I have a nasty case of The Mondays. Except it’s Tuesday. I should be renewed and invigorated after a lovely holiday weekend, right?
Instead, somehow, I’m anything but.
I’m having the worst hair day ever. My quest for an all-natural shampoo has lead me down a path of heavy greasy terribleness, and I’ve been resisting the urge to call my stylist for a severe chin-length chop all afternoon. Also, I may have fallen victim to the siren song of the home hair color aisle, and I may really regret it.
I’m feeling bloated and puffy, my to-do list is giving me the stink eye, I’ve wasted an hour on Hautelook and Makeup Alley debating whether or not to buy discounted Tan Towels to combat my pastiness, and my face is breaking out in ways I didn’t think possible for a woman nearing 30.
Within the weekend of landing back in Brussels at the end of September, I immediately sought out a farmers market to stock up on food for the week. Cooking roots me down in a place, making it feel like home. Last week I visited the organic market at Les Atelier des Tanneurs. A post on my goodies will come up later this evening including ridiculously delicious yet inexpensive olive oil.
This week, I’m skipping over to the organic farmers market only a few blocks from where I’m staying. Thankfully an acquaintance I met at dinner last Friday night clued me into it. The market is located at Place Ste. Catherine, an old cathedral that borders the area called The Fishmarket. Location and details are at the bottom of this post.
According to Tebiki’s guide, damn near everything. I’m craving eggplant and tomato-based dishes, so I’ll grab some of each while at the market. Mushrooms, chicory, endive, kohlrabi, horseradish, zucchini and a host of other vegetables are also fresh right now. I’ll probably pick up some mushrooms and one other vegetable I’ve never used before to try this week. I still have a bunch of leeks left over from last week and am thinking about making a leek and onion tart with some puff pastry. Supposedly there are meat and vendors at the market as well, so I’m looking forward to getting some of those delights too.
I have €36.50 in cash with me but would like to spend only €20.00 max. In American dollars, €20.00 ≈ $30.00 (I use 1.50 as the exchange rate after you count fees, etc). What do you think I could make?
On 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
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
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…
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.
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.
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.