Thuyen at Poetry International. Photo: Hielke Grootendorst WAAL Festival.
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 25
Photo: WAAL Festival

Antwerpen Proeft

18-21 May, Belgium

Taste some of Antwerp’s finest culinary creations during the 15th edition of Antwerpen Proeft. Top restaurants, leading chefs and promising young talent showcase their exquisite dishes for budget prices (€6, €7.50 and €9). Visitors can also participate in free workshops and watch informative cooking demonstrations.

Holland Festival

1 June - 1 July, the Netherlands

First held in 1947, the Holland Festival is the largest international performing arts festival in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in Europe. The festival highlights artistic innovation with groundbreaking performances in theatre, dance, music, opera and more. The festival is held at indoor and outdoor locations in Amsterdam.


26 & 27 May

The best Belgian bands and DJs, as well as some new talent, come together for two days of awesome music. Dance to everything from rock to hip-hop. On Saturday, the free Boekel Boulevard street festival presents street theatre, workshops, children’s performances and more.

Poetry International Festival


9-11 June, the Netherlands

Under the slogan ‘There’s a poem for that!’, the 53rd Poetry International Festival Rotterdam will celebrate the wide scope of poetry with everything from festive poetry nights to inspirational workshops.

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Festival Season
Antwerp Proeft. Photo: Dries Luyten Antwerp Proeft Antwerp Proeft.
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Photo: Dries Luyten Antwerp Proeft

More than a seaside festival

A visit to the Haringrock – the oldest festival in Katwijk – not only means enjoying a varied line-up of great music, but also savouring all that the pretty Dutch seaside town, located in the famous Flower Bulb Region, has to offer.

What began in the early 1980s as an initiative by local musicians, has become one of the leading Dutch open-air festivals, even earning itself international recognition. In fact, Haringrock is the country’s oldest seaside festival. Originally held indoors at cultural centre Tripodia and visited by an audience of about 600, in 2013 the festival moved outdoors, making Katwijk’s sprawling beach its attractive new venue. According to Haringrock organiser Ton Frissen, this change of location presented an excellent opportunity for visitors to discover Katwijk and experience its atmosphere during the bustling two-day festival, from the enticing events held as part of Haringrock, to stopping for a drink or a bite at one of the many inviting terraces. Frissen: “Haringrock’s mission was also to promote and maintain Katwijk’s identity as a fishing town and seaside resort.”

Held on Friday and Saturday during the second weekend of July (this year on 7 and 8 July), Haringrock provides a podium for local artists, but it has also featured big names in the music industry, such as renowned Dutch bands Van Dik Hout and De Dijk, as well as international acts such as Ricky Warwick and Marco Mendoza (formerly part of Thin Lizzy). Once again, this year promises a great line-up that includes local cover bands performing music by Bon Jovi, Coldplay and Dutch singer Anouk. Especially noteworthy and playing on the first evening are Kris Kross Amsterdam (one of the most famous Dutch DJs) and award-winning blues-rock singer, and Katwijk native, AJ Plug.

If the music isn’t enough to lure you to Haringrock, it’s good to know that on Saturday you can stroll past the more than 150 stalls at the free market. “On Friday, we have approximately 5,000 visitors, but with the market, Haringrock draws upwards of 30,000 people,” explains Frissen. “This popular event is a great complement to the festival.”

Whether you’re up for a jamming good time or simply want to experience the many charms of the Dutch fishing town (including walking along the dunes, shopping, visiting museums and eating out), make sure to book your tickets via Haringrock’s website.

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Festival Season
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 27
Free market on Saturday.

Savour the season in Amsterdam

While Amsterdam is certainly worth exploring year-round, it’s fascinating to be there in spring – a fine season to soak up the city’s laid-back atmosphere, stroll through its popular markets and parks, sail across the historic canals, or sample a taste of its varied culinary offerings at a lively terrace. Here are the top five ways to savour the season!

SPOTLIGHT ON AMSTERDAM TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK Canal Ring. Photo: Pixabay Noordermarkt farmers’ market. Photo: Koen Smilde

Go market-hopping

There are wonderful markets taking place in Amsterdam every day, but make sure to keep Saturday morning free to discover the Noordermarkt. Started in 1987 as an incentive to bring the empty square in the Jordaan back to life, the Noordermarkt claims to be the first Dutch organic farmers’ market. Practically next door is the Lindenmarkt, not organic but a little more affordable. First held in 1894, the market boasts over 230 stalls. Perhaps the most iconic (and busiest) market is the Albert Cuypmarkt. With over 300 stalls lining both sides of the Albert Cuypstraat, it is especially known for its multicultural character.

Day at the park

Pack up a picnic basket, hop on a bike and head to Vondelpark! Situated in the heart of the city and opened in 1865, the

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme | Spotlight on Amsterdam
Vondelpark. Photo: Pixabay
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 29
Streets in spring. Photo: Pixabay

Discover Amsterdam with ease and comfort

Visit the Rijksmuseum, take a canal cruise through the city or catch the ferry to Amsterdam-North to enjoy a bike ride in the vast meadow landscape. Amsterdam has plenty to offer. To make the most of your time, you can benefit from the I amsterdam City Card.

The I amsterdam City Card ensures you always have your entry ticket ready. It gives visitors access to most museums in Amsterdam, as well as discounts at various attractions, restaurants and theatres in the city. You also get to benefit from free public transport with metro, tram, bus and ferry. As a bonus, you can delight in the view of Amsterdam from the water with a complimentary canal cruise.

Tim Gradussen, product manager ticketing at amsterdam&partners, points out that the City Card not only saves you time and money, but that it also makes your visit more comfortable. “You have your tickets ready for the museums. Since public transport in the city is also provid-

ed, you don’t lose time trying to find out what card you need to use.”

In combination with the City Card, you can use the City Card App. This is a digital database with all the information you need when visiting Amsterdam. It features everything from museum opening hours to the places you’ve marked as favourites and links to helpful websites.

The major highlight of the I amsterdam City Card is free access to more than 70 museums and citywide public transportation. “Most know the famous highlights, but I would like to recommend some personal favourites,” says Gradussen. “For example, the Tropenmuseum. This museum focuses on the cultures of the world and the colonial heritage of the Netherlands. Another one of my recommendations is the Museum of the Canals. This museum is located in a 17th-century monumental building. If you’ve always wanted to see the inside of a canal house, this is your chance.”

With the City Card, you can also rent a bike. And according to Gradussen, the best way to feel like a local in Amsterdam is by exploring the city by cycling. “By bike it’s easy to visit the different city districts. Don’t forget to stop at the ‘9 straatjes’ (Nine Little Streets), where you can find local, unique shops and enjoy great food and drinks.”

Planning a visit to Amsterdam? You can truly make the most of it with the I amsterdam City Card.

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme | Spotlight on Amsterdam
Visitors using the I amsterdam City Card app. Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam-North. I amsterdm City Card.
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 31
Visitors on Museumplein with a City Card book.

beek explains. “We are on the north side of Amsterdam, a sunny spot on the waterfront with an island feel and a wonderful view of the city.”

In its early days, Pllek did not have a roof and its offerings consisted mainly of lunch dishes and small bites, but it pretty much grew organically. Today, Pllek serves everything from breakfast to a multi-course dinner with carefully selected wines, and attracts roughly 400,000 visitors a year.

Another one of its main draws has become its eco-friendly menu, which is 75 per cent vegetarian and 25 per cent vegan, with only a minimal amount of meat. “After a few years, I decided to remove industrially-farmed meat from the menu and only serve game or sustainably-caught fish,” Steenbeek says. “It was at that point that we became the city’s largest green restaurant.” The decision to not go fully vegan or vegetarian was a conscious one. Steenbeek: “Being a large restaurant gives us a platform to make a difference. We have a social responsibility. By not excluding carnivores at our restaurant, we are actually encouraging them to try our meat-free options.”

The menu at Pllek changes every season and most of the products are organic and locally sourced. Only the coffee and wine are not supplied by Dutch producers. The wine, however, is 80 per cent organic and from Old World regions (in other words, made in Europe) as opposed to New World regions (produced overseas).

Broadening more than the palate

Though sustainability is at the backbone of Pllek, having an inviting terrace on Amsterdam’s city beach certainly adds to its charm come the warmer days. After a meal or drinks on a balmy summer night, there’s always the option of laying out a towel on the fine gravel sand and reveling in the beach vibes just a little longer. “Having picnic tables also means that on busier days, people have the opportunity to sit with others, adding to the element of social interaction, which is very important. That’s the special thing about Pllek – everyone feels at ease,” Steenbeek explains. Outside the season, the cosy, post-industrial/vintage interior is just as welcoming. And not to worry – the mostly glass facade creates a feeling of being outdoors while affording fine views across the IJ River.

It’s worth noting that Pllek is so much more than a great place to wine and dine.

Indulging the senses here also includes taking advantage of a varied programming of (mostly free) cultural events and entertainment. On Fridays and Saturdays, for example, there’s live music with DJs as well as club nights with dancing into the late hours of the evening. Breathing workshops held on Saturdays, as well as yoga and meditation sessions on Sundays, give visitors a chance to recharge and reconnect with themselves. There are even activities organised for children every Sunday afternoon. Steenbeek: “The purpose of our cultural programming has always been to bring people in contact with new things. That’s why we’ve featured everything from African to South American music. Ultimately, however, it’s the combination of the setting, energy and crowd that make Pllek so worth visiting.”

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme | Spotlight on Amsterdam
Outdoor gathering. Light floods in through the windows.
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 33
Pllek’s fine gravel terrace.

room, lounge, restaurant/brasserie and a monumental (not to mention deliciously attractive) cocktail bar. “The bar is the heartbeat and central energy of NEXT,” Steenbeek says. “This is the place where you start and end an evening. It immediately entices you to truly spoil yourself and celebrate life.”

With a varied drinks list that includes mixology cocktails (well-crafted and sans pompous theatricality), fine European wines, apéritifs and a range of liqueurs from every corner of the globe (including unique absinthes), clinking glasses is encouraged. Those who would rather opt for an alcohol-free alternative, have a selection of mocktails to choose from, as well as post-mix soft-drinks, a sustainable option for bottled sodas.

NEXT’s decor is contemporary and inviting, with seating for up to 250 people and spaces where you can gather with others or revel in a moment of solitude. Singles will feel as much at ease having a meal on their own as a couple enjoying a romantic night out. Despite the spaciousness, NEXT manages to retain a welcoming, cosy ambience and feeling of intimacy.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, when DJs crank up some awesome beats, the exceptional sound won’t go unnoticed –NEXT’s specially made walls means that it boasts some of the best acoustics in the city. Another important element that adds to the level of enjoyment when it comes to music is the fact that it isn’t the standard stuff everyone knows. “In our music, we

also want to create stories and convey an element of surprise,” Steenbeek points out.

Though the indoor setting and atmosphere are utterly impressive, when the weather allows, the terrace is equally appealing. Overlooking the IJ River and with a splendid view of Amsterdam, it’s the perfect place to engage in the art of people-watching, or bathe in the glow of a splendid summer night’s sunset.

Gastronomic offerings

NEXT’s international atmosphere is mirrored in its regularly changing dinner menu, consisting of small dishes (sharing optional) that tempt you to savour a variety of tastes and textures. Chef Sander Louwerens cleverly manages to add a personal twist to well-known classics and

even transforms humble vegetables such as brussels sprouts – seasoned with Nigerian suya spice – into a flavour sensation. The breakfast and lunch menus include healthy options such as juices, salad, soup or the all-time popular avocado toast, but also an irresistible babka or Korean pancakes with kimchi and popcorn chicken, in case you’re in the mood to indulge. Drinks can be paired with an appetising bar bites menu that features gyoza, Punjabi samosas, oysters and Iberico ham.

While the food and drink offerings at NEXT are certainly enough to merit a trip across the IJ River, it’s the cosmopolitan vibes and that unparalleled element of social synergy that sets it apart from the rest.

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme | Spotlight on Amsterdam
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 35
A decade after opening Pllek (Amsterdam’s largest green restaurant), entrepreneurs Sjoerd Steenbeek and Michiel de Vries decided it was time to tell the ‘next’ story.


Multifaceted Ghent

Located about an hour west of Brussels, Ghent is a multifaceted city that beckons visitors to discover a plethora of restaurants, museums and cultural events. Though often overlooked, Ghent has the perfect mix of urban flair, rich history and an impressive architectural heritage. In short, there’s something for everyone!

TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK Spring in Ghent. Photo: Bas Bogaerts © Stad Gent- Dienst Toerisme City pavilion and Belfry. Photo: Martin Corlazzoli © Stad Gent-Dienst Toerisme

Be prepared for a few ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ as you wander through Ghent’s enchanting cobblestoned streets. During the Middle Ages, Ghent was one of Europe’s most important trading hubs, and many of the magnificent buildings in its historic centre still bear witness to its affluent past. Among them and perhaps the most renowned, is Gravensteen. Erected in the 12th century and also known as ‘the Castle of Counts’, it is the best-preserved medieval fortress in Flanders.

Ghent counts three UNESCO-listed monuments. Two of them are beguinages (complexes constructed for pious women who did not take religious vows): the Great Saint Elisabeth Beguinage, built between 1873 and 1874 and located just a stone’s throw from the centre in the Sint-Amandsberg district; and the Small Beguinage

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme | Focus on Ghent
Great Saint Elisabeth Beguinage. Photo: Martin Corlazzoli © Stad Gent-Dienst Toerisme Cobblestoned streets.
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 37
Photo: Martin Corlazzoli ©Stad Gent - Dienst Toerisme

Our Lady ter Hoyen, dating back to 1235. The Belfry of Ghent, a symbol of prosperity dating to the early 14th century, also has a place on the UNESCO list. It is one

of the three towers dominating the city’s skyline. The other two, standing at its sides, are the imposing Saint Nicholas’ Church and the Gothic Saint Bavo’s Ca-

thedral. The latter is especially noteworthy since it houses The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, one of the most famous works of art, rendered by Flemish Primitive painters Hubert and Jan van Eyck. Consisting of 20 panels and completed in 1432, the colossal piece exhibits an abundance of detail and has inspired many artists in the centuries that followed.

Speaking of art, Ghent has a myriad of museums worth discovering, including the Museum of Fine Arts (housing works by artists such as Hiernoymus Bosch and Rubens) and the STAM, which presents the history of the city and is the perfect place to start your visit.

Hungry or in need of some refreshment? With everything from fine dining to pubs where you can sample the city’s beers, Ghent has something to suit every taste and budget. Ghent also happens to count more vegetarian and vegan restaurants than Paris or London!

Relax in Ghent

marketing and communication coordinator. “We offer visitors use of our rental e-bikes, e-choppers and e-steps, which are fun and sustainable transport options to make the small hop to the city centre.”

To explore historic Ghent in a comfortable way, you might want to consider a stay at the Van der Valk Hotel. The family-run hotel offers a three-for-two-days package deal, including an extensive breakfast buffet with hot and cold dishes and a breakfast chef who will cook your eggs to preference and perfection.

“We have strong environmental principles,” says Naomi Quist, Van der Valk Hotel’s

After touring the city, you can relax at the hotel’s spa or do a workout at their gym. There’s also the option of dining at Restaurant Cocotte, which offers classic Belgian and European cuisine. Alternatively, make your way to the tenth floor to sky bar Mr Sato, for authentic Asian sharing dishes. After your meal, it’s a treat to end the evening with a cocktail on the roof terrace.

Van der Valk Hotel Ghent opened in 2021 and mirrors the Ghelamco Football Arena opposite, with its reflective blue glass and rounded shape. The hotel is well suited to business travellers as it is easily accessible from the E4 and E17 motorways. “On special days, such as ‘Compliment Day’ or at Easter, we show our personal touch by leaving a small token in your room,” says Quist. Staying at this modern, four-star hotel is set to make a visit to Ghent even more enjoyable.

State-of-the-art design hotel. Enjoy a culinary experience at Restaurant Cocotte.

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme | Focus on Ghent
TEXT: MONIQUE GADELLA | PHOTOS: HOTEL VAN DER VALK A warm welcome awaits you at the Van der Valk Hotel in Ghent. Museum of Fine Arts.
38  |  Issue 77 | April 2023
Photo: Bas Bogaerts © Stad Gent- Dienst Toerisme

Green surroundings close to Ghent’s centre

If you are looking for an oasis of peace close to the historic city centre of Ghent, you should definitely book a stay at Hotel Den Briel. The hotel has tranquility in its DNA. After a day out in Ghent, relaxation awaits at this spacious and green location.

Hotel Den Briel is a relatively new hotel that opened its doors only a few years ago. Comfort, warm, friendly and serene are only some of the words that describe this spacious hotel. The exceptional green surroundings are also unique. Eva Van Cauwenberghe, communication manager at Hotel Den Briel, explains: “Our hotel is located on the northside of Ghent, just a short walk from the centre. Compared to hotels in the city centre, we offer space in combination with green outdoors. Looking from the outside, you would never guess that there is a beautiful garden hidden behind the doors. And a terrace that offers you views over the park with a pond.”

Everything at the hotel is ample. “Not only are the hallways and the lobby large, but the parking garage also has wide spaces,” mentions Van Cauwenberghe. “And of course, our rooms offer plenty of amplitude.” Hotel Den Briel has double and twin rooms, as well as some single rooms. The family rooms are also quite popular. Van Cauwenberghe: “If you are looking for extra comfort and space, you can book a deluxe or superior room with a terrace. Some even have a bath to relax in after a visit to the city centre.”

Its proximity to Ghent’s harbour and industrial area also makes Hotel Den Briel the

perfect place to stay while on business. “We offer different services for our business guests. We can prepare a takeaway breakfast and we have meeting rooms complete with coffee arrangements. The lobby can also be used for business lunches,” highlights Van Cauwenberghe.

The next time you visit Ghent, you can now consider booking a room at Hotel Den Briel, which has plenty to offer, including its peaceful location.

Hotel Den Briel offers:

- Fitness room with views over the garden

- Spacious lobby with bar, terrace and garden

- Full breakfast buffet

- Meeting rooms

- Late checkout available

- Bike rental service to discover Ghent

- Services for people with special needs

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme | Focus on Ghent
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 39

Savour non-alcoholic spirits crafted in Belgium

With NONA’s premium non-alcoholic spirits, you can enjoy an unforgettable mocktail moment without sacrificing quality, taste or experience. NONA offers superior non-alcoholic alternatives to gin and spritz cocktails. Their spirits have won various international awards and are being served in Michelin-starred restaurants in Belgium.

“The idea for NONA June originated on a midsummer Friday night during an afterwork drink with friends,” explains Charlotte Matthys, bioscience engineer, founder and creator of NONA. Charlotte was looking for a non-alcoholic alternative for her favourite cocktails. The bartender served her a drink that was much too sweet for her liking. From that moment, she started experimenting with herbs and botanicals to create NONA June. Three years later, she crafted NONA Spritz, the world’s first non-alcoholic spritz.

“I asked for feedback from several top chefs and sommeliers in order to per-

fect the recipes for NONA June & NONA Spritz.” Both spirits are the result of a complex distillation process. “The absence of alcohol makes it more difficult to truly capture a variety of different flavours and sensations,” explains Charlotte.

NONA June combines nine herbs in a balanced taste profile with fresh citrus flavours followed by an herbal touch. That is where the name NONA comes from – it refers to the Latin word for ‘nine’. June refers to the juniper berry, which is the main ingredient in gin. NONA Spritz contains no less than 27 herbs as well as blood orange, orange zest and gentian root.

You can mix NONA with tonic or soda and use it in a variety of mocktails. “It is also a great base which you can mix with fresh ingredients to create other flavours,” shares Charlotte. Book a table at Michelin-starred restaurants The Jane Antwerp or Boury, where you can enjoy NONA drinks with exclusive pairings. You can also purchase a bottle at retail

stores such as Delhaize and Gall&Gall, or through the NONA webshop.

NONA June & Tonic: Ingredients

5 cL NONA June

10 cL Indian tonic

Ice cubes


Orange peel


Fill a glass with ice cubes, add NONA June followed by Indian tonic and stir gently. Garnish with basil and orange peel.

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme | Focus on Ghent
TEXT: DEBBY GROOTEMAN | PHOTOS: NONA DRINKS NONA June & Spritz + Serves. Charlotte Matthys.
40  |  Issue 77 | April 2023
Photo: Studio Leau Photography

Plant-Based Protein Manufacturing


12-13 April

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

This summit will bring together leading businesses in the plant-based food and beverage industry with co-manufactures, innovative equipment and solution providers to explore key challenges and opportunities in effectively scaling up plant-based production and manufacturing to meet the growing demands of the consumer.

IamExpat Fair

22 April

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The biggest expat event in the Netherlands, where internationals can find

everything they need, attend informative workshops and presentations, and network with other expats and expat-friendly companies. Expat-orientated businesses can reach their audience and talk directly to them, learn what expat priorities are and get to know the community.

Global Investor Forum 2023

5 April

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

The Global Investor Forum facilitates private capital match with promising investment-ready Life Sciences, MedTech, E-health and AI start-ups, scale-ups and tech transfer opportunities. It creates a powerful network of leading biomed entrepreneurs, formal and informal investors, physician key-opinion leaders

and innovation executives. The event offers an excellent platform for leading investors, start-up founders and CEOs of innovative companies to discuss investment opportunities to expand and strengthen their business network.

Cybersec Europe 2023

19-20 April

Brussels, Belgium

A two-day exhibition and conference focusing on fighting cybercrime and boosting innovation. The trade show offers a mixture of best-in-class leading tech firms offering current and ground-breaking future solutions on an inspiring expo floor, experts sharing the latest in-depth strategic and technical know-how during keynotes and workshops, cross-sectoral meetings and get-togethers.

Art Brussels

21-23 April

Brussels, Belgium

The 39th edition of one of the most renowned contemporary art fairs in Europe is a unique opportunity to discover the richness of the artistic and cultural scene of the European capital. The fair welcomes around 25,000 visitors each year and attracts a growing number of collectors, gallerists, curators, art professionals and art lovers from around the world.

Discover Benelux | Business | Calendar
Business Calendar
TEXT: DANA MARIN Plant-Based Protein Manufacturing Summit. IamExpat Fair. Photo: IamExpat Media Galerie Julien Cadet, installation view. Photo: Bill Saylor Solo show
42  |  Issue 77 | April 2023
Cybersec EU2022.

Be the best you

Trainer and coach Yasmina Fadli has more than 15 years’ experience helping clients to overcome obstacles, shape their dreams and connect to their true identity. Whether you’re looking to switch careers, start a business or to take on a new challenge for 2023, Yasmina can help you put your best foot forward.

With a career working for businesses and start-ups alongside personal development and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) training, Yasmina Fadli is an expert in personal growth. As an empowerment coach and transformational trainer, she helps individuals, start-ups and companies to activate their full potential and create a brilliant future.

“I kickstarted my coaching career working with teenagers in vulnerable settings,” explains Fadli. “I call myself a growth architect – I’m focused on growth, whether that’s personal, organisational or societal.”

Helping female entrepreneurs, leaders and managers is another key focus area for Fadli. “I love to help women increase their confidence and step more purposefully and powerfully into the world,” she says.

Through the power of coaching and conversation, Fadli helps individuals to look beyond any limiting beliefs about themselves that might be holding them back. “Ultimately, I want to help people fall deeply and madly in love with themselves,” she says.

On top of helping people overcome selfdoubt and increasing confidence, Fadli can also help you clearly set out your personal goals and aims. She says: “If I can help any teenager or adult uplevel their life so they can do what they’re born to do, I’m contributing to creating a better society.”

Fadli offers coaching and training virtually, in-person, in one-to-one or group sessions and alongside video courses.

Discover Benelux | Business | Top Business Coach Benelux
Enjoy a varied line-up of great music at the Dutch seaside.

Out & About

Expectations of milder temperatures inevitably mean that people hope to seize opportunities to spend time together outdoors during springtime. Blooming tulips and artful flower arrangements famously draw garden lovers to the likes of the Keukenhof Gardens. Yet the spring weather is notoriously changeable and indoor events, including art exhibitions, offer alternative fallbacks in case of wet April days.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Calendar
TEXT: STUART FORSTER UFO, Foreign Nature, by Julius Horsthuis.
44  |  Issue 77 | April 2023
Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 45

King’s Day

27 April, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Flea markets, live music and street parties are attended by people celebrating and wearing orange across the Netherlands on King Willem-Alexander’s birthday. The royal family will walk together from Rotterdam’s Afrikaanderwijk district, take a water taxi across the river and end their public appearance on the Binnenrotte Square. Expect plenty of cheering along the way.

Grevenmacher Wine Market

14 April, Grevenmacher, Luxembourg

Winemakers from across the Moselle region present their newest wines at the Grevenmacher Wine Market. Visitors can sample and order both still and sparkling wine at the annual event known locally as the Wäimoart, traditionally held on the Friday after Easter. It’s an opportunity to bag a bargain while gaining an in-depth overview of the region’s viticulture.


Until 20 August, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands Highlighting 12 celebrations, including everything from Passover to Carnival, the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics exhibition explores the many different ways in which special events are celebrated all over the Netherlands. The fo-

cus is especially on the ceramics used (usually the finest) and the stories that come with these objects. The Leeuwarden museum is housed inside the handsome 18th-century city palace of Maria Louise van Hessen-Kassel, Princess of Orange Nassau.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Calendar
Celebrate! Photo: Thomas Nondh Jansen Narcissus Festival.
46  |  Issue 77 | April 2023
Photo: Pixabay
Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Calendar
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 47
Baroque Influencers, Peter Paul Rubens, Esther voor Ahasverus © The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)

UFO: Unidentified Fluid Other

Until 30 April, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Closing at the end of the month, UFO is an innovative and exciting exhibition which explores the identity of art and artists in the virtual sphere. Works by the likes of Harriet Davey, Julius Horsthuis and Lu Yang will be displayed at the Nxt Museum, the Netherlands’ first museum to focus on new media art forms.

Baroque Influencers

Starting 21 April, Antwerp, Belgium

Jesuits, Reubens and The Art of Persuasion in the Seventeenth Century runs at the St Charles Borromeo Church until 16 July. Exploring how Antwerp’s leading figures thought, worked and worshipped, the exhibition is part of a wider city festival celebrating leading figures from bygone times and the legacies of their ideas. Loaned books, prints and etchings will be on display.

Narcissus Festival

14 April, Rocherath/Mürringen, Belgium

Every year in April, the wild yellow daffodil blossoms abundantly in the Natagora/BNVS conservation area of the Valley of the Holzwarche, located in eastern Belgium. Come and enjoy a guided walk or follow the signposted hiking trail. Children’s entertainment is also available.

Floralia Brussels

1 April to 4 May, Brussels, Belgium

The 20th edition of the springtime flower show will be held over 14 acres of parkland and in the greenhouses of Grand Bigard (GrootBijgaarden). The castle, which has 12thcentury origins, is located just a few kilometres west of central Brussels. More than a million bulbs, including over 400 varieties of tulip, are planted for this multi-hued event.

Keukenhof Flower Parade

22 April, from Noordwijk to Haarlem, the Netherlands

Imaginatively decorated floats decked with colourful, blooming flowers will be paraded through four cities with grandstand seating. The event is now in its 76th year and ends at the Keukenhof, Lisse’s popular botanical garden. The cities of Lisse, Hillegom, Sassenheim and Voorhout all offer spectators seats in this eagerly awaited parade.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Calendar
Keukenhof Flower Parade. Photo: Tulip Festival Amsterdam Grevenmacher Wine Market.
48  |  Issue 77 | April 2023
Photo: ©Ville de Grevenmacher

Voices of Passion

29 April to 7 May, Leuven, Belgium

Leuven’s Park Abbey is the setting for Gregorian chanting and polyphony researched by the Alamire Foundation. The abbey was established in the 12th century as a place of worship for Praemonstrian Fathers – alternatively known as the Norbertines, after their founder, Saint Norbert of Xanten. Voices of Passion begins with English polyphony, Music for St Katherine by The Binchois Consort.

The Warehouse Project

28-30 April, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Manchester’s popular club night event is making its first international appearance over three nights in the Netherlands’ second-largest city. The main venue will be the former Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (RDM) shipyard. Boat parties and after parties are planned too. Participating DJs include Bicep, Peggy Gou and Seth Troxler. Expect numerous revellers to visit from the United Kingdom.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Calendar
The Warehouse Project. Photo: The Warehouse Project
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 49
King’s Day. Photo: NBTC-Tom-Knol

Food and drink festivals

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Food and Drink Festivals in the Netherlands
50  |  Issue 77 | April 2023
Dance, play and have a blast while enjoying a wide variety of beers at TAPT.Photo: TAPT Festival, Image Solutions, TK Photography

in the Netherlands

As soon as spring makes its appearance in the Netherlands, gastronomes all across the country start gearing up for the much-anticipated season of food and drink festivals. Almost every weekend means something to look forward to, whether you’re in the mood for sipping Champagne to the sounds of chansons or tucking in to sizzling street food.

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Food and Drink Festivals in the Netherlands
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 51

Once again, festival season in the Netherlands is alive and kicking this year, and it isn’t just music fans who are in for a varied programme of events. Art, film and gourmet festivals are also part of the repertoire, with the latter gaining more and more popularity every year; and rightly so. Not only are these colourful celebrations of food and drink the perfect way to discover new tastes and cuisines while enjoying a pleasant, laidback atmosphere, but most of them can be visited free of charge. You’ll find hip and happening food trucks (some 2,500 in total, and counting) at nearly every kind of event, but there’s no arguing that festivals focusing almost exclusively on pleasing the palate have a special flavour of their own.

Sample the more than 300 wines on offer, from old-world classics to new-world gems, at Bacchus Wine Festival. Photo: Bacchus Wine Festival
52  |  Issue 77 | April 2023
Rollende Keukens is celebrating its 15th edition this year. Photo: Luciano de Boterman

A slice of history

Food and drink festivals started popping up in the early 1980s, and Preuvenemint in Maastricht was one of the first. The four-day festival, which will be celebrating its 40th edition this year from the 24 to 27 August, is the largest of its kind in the Benelux region, attracting upwards of 100,000 visitors. More than 30 restaurants and culinary entrepreneurs come together at Vrijthof Square – the beating

heart of the southern Dutch city – to offer their best creations, from cheese boards and freshly shucked oysters with mignonette sauce, to golden frites dressed up with truffle mayonnaise. There’s no shortage of entertainment either, with bands and DJs taking to the stage and playing until the late hours of the evening.

Many food and drink festivals have followed in Preuvenemint’s footsteps, and

Discover Benelux |  Cover Feature | Food and Drink Festivals in the Netherlands
Enjoying the great food and atmosphere at RotterdamseKost. Photo: RotterdamseKost, Evert Buitendijk Letting loose at TAPT’s silent disco.
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 53
Photo: TAPT Festival, Image Solutions, TK Photography

though most can’t boast such a long history, they all have something unique to offer. TREK (meaning ‘appetite’ in English), is one of the largest gourmet gatherings certainly worth checking out. From May until September, roughly 35 food trucks make their way through eight cities in the country, settling at beautiful parks with offerings that include everything from Dutch ‘poffertjes’ (mini-pancakes) to Italian antipasti. A golden oldie, celebrating its 15th edition this year from 17 to 21 May, is Rollende Keukens, held at the Westergasfabriek, one of Amsterdam’s most bustling hotspots.

According to Festival Atlas, a website publishing information and statistics about the country’s festival landscape, the majority of food and drink festivals take place between the months of May and September, with major cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht hosting the most festivals.

With hundreds of food and drink festivals to choose from, it’s no easy feat deciding where to go and what to try, so we’ve rounded up a selection for you. Get

ready to work up an appetite, because this season promises to be delicious!

Taste of the city

If you’re considering a trip to one of the major Dutch cities, why not plan it around these popular food and drink fests? Taste of Amsterdam, for example, lures con-

naisseurs to the Amstelpark around the beginning of June with more than a hundred artfully prepared dishes showcasing some of the capital’s leading restaurants, not to mention exciting culinary workshops given by renowned chefs. Haarlem Culinair, which takes place in early August over the course of three days at the Grote

Discover Benelux |  Cover Feature | Food and Drink Festivals in the Netherlands
From burgers to healthy bowls, there’s something for everyone at TREK. Photo: Festival TREK Wining and dining at TREK as evening falls.
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Photo: Festival TREK

there are wine festivals aplenty, giving you the chance to broaden your oenological palate. Not to be missed is the Bacchus Wine Festival, held during six days in June at the Amsterdamse Bos. The spotlight is on more than 300 wines (from old-world classics to new-world gems) which can be enjoyed with burgers, steaks and great music. Het Wijnfestijn, held this year from May to August in six Dutch cities, is also worth discovering. Each edition features approximately one hundred excellent wines which can be paired with sumptuous cheese and charcuterie boards. For a sparkling celebration, head to Amsterdam’s Rembrandtpark during Ascension Day weekend and feel transported to ‘la douce France’ as you clink glasses at the Fête du Champagne et Vins.

Discover Benelux |  Cover Feature | Food and Drink Festivals in the Netherlands
Photo: Fête du Champagne et Vins Diverse entertainment at Haarlem Culinair.
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Photo: Haarlem Culinair

Of course, wine and bubbles aren’t the only festival-worthy drinks. Beer lovers will want to make note of the TAPT Festival (only open to adults aged 18 and up, with the exception of the Sunday edition in Utrecht), scheduled to take place from May to September in seven cities. Fancy sampling some of the most elegant gins and rums? A ticket to the Gin and Rum Festival (from €22 to €27) will buy you a glass for tasting the more than 100 spirits on offer. The festival will visit four Dutch cities this year, in April and May.

The most distinctive

Most food and drink festivals give visitors the chance to taste a wide variety of delights, but there are also smaller gourmet festivals that are more specialised, focusing on a particular cuisine, product or style of cooking. Among them are the Tapas Festival, scheduled for 20 May at the DOK Amsterdam City Beach; the Funky Vegan Festival hosting its fifth edition the following day at the same location; the Japan Light and Food Festival, which will take place in Amsterdam on 20 and 21 May; and the Pizza Lovers Festival, organised on 13 May in Apeldoorn.

More information (including exact dates and locations) about all the festivals mentioned here can be found online. And to think that is but a small selection of the myriad ways you’ll be eating, drinking and celebrating in the months ahead!

Discover Benelux |  Cover Feature | Food and Drink Festivals in the Netherlands
TAPT Festival. Photo: Image Solutions TK Photography TAPT Festival
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 57
Tucking in to awesome food at Rollende Keukens. Photo: Luciano de Boterman
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Tulips in all colours of the rainbow. Photo: Château de Grand-BigardFloralia Brussels

Floralia is a family affair, with the château’s ancestral owners deeply involved in its success. The current owners, Xavier and Nicole Pelgrims de Bigard, live in the Flemish Renaissance castle, so the grounds are only open to the public for this month-long flower show. The 20th edition looks set to be a fabulous affair, with carpets of flowers ushering in spring.

Nowadays, even stately castles have to pay their way, but Grand-Bigard has chosen the path of beauty, not blatant commercialism. The château-owner’s son, an expert in Flemish Old Masters, clearly has an eye for beauty. Cédric Pelgrims de Bigard enthuses over Floralia, this “riot of colours and scents” and confesses to “virtually becoming a spring bulb specialist”

along the way. Cédric praises his father, Xavier, for having the foresight and aesthetic sensibility to launch this flower show two decades ago. Mindful of his responsibilities as the 40th ancestral owner of the château, Xavier, the proud proprietor, created Floralia Brussels to help maintain this splendid home for future generations.

Tulip Mania on its travels

What also sets Floralia apart is the way it seamlessly taps into Flemish history and international botany. The family are proud that their azaleas and rhododendrons come from Exbury Gardens, the Rothschild’s English New Forest estate, arguably the world’s finest collection. Even so, in this patch of Flemish Brabant, it’s the tulips that have pride of place in spring.

Xavier’s wife, Nicole, points out that it was a Flemish diplomat and botanist who introduced tulips to Europe in the 16th century. Augier Ghislain de Busbecq was posted to the court of Suleiman the Magnificent, where, naturally, the Ottoman Sultan prized tulips above all other flowers. Turkish tulips reached Europe in the 16th century and stunned the newly-wealthy Dutch merchant class with their air of exoticism. Indeed, the tulip got its name from the resemblance of its petals to the intricate folds of fabric in a turban. Rare tulips were traded, collected and displayed, then immortalised in art.

At the height of Tulip Mania, in 1637, one bulb cost over three times Rembrandt’s fees. To speculative Dutch merchants,

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The resident Pelgrims de Bigard family imported their azaleas and rhododendrons from Exbury Gardens, the Rothschild’s world-class English estate. Photo: Château de Grand-Bigard & Floralia Brussels
Discover Benelux |  Feature | Tulip Fever in Floralia Issue 77 | April 2023 | 61
Beautiful blooms. Photo: Château de Grand-Bigard & Floralia Brussels

one glorious flower surpassed Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. For a brief, intoxicating moment, the tulip became the ultimate status symbol, a definition of how much you were worth. The tulip trade is often dubbed the first financial bubble, a frenzied market dependent not on intrinsic value but on resale price inflation. The bubble burst when supply exceeded demand. Fortunately, you can now buy bulbs at Floralia, without paying top guilder, as the Golden Age Dutch merchants once did.

Cavalcade of history

The château itself has seen a cavalcade of distinguished owners ever since the first lord of Grand Bigard held sway in the 12th century. Big names in Belgian history include Guillaume Rogman, appointed Captain of the City of Brussels by Philip the Good in 1422. His reward for bringing peace to Brussels came in the form of the keys to the city, including to the Brabant Mint. In turn, the castle also belonged to Charles V’s treasurer, the Count of Brabant, the Regent of the Low Countries and to a Knight of the Golden Fleece. Such glories seemed long past when, in 1902, the Pelgrims de Bigard family were faced with a crumbling ruin. Thankfully, Raymond de Bigard then restored the estate, and the rest is history.

The château, which dates back to the 12th century, is the embodiment of Flemish Renaissance style, a blend of russet bricks and creamy stonework. Topped by a slate-tiled roof and a suitably bulbous tower, the architecture seemingly echoes the presence of the bulbs below.

The moated château is framed by centuries-old beech trees and classically designed French gardens, a fashion that spread to Belgium from 17th-century Versailles.

The haunting mood is accentuated by a five-arched stone bridge which leads to a romantic gatehouse by way of a draw-

bridge. Completing the dreamy picture is a medieval keep that surveys Flemish Brabant to the Brussels Atomium – and an ancient chapel that often becomes an interior showcase for yet more floral displays.

Floral festivities

Every edition of Floralia is a revelation, but expect floral designs ranging from exotic birds to symbols of love. A heartshaped knot of red tulips gives way to woodland paths lined by spring flowers, a vibrant array of crocus, hyacinth and daffodil designed to lift the spirits. A “surprise” Venetian parade of characters in floral carnival costume brings the gardens to life.

Grand-Bigard boasts over a million spring bulbs spread over the 14-hectare park. The team scours the Netherlands to source the loveliest bulb varieties and the most talented producers. Over 400 varieties of tulip are on display, whether pure, solid-coloured gems or with the streaked, flame-like patterns that so enchanted Dutch Golden Age merchants. Xavier, the current chatelain, has also recreated a rainbow-coloured maze of tulips, based on the original 18th-century maze design that only came to light here this century. At heart, Floralia is a powerful reminder that Brussels is Europe’s greenest capital city.

Flower-struck visitors may go home with more than memories. The huge greenhouses showcase constantly changing displays of floral bouquets, designed by talented florists. The estate shop by the gatehouse sells plants and summer-flowering bulbs, including lilies, dahlias and gladioli. Tulip-hunters must respect the seasons: spring bulbs are only on sale in late summer, ready for autumn planting. For now, tulip-lovers will have to make do with feasting their eyes and marvelling about a time when tulips were more precious than paintings. Floralia will take place this year from 1 April to 4 May.

Discover Benelux |  Feature | Tulip Fever in Floralia 62  |  Issue 77 | April 2023
Floralia in all its glory. Photo: Château de Grand-Bigard Floralia Brussels
Discover Benelux |  Feature | Tulip Fever in Floralia Issue 77 | April 2023 | 63
Discover Benelux | Feature | 48 Hours in Luxembourg City
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Grund neighbourhood has a village feel to it. Photo: Pixabay

Hours in Luxembourg City

Nestled in the heart of western Europe, in a tiny fairytale-like country, Luxembourg City offers a blend of rich history, modern architecture and a relaxed atmosphere. This layered city, unfolding on hills and ravines, is perfect for a short break and will charm you with its historic Old Town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stunning architecture, underground tunnels and museums.

Day 1 – A trip down the history lane Luxembourg’s defining characteristic is the contrast between modern and medieval. When visiting, you’ll want to explore both sides of the city.

On day one, step into the enchanting historic Old Town and prepare to travel back in time. Here, you can explore the cobblestone streets and alleys lined with quaint cafés and local shops. Luxembourg used to be the strongest fortress in Europe until its demolition in the 19th century. Many of its gates, forts and casemates still remain and can be visited nowadays.

Issue 77 | April 2023 | 65 Feature | 48 Hours in Luxembourg City

Start the day at Place Guillaume II, the main square of the city. In the past, this square was the site of a Franciscan monastery, which was gradually dismantled in the 19th century. Its materials were utilised in the construction of a new town hall. Today, this square hosts festivals, concerts and markets.

As you stroll through the Old Town, or ‘Ville Haute’, you’ll be surrounded by history and culture, with hidden gems at every turn. The best starting point for diving into Luxembourg’s history is the Grand Ducal Palace, the official residence of the grand-ducal family. The palace is open for tours during the summer months and showcases the rich history, culture and traditions of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Outside the summer season, you can visit the Luxembourg City History Muse-

um instead. It displays permanent and temporary exhibitions that illustrate the history of the city, spanning more than a thousand years.

The Wenzel Circular Walk

After a lunch at one of the modern restaurants in the city, energy replenished, get ready for a long walk: the Wenzel Circular

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Discover Benelux | Feature | 48 Hours in Luxembourg City
Narrow street in Grund. Photo: Pixabay Pétrusse Parks, a quiet oasis in the city. Photo: Waldo Mig

Walk. This scenic route takes you along many historical monuments telling the intricate history of the city of Luxembourg and will bring you to the lower part of the city, the picturesque Grund neighbourhood. Grund was the base of the former fortress and possesses a charming

village atmosphere. The area’s historical remnants, such as ancient city gates and fortress walls, set against a magnificent natural backdrop, make the effort of walking well worth it. Some of the city’s landmarks included in the walk are: Chemin de la Corniche (offering a splendid view

over the valley), Bock Casemates (an extensive network of tunnels that run several kilometres and span several stories, used for protection during the war), Neumünster Abbey and Alzette River. The Wenzel Walk takes about three hours and you can do it on your own or with a guided tour.

At night, the city comes alive with its illuminated buildings, adding an extra touch of magic to your visit. Enjoy the nightlife and taste some traditional dishes like ‘Judd mat Gaardebounen’ (national dish of smoked pork and broad beans) or ‘Bouneschlupp’ (soup with green beans, potatoes and bacon).

Day 2 – Art, culture and nature

Luxembourg has numerous scenic vistas, and every day is the perfect opportunity to appreciate some of them. You can’t visit Luxembourg City without going for a ride in the Pfaffenthal Lift, a modern panoramic glass lift that connects the Pescatore Park to the Pfaffenthal district in the Alzette valley.

Issue 77 | April 2023 | 67 Discover Benelux | Feature | 48 Hours in Luxembourg City
Luxembourg Philharmonie, Frame & Work. Photo: Luxembourg City Tourist Office Sun setting over the Neumünster Abbey. Photo: Cedric Letsch
Issue 77 | April 2023 | 69 Discover Benelux | Feature | 48 Hours in Luxembourg City

The greatest ever Vermeer exhibition

For the first time in history, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has dedicated an exhibition to one of the most renowned Dutch Golden Age painters, Johannes Vermeer. With 28 out of 37 of his paintings displayed until 4 June, it’s the largest show ever organised featuring the artist’s work.

Though one of the most famous artists in the world today, the work of Johannes Vermeer remained pretty much unknown until the late 19th century. With this fantastic exhibition, the Rijksmuseum is revealing the story of this mysterious artist.

In his paintings, Vermeer showed an intimate world that couldn’t be found in the works of his contemporaries. Unlike many of them, he wasn’t painting much. Today, we only know of 37 of his artworks.

Who was Johannes Vermeer?

We know very little about Johannes Vermeer’s private life. Born in the small Dutch town of Delft in 1632, he spent most of his life there. The painter married Catharina Bolnes, who was from a wealthy family, and they had 15 children together.

Besides being a painter, Vermeer also worked as an innkeeper, an art dealer and was the leader of the painters’ guild in Delft for a few years. Having different jobs was probably the reason for a small painting production.

Johannes Vermeer’s style

Vermeer is world-famous for his tranquil paintings filled with beautiful light and detail. He depicts domestic scenes, religious subjects or cityscapes. His protagonists are primarily women reading letters, playing instruments or doing everyday chores.

70  |  Issue 77 | April 2023 Discover Benelux | Feature | The Greatest Ever Vermeer Exhibition
TEXT: TEA GUDEK SNAJDAR | PRESS PHOTOS RIJKSMUSEUM The Rijksmuseum is currently home to the largest exhibition ever organised about the famous 17th-century painter, Johannes Vermeer.

Most of Vermeer’s paintings were made in only two rooms of his house. That’s why the artworks’ set-up is always very similar. In almost all of his pictures, the light is coming from the left; in some, we can see the window through which the light enters the painting. In one of Vermeer’s famous paintings, The Milkmaid, we can

even spot a small piece of glass missing in a window, allowing Vermeer to play with the different light intensity.

Vermeer’s paintings are also a great source of information about everyday life in the 17th century. For example, he placed maps of the Netherlands and Eu-

rope in a few of his paintings. We can also spot some of the Delft Blue pottery and tiles in his interior scenes.

In numerous paintings of his, women are reading letters, showing how a high percentage of people in the Netherlands were literate back then. The scientific

Discover Benelux | Feature | The Greatest Ever Vermeer Exhibition
The Milkmaid, Johannes Vermeer, 1658-59, oil on canvas. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt. Photo: Rijksmuseum

development of that time is also present in his artworks. In his Woman Holding a Balance (c. 1662 - 1664), a lady is shown using a scale. In The Astronomer (1668) and The Geographer (1669), we can learn much about science during the Dutch Golden Age.

Vermeer often used the ‘camera obscura’ when working on compositions for his paintings. This device was a box with a small mirror inside of it. Light comes in through a tiny hole which projects the image of an object it’s pointed at onto the canvas. It was a great help when working on a sketch of the composition.

Exhibition at the Rijksmuseum

By displaying 28 of his paintings, the Rijksmuseum brings Vermeer closer than

ever to viewers. In collaboration with another important Dutch museum, the Mauritshuis in The Hague, they extensively examined the artworks before the exhibition. Therefore, the show unveils a lot of new information about the famous painter, helping us gain a better understanding of his work.

Paintings travelled from all around the world to the exhibition. The most exceptional are three paintings from the Frick Collection in New York that have never been on loan. An exception was made because their home museum is currently under construction. The rest of the artworks travelled from Washington, Japan and various European collections, making this a unique opportunity to see all these paintings in Amsterdam.

It’s exciting to admire these pictures displayed next to each other. Especially when recognising some of the same models, furniture or clothes in different artworks. The exhibition explores various themes in Vermeer’s art, from cityscapes, Biblical and domestic scenes, to portraits. His View of Delft (1660-1661), for example, one of the first paintings you see at the exhibition, immediately shows how talented he was at capturing light and detail.

One of the exhibition’s highlights is Girl with a Pearl Earring (1664 - 1667). Seen among his other masterpieces, it’s understandable why this captivating painting became one of his most famous. Another noteworthy work is Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (c. 1657 - 1658). During a recent restoration, it was discov-

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View of Delft, Johannes Vermeer, 1660-61, oil on canvas. Mauritshuis, The Hague. Photo: Mauritshuis, Rijksmuseum

ered that the painting’s background had changed. This exhibition unveils how Vermeer originally painted it.

To this day, Johannes Vermeer still surprises us with his fantastic paintings.

Even if you didn’t get the chance to visit the exhibition at the Rijksmuseum (it quickly sold out), you can still have a look at the special section of their website dedicated to the show, and explore his artworks up close.

Issue 77 | April 2023 | 73 Discover Benelux | Feature | The Greatest Ever Vermeer Exhibition
Photo Rijksmuseum, Henk Wildschut Vermeer exhibition. Photo Rijksmuseum, Henk Wildschut Woman Holding a Balance, Johannes Vermeer, c.1662-64, oil on canvas. Photo: National Gallery of Art, Washington, Widener Collection


Friends in a Field

Those paying a visit to the Belgian coast this month might want to make straight for Mu.ZEE Ostend, for the superb exhibition Friends in a Field: Conversations with Raoul de Keyser. The blockbuster exhibition of 14 artists is a paean to the late, great Belgian painter, Raoul de Keyser, and the legacy he leaves to this day.

De Keyser’s career spanned five decades, in which time he became the quiet master of modest abstraction. But for many years he was an overlooked talent with his subtle paintings passing by unnoticed in a world of pop art and Abstract Expressionism. No big paint spills here, no Brillo pads. De Keyser casually daubed paint here and there, his inspiration coming from his hometown of Deinze, where he spent all his life.

It was only the mid-1990s when De Keyser broke through internationally, after which


his star rose exponentially and his influence reached across the globe. Friends in a Field brings together some of the most talented living artists, as well as De Keyser’s contemporaries. There is a vast variety of media and style in the 40 works in the survey, but all the artists share De Keyser’s attentive skill in finding the poetic in the everyday.

There are paintings by fellow Benelux greats Luc Tuymans and Rene Daniëls, and more colourful offerings from Americans Patri-

Aldeneyck Chardonnay Heerenlaak

Since 2017, Belgium and the Netherlands have been sharing the first cross-border designation of origin for wine, called ‘Maasvallei Limburg’. Winemaker Karel Henckens is one of its founding fathers. For 20 years now, he and his wife Tine have been growing grapes on the banks of the River Meuse and transforming them into award-winning still and sparkling wines.

Their Aldeneyck winery focuses on classic, cool-climate grape varieties: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay. Without exception, they deliver elegant, refreshing wines, testifying to northerly growing conditions as well as quality aspirations in the vineyard and cellar.

Chardonnay Heerenlaak is one of their premium wines, made in a dry, oaked, Burgundian style. After the grapes ferment in stainless-steel tanks, the wine matures for a further half-year in

French oak barriques. Of these, around 25 per cent are new barrels, which impart more oakspice flavours to the wine.

The result is a gastronomic, golden-hued wine, which balances freshness, a delicately round mouthfeel and aromas and flavours of apple, citrus fruit and grilled pineapple, supported by toasted hazelnuts, butterscotch and gingerbread spices. Pair with grilled seafood, chicken, salmon or trout, and with the many delicacies our North Sea has to offer. Mature vintages are an excellent partner for mushroom-based dishes, sushi and sashimi or aged cheeses.

-13 per cent alcohol.

-Serve at 10-12°C.

-Ageing potential of five to eight years.

-Available at the winery and from specialist wine shops.

-Aldeneyck’s onsite wine bar and shop is open on Fridays and Saturdays.

cia Treib and Matt Connors. Each showcasing a talent for distilling the fragile world around us and presenting it back in lyrical works of art.

Friends in a Field: Conversations with Raoul de Keyser is on show at Mu.ZEE, Oostende until 21 May 2023.

Kristel Balcaen is a Belgian wine writer, educator and consultant. She holds both the SommelierConseil and WSET level 4 diploma, and was named Belgium’s Champagne Ambassador and Wine Lady of the Year in 2018. Matt Antoniak is a visual artist and writer living and working in Newcastle, UK. He works mainly in painting and drawing and is a founding member of the art collective M I L K. TEXT: KRISTEL BALCAEN | PHOTO: KRISTEL BALCAEN TEXT: MATT ANTONIAK | PHOTOS: ANDREA ROSSETTI Friends in a Field: Conversations with Raoul de Keyser, Mu.ZEE, Ostend.
74  |  Issue 77 | April 2023 Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Columns

An eclectic mix of musical genres

Different DJ’s every night

Free entrance

On the industrial NDSM-wharf of Amsterdam

From dining to dancing


In the heart of Brussels, a stone’s throw from the Place de la Monnaie, is the Ricotta & Parmesan restaurant. With its warm and typical Italian trattorias decoration, this restaurant specialised in pasta dishes, wood-fired pizzas and homemade antipasti continues to seduce gourmets since 1999. What makes it special? Choose the type of pasta and the sauce of your choice, you then have 375 combinations to try.

Zotte Mouche located a few steps from the Grand-Place of Brussels immerses its customers in an authentic atmosphere of the Belgium of yesteryear. Carbonnade, vol-au-vent, croquettes, fries... all the Belgian specialties are on the menu. The beers are obviously very important in this place which puts Belgium at its forefront The perfect place to enjoy the good mood of the Belgian attitude.

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