Brand New Somewhere

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

Kimberley Avenue in Peckham, London

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London in June 2012 – Day 3: Toddling around Peckham – English Breakfast and Galway Oysters

Missed the previous two posts in this series?  Catch up on Day 1 and Day 2.

Our last day in London was a gorgeous and temperate Saturday after all the humidity during the two previous days. After lounging in bed listening to BBC and their funny  myriad of accents for a few hours, we finally rose and decided on breakfast. Gilbert and Ev wanted to show me a proper cheap English breakfast at their favourite old diner, The Crossways Cafe. It’s one of those places where you get greasy food to soak up the drunk after a long night. My own plate cost £5, I think and it tasted like it cost about £1.50 to make it, including labour. Thankfully, they didn’t bother with the fried tomato. That said, I could see myself going there every couple of weeks for novelty reasons. We all need greasy diner food in our lives; it’s comfort food especially when paired with memories. It’s like the love that’s bad for you that just keeps on loving you anyway. Let the heart burn begin…

Fried egg, (cold canned) beans, hash browns (under the egg), black sausage, regular sausage and bacon so salty it squeaked. Oh, and that sausage was bready. 

Ohhh, a painful attempt at English breakfast at The Crossways Cafe

Ev had eggs, chips and (unintentionally) mushy green peas.

Ev had eggs, chips and (unintentionally) mushy green peas.

Gilbert had fried hash browns, beans, eggs and a side of cardiac arrest

The Crossways Cafe - Gilbert had fried hash browns, canned beans, eggs and a side of cardiac arrest

The Crossways Cafe in Peckham, London. Delightfully greasy.

The Crossways Cafe in Peckham, London. Delightfully greasy.

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London in June 2012 - Day 1...DIAMONDS.


London in June 2012 – Day 1: Arriving in London & The Barbican Centre

So far, this has been my second trip to Europe this year. My earlier trip was in February to visit my other long distance half in Brussels, Belgium. By the way, the lovely man’s name is Gilbert. Yes, Gilbert. It fits him well. This late June/early July trip had two reasons: to once again visit for Gilbert’s birthday on July 5th and to teach two courses at General Assembly in London. General Assembly is a sort of tech incubator space that started in NYC and has so far spread to San Francisco, London and Berlin (opening in September 2012). The two courses I taught at GA London were a Basic Branding course and a UX (user experience) Basics Workshop.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to head to London again for the first time since August 2002, so almost 10 years later. The last time, a few friends and I stayed for about a day and a a half in Whitechapel before heading off to Lisbon and to do a road trip through Spain. This time around I had Gilbert with me to show me around his old haunts since he lived there for 13 years after finishing university.

So yeah, the trip. I first flew into Brussels via a layover in London’s Heathrow airport. Don’t get me started on the irony of having to return less than 24 hours later, really. When searching for flights, I considered flying directly into LHR but the time wasted of getting the Eurostart to and from Brussels on each end of the trip would have cut into our time together.

I touched down in Brussels late afternoon, June 27 from JFK, had dinner, slept and then we were off on the Eurostar train the next morning to London. The tickets cost about £190 total, roundtrip but that’s because we got them a little late. With some more planning and flexibility, we could get them for about £200 total. The exchange rate at the time was 1.5 dollars to a pound. So, £190 ≈ $285. The ride itself is extremely quick from Brussels’ Gare du Midi station to London’s St. Pancras train station at about 2 hours.

Below are a few highlights from the first Day or so of the trip, at JFK, in Brussels and in London the first night.

Photographing travelers and the sunset, while waiting for the Airtrain at JFK.

Photographing travelers and the sunset, while waiting for the Airtrain at JFK.

Dinner upon arriving in Brussels: Hanger steak with shallots braised in wine for hours at Le Saint-Hubert in Schaerbeek

Hanger steak with shallots braised in wine for hours at Le Saint-Hubert in Schaerbeek

The Queen doesn’t play. She lets you know she has way more money than you…DIAMONDS.

The Queen doesn't play. She lets you know...DIAMONDS.

After teaching the Branding course at General Assembly, Gilbert took me walking around The Barbican Centre, which is a theatre and arts complex equivalent to New York City’s Lincoln Centre.

It was about 7pm and the light was gorgeous everywhere.

Sunset at The Barbican Centre, London

Gilbert and me being silly, of course. 

Gilbert and me at The Barbican Centre, London, UK

More after the jump…

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Organic & Seasonal Food Shopping in Brussels: Market at Place Sainte-Catherine

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.

The second issue I finally tackled was actually looking up food is seasonal in Brussels in October. Finding the answer was surprisingly easy as the very first entry in my Google search was to a site called which calls itself  “An English guide to a sustainable lifestyle in Brussels”. I’m sold. The seasonal produce entry is from March 2011 and is excitingly extensive. There’s even a downloadable PDF English Guide to Seasonal and Local Produce by tebiki that I’m going to put on my phone before venturing out.

Downloadable PDF of English Guide to Seasonal and Local Produce by tebiki

So What’s Seasonal in Brussels in October?

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?

English Guide to Seasonal and Local Produce by tebiki

Info for Market at Place Sainte-Catherine

Place Sainte-Catherine
All year round (Only on: Wednesday) – Wednesday : 07:30-15:00
MAPS: Google Maps

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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.