Brussels 30 days Around
‘Movember’ 2011 Issue #3
18 and above only. Contains some rude words.
NOT SEEN IT? TUT TUT!
CLOSING in a few weeks, on 27 November, is the Tutankhamun exhibition, out at Heysel. So there’s still time to get along to a showcase of one of the biggest archaeological sensations ever: the discovery, by Howard Carter in 1922, of the young Pharaoh’s tomb and its countless treasures.
Pink Film: Ten days of movies exploring alternative sexuality. More on Page 3...
Featuring more than 1,000 objects, including scientiﬁcally accurate replicas, this reconstruction is both fun and educational and something of a multi-sensory adventure. There’s more than 4,000 square
metres of space, conjuring up the atmosphere and showing the treasures of King Tut’s era. Three of the Pharoah’s burial chambers have been recreated to exact dimensions (partly by using Carter’s original sketches and notes). These contain more than 1,000 striking objects, including the famous golden death mask, which have all been scrupulously recreated by Egyptian craftsmen under the supervision of scientists and renowned Egyptologists. So, if you’re digging for exhibition gold, this one is 24-carat, make no mistake. For information on tickets and opening times, click here.
Around Brussels in 30 days - Page 2
Guys get their MoMo working ...and more Brussels news This time last year, your correspondent was clean shaven ahead of the month of ‘Movember’ and the perfect excuse not to shave his upper-lip for 30 whole days. It’s ‘Mo’ as in moustache – and the idea is that men, supported by the ladies in their lives, grow a ‘tache, sponsored by their family, friends and colleagues, to raise awareness and money for men’s health issues, partciularly prostate cancer. These Mo Bros (and their Mo Sistas) are helping to change the face of men’s health by eﬀectively becoming walking, talking billboards promoting private and public conversations about these often-ignored issues. to ﬁnd out more about supporting these guys, click here. Quelle service? We all know that religion, sex and politics are subjects to be avoided at social gatherings. Here, in Belgium, we can add service (or an infamous lack of it) to the list, alongside dogshit on the streets and the dreaded Belgocracy. Service with a smile would be a great thing, but just reasonable service would be a good start! Yet it’s a big issue here. We’re all busy, so we quite rightly want delivery of goods and services we request without any hassle. Plus, in these days of ﬁnancial pressure, we need value-for-money and to see that our hard-earned cash is appreciated. All most of us ask is to get the service that we want and are expected to pay for...but it often doesn’t happen. Is it really that hard for people in business to deliver on their promises? Stories of customers having to re-order phones three times are legion, while service staﬀ are forever turning up at the wrong time or even on a diﬀerent day. Meanwhile, incorrect bills are so common as to be almost normal. Of course, there are pockets of great service as well but, as human beings, we tend to ﬂag up the bad experiences. Help is at hand at last. Readers will doubtless be delighted to know that a new association will come into being in 2012, with the goal of championing the cause of expats living and working here. Of course, whatever improvements come about from this should beneﬁt the natives too. Watch this space for news on progress.
Meanwhile, if you have any thoughts, bright ideas or comments, please send them to email@example.com
Jobs and Lady Helene Sugar please stand up? More here.
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In the pink
Veg in, veg out! A brush with the artist Coming up this month is a short exhibition by Irish artist Helen O’SullivanTyrrell. Called Heartlands, it opens on Friday, 18 November at 19:30, when Helen will be there to meet and greet visitors. It runs until the Sunday at the Art Gallery Charlotte van Lorreinen in Tervuren’s Nieuwstraat. Telephone 02.306.35.73 or visit the gallery’s website here. Wining on R99 wines is putting on a ‘hidden gems’ tasting of outstanding but lesser-known wines, made in small quantities at aﬀordable prices. Go and try these wines, which you can buy by the bottle, just in time to make a (hopefully) appreciated Christmas gift. The tasting is on Tuesday, 8 November, 20:00, at the British & Commonwealth Women’s Club, Rue au Bois, Woluwe-St-Pierre. The cost is €40 and you’ll need to move quickly by calling Elizma on 0477.755.763 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org More general info can be found here. A little later next month and again just in time for the festive season, join the French independent wine makers in the Grand Palais in Lille. From 18-21 November visitors wiill be able to sample thousands of vintages. Well, maybe not all in one go... Learn more by clicking here. Artisan Workshop Weekend Those looking for something a little diﬀerent in the long, long run-up to bloody Christmas could do worse than this: on 19-20 November, in Brussels and across Wallonia, a plethora of artisanal workshops will be open to the public from 13-19:00. Entry is free and you can learn more here. Girls on top Brussels Pioneers is a just-launched female entrepreneur-based project designed to act as an incubator for innovative women. The plan is to help, over a three-year period, 60 companies to develop their project idea, while supporting 30 ﬁrms as they get started and aiming to create 20 brand-new companies led by women. Innovative services, backed up by a not-for-proﬁt organistation, are geared towards helping to create 40 new jobs, while boosting the image of women entrepreneurs. So will the next Wilhelmena Gates, Stephanie
Veggie chefs, your time has come. Well, nearly... On Friday, 25 November, from 11.30-14.30, you can learn how to make vegetarian meals as tasty and inviting as ‘conventional’ meals, while keeping them nutritious. This style of cooking is way past the nut cutlets stage and, these days, is all about the likes of paneer, buckwheat, quinoa, kamut and, ok, nuts and seasonal veggies too. At ﬁrst nibble it looks a bit pricey to join a class (€55) but this includes ingredients, a three-course sit-down meal, drinks, recipes ...and doggy bags for any leftovers. Find out more by sending an email to email@example.com Pride in your Poppy The Royal British Legion Brussels Branch has just launched its annual Poppy Appeal in honour of fallen soldiers in the two world wars and other conﬂicts. The appeal has begun with collection tins in the usual places but several new venues have become involved. These are: The 6 Nations Pub, Rue Grétry; The Old Oak, Rue Franklin; English House, Marché aux Herbes: Churchill’s English Pub, Rue de l’Ecuyer; Jack O’Shea, Irish Butcher, Rue le Titien and Waterstones bookshop at Bd Adolphe Max, as well as several more. Get up-to-date on this year’s appeal here. Every week in Brussels Enjoy an informal, networking coﬀee morning at the Karsmakers coﬀee house from 9:00 to midday every Thursday (OK, that’s a lot of coﬀee!). You can ﬁnd Karmakers at 20 Rue de Treves, close to the European Parliament in Ixelles – click here for more on the venue. And don’t forget that every Thursday evening there’s a Singles Night in the Wxyz bar of the Aloft Hotel from 18:00. This new-ish venue is close to Schuman and therefore easy to get to. These nights oﬀer a great opportunity to make new friends...and maybe more. All you need to know here.
Many of the stories on these two pages, written by Tony Mallett, ﬁrst appeared in the Brussels and leisure sections of New Europe. Click here for more.
Here’s something for the more curious and adventurous movie goer - the 10th anniversary edition of the Pink Screens Film Festival runs from 10-19 November, at Cinema Nova in downtown Brussels. As the name suggests, it’s primarily aimed at those who live a non-gender-stereotyped lifestyle (ie mostly gay/lesbian). Back in 2001, a team of enthusiastic volunteers created the Genres d’à côté ﬁlm club at the Arenberg Cinema, where, each month, ﬁlmgoers get involved in the various issues surrounding gender, through an exploration of diﬀerent sexualities and minority lifestyles. Boosted by its success, the Pink Screens festival was launched, oﬀering an abundance of ﬁlms, exhibitions and parties, including the not-to-be-missed Pink Night closing party on Saturday 19 November. For this special anniversary, Pink Films oﬀers a varied programme full of surprises, with quirky ﬁlms ﬁlled with tenderness and sensuality, ﬁction features and activist documentaries. Included are Circumstance, pictured above, and Stadt Land Fluss (below). More details are available here.
Getting an appetite for Restaurant Week Bookings are already being taken for Restaurant Week, which runs from 28 November-4 December, oﬀering aﬀordable food at around 500 restos across the country, many in Brussels. Dining can often be costly but that’s not the case during Restaurant Week. It’s a concept that comes from New York and, nearer to home, Amsterdam launched its own version a couple a years ago. Previous editions have involved top-drawer eateries and it’s all very tasty! Last time out, more than 40,000 diners visited one-or-more of the restaurants on
the list. Not only does the idea allow the public a viable opportunity to discover and enjoy diﬀerent restaurants, but the owners also get an opportunity to convince a new crowd of diners with a three-course menu. With Restaurant Week now extended to cover the whole of Belgium, there’s sure to be one of the 500+ participating restaurants near you. Those in Brussels include: La Truﬀe Noir; Millesime; Smoods (below); The Dominican and La Brise and the three-course dinner price in most is €27.50 and €22.50 for a three-course lunch. More about it all, here.
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Shot through the heart Karen McHugh speaks to a young Italian photographer about Brussels, Milan and the professional diﬀerences between the two cities and cultures It’s 28 degrees on a Saturday in October in Place du Londres, Brussels. The sun is beaming down on Raﬀaella Quaranta, who is sitting on a bench with a white dog at her feet. It’s one of her favourite spots in the city, and not far from where the 27-year-old lives with her DJ boyfriend. Raﬀaella came here two years ago to begin a six-month Erasmus programme and, like so many, she ended up staying. A graduate of the Brera Fine Arts Academy in Milan, Raﬀaella previously studied tourism, but realised it didn’t give her the room for creativity that she needed. She did an internship in Milan, working on an installation for the Museum of Contemporary Photography. I ask if there are diﬀerences between Italy and Belgium as regards photography. She tells me that the photography culture in general here is geared more towards technique. In Italy, it was all about the concept and Raﬀaella found it was much more creative there. However, it wasn’t all rosy back in Milan. “There wasn’t a lot of funding for our school, sometimes we had no cameras, no lights, no studio to work with.” In this way, the mix of Milan and Brussels works well. She describes her own style as a combination of the chaos and colour of the Italian way with the new approaches she has learned in Belgium. And who inspires her? “My favourite photographer is Duane Michals. He’s from New York - one of my biggest inﬂuences. I like how he portrays the movement of people. He tells a story with his pictures.” She also likes fashion photographer Sarah Moon and, in some ways, tries to emulate her work. I ask her what Brussels is like on a professional level. In one sense, since it’s small, it’s easy to make contacts, she says. On the other hand, it’s not as international for photography as other cities are, so that’s the trade-oﬀ. “Because of this, there’s more competition, it’s more closed, and people don’t share their information as freely.” However, the Italian plans to stay in Brussels for at least another year. Her boyfriend, also a photographer, is ﬁnishing his Masters here, when he’s not turning tables at London Calling and others. I take a look at her pinhole camera, a plastic camera unlike any I’ve seen before. She explains that the light takes a while to come in - it can be used to capture images over a period of hours. She likes that it takes pictures that look like paintings. But for her action shots she uses a digital camera, a Canon 5D. I ask about her favourite things to photograph. Immediately she replies: “Music. It’s how I started oﬀ. I had a lot of musician friends growing up, and I just sort of hung around when they were practising...and took pictures”. It’s kind of ﬁtting, then, that this is the theme of her latest exhibition, which opened at the start of October at Piola Libri, an Italian bookshop/culture centre on Rue Franklin. Getting ready for an exhibition can take months. “Photography works in series,” she explains. “You put the work in over a period of time. For example, one of my exhibitions was about feelings...How people’s feelings change depending on their environment. For this exposition I had to take portrait shots of people all over Brussels, and then by the sea on an island in the north of Holland.” It’s her second exposition this year, the previous one having taken place at Recyclart, with 200 visitors the ﬁrst night and for which she did an interview for TV Brussels. She’s also had the opportunity to photograph Italian bands
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Guess that’s why they call it the (Rhythm and) Blues... By Tony Mallett
Dolly don’t ever go away... Verdena and My Awesome Mixtape at La Botanique. Verdena were her favourite band growing up, so to be able to take pictures of them here shows how far she has come. Here are a few more questions I asked Raﬀaella: Q. What do you like best about Brussels? A. For me, how international it is. In Milan, there can be divisions between northern and southern Italians. In Brussels, everyone seems so friendly, no matter where you come from. There’s a positive vibe and good energy. Stereotypes are not as easy to see as they are back home; it’s not as easy to categorise people. Q. What is your favourite bar in the city? A. That would have to be London Calling - I like how you can meet all kinds of people there. Q. Where can people learn more about photography in Brussels? A. They could start by going to the Brussels Art Factory, which has just opened.
Hello Dolly! the irresistible Broadway musical, will be performed in Brussels from 24-27 November. It tells the story of one of the most entertaining characters on the musical stage, Dolly Levi. This colourful show, later made into an award-winning ﬁlm, ran for a stonking 2,844 performances on Broadway. The Brussels Light Opera Company’s production features a full chorus and orchestra supporting the 12-member cast and tickets plus further information are available here. The shows take place at Centre Culturel d’Auderghem, 183 Boulevard du Souverain, 1160 Brussels and adults will pay €25.
Make a date in your diary for the next event of the Brussels Rhythm and Blues Club, on Saturday, 19 November at Le Sounds in Ixelles (28, Rue de la Tulipe). This time out, the special guests are Los Animistas (from Madrid) who will be joining houseband Eric Moens’ Jive. Los Animistas play rock from the 60s and 70s featuring classics by Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones, late Beatles, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and The Kinks. Jive will be performing their ever-popular R’n’B repertoire, (think Fleetwood Mac, The Yardbirds, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, Ry Cooder, Rory Gallagher et al). The gig will start bang on 21:00, the on-the-door price is €10 and mighty ﬁne Italian food is available too. Not only that, but the next BRBC night, on 10 December, will feature The Pretty Things playing an unplugged set for your delight and delectation. This truly legendary band were contemporaries of The Rolling Stones and The Kinks back in 1960s London. The guys, pictured right looking perhaps a little less ‘pretty’ than they used to, will be playing an acoustic set with Phil May on vocals, Dick Taylor on guitar and Frank Holland on guitar and harmonica. Pretty unmissable, that one. All you need to know, right here.
Elsewhere in the city, don’t miss the near-legend that is Bob Christopher turning out not once, but twice at Churchill’s. He plays the downtown English pub on Friday, 25 November before returning a week-or-so before Christmas to reprise his set (16 December). Prior to those gigs, at the same venue on 12 November, go and catch Dirk Devriendt, who also does an encore Chez Phil on 10 December, just in case you miss him ﬁrst time out. Either way, just be sure to support live music!
Q. What is your favourite neighbourhood in Brussels? A. Matonge! It reminds me a little of the South of Italy where I’m from, with all the chaos! Q. What tip would you give to take better pictures? A. It’s all about the lines. Remember ratios: if you’re taking a landscape picture of the seaside, divide it into 3/4 beach, 1/4 sea, for example. You can also use diagonals – turn the camera, and one half on the diagonal should be the sea, the other half the sand.
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And another Thing: Horror prequel set to infect the city
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Beyond the cringe... Oﬀ the Wall: Picturenose’s ‘10 Best’ lists have proved popular of late. Here, Colin Moors and James Drew each present their ‘bottom’ ﬁve movie moments - the ones that make you place a ﬁst as far into your mouth as it will go.
generation to ‘black up’, for this hugely overrated ‘masterpiece’ by David Lean? Too many cringeworthy parts to mention - a pity that Guinness didn’t try out for a revival of The Black and White Minstrel Show, don’t you think?
Colin’s Choices 5. Anything Sean Connery ‘shaysh’ in Highlander (1986) Dir. Russell Mulcahy The big stumbling block for me here is Connery’s accent. His co-star, Christophe Lambert, plays a Scot (Lambert is French) and sounds like an eastern European who learned his language from wolves - but he hadn’t been speaking English for more than a year or so. Connery, however, had been approximating English for knocking on 50 years. The only real Scot among the main actors, his Spanish character “shpeaksh every shentenshe jusht like Shean Connery” would.
4. The ending of Pretty Woman (1990) Dir. Garry Marshall ‘She rescues him right back.’ Pleeease. Even I managed to enjoy most of this mega chickﬂick with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, but the mush-fest that passes for a denouement made me nauseous. ‘Enjoy’ it here.
4. The ﬁnal showdown with the shark in Jaws (1975) Dir. Steven Spielberg I really feel bad about this, as when I was a boy, the thing was über-scary – such stuﬀ as nightmares are made of. But the shark (‘Bruce’) - when it leaps out of the water on to the boat to eat Brody (Roy Scheider) - has all the menace of a blancmange and reminds me of Bela Lugosi thrashing around with a rubberized tentacle or two to make the audience believe he’s wrestling a Kraken.
Picturenose’s James Drew, a huge fan of the terror classic, has been biting his nails at the prospect of a prequel to The Thing. In Brussels as you read this, advance word has it as pretty damned ﬁne. Read on... John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), itself a remake of the Christian Nyby/Howard Hawks 1951 classic, The Thing From Another World (1951) (both of which are adaptations of John W. Campbell’s original short story, Who Goes There?) is perhaps the ﬁnest horror-science ﬁction ﬁlm ever made. Carpenter’s movie, although it fared badly with critics and at the box oﬃce on its original release, has gained a cult following over the years, and is now rightly regarded as a classic. A prequel is clearly a better way to go than a follow up – those who have seen the ﬁlm will be only too aware of its ambiguous, potentially apocalyptic ending, with MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Childs (Keith David) left alone in the freezing wreck of their Antarctic camp, each unsure of the other’s identity (human or alien), but acknowledging, over a bottle of J&B, that there’s nothing they can do about it. Some 29 years have passed since then – no amount of CGI would have convinced viewers that the actors haven’t aged accordingly, but there are rumours of a little ‘surprise’ at the end of the new ﬁlm... Ryan Hamelin, of Climbinghigherpictures. com, has provided a distinctly lukewarm appraisal of the new ﬁlm, but most reviews on IMDB.com indicate that the prequel is
either very good or excellent. But who knows? Perhaps, as with the original, appreciation will only grow as the years pass – the critics in 1982, virtually to a man slammed it. The fools – they missed so much in what is now rightly regarded as one of the 20th century’s landmark horror ﬁlms, with shape-shifting eﬀects from Rob Bottin (way before the days of CGI) that are still jaw-dropping, and with a tight, spare screenplay by Bill Lancaster that focuses on the paranoia of an enclosed group, facing the fact that one (or more) of their number is a monster in hiding, with remarkable characterisations from the all-male cast, each of which provides a nuanced, subtle evocation of their reaction to the situation. The prequel tells the story of what happened at the Norwegian camp, which led to the escaped ‘dog’ arriving at the American research outpost. Dutch director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. is at the helm, with American Eric Heisserer (A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Final Destination 5 (2011)) as writer. And here’s the deal on the story – in an isolated Norwegian Antarctica scientiﬁc outpost, a ground-breaking discovery becomes a ﬁght for survival when an alien is unearthed by a crew of international scientists. The shape-shifting creature has the ability to turn into a replica of any living being but, inside, it remains inhuman. As the tagline for the original put it, ‘Man is the warmest place to hide’.
Anyway, paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has travelled to the desolate region for the expedition of her lifetime. Joining a Norwegian scientiﬁc team that has stumbled across an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, she ﬁnds an organism that seems to have died in the crash eons ago. But it is about to wake up. When a simple experiment frees the alien from its frozen prison, Kate must join forces with the crew’s pilot Carter (Joel Edgerton) to battle a creature that has nothing less than world domination on its agenda... Van Heijningen Jr., to be fair, has sworn blind since beginning work on the project that he is only too aware of the esteem in which Carpenter’s ﬁlm is held, and promised that all the key scenes in the original will be explained. I’ll be ﬁrst in line at the cinema, so look out for a full review in Bxl30Days, as well as on Picturenose.
do like a good musical. But this number from Huston’s execrable mess is the most irritating song-and-dance routine ever committed to ﬁlm. Particular joys are the conspiratorial tones adopted by the lead as she prances around, conﬁding to anyone who cares that ‘We got Annie’, and the unbelievably irritating dance that the ‘wallah’ performs. Here it is for your delectation and, for this reviewer, it is topped only by one ‘magic moment’ in the movies.
Jeﬀ’s photocall has Brussels bouncing
3. Bond’s Barbara Woodhouse impression in Octopussy (1983) Dir. John Glen Not the nadir of James Bond, but certainly Roger Moore’s lowest point in playing him. 2. ‘We Got Annie’ song-and-dance routine in Annie (1982) Dir. John Huston Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I
And James’s Winner Is... 1. ‘That’ bit at the end of Dirty Dancing (1987) Dir. Emile Ardolino Even Picturenose’s Emma, when she has ﬁnished swooning over Patrick Swayze, agrees with me that this is simply the most cringeworthy ending in movie history, from ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner’ to, well, the most jaw-droppingly awful dancing you have ever seen. Nothing more to be said, really - watch it again here.
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3. ‘Still raining’ from Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) Dir. Mike Newell This is right at the end, the big reconcilliation scene, when the guy (Hugh Grant) and the gal (Andie MacDowell) get together. Grant mumbles something about it raining and MacDowell manages to make the schmaltziest bit of script even more sick-making: “Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed.” Just plain bloody awful. Click here, if you absolutely must. 2. The impossible interface from Independence Day (1996) Dir. Roland Emmerich Jeﬀ Goldblum goes to the alien ship, uploads a virus and shit blows up. Go on, try and tell me you could interface between an old valvebased computer and your Xbox360 with only a cable and a bit of software based on outdated tech. I would say it ruined the ﬁlm for me, but by that point I was already considering sticking fountain pens into my eyes. And Colin’s ‘Winner’ is... 1. The whole damn thing that is Batman & Robin (1997) Dir. Joel Schumacher My number-one choice and, as I can’t pick a speciﬁc scene in this ocean of mis-timed, badly cast and poorly acted dross, I’m going to go ahead and nominate the whole thing. For those of you who haven’t – and I urge you to keep this situation unchanged – three words; avoid, avoid, avoid. James’s Choices 5. Sir Alec Guinness as Godbole in A Passage to India (1984) Dir. David Lean What inspired one of the greatest actors of his
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Around Brussels in 30 days - Page 8
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Brussels in mauve and white By Cedric Dautinger
Try to learn the local lingo?!? Je ne give a sh*t pas, mon ami With a little (OK, a lot of) application, our ex-Brussels but now Sweden-based correspondent, Mike Moscrop, could have learned to talk his usual utter nonsense in a language other than his mother tongue. Here’s why he didn’t... Do you need to speak another language to survive in Belgium? Non. Although people might tell you that you need to speak French or Flemish (or both) to get on over here, that’s just bolleaux. “Well, it’s certainly nice,” they may add, a bit put out. Nice? ‘Nice’ is a city, ‘Nice’ is biscuit, ‘nice’ is not learning two completely diﬀerent languages in a divided country of just 11 million that can’t even get a credible government together. Living as an expat can be daunting enough as it is, without the chore of having to learn a new language. Especially for the English who, to be extremely charitable, are traditionally lazy in that department. Having lived in Brussels for nigh-on a decade, I’ve never found a need for French or Flemish. I did try the former for a couple of years, but checked out when everything sounded like Qu’ack, Qu’ick, or Qu’eer. Too many apostrophes. As for Flemish/Phlegmish, who’d learn a language they’d only listen to while carrying a large umbrella? As for the three people in the middle-of-nowhere that speak German
– don’t even go there. Then again, I can understand why speaking one or indeed both of Belgium’s two main tongues would be advantageous. Because, unless you’re retired, on holiday or have no aspirations to amount to anything other than a piece of expat pub furniture, then you’d do well to start practising. Brussels is teeming with opportunities for bi-lingual expats and, if you’re tri-lingual, the sky’s the limit. But for us average folk, pub crawlers and swivel-headed holidaymakers... well, it’s just a waste of time, isn’t it? Plonking your derrière on any of the terraces in the expat capital of Europe - the Schuman area or across from the modernday Tower of Babel (see above, by Breughel), the European Parliament, on Place du Luxembourg - you’ll ﬁnd yourself drowned out by the familiar grunts, groans and goadings of the liquoured-up Brits, be they parliamentarians, Commission staﬀ or chav families on a £6.99 mini-break courtesy of a voucher in The Sun. With such a large expat community out here, I genuinely ﬁnd you’ll not need to bother with ‘français’ or ‘Nederlands’. No, the European Quarter is certainly English-language turf, with strategically plonked Oirish Pubs keeping all its anglicised inmates locked away from the rest of the city. In these pubs, you ﬁnd most staﬀ parlez no French, and spreken no
Flemish. In fact, some Irish and American bar staﬀ can barely master English... So, again, should you learn French or Dutch in Belgium? Try these three questions: Are you staying in Brussels for more than a year? Are you trying to get a job in a swanky oﬃce? Do you actually give a toss? If your answer to these is a resounding ‘No’, then you’re probably best just learning ‘un bier, s’il vous plaît’, plus ‘merde!’ or ‘putain!’ for when the farmers inevitably hold up the traﬃc on yet another of the ubiquitous strikes (see every Belgium-related article I’ve ever written). Should the answer be ‘Yes’, then you’ve probably already stopped reading this. Useful (well, a bit) phrases for the never-to-be-French speaker What? Two euro? For a bloody coﬀee? = Deux euros pour un café? M’enﬁn... I’m sorry, can you actually speak French? = Pardonnez-moi, mais parlez-vous vraiment français? That’s not a croque...that’s a ham and cheese toasty = Ceci n’est pas une croque. C’est un toast club! Hello, I’m Mike, and I don’t give a rat’s arse! = Salut! Je m’appelle Mike, et je m’en fous! You can read more of Mike’s rants and raves on Food For Thought. Just click here.
Ever wanted to see a football match? Have you ever been to a stadium? No? You shouldn’t miss going at least once if you live in Brussels. The most famous club here is Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht – and here’s why. Founded in 1908, RSCA is easily Belgium’s most-successful club, having won 30 Championships (which explains the three stars on the players’ shirts – one for every ten titles). In second position, FC Bruges has 13 league wins, less than half. Anderlecht has also won the now-defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup (twice) and the UEFA Cup (once), with a couple of European Super Cups thrown in. Several ex-Anderlecht players have stepped up to the football leagues of England and beyond, with a steady stream also playing for the Belgian national team – the Red Devils. Located in the western part of the capital, the team’s Constant Vanden Stock Stadium is named after the father of RSCA’s president. It’s near Astrid Park, and the best way to get there is to take the STIB (subway or bus) and to follow the mauveand-white wave outside. Going by car can be expensive as you can only park for one hour close to the ground. Don’t be disappointed to ﬁnd that, by modern standards, the stadium is relatively small. Then again, Belgium’s small and so is Brussels. Anyway, the club have so-far refused to move to a bigger place, as it would have to be outside the commune of Anderlecht. Prices range from just €5 for the less-popular games against Division 2 or Division 3 opposition to sometimes around €100 for big, crunch matches against the likes of Bruges and Standard Liège. These often sell out months in advance but, for normal matches, it’s pretty easy and relatively inexpensive to see Anderlecht live. Known to be multicultural, like its host city, the team gathers its hefty Belgian support from the North, from Brussels, of course, and even some from the South (where the loyalty is mainly to Liège – latterly a big rival of RSCA’s). There’s always a great atmosphere and many fans don’t go home straight after a match, choosing to eat, have a drink or two in one of the supporters’ bars and generally party on for a while. It can get a little tense before, during and after the bigger games but, generally, it’s OK. A little free advice, though: when heading to an Anderlecht game and unless you actually support Liège, never, ever, wear red! More info here.
Welcome to wonderful Oslo... and to hell with the expense! By Jonathan Di Blasi
RUE DES BOGARDS, 28-40 BRUSSELS 1000 Tel: +32 2 511 52 69, Fax: +32 2 513 51 70 firstname.lastname@example.org www.liquidoma.be OPEN: MONDAY-SATURDAY 10:00-18:30
“Remember. You’re still in Norway....” Snapping me back to reality, I’m reminded that I haven’t gone back to Brussels! I’ve now settled nicely into Norway’s mellow, conﬁdent, comforting capital Oslo, about half the size of Brussels. The smells of great worldly cheeses and salami penetrate my nostrils as I inhale for life, while admiring a selection of handmade chocolates. Which organic bacon should I buy? Choices! It’s not something usual here in Norway, well, not so usual back in the breathtaking west of the country where the rain seems to ﬂood your mind and energy - making it twice as hard to gain a selection of anything but tubed bread spreads. After living nine years in the Western part of Norway, I left for six months in Brussels, living smack in the center of the EU Quarter that graciously blends all 27 European nations, along with many other nationalities, comfortably, as a great city does. Oslo, I’m ﬁnding, enjoys that nice variety of people too: refreshing, reminding me of Brussels, and allowing me to enjoy the many choices and cultures I missed while living outside this capital which obviously thinks equally as internationally as it does nationally. The western part of Norway is home to the old capital, Bergen, which oﬀers a balance between fjords and mountains, tradition and collective development, trying to claim it’s its own country...its friendly introversion diﬀers greatly to Oslo. Most visiting both cities prefer Bergen for its mountainous surroundings. I never thought Norway could house a real city. I’m proven wrong, and I love that. It’s been great discovering what a real city “à la Norvège” is like. Sun shines here in Oslo, more often, but locals have told me to prepare for six months of snow ahead. It will be interesting to experience how this city continues to march forward and thrive while blanketed and freezing. Understanding Oslo as a real city allows me to enjoy all the cultures and gifts the variety of people here enjoy themselves and share with others, like ingredients and recipes they’ve imported from their birthplace. My neighbourhood’s Thai restaurant, for example - Thai makes for usually uneventful dining in other parts of Norway - proved authentic, fresh and delicious last night. Oslo embraces this variety while retaining its traditional Norwegian values of honesty, kindness and relaxed subtlety. Quaintness marries with city life. It’s like I’m enjoying a personal renaissance, living in the comfortable world of Norway, while still getting to enjoy the many things I missed while living elsewhere in this grand country, things I enjoyed in Brussels. Still, there are so many things to discover, friends to make, streets to explore - main ones and those oﬀ beaten paths. And with barely a two-hour ﬂight from Brussels, you too can experience a city oﬀering a down-to-earth, relaxed and worldly atmosphere while you enjoy quality food and drink.
Norwegians appreciate these too, they have the time to explore and enjoy new ingredients and drinks. But you’re right: everything you’ve heard about “expensive” here truly is. Comparing prices to other capital cities and ignoring the recent Euro exchange rate, you’ll immediately ﬁnd it’s pricey here. But do keep in mind that wages are obviously higher to compensate. Meantime, social services are more than life-sustaining. but, if you do make it up here, be prepared to pay plenty, whether you’re buying a beer or a sandwich. Do a bit of research, ﬁnd out how to enjoy your visit without returning home with an empty bank account unless it’s in your plan. Know that international labels cost the same pretty much wherever you ﬁnd them in the world, so shop for them elsewhere to allow your budget to explore local, Norwegian specialties. Searching for local goods at markets, though not cheaper, at least lets you enjoy something new and diﬀerent you may not get to experience elsewhere. Choices and variety to explore in my new city of Oslo excites me; and thanks again to Brussels for preparing me so well. Read more from Jonathan on Twitter @emptywhiskyglas and on his Notes from an empty whisky glass blog here.
Around Brussels in 30 days - Page 12
Page 13 - Around Brussels in 30 days
Buzzing Budapest - in a day
Words and pictures by Lucy Mallows
I lived in Budapest for 12 years and it’s extremely diﬃcult to describe in a short article what I love about the Hungarian capital. There’s so much on oﬀer in this split-identity metropolis: bustling, business-like Pest ﬂattened out on the Hungarian plain and leafy, residential Buda, sedate and elegant like a fading 1940s movie star. Budapest is both old and new, always looking back, aware of its traumatic history, yet ready to embrace new styles, new ideas. It’s easy to cover all the must-sees on foot but, should you get weary, you can whizz about on rattling trams, there’s an eﬃcient metro system, the coﬀee houses and thermal baths (alive and kicking since the Ottoman era), the mighty Danube, more statues than you can shake a stick at, the crumbling facades pockmarked with bullet holes, the ancient espresso cafes or crusty, Soviet-ambience wine bars, ﬁlled with dreamers, poets and wastrels. Budapest combines all these features of the past with the new: fabulous, world-class cuisine, great wine bars, lush parkland and a refreshing, new understanding of the tourist and service industry. It’s the ideal weekend destination, so here’s a guide to a day (and night) in Budapest. These are some of the unmissable items on your checklist but also some of the secret gems that only locals know. 9:00 breakfast at the Gellért The buﬀet breakfast will give you your ﬁrst taste of Hungary, and that taste is paprika-scented, usually heavy on the lard, and not that great for veggies. The breakfast includes salami, cold cuts (remember, this is the land where pork is king!), cheese (the juhtúró – sheep’s curd cheese is tangy and delicious), peppers and the most divine tomatoes you will ever taste in your life. Coﬀee used to be the thick, sticky Turkish variety, but nowadays is more of a cappuccino. Tea will most likely be the ubiquitous, watery ‘Lipton Yellow Label’. Look out for amazing fresh fruit juices: the apricot, peach and the lip-quivering quince are great ways to perk up a morning. 10:00 A swim/sauna/wallow/massage at the Gellért The beneﬁt of staying in the Gellért Hotel is that you are right in place to be ﬁrst in the queue for the massage table and a vast range of bewildering treatments. If you’re staying at the Gellért, all you need do is don your plush, white towelling dressing gown and take the secret 1920s wrought iron lift down to the pool. The Gellért Baths has a huge selection of pools; outdoor thermal pools, an outdoor wave pool, built in the 1930s that unleashes its tide on the
hour every hour, and a gorgeous swimming pool surrounded by Roman columns and hanging plants. The Art Nouveau architecture alone makes this hotel the ultimate location for a weekend break. If you fancy a massage or one of the treatments, book it the day before and don’t forget to tip the underpaid, over-stressed lady who might resemble a tractor driver from Kazakhstan, but will give you a mighty pummelling. The attendants don’t speak much English and can appear very grumpy, but a chipper ‘Jó napot!’ (Good day!) can bring a smile. 12:00 A tram ride to Deák tér and a stroll up Andrássy Avenue From the Gellert, all you have to do is jump on a cranky old tram (No. 47 or 49) in Buda and ride for ten minutes max across the wonderfully green and metallic Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge) to the heart of Pest. Make sure you sort out your tickets (a day pass is a good idea) with Gellért’s helpful receptionists, as the BKV (Budapest’s transport system) ticket controllers are a seriously nasty bunch who just love upsetting tourists, still... 12.10 A stop-oﬀ at the Nagyvásárcsarnok – Main Market Hall If you prefer to stroll across the Liberty Bridge and get your bearings, you can pop in en route to the Main Market Hall and admire the amazing selection of fruit, vegetables, live ﬁsh, lard – in all its forms. There are about 200 stalls on two ﬂoors and a balcony above oﬀering billowing white tablecloths, souvenirs and snacks. Downstairs are the miserable-looking live carp and dozens of pickled vegetables in jars. Items to look out for are the wooden, hand-made toys and embroidered jackets on the balcony. For souvenirs such as paprika powder, pálinka (the local, lethal fruit brandy, made from pears, apricots or plums), and Unicum, a bitter digestif that comes in an anarchist’s bomb-shaped black bottle, you’ll get better bargains in the local supermarket, but the market is fabulous for stocking up on fresh fruit snacks: the cherries, grapes, apricots and peaches are heavenly. It’s open 6:00-5:00 Mon-Fri, 6:00-14:00 Sat. 13:00 Deák tér and a stroll up Andrássy Avenue Deák ter is the very centre of Pest and the transport hub. It’s also the location of the humorously nicknamed Nemzeti Gödör (National Pit), a massive hole dug for the foundations of the new national theatre, which, due to arguments and ﬁnancial wrangling, went elsewhere. The Pit was transformed, using the cunning Magyar mind, into a cultural centre and is a lively place to hang out on a summer evening.
Take a leisurely stroll up Andrássy út, Budapest’s answer to the ChampsÉlysées. This beautiful, tree-lined avenue will take you on a journey into Budapest’s history; it’s ﬁlled with coﬀee houses, smart bistros, museums and swanky shops. If you get weary, you only need to dip under the surface to ﬁnd the Little Underground (Budapest’s Metro 1 – the yellow line), a dinky little ‘metro’ that’s barely underground and was once pulled by horses. It’s the oldest underground railway in continental Europe and opened in 1896, comfortably beating Paris to the honour. Andrássy út leads from Deák tér for several do-able kilometres, to Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square), where the founding fathers and men of learning and inﬂuence are celebrated in a grand square, the gateway to the City Park (Városliget). Heroes’ Square is also home to two great museums, the Fine Art Museum and the Műcsarnok (Art Market). However, before we get to Heroes’ Square, we pass Liszt Ferenc tér, a square bulging with cafes and bars and a great spot for a quick drink and people watching. Crossing over the Little Ring Road (Kiskörút) at Oktogon, we carry on up the avenue, passing the traumatic House of Terror, a shocking, yet well put-together museum detailing both the fascist and communist regimes of Hungary’s tormented 20th-century past. We reach Baraka just in time for a delightful lunch special, best enjoyed on one of the greenest terraces in town. Husband and wife team, David and Leora, make every guest feel special at Budapest’s best restaurant and be sure to leave room for one of New York pastry chef David’s amazing desserts. 15:00 Kerepesi Cemetery After lunch, continue up to Heroes’ Square for a quiet potter among Hungary’s great and good, then take a bus 30A to Keleti Station and walk for a few minutes along Fiumei út to Kerepesi temető (cemetery). Now, before you tell me this is a creepy, eastern European vampire sort of afternoon pursuit, Kerepesi is, in fact, one of the most romantic, peaceful, beautiful parks in Budapest. It’s a nature reserve, a statue park, a history lesson and a homage to Hungary’s cultural legends all rolled into one. It’s also much more secluded than Margit-sziget (Margaret Island) in the middle of the Danube river, where a multitude of local families will be screaming and demanding ice cream all afternoon. 17:00 Coﬀee and cake at Centrál Coﬀee House From Keleti Station, we take the famous number 7 (the hetes) bus to Ferenciek tere, the square of the Fransiscans. A ﬁve-minute walk towards Kálvin ter and we are at the Centrál Kávéház which ﬁrst opened in 1887.
The Centrál coﬀee house soon became the hub of intellectual life, although it was almost exclusively male scholars and writers who made it their local, and it was totally renovated and reopened in 1999. Now it is the place to have a strong, reviving coﬀee and some famous Hungarian cake before retiring to the hotel to prepare for the night ahead. 19:00 Eklektika After a quick freshen-up back at the Gellert Hotel, the 47 or 49 tram once again whisks party-goers from Buda to the heart of Pest. In the 1990s, Ágota started the ﬁrst regular café/bar/club/venue in Budapest for gay women and their friends (before that it was the occasional awful night out at a dodgy bar in the back-end of beyond) at a setting near Astoria, but recently upgraded to this central local, in Pest’s theatre district. These days, Eklektika is more mainstream, catering not only to gay customers but also to theatre-goers, an alternative crowd, the young and hip and a collection of tourists drawn by the friendly ambience and delicious aromas from the kitchen - the pizzas are highly recommended and the wine list is excellent. 21:00 Instant Just along the road from Eklektika, Instant is the most bizarre bar in town. Its bought an entire block of ﬂats, complete with courtyard, and transformed it into a huge entertainment complex with bars, discos, live bands and other events in diﬀerent apartments, each with its own unique and wacky décor. Check out the upside-down room and the rabbits ﬂying across the courtyard. 22:30 Capella Café Capella, on the Danube Embankment, opposite the Liberation Monument, is always reliable for a wild night out. Laci Birta started this club night in 1995 and the drag shows are packed with gay and straight visitors as it’s considered one of the more hip, alternative venues in town. There’s dancing on several ﬂoors and lots of bars. That’s your day in Budapest. Phew. And we haven’t even been up in the Castle, wandering about the Buda Hills, down in the caves or out in the artists’ colony at Szentendre. We’ll just have to leave that for another time. Jó utat és szép hétvéget! (bon voyage and have a lovely weekend!) Check out Lucy’s blog, Disappearing Budapest, here, if you’re interested in the culture, architecture and secret history of Budapest.
Around Brussels in 30 days - Page 14
Page 15 - Around Brussels in 30 days
Don’t just plan it. De Panne it
The Getaway 2...
By Martin Banks
Fun in Dunkerque? You bet! By Dirk Vandereyken. Photos by Kim Van Houtte No need to ﬂy high in order to join the high rollers: located at only a 30-minute journey from the Belgian border is Dunkerque casino, an attractive location not only for gamblers, but for people who appreciate ﬁne dining and great entertainment as well. Moreover, one needs to be only 18 in order to join the ever-growing ranks of both small- and high-stakes gamblers that ﬂock to the centrally located, modern building owned by Groupe Tanchant, which has no less than 21 casinos in its portfolio. Tourism Best known for the part it played in the World War II – the British evacuation through Dunkerque allowed the Allied forces to rescue onethird of a million troops and preserve much of the equipment later used against the German army – Dunkerque nonetheless attracts a great many tourists looking for something entirely diﬀerent. Thanks to the lower taxes, the city acts as a giant shopping mall for foreign visitors, while the harbour museum, the Mémorial du Souvenir and the Lieu d’Art d’action Contemporaine are all popular locations. Granted, the city’s largely post-war architecture varies from plain ugly to interesting, but there does seem to be something to hold anyone’s attention for a reasonable stretch of time. A boat trip has recently been added to the growing list of tourist activities, while the country just outside of the city limits is just as ﬂat as a – well, very ﬂat plate – lending itself easily to bicycle trips from Dunkerque to Bergues and back. The Casino One of the most interesting places in Dunkerque, the Casino does take a while to get used to, as the exotic trees are lined up behind glass in front of a red wall. Its glass, yellow and red exterior belies a cosy, beautiful interior consisting of an art deco and tropical mixture, with tight shapes, many corners and evocative colours. As most casino aﬁcionados will have guessed, the entire thing also smells very nice, enticing visitors to stay. Gambling needs to be a well-controlled activity that can’t be allowed to grow into an addiction, but for those who like to take their chances once in a while, the Dunkerque casino oﬀers 200 slot machines and tables where people can try games of stud poker, English roulette, boule, blackjack and – of course – Texas hold’ em poker. Because of the lower age limit, the atmosphere tends to be less formal and stiﬀ than usual, giving a more mainstream and colourful ambiance instead. There’s no long registration procedure and, when we visit the playing halls, we’re given a
free chip to put in a machine to bet on one of three digital horses. Alas, we didn’t win anything, not even the bottle of champagne or free holiday. As is the case with most businesses of its ilk these days, the casino does oﬀer something more than just gambling: there’s a reasonably-sized theatre hall, for example, and restaurant La Cascade oﬀers tasty dishes without charging too much, with the homemade foie gras and speculaas as our €13.50 favourite starter. We also tried the sea devil medals with chorizo and polenta bars (€14 euro), the sint jake shells (€16) and several desserts (each costing €5) and came to the conclusion that you get what you pay for: no spectacular, inventive dishes, but good-value meals. Maybe we’ll check out some restaurants in Dunkerque next time we return, as there’s bound to be some interesting act performing on stage at the casino soon. Dunkerque Casino 40, Place du Casino 59240 Duinkerke Frankrijk Tel: +33 (0)18.104.22.168.77 More info here
As we sent out this magazine, the school half-term was upon us and, if like this writer you are a parent, you’ll often be scratching your head thinking of ways to keep the little ones occupied. If you miss your chance to follow our advice this time around, do keep it in mind. A short break by the seaside may not be the obvious option at this time of year but, actually, a trip to the Belgian coast for a few days really is ideal at any time. You never know, with the recent Indian summer we’ve enjoyed, you might also be blessed with unseasonabe weather too. One of the best places to head for is De Panne, well-known for its nature reserves and the widest beach on the coast – as the local tourist guide describes it “a golden yellow paradise”. Speaking of the beach, it’s without a single break-water and, as such, no coincidence that the ﬁrst sand yacht was built here, in 1898. Created by the Dumont brothers, it was the beginning of a sport for which De Panne has become renowned. Driven by stiﬀ breezes coming oﬀ the North Sea, these sailing cars swoop at extraordinary speed along the edge of the waves. But there is a lot, lot more to De Panne than the beach - it also oﬀers an all-yearround programme of attractions, including concerts, processions and ﬁreworks. A good place to search for what’s on is the excellent website run by De Panne Toerisme which contains all manner of information ranging from accommodation and sport possibilities to events and gastro features. A large part of De Panne’s present fame as a holiday centre depends on its hotels, camp sites, holiday villages and restaurants. A good place to lay your head for a couple of nights is the Donny Hotel, a very comfortable, four-star hotel in a particularly quiet part of the town. It oﬀers ﬁrst-class accommodation for all ages, but is especially well-suited for families as it also oﬀers superb indoor recreation, including a steam room, sauna and swimming pool. A trip to De Panne is also likely to give you unforgettably tasty memories aﬀorded by some of the local restaurants. Some of the local dishes and specialties of local cooks are worth the trip on their own. One of the very best on the whole coast has to be Le Flore, a Michelin-listed restaurant on the main shopping street, where French chef Ludovic Verlande produces simple but superb food at reasonable prices. Although he’s lived in De Panne for 40 years and run Le Flore for 21 of them, Daniel Colonna-Cesari, the owner, hails from Corsica and he and Ludovic successfully combine the very best of French and Italian cuisine at this top-notch eatery. The menu changes every four weeks but always includes a ‘creative’ oﬀering and most of the ingredients are sourced locally, usually in nearby Bruges. Daniel’s Flemish wife, Jacqueline Gilles, plays a full part in what is guaranteed to be an enjoyable visit. Another excellent place to eat is La Coupole which is often full of families. Run by Jean-Paul Bonnez, who has lived in
the town all of his life, and his wife Christine, this 64-seat restaurant specialises in seafood but also does great Scottish beef. The resto, open all year, was completely renovated four years ago (only the ﬂoor remained unchanged!) and Jean-Paul is already planning other possible changes. What does not change, though, is the excellence of the menu, including scallops, pheasant and lobsters, and a great wine list, including Californian and Chilean varieties. For those in search of the strictly informal, try the bistro-style Huyze Armalot, run by Franky Baert and his wife Sandrine. The delightfully decorated interior is surrounded by photos of their children and youngsters will certainly feel at home at this cafe-cum-restaurant. The food is rather good too, featuring a lovely range of salads and puddings. Franky readily concedes that the choice may be limited but the quality of his oﬀerings more than compensates. High tea is served on the ﬁrst Saturday of the month, although you will need to book.
38 FOSSE AUX LOUPES 1000 BRUSSELS Tel: 02 223 62 23 WWW.STERLINGBOOKS.BE
After dining, many fancy a brisk walk and, here too, De Panne has a lot to oﬀer. The town is also surrounded by dunes, including those at Westhoek, the Cabour fossile dunes and between Oosthoek dunes and the polders. There are 12 footpaths, including the 3.2km Blackthorn path, which takes around 75 minutes to complete. It starts at the Centre for Nature Education and winds through the Calmeynwood. The path also leads you to the top of a 22m high dune, where there ‘s a nice view of the reserve and its surroundings. For cyclists and mountain bikers there are several routes inland while, time permitting, a quick trip to France is highly recommended. And, of course, the famous Plopsaland, surely one of the best theme parks for children in Belgium, is also nearby. What’s not to like? Tourist Oﬃce De Panne Zeelaan 21 Tel: 058.42.18.18
Around Brussels in 30 days - Page 16
Page 17 - Around Brussels in 30 days
Hotel du Vin: Best place in Toon
The Getaway: 2
Tony Mallett leaves the Capital of Europe behind and joins the Geordie Boys in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Great food and wine ensure Croatia’s a model for tourism By Martin Banks Brussels’ famous Mini Europe attraction, which features miniature models of Europe’s most famous landmarks, is gearing up for its latest attraction. An as-yet unknown landmark from Croatia will be put on display next year, ahead of the country’s expected accession to the European Union in 2013. But, as the saying goes, you can’t beat the real thing and those looking for a slightly diﬀerent tourist destination can’t go far wrong with a trip to the southern part of Croatia which hides the country’s second largest peninsula: Peljesac. Many of those who head for this idyllic part of Croatia do so for two reasons: the wonderful wine and food. Located a couple of hours’ drive from Dubrovnik, the most common entrance to the peninsula will take you through the small town of Ston. The world’s second longest wall, after that one in China, is the wall of Ston and the town is also famous for top class shellﬁsh, particularly oysters with their ‘aphrodisiac’ properties. The wall connects Ston and Mali Ston - where you can see how oysters are grown - and was built in the 14th century. You can also visit the nearby salt lakes, which had a very important part in the history of the Dubrovnik Republic.
On the road to Ston is the Arcadian place Trsteno Arboretum, where one of the most beautiful women of the European Renaissance, the red-haired poetess Cvijeta Zuzoric, wrote rhymes and fell in love. Take a walk under the crowns of ancient trees and see your reﬂection in the Neptune and Nymphs Fountain. The Peljesac Peninsula is the best-known wine-growing area in the south of Croatia: wine routes take you to places to enjoy typical Plavac Mali wines and the recently discovered truﬄes. A trip to the Winery Milos, one of the many wineries in the region, is highly recommended. As with many of the others, it also produces olive oil as well as top-notch wine. Visitors can eat ‘konoba style’ in the delightful ﬁshing village of Drace while another restaurant to try is Bota Sare at Mali Ston Bay. Not so far away is the picturesque Neretva Valley where a popular attraction is a boat ride on the Bacine Lake, followed by a visit to see how ﬁgs and the traditional Dalmatian prosciutto are produced. It would be a shame to see the peninsula without making at least a quick stopover at nearby Dubrovnik, where some of the best seafood in Croatia can be found.. Nautika Restaurant lies on the very edge of the sea at Pile, near the entrance to Dubrovnik’s Old Town. From its terraces, diners can enjoy
a one-of-a-kind view of the Adriatic and the fortresses of Lovrijenac and Bokar (see photo, top right). The restaurant’s oﬀerings include lobster from the Dalmatian island of Vis and delicacies from the local waters of the Adriatic. It oﬀers an innovative, elevated style of Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant is housed in the former Dubrovnik School of Maritime Studies, and it has welcomed famous seafarers since 1881. In 2008, Nautika was recognised as the sixth most romantic restaurant in the world by Condé Nast Traveller magazine and its many VIP guests include Pope John Paul II, who stopped for a meal when he visited in 2003. After the harrowing times it has gone through in the recent past, Croatia is one again very much back on the tourist map. Latest ﬁgures show that, so far this year, there were 55,000 visitors to Dubrovnik from France and 46,000 from the UK alone. There are plenty of direct ﬂights from Brussels to Dubrovnik with tour operators such as Belgian-based Jetair. Mini Europe in Brussels may still be trying to decide which famous Croatian landmark to go alongside other models of Big Ben and the Eiﬀel Tower. But, whichever it eventually chooses, you really can’t beat a visit to Croatia’s Peljesac peninsula - especially if you’re a lover of good food and wine.
It had been a while since your correspondent had been to England and, more speciﬁcally, Oop North - being a busy lad based in Brussels. But that was put right early this year. Dropping by York to pick up a ladyfriend, then boarding a train to Newcastle, we were soon enjoying a couple of astonishingly inexpensive pints of Guinness in the Irish bar opposite the station in Newcastle. From there, it was a ﬁve-minute cab ride to the utterly gorgeous Hotel du Vin - which is just oﬀ the famous Quayside. But more of the hotel later. Our mission was to get a feel for Newcastle over the next couple of days. Apart from anything else, the city is the home to boys and girls who would crawl over broken glass - and probably have - to watch their local football team, Newcastle United. This despite a very nasty few years for the club which is now doing brilliantly back in the elite division - with all that means for the team and the ‘Toon Army’. Cut the ‘Geordies’ and they’ll bleed black-andwhite stripes. They’re the stuﬀ of legend. To be honest, I was half expecting to see much-loathed chairman Mike Ashley ﬂoating down the River Tyne, former superstar Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne in a set of handcuﬀs, or soccer pundit Alan ‘England will win the World Cup’ Shearer talking bollocks into a camera. But it didn’t happen. Well, not while we were looking.... Anyhow, ‘the fog on the Tyne’ may well be ‘all mine, all mine’, as the Lindisfarne song goes, but there wasn’t a bit of it. The Millennium Bridge shone in the sun, the blue sky was reﬂected in the famous river and the Quayside bars were already getting ready for the night ahead. So we went and got good and, er, tipsy. Thank God, because one of the amazing things about Newcastle is that - although it may be cold and wet for much of the time - the partying girls wear next-to-nothing. Whatever the weather. I’ve seen bigger collars on a sheepdog than
what passes for a skirt on a Friday night in the city’s Bigg Market. An umbrella is allowed in the rain - but a coat or a long dress? Forget it. I was so NOT looking... Honest. Newcastle’s centre has got a lot going for it during the day too, not least the fact that the shops, pubs and so on are relatively inexpensive - you absolutely get more bang-for-your-buck here. The refurbished Eldon Square shopping centre has all the top stores, the neoclassical 19th century buildings that dominate the hub are gorgeous and there’s a dustbin/ashtray every ten metres or so, which means that the streets are not covered in cigarette butts. This may seem a small point but, when you live in the Trash and Dog Poo Metropolis that is Brussels, it’s very welcome. The good lady noticed it straight away - and she lives in touristreliant York, which can’t aﬀord to be dirty either. Oh, and they’re quite big on monuments, art and bridges in Newcastle. Especially bridges. Although to be honest, I reckon they’ve run out of space for any more of the latter. But don’t quote me... Strangely, apart from being crucial to shipbuilding and a vital exporter of coal back in the ‘olden days’, this wonderful former Roman-fortress city (2nd century) doesn’t climb too many rungs on the ‘blimey, isn’t it important?’ ladder in the way that, say, Glasgow does. But, from a cultural point of view, its reputation is rightly massive. The people are, well...just diﬀerent up here. Friendly as hell (unless you’re wearing a Sunderland football shirt), street smart, unerringly proud of their roots, government weary, weather beaten and battle hardened. They’re full of tall tales and the joys of whatever sort-of-Spring turns up...and even more full of pies, chips, beer and the occasional curry. So what’s not to like? As suggested, Newcastle was once the industrial centre-piece of the North East. But now the ﬂat caps and whippets have largely gone - and been replaced by ﬂashy shirts and ﬂashed knickers. Well, mostly...The Hotel du Vin is just a bit
posh. But in the nicest posible way. It’s the historic former home of the Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company and is - obviously - close to the river. It has 42 superbly furnished rooms, many individually designed, featuring monsoon showers - which are like rain showers with the equator’s wet climate attached. Expect Egyptian cotton sheets, plasma TVs and exposed, sexy free-standing baths (been there, done that, thumbs up). Her Royal Yorkieness and I stayed in a room that had a room-within-a-room. By that I mean that the loo and sink were housed in their own little ‘shed’, built inside a high-ceilinged bedroom featuring good river views and the comﬁest bed I’ve slept in for ages. The whole place is non-smoking, of course, but there’s a brilliant out-door ‘cigar shack’ a few metres from the hotel’s bistro that is warm, sheltered, cosy and just the place to go and puﬀ on a ciggie. Being smokers, we’d have been tempted to grab the duvet and spend the night in the shack had our room not been so utterly cool. The bistro itself is top notch, with eﬃcient, friendly and not-too-in-your-face staﬀ serving great meals rooted in classic European cuisine with a contemporary edge. As you’d expect, given the hotel’s name, the wine list oozes quality. Mmm. Just so you know, there are now Hotel du Vin complexes all over the UK - and I’d happily go and live in the one in the party town of Newcastle. More info here.
Around Brussels in 30 days - Page 18
‘It’s the foodie bit, dahling...’
Snouts in the Truffe By Daphne Wayne-Bough In these apocalyptic times of economic meltdown when we are facing a recession alongside which the Great Depression of 1928 will look like a momentary shortage of cash, it is courageous - some would even say reckless - to set oﬀ to eat truﬄes in a Michelin-starred restaurant. But someone’s got to do it, so Scouse Doris and I dusted oﬀ the chauﬀeur and set oﬀ for dinner at La Truﬀe Noire. Just entering is a special experience, ascending the steps of the elegant old townhouse through the imposing cast iron gates, into a world of sheer opulent luxury. The tables in the sumptuously carpeted groundﬂoor dining room are well spaced and beautifully dressed. Not a glass or a spoon out of place. The colours are neutral - beige, cream, dark brown, the colours of truﬄes in fact. We had a table in the middle of the room where we could observe everything, and were impressed by the provision of a small table for our handbags. It’s such attention to detail which makes the diﬀerence between a good restaurant and a really special one, and every detail here has been carefully considered. Luigi Ciciriello, owner and Maitre de maison, gave us a potted history of the restaurant which he opened in 1988 and has run single handedly ever since with his small team of highly trained staﬀ. He sources his truﬄes from Italy, Croatia and the south of France, where the precious tuber melanosporum is traded with as much drama and excitement as oil or diamonds. At the present time, white truﬄes are trading at around €3,000 per kilo. Luigi, like many top class restaurateurs, negotiates the price at the beginning of the season for the truﬄes he purchases throughout the year. Customers inhale the voluptuous fumes with reverence. A ﬂight of appetizers, was placed in front of us, consisting of a miniature pumpkin teacake, a chiﬀony espuma de perdreau et cèpes au riz souﬄé, and a bijou crème brulée salé-sucré de foie gras aux pignons de pin, while we perused the menu. The “menu privilège” which was our choice costs a stonking €225 per head, but trust me, you’ll remember everything you ate. There is a more reasonable €50 menu available at lunch and dinner, although you will have to pay extra for truﬄes (€10-20 euros per shaving) and, with wine, you’ll be lucky to get out for less than €120 each. But if luxury came cheap, it wouldn’t be luxury now, would it? On the wine list is a Chateau Pétrus Cru Hors Classe 1982 at €3,700 which made our eyes water a bit. But there are a number of aﬀordable wines starting at around the €40 mark. We opted for a diﬀerent wine with each dish, and the sommelier, who clearly knows his stuﬀ, rose to the challenge admirably. He appeared, smiling, with the ﬁrst of our wines, a glass of something very crisp and white from the Ile de Porquerolles in the south of France. It married perfectly with our ﬁrst course, which was a beef
carpaccio dressed at the table by Luigi himself. Two rectangular plates covered with paper thin slices of almost translucent Belgian Bleu des Prés beef were bathed in a truﬄe-oil dressing, mixed by hand for each table, ﬁnished oﬀ by a generous shaving of aged parmesan and fresh white truﬄes, and presented with a ﬂourish in a heady waft of truﬄe aroma. Luigi presents the truﬄes to each client on arrival, and one is invited to poke one’s nose into the glass jars and breathe deeply. The perfume is unique. I cannot describe it. Peter Mayle said it is somewhere between meat and mushroom. If you’ve never tasted truﬄes, it is one of those 101 things to do before you die. The ﬂavour is all in the aroma, you taste it through your nose; the texture is ﬁrmer than a mushroom but softer than a nut, somewhat akin to a pistachio. Truﬄes cannot be farmed, hence their rarity and astronomic price, but the chemical ingredients have been identiﬁed and
‘One is invited to poke one’s nose into a glass jar and breathe deeply’ the aroma can be reproduced synthetically in truﬄe oil. A valuable bit of advice: buy truﬄe oil in the smallest possible quantity, since the aroma will disappear after a while. Next followed a ravioli farci de truﬀes aux 3 céléris. Three wafer-thin ravioli containing slivers of black truﬄe, basking in a nage or soup made from duck stock and fresh cream, decorated with a few ultra-thin sticks of lightly-poached baby celery heart. The marriage of ﬂavours worked perfectly. Doris said the nage tasted like the best mushroom soup in the world. The sommelier brought us a glass of Slovenian Renski Rizling, which was surprisingly good. Slightly fruitier than the Porquerolles, it set the ravioli oﬀ to perfection. I was impressed to see that wines from ‘New Europe’ are ﬁnally being treated seriously. A small fanfare for for the signature dish - La Croque au Sel - a whole 40g Périgord truﬄe (about the size of a small Brussels sprout) cooked in a rich sauce périgourdine, which sat in its own small detachable bowl in the middle of a handmade terracotta dish commissioned specially for the restaurant from a local potter, on which were laid out a row of tiny slices of melba toast, a small bowl of ﬂeur de sel and a quenelle of creamy white truﬄe butter. Luigi demonstrated how to eat it, placing a sliver of butter on a piece of toast, then adding a tiny piece of truﬄe in its unctuous sauce, and
sprinkling a few grains of ﬂeur de sel on top before popping it into your mouth, closing your eyes and ascending to heaven. The wine served with this was a Tuscan Montechiaro which again went perfectly with the dish. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, God save the cheese. Swiss Tete de Moine shaved paper-thin and fashioned into exquisite ﬂowers, drizzled with honey and - I kid you not - ﬂakes of Cohiba tobacco with some truﬄed Brillat-Savarin. A witty touch, since it was the great French food writer Brillat-Savarin who dubbed the knobbly black fungi ‘Diamonds of the kitchen’. We tried to keep the orgasmic moaning down as we ate, and watched the Maestro work the room. In between dressing carpaccios of beef or salmon, thrusting customers’ noses into the jars of truﬄes, meeting and greeting and keeping a gimlet eye on his irreproachable staﬀ, he found time to stop and chat at length with each table in English, French, Italian or Japanese. No wonder he has “The Magician” inscribed on his oﬃce door. On the ﬁrst ﬂoor is a cool smoking room, well ventilated and furnished with masculine leather sofas, and next door a private dining room for up to 20 guests. If you’re in charge of the oﬃce Christmas party this year, bear in mind that group menus start at €139 per head including wine. This is where the likes of Prince Felipe of Spain, Prince Charles, President Barroso, and the great and the good have dined. It is also where Luigi keeps his “museum” of leather-bound wine lists dating back to the restaurant’s beginnings in 1988, each one decorated by hand by a diﬀerent artist. Luigi is a discerning patron of the arts as can be seen from the various paintings and sculptures dotted throughout the restaurant, many on a truﬄe theme. This is clearly so much more than a restaurant to him... Dessert was a duo of apple crème brulée studded with truﬄes, and a scoop of home made vanilla ice cream also containing truﬄes. I can’t in all honesty say the truﬄes added anything to the dessert beyond novelty value, but they are the whole raison d’etre of the place and Luigi would put them in the coﬀee if he could. Petits fours were served with jasmine tea and a glass of Frangelico, Doris’s favourite liqueur, from the well-stocked bar. From the truﬄe-themed napkins to the unique tableware, La Truﬀe Noire bears testimony to the passion and dedication of Luigi Ciciriello. Each evening is a performance. To quote the Maestro: “It’s not a restaurant, it’s a theatre. And a love aﬀair.” La Truﬀe Noire 12, Boulevard de la Cambre 1000 Brussels Tel: 02.640.44.22 More from rather-full Daphne here!
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Whisper it if you dare, but there’s a Brit in Brussels who can cook! In our latest article from the much-read Belgium-based Tasting and Living team, they interviewed Alex Weston, founder of LaBritannique, one of the top catering outﬁts in Brussels Born in 1973, Alex has lived in Brussels since 1998 and, prior to that, in Manchester, Vienna and London. Even earlier, he grew up in the countryside near the sea in England’s south west. Apart from being a superb cook, he’s also a great entertainer - a magic combination! T&L: Starting with the basics, what is your professional background? AW: I run my own catering business which I started in 2009. We’re growing at a rapid speed and work with a number of highproﬁle business clients as well as private individuals – doing the lot from breakfasts, lunch deliveries, canapés and cocktails
‘Delia Smith is the reason any Brit has an interest in food’ through to weddings and birthday parties. Plus, we run a breakfast club at our atelier ‘LaBritannique HQ’ on Sundays and organise cooking sessions too. Busy, busy! T&L: And how did you get into food? AW: I grew up with food - my family had a hotel and restaurant on the English Riviera, near Torquay, and I was always helping out in the kitchen...it’s in my blood! When I came to Brussels, I was working for the City of Liverpool and the North West of England regional representation. We were very much engaged in running events here in the city and I always found the choices from caterers so lack-lustre... I thought that when the time comes to change career, I’d be more than willing to take to the culinary stage for events in Brussels.
T&L: How important are the people you work with? AW: They’re hugely important to me - both clients and colleagues. Whether for business or pleasure, we’re usually asked to work with people for celebrations such as a big birthday, a wedding or just a great gettogether with friends, or in a business context, for a product launch or other occasion, and to be a part of someone’s happy moment gives us huge pleasure. T&L: How would you describe your relationship to food? AW: Err...I’d have to say ‘close’! I live, eat, drink, sleep and dream food.
T&L: Best Brussels food place? AW: It’s outside of Brussels, but I absolutely love L’Air du Temps - a wonderful restaurant between here and Namur. Otherwise, I have four favourites: La Roue d’Or for
‘Licquorice appears in a lot of our creations’
T&L: So it’s important to you? AW: Hugely so. It’s the focal point of everything that I do. T&L: Which famous person would you like to have dinner with? AW: Tricky. Probably one of Delia Smith, Diana Henry, Silvena Rowe...I love their recipes. If we could exhume her and talk to her too, then Fanny Craddock would be great value. But ultimately it would probably have to be Delia, as long as we didn’t talk football. She is amazing and the reason that any British person post-1950 has any interest in food or being able to cook it. T&L: What do you think will be the next big thing in food? AW: Hopefully it will be about creating a more tapas style to eating out - not always about moving from bar to bar, but eating lots of small dishes, sharing amongst friends. I love this style of eating. It helps us to enjoy new things and diﬀerent tastes within a meal, but thankfully isn’t a free-for-all buﬀet, which I try to steer people away from. I just don’t love the way that people at a buﬀet overeat and pile up all kinds of things that don’t necessarily go together in the same mouthful... T&L: Ok to round things up, here are a couple of quick ﬁre questions. Starting with your best food travel destination? AW: Santander for wonderful ﬁsh, charcuterie and wines, Borough Market in London for all kinds of tasty morsels or a great deli in New York.
classic Belgian cuisine near Grand’Place but without any or few tourists; Roxy on Rue de Bailli, for when you have no idea what you’d like to eat but you want something with some friends that’s local and simple. I also adore, for the sure simplicity, price and quality no-nonsense pitta restaurant Hellas on the famous Pita Street and Lotus Bleu for easy cheap and tasty Vietnamese meals. T&L: And the best food shop in Brussels? AW: It’s overpriced and indulgent, but I’d have to say Rob - if you can’t get it there then you can’t ﬁnd it easily anywhere else. T&L: Any food addiction? AW: Somehow licquorice appears in a lot of our creations! From sweet gingerbread and sticky treacle sauces...to savoury renditions of crab, avocado and grapefruit salads with a liquorice dressings. Divine! T&L: The last thing you cooked? AW: Brunch on Sunday . Ths was pumpkin bread, homemade ‘everything’ bagels with smoked salmon, red onions, capers and cream cheese, Eggs Benedict with our own English muﬃns and hollandaise sauce, a full English Breakfast...phew! T&L: And the best food place ever? AW: Tricky. My best ever restaurant experience was Arzak in San Sebastian, while the best food place to visit is surely San Sebastian, too - with jaunts to vineyards in Navarra and the Kukulu cheese just over the border in France.
Around Brussels in 30 days - Page 20
Cantillon, I (sort of ) miss you...
Tippler’s ‘Notes on the Back of a Beermat’
American Jonathan Di Blasi, now living in Norway, recalls happy times spent in the south of Brussels
Bar-related musings from our man in the corner Sad times of late here at Tippler Towers. Not that the untrained eye would immediately have noticed any diﬀerence in my mate Denzil’s demeanour: pissed and confused is the look he wears to suit almost every occasion. But even the fat ﬁzzog of The Big D managed to register shock, dismay, anger and then numb acceptance (in the space of two swiftly downed pints) on hearing the news of the sudden and unexpected demise of our great friend Jezzer. Yours Truly had last seen the Arsenal-supporting, puddleduck of a Softee Suvverner during a (for us) quiet afternoon downtown that consisted of a couple of beers - one each of which was provided by a local barman in return for penning a review on a well-known travel website. Jezzer never got around to writing his review - so, for once, he was ahead on pints. This all-too-brief soujourn was followed by some really posh coﬀee in a swanky beverage boutique just oﬀ the Brussels high street. And when this magazine says ‘posh’, we’re talking €12 a pop. No shit. Well, that last statement isn’t true because ‘shit’ is right on the money in this case: the reason the coﬀee is so expensive is that the beans are swallowed by a one-winged bat, lizard, Amazonian lesbian, galaxy-surﬁng bug-eyed alien or something then shat back out again to be collected by one-armed monkeys wearing grass skirts and delivered, by the ounce, to snooty coﬀee shops. Some of the above is true. The point is that these, erm, ‘processed’ beans are rarer than a Yorkshire virgin and taste about the same. Bottom line, though (or big-bottom line in Jezzer’s case) is that they are nowhere near as rare as our dear, departed amigo. Jezzer was a consumate journalist (he’d consume anything) of indeterminate years. He would never actually tell anyone the year he was born but, in truth, he was ageless. Well, his hairstyle was. It
was last seen being worn by footballer Tony Currie in about 1978. He’d have made a great hack for the News of the World, except that even they wouldn’t have believed his stories - of which at least one-third were 50% true. But he pitched up in Brussels instead and, subsequently, Jezzer and Tippler spent many a boozy night writing down ideas and jokes - yes, on the back of beermats - to ﬁnd, next day, that they were mostly not clever and often not funny either. But that didn’t matter, it was the process of getting pleasantly pickled then searching for the pen (the one that all journalists don’t carry) that was the point. Jezzer was always ﬁrst to arrive at any party at Tippler Towers. And he was always still there on the sofa in the morning, correctly conﬁdent that his bacon sarnie had been factored in. He was ever a welcome guest (although the cleaner did mention that he once farted so loudly from under a duvet that she thought the Hoover had blown up), a loyal friend, an occasional ﬂat-removals man and a top-drawer, gold-medal-standard blagger of cigarettes. He loved life, adored a glass and gave most people the beneﬁt of the doubt. Even some undeserving wankers. Among his many talents were a knack for economics (except his own), a deep knowledge of military history and an unerring and almost supernatural ability to ﬁnd his way home while at the same time being unable to locate his bus fare. His ‘working lunches’ were legendary, legion and lasted till 21:00. Often 21:00 the next day, come to think of it. Jezzer was a great conversationalist and - rare, this - always ruefully philosphical about life’s knocks rather than cynical. It’s odds-on he’s now sat at a bar somewhere better than on this Earth, getting the beers in and wondering when the fuck we’re all going to turn up. It won’t be too long. We love you and miss you, mate.
Pasta way to do it By Martin Banks
There are Italian restaurants and then there’s Il Viticolo Restaurant. And if there’s better Italian food to be had in Brussels, I’d like to know. Having worked as a chef for 13 years, Giuseppe Schichilone and his wife Aurore took over the restaurant in the middle of the EU Quarter earlier this year and quickly acquired a reputation for top-notch Mediterranean cuisine. Such is his desire to get things right, the Sicilian-born owner even imports his mozzarella from Italy because he says that the version available in Belgian does not compare. That’s little wonder because the version he serves is ﬁlled with delicious cream. The menu features a wonderful selection of dishes, including risotto with artichoke hearts, fettuccine with calmaris, cappelini with black truﬄe, paccheri with sausage and spaghetti with sardines.
Page 21 - Around Brussels in 30 days
There’s a good range of ﬁsh and meat dishes, including lamb with thyme and honey, sliced beef ﬁllet, perch and fried bass and rolled swordﬁsh with basil. All are moderately priced, which is saying something given the location, close to EU institutions such as the European Commission’s Berlaymont HQ. The restaurant had already existed for three years before Giuseppe fulﬁlled his dream in owning his own place. Since taking over the 32-seater, the owners have changed the décor and added an impressive collection of Italian wines, including lovely dry, white wines from Umbria. Open only on weekdays, this eatery comes recommended but catch it quick - before word starts to spread! Il Viticolo 18-20 Rue Archimède Brussels Tel: 02.280.12.96
The Cantillon Brewery was perhaps my most visited spot in Brussels while recently living there for six months. I wish I’d visited it sooner, before I ﬁnally did towards the end of March this year. I suggested to friends they visit since they were on a weekend beer tour from Norway, and Cantillon was the closest to Grand’Place where they were sure to spend most of their brief time in the city. Upon my arrival to meet them on that Saturday morning, they were gone, just left, but since I was there, I wasn’t about to run out myself. I had tasted Cantillon’s Geuze a few times before in Norway on a trusted friend’s suggestion. It was weird! Is this really beer, I questioned? Tasting it, I knew it was something ultra-special, to be respected, admired, explored. I just didn’t have the references or know how to do so when tasting it with my beer and whisky friends back in Norway on the few occasions I did. Now I found myself at the brewery on a beautiful, sunny and unseasonably spring-like morning, and it was time to learn to appreciate Cantillon. Let’s start with the basics, the basis of all of their wonderful creations, lambic. Lambic is a beer naturally or spontaneously fermented by local yeasts inoculating a wash of 65% malted barley, 35% raw wheat and three-year-old dried hops. Lambic is native to Brussels and the area surrounding it. Put simply, lambic is a sour-style beer, ﬂat due to the fermentation slowly occuring in wooden casks, and thus allowing the carbonation to escape. Cantillon recommends “forgetting everything you know about beer when you ﬁrst taste it”. If you do, you may immediately think ‘white wine’, not only due to its appearance, but because it’s ﬂat and acidic, dry, sour. After patiently fermenting in wooden casks for a year, the lambic is then used to make other wonderful sour-style beers. Fresh cherries, apricots, raspberries, elderﬂower, grapes, rhubarb even, are generously macerated with various aged lambics to become Kriek, Fou’ Foune, Rosé de Gambrinus (as Cantillon calls their framboise), Mamouche and the exciting, ever-changing Zwanze. Master brewer Jean Van Roy (below) learned his trade from his father, the previous master brewer, carrying on this 111-year-old brewery’s family tradition. But Jean has also courageously and
passionately expanded Cantillon’s selection, with whatever he chooses to macerate his lambic. His experimentation is rewarded, bringing new elements, complexities and experiences from this old-style beer that is enjoying the spotlight, and creating copycats throughout the world. Gueze seems to be at the forefront of this, a blend of one-, two-, and three-year-old lambics refermented in the bottle, like champagne. Sour beer with bubbles might just be a little closer to what most expect from a beer, or maybe a sparkling wine. Still, geuze surprises, often seduces and deﬁnitely amazes those tasting it. Back in Norway last month after six months in Brussels and probably 15 visits to Cantillon, and my hunt for Cantillon begins in Bergen! I knew I’d ﬁnd it on the shelves of some of the Norwegian government’s monopolised alcohol shops, but I had no idea I’d ﬁnd Cantillon ﬂowing from taps in my favourite bars. My night’s ﬁrst visit gets me Cantillon Geuze on tap from Johnny at Henrik Øl & Vinstove. And wow, is it good! I didn’t think I would be able to relive the passion I experienced in Brussels whileat the brewery, but I was wrong. The bubbles tickled, caressed, soothed, while the funk ﬁlled my nostrils with that classic citrus, speculoos and freshness I fell in love with months ago. Other guests visiting Henrik Øl & Vinstove that night were experiencing Cantillon too, maybe for the ﬁrst time. So many in fact it ran dry! But, luckily for us, the Cantillon Kriek was behind it ready to be tapped into empty glasses. And now I’m settled, here in Oslo. I feel lucky; once again, I’m able to continue enjoying the beer style and brewery that has pierced my passionate heart in many diﬀerent bars and pubs throughout this capital city. Rosé de Gambrinus on tap here makes me want to stay awhile. You can ﬁnd the Brasserie Cantillon at 56, Rue Gheude Straat in Anderlecht, Brussels 1070. The website suggests a historic walk from Grand’Place to the brewery if time allows, otherwise a direct walk between the two is just under 20 minutes. You’ll also ﬁnd the Brussels’ Museum of the Gueuze here. Enjoy a selfguided tour for €6, and taste a few samples afterwards. And on 12 November they have their semi-annual Public Brewing Session to experience ﬁrst hand exactly how lambic is made. Find the brewery website here. Read more from Jonathan on Twitter @emptywhiskyglas and on his Notes from an empty whisky glass blog here.
Page 23 - Around Brussels in 30 days
It’s New. It’s Hot. ...And It’s Got The Lot!
Whatever rattles your cage
This column exists to allow readers a bitch about anything that gets their dander up, so please do get in touch. This month it’s cyclists. Yes, you know who you are. Those of you who either creep up on unsuspecting pedestrians like whispering death (we can hear you but we can’t see you, till it’s too late and we’re on our arses with a bag of Delhaize’s ﬁnest all over the pavement) or think that the only life you’re risking by riding with no lights at midnight in the middle of the city is your own. If only that were the case.
DISCLAIMER: The views in this e-zine are quite clearly ours and ours alone, or we wouldn’t have bothered expressing them. But if you or anyone sitting next to you has a complaint about the contents herein, please give the editor a call on +32 (0)472 280 878, email him via bxlin30Days@gmail.com or, better yet, go shopping for a sense of humour.
Buy lights. Buy a bell. Get used to the latter by wearing it even when you go out walking or shopping or daisy-chain making (whatever you people do) - just so that everyone will know there’s a more-than-80% chance that there’s a selﬁsh, ignorant twat in the vicinity. And guess what? We all know that you’re allowed to go the wrong way up one-way streets in your little ‘positive discrimination for dickheads’ lanes - but what that priviledge doesn’t mean is that you can completely ignore lights that are on green for pedestrians.
Swanning through such a light at your normal ‘why-am-I-on-a-bike-in-the-citycentre-as-I’d-actually be-faster-walking’ pace is liable to get you a right good twatting one of these days as you tootle obliviously by, within centimetres of some bugger legitimately crossing the street. And stop spreading mayhem on nondesignated pavements - for your own sake. Because we, the royally pissed oﬀ, are the soon-to-be thrown pieces of brick that will test the quality and strength of the back of your very silly hats. Love to hear you ‘ding-a-ling!’ when that happens, wankers.
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