Brussels 30 days Around
March 2012 Issue #5
18s and above only. Contains some rude words.
TIME TO BE SEEN IN GREEN
IT’S that time of the year again, when the whole city - well, the pubs at least - will embrace the colours of green and, when it comes to the contents of many a beer glass, black. Green is, of course, the colour sported by the Irish, while black is the hue of their national beverage. The two will come together all over the world on Saturday 17 March - St. Patrick’s Day. Before that in Brussels is the now annual Paddy’s Day Parade, which takes place this year from 13.30 on Sunday 11 March. It sets oﬀ from the statue of ‘Le Chien Vert’, in the corner of Parc du Cinquantenaire, and participation
is free, as ever, with a great craic guaranteed for all the family. The more sturdy and dedicated among you can get stuck in to the pre-parade Irish breakfast (with face painting) from 9:30 at The Old Oak, 26 Rue Franklin, in the
HAVING A PADDY Schuman area of Brussels and there’s a post-parade event down the road at the Meeting Point, 39 Rue Du Taciturne from 15.00-18.30. This will see the launch of the Cork Jazz Festival Club of Brussels CD, a live jazz and rag time bash and a session of Irish melodies. Get all the information you need by clicking this link.
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Plant a forest, help dig a well, and go down with Night Fever Well, it’s not quite tree-hugging, as they’re only saplings, but here’s a chance to help improve the Brussels environment by digging in to plant a forest in just one day on Sunday 18 March. ‘Sunbeams’ are inviting people of all ages to show their eco-mindedness inside the Zoniënwoud/Forêt de Soignes (close to Groenendaal, Hoeilaert). Each tree (they will be mainly oak and linden varieties) will come with a biodegradable ribbon to write a personal
message, the holes are pre-dug and a quick lesson on how to do the actual planting will be given on site. One tree costs just €5 and you can register and make a pledge via the website, right here. If you can’t personally make the event, no matter, as Sunbeams can plant a tree on your behalf. Or, perhaps even better, you can sponsor an underprivileged child to take part. You’ll ﬁnd these options on the online registration page and, for any further details and updates, check the site or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Prior to that, on Friday 2 March at the Aloft Hotel, Place Jean Rey (near Schuman), the monthly ‘Attitude’ Networking and Notworking event should bring in a great bunch of internationally minded people. So, you’re all invited to go and enjoy the
vibrant multicultural atmosphere of the hotel’s Wxyz Bar. In good weather, ﬁnd the ‘Attitude’ bunch on the terrace. The April event will be held at the same venue of Friday 6 April. For more informaton on ‘Attitude’ and more, just go ahead and click.
Elsewhere, Brussels organisation Serve the City (STC) is holding what promises to be a great downtown disco night, to raise money for a fresh-water well in Malawi. DJ Dirk Huybrechts will be spinning sounds from the 70s, 80s and 90s at Bar Rooster’s in central Rue Grétry, close to De Brouckere Metro station. The STC’s Splash project aims to raise €1,000 to dig a well for a community in Malawi. And you can help and have a blast by pitching up to Rooster’s from 9pm. Entrance is just €5. Find out more about the voluntary organisation Serve the City at this link.
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Mavin and Kamara Jnr both back with new releases
Pick of the live listings Plenty happening down at Churchill’s this month:
Two gigs absolutely NOT to miss this month are brought to you by a couple of ‘local’ members of the music scene. On Sunday 25 March, head on down to the Le Montmartre to catch the Andrew Mavin Project. Many will have seen Mavin solo at places such as Bizon and Churchill’s, but this gig will feature the full band performing
largely original material. This will include tracks from the EP Rainy Day Downtown (which features current single Morning Blues) plus some ‘special interludes’. There’s a review of the EP right here. Morning Blues is available on iTunes (see link in the graphic below) and also on Amazon, for those using MP3 format. This is certain to be a cracking gig and, in advance, you can hear Andrew (plus lyricist Anne-Marieke Staal) talking about Morning Blues and more in a recent radio interview, here. Before that, on 6 March, The Rotonde at Botanique will play host to Bai Kamara Jnr and his band. Bai has a new album, This Is Home, and this is sure to be a great night too with the singer-songwriter and friends. To book tickets online, follow this link. Enjoy!
Saturday 3 March: Akim Friday 9 March: Steelyard Blues Saturday 10 March: Akim Friday 16 March: Andrew Mavin (solo) Friday 23 March: Akim Saturday 24 March: Bob Christopher Friday 30 March: Bai Kamara Jnr (solo) Elsewhere, at the AB, tickets are still available for: Sunday 4 March: Zita Swoon Group (below) Friday 23 March: Korn Please note that David Sylvian has cancelled and The Waterboys is already a sell out.
38 Fossé aux Loupes 1000 Brussels Tel: 02 223 62 23 www.sterlingbooks.be
Museum Night Fever is back on Saturday 3 March, featuring 24 Brussels museums that will stay open until the early hours for an oﬀbeat programme of events. These will include exhibitions, concerts, performances, video, workshops and DJs. For example, the Museum of the Armed Forces will host ‘Let the DJ save your life’, featuring a formidable mix of electro and warlike tones. At the Ixelles Museum, the evening will be devoted to cabaret and the Belle Epoque while, at the Museum of Musical Instruments, groups such as SX or Sioen will put on concerts. There’s loads more going on from 7pm until 1am, so check it all out right here.
All details were correct at the time of going to press. If in doubt, check with the venue.
Get the single on iTunes here
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Hats oﬀ to the man who started it all
St. Patrick’s Day ‘n’ all dat Tony Mallett oﬀers up a few places to enjoy the celebration that is ‘Paddy’s Day’. Saturday 17 March will be the day that Irish people all over the world celebrate St Patrick’s Day, usually with a bunch of non-Irish mates, such is the popularity of this annual festival. Even that famous Brussels symbol, the Mannekin-Pis, will be joining in the craic as, from 2pm-6pm, the little fella will be wearing a costume... and peeing Guinness. But it’s more than likely that the party spirit will start early, on the Friday, especially in the so-called European Quarter oﬀ the Schuman roundabout, as many people head home for the weekend and won’t be in Brussels for the day itself. As seen on our front page, the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place the week before (on Sunday 11) but the real partying is sure to start later in the week. So let’s start oﬀ with the European Quarter - the main bars to visit are Kitty O’Shea, The Wild Geese, Coolock Café, The James Joyce and The Old Oak.
Other bars (for example non-Irish pub The Hairy Canary - which is modelled on an English pub but has mainly Irish staﬀ, The Meeting and a few more) will also get in on the act but the best of the bunch are undoubtedly Kitty’s and The Old Oak, both of which will be rammed with hat-wearing punters singing and drinking during peak times. Another bonus fo these two is that they serve good, solid food to allow you to to lay down a foundation for the revellery to follow. Place Luxembourg, outside the European Parliament, used to boast the now-closed Fabian O’ Farrell’s, but the sister-bar Fat Boy’s and its recently opened ‘posher’ version (with the same name and close to Parc Cinquantenaire) will, while strictly speaking being ‘American’ bars, be joining in the fun. If, on the other hand, the European Quarter leaves you cold, there are Irish pubs all over town - not least in the centre. Pick of the bunch is O’Reilly’s, opposite the Bourse, again with good food, an upstairs terrace and plenty of experience serving up the black stuﬀ. Its twin bar Nua, meanwhile, (located a couple of doors away) is perfect for late-night/ early-morning partying. Honourable mention goes to Celtica, always loud and lively, but with no food, and the relative new kid on the block the Six Nations rugby pub which, as its name suggests, has at least some right to join in. The food here comes recommended. Elsewhere in town (in the Avenue Louise area), you’ll ﬁnd McSweeney’s, located down a side street between Place Louise and Place Stephanie, and the Michael Collins, which is higher up Avenue Louise and close to the trendy
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and popular Châtelain area (just pop on a tram from Louise). If you’re in the Flagey part of town, meanwhile, one of the top Irish bars in the city just happens to be right on the square. That bar is De Valera’s, home of great food, spanking Guinness, a true Irish atmosphere and great views of the nearby lakes. Wherever you go, though, be it for the morning breakfast at The Old Oak, followed by the parade on Sunday 11, the heaving bars if Schuman during the day and night of Friday 16 or downtown to the Mannekin-Pis and the pubs beyond on the day itself, get involved, wear the green and enjoy St Patrick’s Day. As in Ireland, you’ll not see any snakes, but you may spot a snakebite or two...
At last, March and the hint of spring has rolled around and, for the Irish at least, it’s one of the best times of the year. The 17th is St. Paddy’s Day and this year it falls on a Saturday. So be very afraid...it’s going to be awesome. There’s no other saint’s day quite like it - and that’s all down to the boys and girls from the Emerald Isle, who know everything there is to know about the craic and how to party, big style. First, before the history lesson, is news of an appeal in respect of the Brussels parade, which is facing challenging times: in April 2011, after three years of dedicated, hard work, the Irish in Europe Association (International) received oﬃcial recognition by the Belgian State, acknowledged by Royal Decree. The organisation is run entirely on a voluntary basis and currently receives no external ﬁnancial support or funding. Most of the parade’s costs in previous years were paid for by contributions from members and volunteers, and by small donations received. But president Denis Buckley says: “We can’t expect the same people to pay the costs every year. We need a little help from our friends.” Even if you can only make a small contribution, it’s enough to make a diﬀerence - ﬁnd out more here. So, what’s the low-down on the man himself? Well, St Patrick is thought to have been born in Britain in the latter part of the fourth century and is rightly credited with strengthening Christianity in Ireland. He wrote two literary works; the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and the Epistola, which was a denunciation of British mistreatment of the God-fearing Irish. At the age of 16, Patrick was supposedly taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They took him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity, probably near Killala in County Mayo. There he worked as a shepherd and turned to religion for solace. Eventually, he escaped. According to his own writing, a voice - which he believed to be God’s - spoke to him in a dream, telling him that it was time to leave. After arriving back in Britain, Patrick tells of a second revelation - an angel in a dream urges him to return to Ireland as a missionary. So Patrick began religious training, which lasted more than 15 years and, as a priest, returned to Ireland to minister to Christians already living there and to begin to convert the rest. Familiar with the Irish language and culture, the priest chose to incorporate
traditional rituals into his lessons of Christianity. For instance, he superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create the ‘Celtic cross’. This was a pretty smart move and certainly will have helped to keep the locals onside. If you listen to any Irishman or woman, you’ll be told that St Patrick’s greatest trick was the nifty one where he drives all the snakes out of Ireland. But although there really are no snakes in Ireland, the chances are there never have been. The reason is actually geographical as the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age. Not that we’re saying the Irish would ever exaggerate a story... Many pagan religions worshipped the serpent as well as featuring it on their ritual symbols. So the act of ‘driving the snakes from Ireland’ was most likely a metaphor for Patrick helping to put an end to pagan practices. While not the ﬁrst to bring Christianity to the land of the leprechauns, Patrick is said to have encountered the Druids at Tara and managed to convince the weirdy beardies to abolish their pagan rites. Tales are told of him converting the warrior chiefs and princes, before baptising them and thousands of their subjects in Holy Wells. The patron saint of Ireland probably died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on March 17, 460 AD, although another version claims that he ended his days at Glastonbury, England and was buried there.
The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey, so who knows? Unlike St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland and St. George’s Day in England, Paddy’s Day is a big deal to the Irish all over the globe. It has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck and is celebrated anywhere there are itinerant Paddies - which is pretty much everywhere. It’s actually intended to be a day for spiritual renewal but, typically, the Irish put their own spin on that and certainly go for the ‘spirit’ bit, if not so much of the ‘spiritual’. Certainly the expats do, anyway. The ﬁrst St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in the US, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Now the ‘wearing of the green’ is a worldwide phenomenon, with some communities even having been known to dye local rivers that colour. Back in Ireland, up until the 1970s, local laws forced boozers to close on March 17. From 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick’s Day to fuel tourism and showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Given the profusion of Irish bars across the planet, it has certainly worked. So don’t be surprised if the ﬁrst pub on Mars is called Molly Malone’s and has a sign telling you how many miles it is to Dublin.
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Erotic and truly exotic museum opens in Bxl Brussels has joined Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Moscow, New-York and more with the opening (1 March) of a museum for Erotic Art and Mythology. Located in a three-storey 18th-century house, just oﬀ the Sablon, the museum is one of the best private collections in Europe, with rare paintings, sculptures, Greco-roman antiquities, Ivories, Japanese prints and plenty more besides. Says the man behind it all, Antwerp-born Guy Martens: “The word erotica comes from the Greek god Eros. The idea is to show what is sacred about love.” One spectacular member (ho ho) of the collection is a marble bust of the Greek Phrygian god Attis, which originates from Anatolia and was made in the 1st century BC. The museum can be found at 32 Rue Saint-Anne , 1000 Brussels and you can ﬁnd out more here.
Dining in style on a designer tram is pure ‘Brusselicious’ For many of us, the humble tram is part and parcel of everyday life in Brussels. If we’re not climbing aboard them, we’re dodging them - either on foot, in our cars or on our bikes. Gastronomy is also a part of life in the capital that is impossible to ignore - so what about a combination of the two? The tram has now become part of the ‘Brusselicious’ initiative, with visitors now having the opportunity to discover the city aboard a designerfurnished vehicle in white livery that can take 34 guests on a two-hour round trip. This takes in some of the most beautiful spots of the city while guests sit savouring a succulent and surprising menu concocted by a star chef. The tram leaves from Place Poelaert (Palais de Justice) - departing Tuesday to
Thursday at 20:00, Friday and Saturday at both 19:00 and 21:30 and Sunday at midday - and you can dine in style for an all-inclusive prive of €75. The tram can be booked exclusively on any Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays that are not public holidays. More details are available by clicking this link. Also dovetailing nicely into the Brusselicious theme is another way to explore the Capital of Europe, thi time on foot via a some of the numerous ‘fritkots’ or ‘friteries’ (chip stalls) found on the street corners, in the squares and and at the ‘kermesses’ (local fairs). We’re not, of course, suggesting that you do them all in one day, so don’t blame us if you overdo it. There’s a selection of recommended venues to try out right here.
In vino veritas? Let’s drink to that! Now, most of us love a glass or two of wine every now and again. Some of us love more than that. And some people are just so into the stuﬀ that they have houses full of it and decide to turn their hobbies into a business. That’s what happened to three Brussels-based guys who decided, a couple of years ago, to launch Global Grapes quietly and in ever-such-a-small way. Only it didn’t quite stay like that. From oﬀering top-quality wines mainly to friends and family, the trio now hosts regular tastings and provides bottles and cases to hundreds of thirsty and discerning customers all over the region. At their regular events, wine lovers can sample a selection of around 20 wines in informal surroundings at a house in Ixelles. Participation is generally free, but the Global Grapes chaps do ask that interested parties sign up in advance, to give them an idea of how many glasses to prepare. The next events are back-to-back Champagne tastings in mid-March, (see the details in the graphic below). The wines at the tastings are all available for purchase and the prices represent excellent value across every style. And there are plenty of ‘styles’. The selection is wide and varied (check out their website, where you can also sign up for the wine tastings and email newsletter). The stock on view on the site boasts a range that covers Champagnes, sparkling wine, whites,
reds and rosés, plus fortiﬁed wines, digestifs and gourmandises. There are large discounts for high-volume orders and costs are kept even lower as customers pick up the wine themselves. At Bxlin30Days, we recently sampled a bottle of an Italian red by the name of Prima-Mano (2008) and it certainly did not disappoint, to the extent that some of our intrepid team will be signing up for the next tasting event. Now there’s no doubt that this city boasts some absolutely fantastic wine shops, several of which do regular tastings. But popping around to a wine-lover’s house has got to be about the best way of choosing some great bottles, in a truly relaxed and convivial manner. Santé!
NEXT TASTINGS (Champagne): Friday 16 (18-22:00) & Saturday 17 March (14-18:00) with Frédéric Gauthier from Ch. de l’Auche/Prestige des Sacres Sign up NOW by email: email@example.com
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long after leaving the cinema. In one of his interviews, Hazanavicius explains that in the ‘screening room’ scene, George stays in the light when talking to his producers and moves into shadow after taking a decision on not playing in the ‘talkies’. He is making a mistake, creating an unhappy future for himself, which is shown via artistic means.
Oscars: Silence is golden Now the 84th Academy Awards are done, Picturenose reviews three of the ﬁlms that battled for Best Picture. Agata Olbrycht opens our account with her take on Michel Hazanavicius’s wonderful (and multi-BAFTA scooping) return to cinema’s glorious silent era, The Artist, the eventual winner. Movies have undoubtedly changed since the 1920s – sound and colour entered the scene, later on special eﬀects followed and three dimensions as well. Most importantly, the means of expression has changed. Dialogue now plays the main role, often undermining the simple technique of acting – using the artist’s face, gestures and posture to express the feelings. What model, other than the silent movie, showed the characters’ emotions in their purest form, undisturbed by special eﬀects and dialogue? Following that logic, director Michel Hazanavicius has created a beautiful black and white (and silent) movie, The Artist (2011). Unlike many Golden Globe runner-ups, The Artist is not a deep, complicated psychological drama, but rather a simple, highly enjoyable and touching tale of a well-established silent movies
actor who falls in love with a young actress, the newly discovered ‘hit’ of the novel ‘talkies’. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the hero of a series of silent ﬁlms – he meets sassy, chatty and ﬂirty young actress Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) outside the movie theatre, when he’s signing autographs. Soon after, they meet again on the ﬁlm set and the chemistry between them reaches the highest level. Unfortunately, Valentin is married, but not for long – George cannot accept the irresistible change that is taking place in cinematography, namely the introduction of sound. His refusal to take part in the creation of talkies loses him work, fame, his house and, in the end, his wife. Frustrated, forgotten, broke and alone, he ﬁnds consolation in the arms of Miller. Although Hazanavicius has said that the primary purpose of making a silent movie was to focus on the emotional side of the story and create an enjoyable cinematic ‘novelty’, we can see that the picture is in fact a homage to ﬁlm classics. The whole plot could be seen as a remake of
A Star is Born (1937) – there are scenes, characters and elements of the story that closely resemble unforgettable moments from Singing in the Rain (1952), while the ‘breakfast montage’, with the development and denouement of George’s marriage is an almost exact copy of the scene from Citizen Kane (1941). George Valentin himself represents a mixture of Rudolph Valentino and Gene Kelly (exactly as his ﬁctional name suggests). But no matter how much of an inspiration Hazanavicius has taken from old cinema, he has created an unforgettable experience and included many original ideas. Without going into too much detail, I would advise viewers to pay particular attention to the scene when Peppy and George meet at the staircase of the production studio, him going down, her working her way up (just like they did in another story), and the moment when George spills whiskey on a table , where he ﬁghts his shadow, where Peppy mimics a romantic pantomime using only George’s coat – all these scenes are entertaining and original in a way that keeps you thinking about them
The Artist is a one-man show. Jean Dujardin (Best Actor at the Oscars) was made for the role – his acting is so American that it’s almost impossible to believe he is actually French. He has the charm, the ‘silent’ wit, the skill to play a tragic role and an even bigger skill to make us laugh, and he uses them without creating a pastiche of silent cinema.
He is an independent, individual star – bright and shining. It may be surprising that using the old, outdated cinematic form created such a stir in the movie world, but Hazanavicius really has proved that silence is golden. 100 mins. Silent. In Brussels cinemas now. (See also reviews of Midnight in Paris, on page 11, and Hugo, on page 13)
European Film Academy turns spotlight on young audiences To celebrate this year’s 25th European Film Awards, the European Film Academy (EFA) and EFA Productions have launched a new award, the European Film Academy Young Audience Award, which will be presented as a separate event. EFA Chairman Yves Marmion said: “It has long been our wish to shed a special light on the younger audiences, the people who will be watching European ﬁlms in the years and decades to come. Thanks to the support by Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM) and in co-operation with great national partners, we are now able to present this award with the right network and structure. Of course, it is a particular joy for us to be able to present it in this special year when we’ll celebrate the 25th European Film Awards and we hope to be able to extend this network and welcome further partners in the coming years.” The initiative will begin this year with a network
comprising the following six partners: EYE Film Institute Netherlands (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Film Center Serbia (Belgrade, Serbia), Danish Film Institute (Copenhagen, Denmark), Deutsche Kindermedienstiftung Goldener Spatz (Erfurt, Germany), Swedish Film Institute (Stockholm, Sweden) and Museo Nazionale del Cinema (Turin, Italy). On the Young Audience Film Day on 10 June, three ﬁlms nominated by EFA will be screened to a young audience (10–13 year-olds) in Amsterdam, Belgrade, Copenhagen, Erfurt, Stockholm and Turin, and it will be this young audience who will act as judges and jury, and vote for the winner immediately after the screenings – the presentation of the award will take place on the same day in Erfurt. The screenings in the individual cities will be documented on the European Film Awards website, for young ﬁlm lovers (and their parents and teachers).
Kubrick in focus The surrealists’ loss looks set to be the movie buﬀs’ shortterm gain as the exhibition Dali, Magritte, Miro: Surrealism in Paris, currently being shown at the Fondation Beyeler (Basel), will be held at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Belgium in Brussels in March 2016, four years later than the planned March 2012. This will facilitate loans of artworks for the exhibition and allow for a more rigorous presentation of the connections between surrealism and primitive art. The ﬁnancial environment has placed strains on the budgets of Belgium’s federal institutions and created diﬃculties in the world of sponsorship.
As a result, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts has decided to focus its resources on Jordaens and the Classical Tradition, an exhibition that will open on 12 October 2012. But, in place of Surrealism in Paris, the museum will present a show of photographs by director Stanley Kubrick that will run from March to July. In Kubrick’s photos, which he took between 1945 and 1950, visitors will discover all of the leitmotivs that the director subsequently developed in his ﬁlms. These exceptional images display an aesthetic control that is unusual in a young artist just out of high school. Mastery is an essential theme
of the show – the 130 photographs will be juxtaposed with paintings from the Royal Museums that reﬂect the extent to which Kubrick, throughout his life, used painting as an inspirational touchstone for the construction of an image. For Kubrick, these links were at once psychological and analytical; drawing on works from Hieronymus Bosch to Francis Bacon, the museum’s visual heritage will be highlighted in the service of an œuvre that speaks to our present moment. For more information on the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Belgium Stanley Kubrick Photo Exhibition, click here.
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What about Woody? Mais oui!
Picturenose’s James Drew reviews Midnight in Paris (2011), which was also up for Best Picture on Oscars night, winning Best Original Screenplay. Well, are you or aren’t you? A Woody fan, I mean – in the same way that much of the civilized world may be safely divided into two categories, namely those who loathe Manchester United and those who don’t but strangely hail from absolutely everywhere in the world except Manchester, there are two accepted schools of thought on the work of one Allen Stewart Konigsberg, or Woody Allen, if you will. This writer has always loved his work as a comedian, actor, writer and director (and it’s normally best when he combines most or all of the above in a given work), but recognizes that there are those who hate him almost as much as I hate Man Utd*. Pooh-pooh to them – let them see Midnight in Paris (2011) and perhaps be convinced otherwise. Here’s hoping. After his excursions to Barcelona and London (and given that he is no longer making movies in the US) Allen turns his attention to Paris, the city of light, city of love. Midnight... draws an artistic, romantic portrait of Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) a brilliant writer who’s staying in Paris with his ﬁancee and her parents. Inspired by the city’s beauty, he begins writing a novel, but, as with so many of Allen’s heroes, ﬁnds true love and the real meaning of life en route. Clearly, Wilson is here as Woody’s customary alter ego, but this is not a cliched, hackneyed imitation, but rather a nuanced, delicate and very funny portrayal of a man making his way through a surreal and fantastic journey into the past, namely the Paris of the 1920s, where he meets artists such as Hemingway, Picasso, Dali, Lautrec (an excellent Adrien Brody), and learns what life’s about. While the latter half of the ﬁlm does become somewhat repetitive, this is more than forgiveable, given the extravagant, fascinating and near phantasmagorical set-up – quite simply, a marvellous, intellectually nourishing tale that is deﬁnitely not to be missed, of a man who is facing choices that will determine the direction of his life. 100 mins. In English and French (*Ed’s note: York-born James is an occasional supporter of West Ham United)
Funky ﬁlm festival turns ﬁve
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
This month the Oﬀscreen Film Festival, an annual rendez-vous for enthusiasts of bizarre and cult cinema, celebrates its ﬁfth anniversary. From 7-25 March, the spotlight is on independent ﬁlmmakers, cult classics and eccentric genres from all over the world. With the Home Sweet Home retrospective, Oﬀscreen beats down the door of that familiar cocoon and safe haven we call home. But this selection of ﬁlms, sub-categorized into Home Invasion and Haunted Houses, will make even the most solid foundations tremble. When it comes to living in a dysfunctional family, being harassed by strange forces or tyrannized by paranormal phenomena...there’s truly no place like home. The programme counts no less than 30 cinematic gems, screened at Cinema Nova and Cinematek – classics such as The Haunting (1963), The Innocents (1961), The Cat and the Canary (1939) and Straw Dogs (1971, pictured); rare ﬁlm pearls like Lady In A Cage (1964), Hausu (House) (1977) and A Quiet Place In The Country (1968); and authentic grindhouse movies including Fight For Your Life (1977) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). This year’s guilty pleasure is undeniably The Room, a cinema ﬂop that rapidly became a worldwide cult phenomenon à la The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). It will screen as part of a conference on cult cinema at Cinema Rits, where several international speakers explain
how and why a movie attains cult status. One of the invited guests is Suzan Pitt, known primarily for her animated short ﬁlm Asparagus, a surrealist work that opened for Eraserhead (1978) on the midnight circuit for two years. On top of sharing her earlier work, she’ll present her most recent ﬁlm Visitation (2011) as well as lead a creative workshop for students at RITS in Brussels and KASK in Ghent. A veritable juggler of genres, Umberto Lenzi will also pay a visit. A great opportunity for all to study the milestones in his proliﬁc ﬁlmography (which counts more than 60 ﬁlms) such as the poliziottesco Roma a mano armata (1976), the giallo Paranoia (AKA Orgasmo) (1969) and the hilarious zombie ﬂick Nightmare City (1980). And what would an anniversary be without a party? For the ﬁrst time in Belgium, The B-Movie Orchestra, a 12-member big band from The Netherlands, will set the festive atmosphere at the Beursschouwburg. Inspired by 60s and 70s-era B-movies like Italian genre ﬁlms, soft-core erotic movies like Emmanuelle (1974) or sci-ﬁ kitsch à la Barbarella (1968), they come accompanied by the vocal stylings of The Cinematic Fever Girls. Not only will they tap into the groovy and psychedelic sound of their cinematic inﬂuences, they’ll also curate a visual sampler of the ﬁnest B-movie scenes, projected on the big screen. So, a happy ﬁfth birthday from us all.
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Downtown art-house cinema lands Tawain movie treasure By Martin Banks Are you a fan of rare Asian ﬁlms? If so, a new collection at Brussels’ Cinematek could be just the thing. This art-house cinema, near Central Station, now features 192 copies of Taiwan ﬁlm prints, donated by the Taipei Representative Oﬃce in the EU and Belgium. The donation was made on behalf of the Taiwan government to the Belgian Royal Film Archive (BRFA) to mark Taiwan’s centenary this year. In turn, the BRFA presented 100 DVDs of Belgian ﬁlms to the oﬃce. The handover was made at a recent ceremony to the archive’s assistant director, Nicola Mazzanti, a noted ﬁlm archivist and restorer. The Taiwan ﬁlms span 1965-94 and oﬀer a glimpse into 30 years of some of the East’s most productive and interesting cinema. The ﬁlms entrusted to Cinematek will be made available to scholars, researchers and the public and were described by Mazzanti as “a rare treasure as they are all extremely diﬃcult to access outside of Taiwan”. He said: “There are many pearls among these ﬁlms, too many to mention in all, but some highlights include early ﬁlms by famous Taiwanese directors. These include Ang Lee’s successful debut, Pushing Hands, (1991), Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Green, Green Grass of Home (1982) and A Summer at Grandpa’s (1984), together with his ﬁrst script Good Morning Taipei, which was directed by Li Hsing in 1979. The collection also includes titles that are less known but no less important in the long and proliﬁc history of the ‘New Taiwanese’ Cinema, including the works of Chen Kun-hou (ﬁve of his ﬁlms are included in the collection), Chang Yi and Ko Yi Cheng. Mazzanti said: “Many of the ﬁlms are from the era preceding the
explosion of ‘New Cinema’ and help promote understanding of the tradition and development of Taiwanese cinema.” This collection will be of particular interest not only to those who wish to research the history of such an important part of Asian cinema but also for those who simply appreciate wonderful ﬁlms.
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Scorsese’s fantasy runs like clockwork
En route... In Brussels cinemas soon: 7 March My week with Marilyn Could be interesting – a docu-drama approach to what went down between Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams - pictured below) when they worked together on the really rather average The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Former TV man Simon Curtis is at the helm. 14 March Jane Eyre And Picturenose has even reviewed this one, aren’t we good to you? Click here to ﬁnd out what Agata Olbrycht thought... 21 March The Hunger Games It all sounds a bit too much like Stephen King’s The Running Man does this (but the original rather-good novella, not the 1987 Schwarzenegger travesty) – it’s set in a future where the ‘Capitol’ selects a boy and girl from twelve ‘districts’ to ﬁght to the death on live television. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match in Pleasantville (1998) director Gary Ross’s ﬁlm. 28 March Quiz Interesting premise – a famous gameshow host is menaced by a very strange man who claims to have kidnapped his wife and daughter. Traditional roles, and tables, are about to be turned by Dutch director Dick Maas. Plenty of reviews are always available on Picturenose. See you next time!
For the third Oscar-nominee review, we’re again with Picturenose’s James Drew, who ﬁnds much to enjoy in legendary director Martin Scorsese’s ﬁrst family ﬁlm, Hugo, which landed several ‘minor’ Oscars. It was the Divine C‘s turn to choose a ﬁlm and, despite my best eﬀorts to convince her that going to see a 3D family mystery (even if it was directed by Martin Scorsese) might not be the best plan, feminine wiles and will won through, and oﬀ I dutifully trudged with her to see Hugo (2011). Thankfully, however, I was to be more than pleasantly surprised... Asa Butterﬁeld plays Hugo Cabret, an orphan who lives above a Paris train station in 1930, which is ruled with an iron ﬁst by Station Inspector Sacha Baron Cohen. Responsible for winding the station’s clocks at the behest of his uncle Claude (Ray Winstone) since the death of his father (Jude Law), Cabret is also a master of automata, and has been working hard to repair a ‘writing robot’ that his father left him. Purloining various toys from a stall-holder on the station, Hugo is caught red-handed by the toy-maker, whom he and we are set to discover is none other than cinematic legend and innovator Georges Méliès (Sir Ben Kingsley). Angry at the boy’s theft, Méliès conﬁscates Hugo’s notebook, which he ﬁnds to be full of intricate, technical drawings concerning the work that Hugo and his father were trying to complete on the robot. In fact, as Hugo is set to discover, the automaton once belonged to Méliès, and Hugo realises that he has been given a chance to give a man his life back...
There is clearly so much more going on here than with normal 3D fare; that is to say, Scorsese is obviously too good a director to waste much time with excessive ‘Oh look, I am pointing something in your face’ techniques. Rather, there is a real exploration of the fabric and texture of the beautiful 3D world that we as viewers are allowed to explore, and the set-pieces emerge as genuinely exciting as a result. In addition, excellent, digniﬁed performances, particularly from the young leads, gives the ﬁlm a sincerity that is noticeably lacking in most family cinema and the script by John Logan (Gladiator (2000) and, in late 2012, the new Bond epic Skyfall) from Brian Selznick’s novel, is a joyful and moving evocation of time and place, even if there is the sense that certain characters, such as Christopher Lee’s Monsieur Labisse, are only there as window-dressing; this was likely a ﬂaw in the original text too. It also seemed to both my beloved and myself a strange decision to not even acknowledge that the ﬁlm’s setting was Paris, France wiz some outragggeous French, euh, accents, euh, but this is perhaps no great loss. And it is good to see attention being paid to the great magician and innovator that was Georges Méliès – a man to whom every ﬁlm director who followed him owes an enormous debt. Thankfully, Scorsese’s ﬁlm provides an entertaining (and overdue) epitaph. 126 mins
Page 15 - Around Brussels in 30 days
Drink in the beauty of Porto Words by Lucy Mallows The locals of Porto have an apt saying about four of the most ancient towns in the country: “Coimbra sings, Braga prays, Lisbon shows oﬀ and Porto works”. The Portoenses work and play hard and the town, teetering above the banks of the river Douro, provides a sharp and refreshing contrast to Lisbon life. Porto is the beating heart of Portugal and provides the origins of its name. The name Portus described the harbour district that sprang up opposite Cale, a Lusitanian settlement in Roman times at the mouth of the Douro - the ‘river of gold’. Portu-Cale eventually became Portugal. I don’t think I have ever witnessed such a spectacular arrival by bus into a new town. The journey from the university town of Coimbra reached its grand ﬁnale as we passed over the impressive double Dom Luis I bridge and all heads turned to gaze west at the magniﬁcent river panorama lined by houses clinging to an almost vertical cliﬀ side. I almost put my neck out, spinning around to gaze in awe south at the Vila Nova de Gaia district, where port wine cellars and caves line up along the bank, east to even more steep cliﬀside and more vertiginous bridges spanning the chasm, while ahead of us lay the vibrant city of Porto with its red-roofed houses jumbled together in the area between the Sé (Cathedral) and the Torre dos Clérigos, once the tallest building in the country. Porto’s towering river panorama, which made
the Buda bank of the Danube seem quite ﬂattened in comparison, is dominated by ﬁve equally impressive bridges, three modern and two built in the 19th century. Most of the business and commerce takes place in the northern half while, south of the river, they are busy with port wine. I spent the evenings sitting on a café terrace, watching the sun set over hoardings advertising port wine companies, many with English names: Sandeman, Cockburn and Graham’s among them. The Methuen Treaty in 1703 reduced the duty paid on Portuguese wine in return for the removal of restrictions on British woollen goods exported to Portugal. As a result, the exchange of cardies for bevvies has thrived for the three hundred years since. All the cellars oﬀer free tasting sessions in an attempt to lure in the punters and the south bank of the river is a favourite weekend destination for locals and visitors alike. On a two-week whistle-stop tour of the entire country, I was still able to form an impression of the subtle diﬀerences in character in the long, rectangular land. I discovered I much preferred it ‘up north’ where the people were more friendly, welcoming and appeared to have more time to enjoy life and all the natural riches of the beautiful country, than in the stressed-out capital Lisbon and the tourist-swamped Algarve coast. Porto is packed with photographic opportunities. Turn a corner and there is yet another perfect shot of a fading yet elegant
building, or a church facade covered in the beautiful blue, illustrated azulejos ceramic tiles. Like Lisbon, Porto is extremely hilly and everyday felt like a mountain hike, walking from my pensao in the north west of town down to the heart of the old town. Trams are not so much in evidence, but the sweet little No 1 tram was a convenient way to head out along to river to the wide mouth of the Douro and the wild and windy beach on the Atlantic Ocean. I spent a glorious sunny Suny afternoon paddling and collecting tiny Cowrie shells washed in from the ocean. I was wafted back to holidays on Devon’s south coast and suddenly felt as if I were eight years old again. Situated on the coast, Porto is an excellent destination for pescatarians. I enjoyed countless plates of sardinhas assadas (grilled sardines) served with delicious boiled yellow potatoes and a huge mound of leafy salad, all washed down with freshly-squeezed orange juice and ﬁnishing up with a naughty custard tart. Lobster, king prawns, squid, tuna, swordﬁsh and sea bass were also on the menu along with lampreys. I didn’t feel tempted to try the unusual eel-like creature, having remembered from a school lesson many decades ago that King John died in 1216 from eating “a surfeit of lampreys and peach wine”. They say that eating ﬁsh is good for the brain and the memory, well, there’s the proof.
Check out Lucy’s blog, Disappearing Budapest, here
Belgian ﬂyers on course to take bite out of Big Apple After an absence of more than 10 years, Belgian aviation will soon be back in the United States. Martin Banks reports. The country’s national air carrier is revving up for a big day this summer - the launch of a daily direct ﬂight between Brussels and New York. Starting from 1 June, Brussels Airlines will connect Europe’s capital daily with New York JFK airport. The signiﬁcance of the occasion is not lost on company CEO Bernard Gustin, who declared: “June 1 is set to be a historical day.With the launch on that day of this new scheduled service between Brussels Airport and New York, we will be bringing Belgian aviation back to America.” All this is, of course, a far cry from the dark days of just a few years ago when Sabena, Belgium’s national airline from 1923 to 2001, went bankrupt. It was a grim period for both that once-proud airline and the country as a whole. After all, it isn’t day that a country’s national carrier goes bust. However, better news was soon on the horizon when the newly formed SN Brussels Airlines took over part of Sabena’s assets in February 2002. This later became what we now know as Brussels Airlines, with its corporate headquarters on the grounds of Brussels Airport in Zaventem. According to the company, there are several reasons why they have decided to connect the Big Apple to the EU capital. Gustin said: ”More than 300,000 people travel annually between
the two cities and this makes New York an important long haul destination for the Belgian market. “Also, we have received numerous requests from passengers who would like to ﬂy with us to New York.” The new service will be operated with completely renewed Airbus A330 aircraft equipped with the latest in-ﬂight technology and comfort. The sale of tickets for the Brussels-New York JFK route has already started with a launch fare of €399 (all taxes and service fees included). Ticket sales are via the internet and travel agents. There will be a daily morning service to New York, arriving early afternoon (local time) and an overnight service between New York and Brussels, arriving in Brussels the following morning. This scheduling enables the New York ﬂight to ﬁt in smoothly with Brussels Airlines’ European and African ﬂights, so that, allowing for a brief transfer once at Brussels Airport, dozens of destinations in Europe and Africa connect perfectly with the transatlantic route. In JFK, the service will operate from Terminal 1 while at Brussels the plane departs from the company’s exclusive longhaul terminal. The planes will be equipped with a brand-new business and economy class cabin (ﬂat bed in business, ergonomic seats in economy) and the latest hi-tech entertainment system. Passengers travelling on the new route will beneﬁt from
what is a €30 million investment to boost the ﬂeet’s facilities. This major refurbishment of the long haul ﬂeet (including brand new business and economy class and a facelift for the lavatories and galleys) is also seen as a “green” investment - thanks to the use of modern materials, the weight per aircraft decreases, as does fuel usage and CO2 emissions. Said Gustin: “We are especially pleased that we will be able to serve New York, the main longhaul destination for the Belgian travel market. Not only are we investing in our own air connection to the States but, thanks to a completely new cabin, we are also oﬀering our passengers a state-of-the-art product more than ever before.” He added: “Customers boarding our long-haul aircraft will have the feeling they are entering a brand new aircraft. If we compare this level of comfort to the product of other airlines on transatlantic ﬂights we conclude that we will become a real trendsetter of quality in terms of seats, relaxation possibilities, leg room and entertainment technology.” With the bad old days of Sabena now a distant memory, Belgium’s national airline is, clearly, hoping its new daily trip across ‘the Pond’ will be a soaraway success. * Brussels Airlines was named Best Short Haul Airline for 2011 by Travel Magazine, presented by industry members to industry players. The airline has won every year since 2004. More info here.
Around Brussels in 30 days - Page 16
It’s New. It’s Hot. ...And It’s Got The Lot! Ardennes homes battling the Wallonia-holiday blues While its natural charm remains undimmed, it has to be said that tourism in Wallonia has taken a hit in recent times (writes Martin Banks). The ongoing economic downturn and seeming never-ending availability of relatively cheap overseas travel have both conspired to leave the region’s once-thriving tourism industry a little worn around the edges. Much the same could be said of some of the public properties in Wallonia which, due to lack of investment and other factors, have also fallen into steady decline. But it is not all grim news because a Stavelot-based company is doing its bit to help restore the good times to this relatively small but beautiful part of Belgium. The company gives local people who own some of the region’s best preserved and sometimes historic properties the chance to rent them out to visitors. It’s a win-win scenario: the owner can claw back some of his investment in the restored property while towns and villages, together with the local economy, get a much-needed ﬁnancial shot-in-the-arm from the inﬂux of visitors. Since its launch a few years ago, the initiative has steadily gained in popularity so much so that the company’s website is now among the “must visits” for those seeking to get away from the stresses and strains of modern life for a short break in some of Europe’s most under-rated countryside. Today, the company (Ardennes-Etape) employs more than 30 multi-lingual people and has established a leading role in the provision of holiday homes in the Belgian Ardennes. Typical of its fast-booming property database is a former blacksmith’s forge and stables which fell into partial disrepair but which, over a period of 20 years, have been lovingly restored by Thierry Mathy-Fernades and his wife. The property, in the centre of Havelange, dates from 1870 when a blacksmith worked there next to a small farm, specialising in the production of ironwork for railways. In later years, the house was the property of a Russian woman who, when she became too old to run the place, sold it to Thierry and his wife who renovated everything. The current owner found a lot of the blacksmith’s old material during the
renovation work, some of it is on display in the building which is now available to rent. Thierry told us: “It’s been a real labour of love but it has been great to restore this beautiful old building to something like its former glory. We are very proud of it.” Ardennes-Etape holiday homes are located in the Belgian provinces of Liège, Luxembourg and Namur or, more speciﬁcally, 37.3% in the East Cantons, 34.7% in the valley of the river Ourthe, 12% in the valley of the river Semois and 15.6% in the region of the river Lesse. Apparently, the Belgian Ardennes is particularly attractive to the Dutchspeaking community, with 38% of the outﬁt’s customers being Dutch and 50% Flemish (French speakers and those from Germany, Britain and Luxembourg make up the rest). Up until 2011, Ardennes-Etape had welcomed in excess of 1.5 million holiday makers to the Ardennes (three times the number of inhabitants of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg). In its ﬁrst year, a modest 7,264 customers booked but, last year, the number of reservations exceeded 30,000. Apart from boosting the Walloon economy, the company is proving something of a technological trendsetter. Back in 2002, many such companies were still processing holiday reservations using pen and paper but André Oﬀermans, the founder of Ardennes-Etape, spotted the potential of an online reservation system. Thanks to his early use of the internet, the company has subsequently been able to establish itself as a market leader in the ﬁeld of holiday home rental and is able to organise customer care, human resources, public relations and more all in house.
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Ardennes-Etape B-4970 Stavelot Tel: +32 80 28 16 92 Fax: +32 80 29 24 09 www.Ardennes-Etape.com For more about the restored blacksmith’s forge, email Thierrymathy@msn.com or call +32 (0)496 969908
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Up Brighton early for photo expo Before Lucy Mallows moved to Brighton in November 2011 - she’d only visited four times but says: “I always felt it was the place to be.” Since then, the writer and photographer has been out discovering her new home town and enjoying a life by the sea. Brighton, she says, is not only incredibly photogenic but really friendly; everybody has time for a chat and it’s packed with artists all doing something creative. Her signature photo - of the seagulls lining up along the ‘Brighton blue’ balustrade in front of the pier changed her life, she says. “I went down to the beach at 11am on 11.11.11, in one of my hippy, trippy moments, waiting for a sign: a thunderbolt, a vision across the waves, anything! “The photo I captured of the seagulls (11 of them - spooky!) was bought by a famous writer who went on to champion and promote my photos at every opportunity and it lead to my ﬁrst exhibition.” That exhibition is called Brighton - First Impressions and runs until Thursday 31 May at one of Lucy’s favourite spots, Harry’s English Restaurant at 41 Church Road, Hove (on the corner of Palmeira Square). Harry’s is open Monday-Saturday 09.00-22.30 and on Sunday from 09.30-21.30. All prints are available for purchase at the evnt and extra prints, in various dimensions, can be ordered by mobile phone (+44 (0)7891 893 951) or via her website. Please note that while the photos on this spread are details from some of those on show, the presentation/cropping is the editor’s.
Around Brussels in 30 days - Page 20
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‘It’s the foodie bit, dahling...’
Indian Country, Brussels style Daphne Wayne-Bough tries out some of the city’s Indian restaurats Indian food has always been popular in the UK, going back to the days of the Raj - albeit in an Anglicized form. Kedgeree and mulligatawny soup are but two of the many delicious dishes that would be served at a Memsahib’s table back in the days of Gandhi. Things have changed a bit since Indians started serving their food to the British back in the 1970s. It is no longer a question of a vindaloo and a pint of lager after the pub shuts. North Indian, South Indian, Goan, Kashmiri, Bengali, Mughal – going out for an Indian is no longer just a chicken korma, pilao rice and a pile of pappadoms. The British are quite au fait with Indian cuisine these days, be it the local tandoori or a Marks & Spencer ready meal eaten at home,
and most of them have a fairly wide vocabulary of Indian culinary terms: naan, roti, tandoori, thali, dal, dansak, biryani, balti, saag, aloo and paneer are terms that will trip oﬀ the tongue of residents of cities almost anywhere in the UK. We certainly know our pakora from our pappardelle and our Panini from our punani these days, for which we can thank Madhur Jaﬀrey, the TV chef in the 1970s, and Patrick Campbell, founder of the Curry Club. Even the Hairy Bikers can whip up a saag ghosht, or lamb and spinach curry, although in a Geordie accent it sounds more like an expletive. The chicken tikka masala, reputedly invented in Glasgow with the help of a tin of tomato soup, is now, apparently the most popular dish in Britain. If you’re a visitor to the UK and have a penchant for an authentic “Ruby Murray” (as our
chirpy cockney mates down in Walford would say), head for Brick Lane, near Aldwych tube. Or if you want to go more upmarket, Veeraswamy’s on Regent Street will take you back to the glory days of the Raj. Birmingham boasts a “balti triangle” where the best balti restaurants this side of Lahore can be found, and in fact the balti - a way of cooking in individual dishes - is reputed to have been invented in that city. Whichever type of cuisine advertised, in 99 cases out of 100 the chefs and owners will be from Bangla Desh. Subcontinental food is becoming popular in Belgium too, if the increasing number of Indian restaurants in Brussels is anything to go by. There are now about 40 in Brussels alone. Unfortunately French gastrofascism got its garlicky ﬁngers into Belgian culinary tradition decades ago, and anything that is not in the Larousse Gastronomique is viewed with suspicion, if not outright fear. I met a couple in Paris once who would not go to Chinese restaurants because there was no bread on the table! Indian cuisine is therefore adapted to local palates, which is not always a bad thing. The lower the chilli factor, the more you can taste the subtle blends of spices. However, some lovers of sensations fortes – mainly British
‘Spicy Grill is an unlikely name for an Indian resto. But this is Brussels’
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men – like a degree of pain with their rogan josh. It’s a macho thing. You won’t ﬁnd anything in Brussels to compare with Bradford, Leicester or Tooting Bec but have a discreet word with the waiter and most chefs here will turn the heat up a notch or two on request. In the olden days, Indian restaurants were called ‘The Star of India’ or the ‘Maharajah’, and had red ﬂock wallpaper, twangy sitar music and cooking oil drums stacked up in the corridor blocking the way to the loo. Nowadays - in the UK at least - they are all painted in neutral colours with Ikea furniture and venetian blinds and have names like ‘Monsoon’, ‘Billy Patel’s’ or ‘Chutney Mary’s’. I blame Danny Boyle. A pair of recently arrived Yanks from the colonies agreed to join me on one phase of my search for a decent curry. “We’re going Indian hunting, cowboys. Call in the cavalry!” I quipped. The lady shuddered. “We call them Native Murkans now and they’re protected,” she said, deadpan. I had a Jeremy Clarkson moment. ‘Spicy Grill’ is an unlikely name for an Indian restaurant, but it is Brussels after all, and in the shadow of the European Commission to boot. Just think what a Flemish speaker could do to
the word ‘Maharajah’. It is neither olde-worlde Mughal nor modern Bhangra Brummie. It is elegant, housed in a Brussels-style town house typical of the area. The dining room is long and narrow, and the tables a fraction too close together, but the menu is extensive and has all your standards - tikka masala, shahi korma - which are served in white china, a cut above your standard stainless steel serving dishes. Indian beers Cobra and Kingﬁsher are available alongside Belgian beers and an impressive wine list. I saw Baroness Ashton eating in here once, if that’s any recommendation. (Ed’s comment: it depends what she was wearing.) We ordered a selection of samosas - two chicken, two vegetable - and a couple of onion bhajis. The samosas were ﬁne, although not remotely spicy, more like triangular Cornish pasties, and the onion bhajis were tasty but about the size of a truﬄe. For main course we shared a lamb danzak, a chicken tikka masala and a vegetable curry. The lamb danzak was generally judged to be the most tasty of the three, the taste of lentils came through unswamped by ﬁery spices. The vegetable curry was mild but ﬂavoursome all the same. The chicken TM was the colour of a radioactive carrot. We asked the waiter what they put in it. He insisted just paprika and general masala spices. Otis swore he could detect something like ketchup in the sauce. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the possibly apocryphal legend that the CTM was invented by a chef at the Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow who whipped up an improvised sauce using a tin of Heinz tomato soup. With one garlic nan, one plain nan, and two portions of basmati rice, the whole lot came to around €26 a head. The waiters are smiling and nice but don’t expect the sort of expertise or banter you’d get in Sauchiehall Street. Personally I ﬁnd wine a bit wasted with curry, as it all tastes the same with the strong spices,
and Indians themselves recommend drinking either beer or lassi (fermented milk) with their food. Indian beers have been designed especially for drinking with curry, having a lower gas content. If you follow me. I ventured to the ‘Koh-i-Noor’ on Avenue de la Chasse with another colonial, this one from the land of the long white cloud . This small, unprepossessing establishment must have taken over the premises of a Swiss fondue chalet if the décor is anything to go by. Wood-paneled walls made me feel I was inside a cuckoo clock. We tried to channel the patience of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing on the ﬁrst conquest of Everest while waiting for the food, which took an inordinately long time. One little lady runs this place single handedly, she does all the cooking and serving, but we had the impression that base camp was quite a long way down. The place is not exactly heaving on a Friday night - in fact there were just the two of us. This would seem to be more due to lack of appreciation of Indian cuisine from the locals, or possibly the oﬀ-centre location, than on the quality of the food which, when it did arrive, was extremely good. We munched on a pappadom and worked our way through a bottle of Beaujolais while we waited for our large plate of mixed entrees, which comprised two samosas (one meat, one veg), an onion bhaji, pieces of chicken tandoori, chicken tikka, lamb tikka, shik kebab and a little side dish of mint yogurt. By the time we’d worked our way through these, the main courses were ready: a chicken tikka masala that was reddish but didn’t glow in the dark, a lamb badam pasanda, a vegetable biryani to share and a side order of vegetables. All the food was freshly cooked, including the garlic naan which was the best I have tasted anywhere. A second bottle of Beaujolais at €17 was required due to the slow service, which whacked the bill up a bit to just over €40 a head, but I cannot fault the food which was delicious.
‘The freshly cooked garlic naan was the best I have tasted anywhere’
The third in my trio of Indians is ‘Annapurna’ on Rue de Laeken, which advertises Indian, Bengali, Tibetan and Nepalese dishes. I popped in for a quick standard menu (samosas - chicken tikka masala - basmati rice) with a French friend. The waiters are sweet and speak good English, although they can barely speak French. It was quite busy, and they obviously weren’t used to dealing with a full house, and the wait for our main course was interminable. It eventually dawned on them that they’d forgotten us. Some panicking in the kitchen, and we ﬁnally got our meal - which was delicious. I can’t fault the food, but avoid it on a weekend, as they haven’t quite come to terms with their own success yet. Indian restaurants here are somewhat timid in their cooking, and in none of these three did the waft of curry spices hit you as soon as you walked in. If you are a novice where Indian food is concerned, Brussels is probably a good place to start. If you’re a Brit desperate for a really good curry, London is only two hours away on Eurostar.
Spicy Grill 102 Rue Stevin 1040 Etterbeek Tel: 02 512 25 05 www.spicygrill.be Koh-i-Noor 123 Avenue de la Chasse 1040 Etterbeek Tel: 02 736 50 22 www.restaurantkohinoor.be Annapurna 26 Rue de Laeken` 1000 Bruxelles Tel: 02 219 39 33 web.resto.com/annapurna/ Read more of Daphne’s restaurant reviews here
Wake up and smell the coﬀee By Daphne Wayne-Bough
Banksy’s Brussels Bites... This month, Martin Banks visits an Indonesian restaurant, dines Madagascar style and ﬁnds a cool brasserie by Gare du Midi You’ll stuggle to ﬁnd better Indonesian cuisine anywhere in town than at Garuda. Every month the chef who, judging by the food he serves is clearly a great cook, prepares specialties of the various islands of Indonesia, such as Bali, Sumatera and Java. He also produces a wonderful peanut sauce and chili sauce, both of which will shortly be sold in other restaurants and some catering places. Both the spices and decoration (inside and outside) come directly from Indonesia speciﬁcally for this restaurant. The owner is Sydney Houyoux, who has devised a terriﬁc line-up of dishes (most of them garnished in delicious and healthy coconut milk) which include four ‘set’ menus of meat and ﬁsh (priced from €25) and a list of chef’s suggestions. If the food is great then so is the service, with the beautifully dressed staﬀ always ensuring that a visit here is an absolute treat. Meanwhile, don’t be fooled at ﬁrst glance by the unassuming nature of restaurant, right in the heart of downtown. It may not seat that many but if you’re lucky enough to in, you won’t regret it. The happy couple who run it were once with the Best Western hotel chain but, after 13 years, decided to go it alone. The result is one of the few, possibly the only, restaurant in Brussels serving authentic food from the luxury holiday island of Madagascar. And it is delicious with the starters, each priced at €14, including so-called East and West coast salads and skewers of tasty meat. The main courses, from €18-35, include chicken with coconut, Ravitoto port with rice and tiger shrimps cooked the ‘Malagasy way’ plus duck with ginger.
The Madagascar inﬂuence doesn’t stop at the food, either, as the drinks list also includes local rum and cocktails. Give it a try. Last - but certainly not least - this month, if you thought music and food don’t mix then the terriﬁc brasserie Midi Station will prove you wrong. Visitors can enjoy a fantastic choice of dishes while listening to some of the best jazz and funk tunes in town. As the blurb says: ’if Brussels is the heart of Europe, Brussels South is its soul - less polished than the European quarter, but with more colour.’ Pride of place on the impressive menu goes to the delicious Hereford free-range beef supplied by Jack O’Shea, the awardwinning butcher. He may have run into recent trouble at a posh shop in London for selling banned foie gras, but you really can’t knock the lad’s beef. Other than Jack’s joints, the choice of meats span the continent: there’s French Charolais beef, ‘little ham’ from the Belgian Ardennes, braised Iberico pork and Scottish Angus rib eye. And there’s plenty on oﬀer for non-meat eaters, including Scottish salmon and cod ‘Rossini’ monkﬁsh. There’s also an oyster bar with mouth-watering oysters from Zeeland, Ireland and Normandy. All dishes are lovingly prepared in an open-plan kitchen. There’s €35 euro ‘menu of the month’ and, unusually, even a cigar lounge. Apart from the heavenly blue smoke, you’re sure to enjoy its luxury and privacy. Designer lanterns shine on tropical ﬁsh, the stylish leather sofas and, oh-my-God, the billiard room. There are also cocktails (happy hour, from 17-18:00, ThursdayFriday) and a wine list with classics, plus a selection of lesser known biological varieties. Such a venture can hardly be located in Brussels without
What does the name Ethiopia conjure up for you? Maybe long-distance running - if you can name one Ethiopian it will likely be Haile Gebreselassie, marathon man par excellence. You may also think of coﬀee (quite likely they invented it). Oldest Christian church in the world, anyone? And going even further back, Ethiopia can stake a valid claim to be the birthplace of civilization. If that proves to be the case, then we are all Ethiopians. Many of you will have grown up with depressing images of Ethiopia - famine, disease, war, refugee camps - so it is heartening to learn that Ethiopians are not sad people at all. In fact, they are regular party animals, and smiley Haile Abebe, the de facto ambassador of the Ethiopian community in Brussels, is out to spread the word with co-owners Natalino Arena and Serge Anton. He already scored a hit with his ﬁrst restaurant Kokob, and music and cultural venue Le Cercle des Voyageurs in which he still has an interest. The new restaurant on the Rue de Laeken, a stone’s throw from Place de Brouckère and Sainte Catherine, is called Toukoul. (A toukoul is a small thatched hut where the Afar people of the Ethiopian Highlands live). The huge highceilinged room has been inventively and tastefully decorated by Serge Anton with genuine Ethiopian artworks. At the oﬃcial launch in January, live bands played smoky jazz and lively dance music and the place was packed wall to wall with fans of Ethio jazz funk. At one point the chef gave an impromptu demonstration of vigorous Ethiopian eskesta dancing on the bar, to noisy stamps and whistles of appreciation from the mixed Ethiopian and European crowd. I returned in February for a less frenetic evening, with three other novices to Ethiopian cuisine. Not knowing much about it, we trusted in our waiter to serve us a typical selection, and were not disappointed or hungry when we left. The traditional Ethiopian meal consists of a large spongey sourdough ﬂatbread called “injera” made from teﬀ ﬂour indigenous to Ethiopia, which is used as both plate and cutlery. It is served with small portions of various meat and vegetarian dishes, some spicy, others less so. Strips of injera are used to scoop up food. The various stews and mixes made from vegetables, pulses or meat such as
lamb, beef or chicken, are known as wat or aticha and are seasoned with a hot chilli sauce called berbéré, ginger or erd (similar to turmeric). There are also ﬁsh dishes and a selection of salads. The ‘Discovery Menu’, ranging from €18-25 a head, is the nearest thing to a typical Ethiopian meal - a selection of dishes served with a tray of injera and an explanation of how to eat it. Vegetarians are easily catered for, with a good selection on oﬀer, including spinach with mushrooms, lentils, split peas, ratatouille, ayeb (cottage cheese); the meat dishes range from diced chicken with spinach, minced beef spiced up with berbéré, and diced lamb in a creamy yogurt sauce to chicken with ginger and vegetables. All the dishes are extremely tasty, some are surprisingly mild - apart from the berbéré, nothing will blow your head oﬀ. An extra bowl of rolled injera strips is provided for you to break up and use them to scoop up the food on the tray. It’s a convivial and fun way of eating in a couple or a group, and apparently the typically Ethiopian way to do it is to feed each other with a mouthful of rolled and ﬁlled injera, called a “goursha”. The bigger the goursha, the deeper the friendship. If you don’t fancy your friends’ ﬁngers in your mouth, or even your own, cutlery can be provided on request. After one of my party compared the injera strips to surgical bandages, I almost did. After a communal meal eaten with the ﬁngers from the same plate, treat yourself to an abridged version of the Ethiopian coﬀee ceremony, where diners are enveloped in burnt-coﬀee smelling steam, as the freshly-roasted beans are
waved over the table like incense. The roasted coﬀee beans are then taken away and ground on the spot to produce a light coﬀee with a delicate ﬂavour. Alternatively, sip an Ethiopian herbal tea ﬂavoured with ginger and cinnamon. Toukoul serves tasty food in a warm and friendly atmosphere. During the week, discreet Ethiopian music provides background ambience. On Fridays and Saturdays there is live music, but not necessarily Ethiopian. We went just after the death of Whitney Houston, and the whole restaurant sang along to I Will Always Love You - not entirely soberly. Our waitress said, with a perfectly straight face: “She is here with us tonight.” (Ethiopians have a dry sense of humour.) The service is eﬃcient and extremely friendly, and accompanied by helpful explanations of the diﬀerent dishes and how to eat them. The kitchen is open to the main room so you can see the chefs at work (when they’re not dancing on the bar, that is). Haile, Natalino and Serge make a point of going round chatting to all the customers, and everyone gets a warm handshake and a dazzling smile on their way out, with a genuine invitation to come again. I can endorse Toukoul for a night out with a diﬀerence. The word is already out, and the place gets very busy at weekends, so do book your table by Thursday for Friday or Saturday night. Another gold medal for Ethiopia - this new venture should run and run. Haile recommended. Toukoul 34 Rue de Laeken Tel: 02 223 73 77
Continued on Page 24 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.
Around Brussels in 30 days - Page 24
Tippler’s ‘Notes on the Back of a Beermat’
Bar-related musings from our man in the corner In between the perpetual struggle to ﬁnd the rent/the beer at the back of the fridge/the way home from The Oirish, yer man has been known to venture forth and try a few diﬀerent bars from time to time. This is often at the recommendation of friends, but more often despite them pleading: “For God’s sake don’t go in there, you pillock!” These bars are quite often grubby, occasionally bordering on the illegal but are almost always furnished with polite and pretty waitresses working alongside beautiful bouncing barmaids. OK, some of them have their fair share of ugly, miserable monosyllabic barmen who’d be more suited to working down a very deep mine digging up a rare, glowing and highly toxic metal on the far side of the arsehole of the universe than working in the so-called service industry but, the point is, even with these Neanderthals pulling the pints and grunting at each other there’s usually still some totty on show. So it’s fair to say that not only did Tippler’s alarm bells start to ring but a battery of internal lights began ﬂashing about 20 seconds after walking into The Unreserved. The reason for this instinctive reaction was the fact that said bar did not have a single female in it. Not behind the bar, not in the seats, not even dashing in to use the loo. If your correspondent had any doubts about the sexual preferences of the clientelle then they were well and truly dispelled by the barman’s t-shirt. This sported an arrow pointing to a leather-jacketed and tighttrousered customer to his left and bore the legend: “This guy likes cock.” OK, we were in there at the behest of a friend and colleague who ‘bats for the other team’, as it were, but given that he’s not remotely camp it’s easy to forget this and there’s generally no need to be on full alert when he suggests a trip to the boozer. But this was diﬀerent, there had been no warning and he was clearly among a lot of like-minded friennds. Some of us were not, however, and
while continental greetings are all very well, it’s one thing kissing your best Belgian mate on the cheek but another thing entirely being bornedown upon by a six-foot-three woolly-woofter with a rainbow scarf and wandering hands. Especially when you’ve only just met him. Now, your correspondent has nothing against gay bars (in fact, you can put Tippler in a hostelry full of carpet-munching lesbians snogging each other and bog oﬀ and leave him for three hours to go shopping, no problem) but a little bit of advance warning would be nice. Galumphing unknowingly into a bar full of rampant uphill gardeners on the look out for a bit of fresh can cause embarrassment, discomfort and probably considerably worse to an innocent abroad. And just because your writer is a little sensitive and good with colours doesn’t mean that a long journey in search of his feminine side is imminent. Yes, yes, yes, we’ve all heard Woody Allen spouting oﬀ about bisexuality doubling your chances of a date on a Friday night, but it’s a fact that some of us like to stay in occasionally. Bottom line (pardon the pun), this was not the kind of stag-do that bar writers tend to frequent although, once the initial shock waves had started to recede, it was clear the The Unreserved is a good bar with great music, peopled by friendly fellas who don’t spend all their time trying to pinch your arse, even if they might want to. But when I pointed this out later to my rolly-polly friend Denzil (who mercifully had not been with us earlier) he was having none of it. The Rotund One’s view was that it’s a backs-to-the-wall situation and if any ‘nancy boy’ tried to touch his todger he’d ‘punch their fucking lights out’. Hilarious, because there’s more chance of hell freezing over, Liverpool winning the Premiership and The Oirish serving free beer all on the same day than there is of anyone of either gender trying to worm their way into the oft-solied underwear of that fat git.
Continued from Page 22 oﬀering at least some of the best Belgian authentic beers, such as De Papegaei, of the Verstraete brewery, the Gusto Golden Blond or the Blanche de Namur (which was recently named best white beer in the world). And that’s just a sample of what’s on oﬀer. The service is as great as the setting and dining out here is a genuine treat. And don’t forget to check out the website for updates on the musicians appearing there. Brasserie Midi Station oﬀers great food and enjoyment. All in all, the place has a very international feel and you really might be in Paris, Amsterdam or London. Then again, you could simply be in a very cool bar in the Capital of Europe...
Garuda 25 Adolphe Buyle 1050 Brussels Tel: 02 513 05 92 Madagasikara 10 Rue de Flandre 1000 Brussels Tel: 0473 444 074 Midi Station 26 Place Victor Horta 1060 Brussels Tel: 02 526 88 00
Hard Rock Café set for summer launch Hard Rock International has announced that it’s to bring its blend of music, entertainment and authentic scratch-based cuisine to Brussels, with a state-of-the-art Hard Rock Café in Grand’Place set to open this summer. The multi-level location looks certain to become one of the city’s premier dining and entertainment destinations, with both indoor and outdoor dining areas and including upscale design features and innovative technology. Sound cool to you? It certainly does to us! Not only that, but they’re looking for staﬀ at the moment, so visit the Facebook page. Applications close 9 March, so get a move on, rockers...