Brand New Somewhere

Figuring out travel, food, life & exploring Brussels whenever I'm there

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Yesterday I shot a #Lomo 800 film roll & an expired Ektachrome 64T. Yes, Ektachrome. Should I cross process? #blacktravel

#photography #blacktravel #Kodak #Paris

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Yeah, so Paris and Orangina, I don’t understand these zebra tiddays you’re hawking. Really.

Or the giraffe tiddays either.

Yeah, I also don't understand the giraffe tiddays either, Orangina #Paris

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The Brussels Design Market during Design September aka Modernist Furniture Heaven

mid-century serving cartsOn Sunday 9.11.11 (or 11.9.11 in Euro), Jenn and I visited the Brussels Design Market at the Ancienne Gare Maritime de Tour & Taxis which is located over in the Royal Depot. The event/market was part of the larger Brussels Design September program held throughout the city the entire month. If you’ve ever been to the Brooklyn Flea and perused the modernist or mid-century furniture with lust and envy, get ready to plotz yourself. Because everybody’s Belgian or European grandmother had this beautiful furniture in the her house during the 1940s – 1970s, there is an abundant supply of it currently.

I’m used to seeing these pieces for 10€  – 50€ in a thrift store in another section of Brussels where Ward previously lived with Joost & Els. But, most of the pieces here were at least 150€ – 200€ and many more in the 500€ range. It seems that as soon as you put the word “Design” with a capital “D” in front of anything, the cost increases by a factor of 10, similar to the word, “Wedding”.

Jenn's new Lucite earrings by Catherine Noll

Jenn's new Lucite earrings by Catherine Noll

Nonetheless, it was a great experience to walk around gawking at this beautiful furniture, vintage clothing, accessories and cars. Jenn even picked up a pair of clip-on vintage Lucite earrings designed by Catherine Noll, a famous French accessories designer who died young in the 1990s.

Foodwise, there were only a few stands and trucks. We patronised the main stand in the center of the hangar. Jenn had the cheese croquettes (they were out of croquettes) and I had the tomato stuffed with North Sea shrimp. Have you ever had North Sea shrimp before? So far they are the tiniest form of shrimp I know (even smaller than Maine shrimp), are slightly sweet and from the cold waters of the northeastern coast of England. It feels like you’re eating pure sea-minerally protein. In a few words: damn good. I had them in a Ghent back in May 2010 last time I was over here. Their season seems to last the entire summer but I have seen notes of them being harvested all the way through Christmastime. Oh and to add some starch to our meals, Jenn and I split an order of frites, lightly salted.

Jenn made a great observation about the food in Brussels: that while it’s full fat and decadent, the portion control completely prevents it from being excessive. Ahem…

Tomato stuffed with North Sea shrimp tossed with a bit of homemade mayonnaise

Tomato stuffed with North Sea shrimp tossed with a bit of homemade mayonnaise

After we nearly completed our rounds of the market, we stumbled upon a food stall run by two men from Ivory Coast and a Flemish woman playing music from the homeland. Goodness, Jenn wished we would have found them earlier. They had accara, fried plantain, stew chicken with okra, regular stewed chicken and ginger beer among other things I grew up eating in Nigeria. Both of us thanked heavens for the rich spices they used compared to the plain herbs used in the French and Dutch cooking we’d been eating the previous days. We bought a to-go plate of rice, chicken with okra, and plantains to split later for dinner. The vendors don’t have a permanent restaurant, but do festivals around Belgium instead.

Alas, there are tons more photos to show, below are a few more then scroll through the Flickr slide show to get even more of your design fill. A few more Brussels and Paris updates are coming up tomorrow, keep an eye out…











The Paris Bucket List

Alright, so we made a brief list of places to hit while Paris. Of course, we’ve made time for just wandering around. Any suggestions or additions? Merci!


– Pompidou

– English language book store – Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore or Shakespeare & Co

– Notre Dame Cathedral

– lunch with Chris Hoover

– dinner or lunch with Eddie or Megan

– Eiffel Tower

– Black Writers in Paris hangouts

– Le Corbusier buildings

– Versailles

– Les Halles food market – Saturday

– one of the restaurants participating in Le Fooding


This is going to come in handy, at least a little bit. Any other suggestions for online or offline communities in Brussels?

General Expatica Community | The social network for Expats.

Events Expatica Community | Events for Brussels 

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Photo: Jeff Wall Showing at Bozar Expo in Brussels until 9/11

Well crud. I may be able to catch this on the very last day. My friend and I arrive in Brussels the morning of the 9/9 and then leave for Paris 9/12. Hopefully I can convince her to attend with me or I can just wing it myself. Jeff Wall’s work is what inspired me to start making lightboxes my last couple of years of undergrad photo school. Hell, I’m craving doing that again with my Lomo film while in Brussels.

More details here: BOZAR EXPO – Jeff Wall.

Jeff Wall - The Thinker

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United by the Beat: How Brussels raps help overcome the Belgian language barrier

Great article by Irmengard Gnau in the Utrecht School of Journalism. An excerpt below and the full article is here.

Belgium has been divided into French- and Flemish-speaking parts for centuries, providing its capital, Brussels, with a history of clash and conflict. Now, there is a positive trend visible in this never-ending story: hip hop seems to represent a first step to bridge the gap of prejudices and distrust to help change those attitudes that have been cemented for generations.

I’m entirely looking forward to finding out more about the lady djs of the Supafly Collective in Brussels. They have an ill compilation of Walloon (French) and Flemish (Dutch) Belgian rappers on Mixcloud that I’ve been playing nonstop for the past couple of months. Their work in bridging the gap between the two ethnicities has done wonders for relations, especially within the Brussels hip hop community.

They’ve already turned me on to Melissa Czarnik, a Wisconsin MC, oddly enough.

Melissa Czarnik - Milwaukee MC

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Train ticket from Brussels to Paris bought & only 25 Euros!

This past Saturday, my traveling buddy and I bought our Thalys train tickets for the Brussels to Paris leg of the trip. We scheduled the purchase about 3 months in advance because of the Thalys’ wonky ecommerce system. Riders aren’t able to buy tickets for their specific date more than 90 days in advance, completely the opposite of airline travel.

So, we put reminders in our Google calendars way back in Spring to purchase especially so we can jump on the cheap fares when dates first go on sale. Because of this, we were able bag the 25 euro Comfort Level 2 fares that usually vanish quickly. For a trip so short (1.5 hours at most), Comfort Level 2 is perfectly fine.

Next up: booking our Paris accommodations

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Serious Belgian Streetfood: Snails and Scampi in Brussels

Serving up brothy escargot for only 5 euro a pop.

I don’t even remember where I learned about this guy, but I want to try this as soon as I get to Brussels this fall. He’s a street vendor selling snails and shrimp boiled in broth and butter in central Brussels near the famous Mannekin Pis statue. !!!! Can you imagine digging into such a luscious dish during a brisk fall day in Northern Europe. I can! I’m not really  a snails person, but I’m entirely willing to try eating any creature steeped in broth and butter.

Photo Credit: London Eater

Oh! Now I remember where I saw him, it was an episode of Globe Trekker where the travel does a tour through Belgium and Luxembourg. Immediately after seeing that segment, I did a Google search for the guy and brought up  a great write up of Brussels by London Eater a couple of years ago.

Alright then, who eat snails? I haven’t had them in a few years, but like I said, I’m entirely willing to eat creatures steeped in broth and butter.