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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.
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 in Peckham, London. Delightfully greasy.
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 Tebiki.be 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.
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?
Info for Market at Place Sainte-Catherine
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…