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”.
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…
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…