First things first: wishing you all a happy, healthy, joyful New Year! A year filled with joy and hope, a year plenty of dreams and projects, new horizons to discover, old and new friendships to cherish…let’s raise our glass to that!
Speaking of raising glasses, at Antwerp city brewery ‘De Koninck’ they take that quite literally!
You can discover the history of this working and iconic Antwerp Brewery through an interactive and unique tour. Without spoiling to much of the fun in case you have a visit planned soon, expect to be immersed into the world of hops and malt, make a fun delivery drive through Antwerp’s city center and get some first hand juicy stories from the brewery owners…oh and there’s plenty of beers to taste too of course!
Apart from the beer the brewery site houses some great food concepts, stores, restaurants and bars that make any foodie drool: from recently Michelin-rewarded ‘The Butcher’s Son’ to Cheesemonger-shop by Van Tricht, Jitsk chocolatier and many more fun projects and concepts.
‘Tastemakers’ and the brewery teamed up and an urban beekeeper takes care of the beehives installed in a beertank on the parking lot… that’s around 160000 very ‘beezy’ workers producing some runny yummy honey!
This weekend Antwerp’s hip and trendy ‘Eilandje’ neighbourhood offered thé perfect and sunny scenery for the 10th edition of the Water-rAnt festival. The city’s oldest docks welcomed around 115 historical ships and put nautical heritage and tradition in the spotlight.
Highlights: the 2km stroll along the historical vessels, some of them open to board and explore, tours with old steam tugs or other historical ships, ambiance à volonté and couleur locale, musical performances, demonstrations and no festival without food stands of course!
MAS museum centerpoint and in full glory and for once maybe could be re-named MASt
Inhaling life on the water makes hungry as a horse, no worries, different food stands kept every wannabe sailor satisfied, think oysters, mussels, sea food platters, smoked eel and lots of sweet treats and drinks of course.
Not just an ordinary street band, contagious enthusiasm, happy vibes and funky beats are their trademark, with success, resulting in lots of cheers and smiling faces!
Draft horses and their ability to pull weight up to 3 ton each were an enormous asset in port’s history. Belgian heavy horses are among the strongest of the heavy breeds. You can still spot these power beauties when making a city tour with the horse-drawn streetcar. Keep an eye on them and make sure they are well taken care of and get to drink regularly. The way our driver spoke about his beauties showed his passion and love for them.
The new ‘Londenbrug’ bridge opens up to welcome sailing boats and yachts into the inner docks and offers open view on Port Authority house, one of the last completed designs by Zaha Hadid.
Did I awaken some nautical vibes with you? See you next year then or check the eventspage below to find future interesting festivities!
Yesterday, for the first time, I attended one of the many activities organised by Samana, the division of CM health insurance, offering support, distraction and a variety of activities for chronicly ill patients and their caretakers. The activity that caught my eye was a culinary chocolate walk in Antwerp…need I say more?! As for the bold and sweet…just read till the end…
The walk comprised a guided tour along some Antwerp hotspots linked to chocolate or sugar and of course some tasty stops and according treats! Along the way the process of chocolate making from bean to the yummy stuff was explained and its history through time.
Did you know ‘Suikerrui’ one of Antwerp’s streets leading to the river got its name from the sugar (suiker in Dutch) that was stored in the below street-level canals (rui)?
Luxury Belgian brand Neuhaus offered us two of their signature ‘pralines’ the ‘Caprice’ and ‘Tentation’ both created for the World exhibition held in Brussels in 1958 and named after a quote from Brigitte Bardot, mr Neuhaus himself being a fan of mme Bardot…
Apparently the colour of chocolate you choose tells something about your character, if you prefer dark chocolate, like me, you are rather tough and determined, the strong one!
No chocolate tour in Antwerp without stopping by Dominique Persoone’s ‘the Chocolate Line’ his company existing 25 years this year and innovative and enthusiastic as ever, he has every reason to celebrate!
Well that’s all for now…enjoying my little goodie bag filled with yummy chocolate…didn’t I show enormous character not touching it on the bus ride home?! Must be true then, dark chocolate and being tough and strong!
You can find a list of the houses we visited below and another treat, curious if you will recognize him…
Last week, during our stroll through Antwerp, my husband and I discovered a new hotspot for chocolate and tea lovers…my weary feet and aching back in much need for a rest were drawn in by the most wonderful smell of chocolate at the Japanese Royce’ shop located on Wapper square next to Pomax deco store, another fun shop by the way, if you are in search for home deco items or gifts. However, let’s get back to the neighbouring store! It appears Royce’ opened this flagship store end 2016 and is on a mission to promote Japanese-style chocolate. The store is located on the ground level floor of a lovely restaured building and on the first floor you will find the Blue Lounge, offering tea, coffee and Royce’ patisserie and chocolates of course.
Royce’s story began in 1983 in Sapporo, the capital city of Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. With cooler climates and wonderfully natural terrain, it is the ideal location for sourcing the freshest dairy products. Over the years, Royce’ has become known for crafting unique chocolate products such as Nama (meaning ‘fresh’), maccha chocolates and potatochip shaped chocolates that are now enjoyed in over 14 countries outside Japan, and counting…
We both made our choice out of the patisserie assortment, tea for me, coffee for the husband and relaxed and enjoyed with all senses! I noticed a flyer announcing a tea workshop offered by Obubu Tea Farms matching their teas with the chocolates…no need to say I was interested! Therefore, a few days ago I headed back to Antwerp to immerse myself into the wonderful world of Japanese tea.
Instructors to guide us along this path were the vice-president of Kyoto Obubu Tea Farmsmr Yasuharu Matsumoto and International Department Lead Simona Zavadckyte. Assisted by a translator when necessary they told us a little about the history of the company, the location of the farms and the importance of quality. As only 2-3 % of all Japanese tea is exported, it is their mission to bring their exquisite teas and enthusiasm and love for their produce to us and the world.
VP of Obumu Tea Farms and the proud workshop instructor
Obubu Tea Farms is a small Japanese tea company located in Wazuka, Kyoto, a historic tea-growing region where tea has been farmed for more than 800 years. Their teas are grown and processed by Obubu’s President and Lead Farmer, Akihiro Kita. In between the storytelling three different teas and accompanying sweets were served.
If ever in Japan, when visiting the region, and I was assured it is absolutely worthwhile, a Japanese tea tour can be arranged, visiting several fields in the surrounding mountains, tea tastings and hiking tours.
First we were offered the Hojicha amber tea with some Nama champagne chocolates,
followed by a silky and smooth Samidori Matcha tea and delicious patisserie.
We ended with a Genmaicha, one of Japan’s most popular teas made by mixing Yanagi Bancha leaves with roasted rice. Must say this one was my favourite! It was accompanied by a little eclair and the Nama maccha, white chocolate mixed with grean tea.
Such an informative, lovely and very tasteful way this was to set off the weekend!
Obubu teas can be bought at the Royce’ shop in Antwerp, for other points of sale or to see if there is a tasting workshop nearby planned soon, please check their website!
After some weeks of (un-willing) staying indoors due to the chronic pain struggle thing, and my trips outside the house mostly limited to the local shops in our town, my inner self was desperately seeking an escape and a broader horizon! Thursday the universe didn’t seem to conspire against me and I was looking forward to a few hours of city exploring and strolling, yep, it promised to be a great day!
I took the bus to nearby Antwerp, sun was out when I arrived, temperatures rather high for this time of year, some cafes and bistros setting their outside terraces…Spring was definitely in the air…and in my head! What better way to fill that head with new ideas and inspiration than a stroll through town, some deco-hunting, fashion-inspiration and people watching?!
I actually decided to get off the bus a few stops earlier than my usual stop and firstly explored the Nationalestraat, a street that always keeps re-inventing itself with new shops popping up. I had just left the bus and bumped into author Tom Lanoye. Well, nothing special there, he lives in the city I guess and Nationalestraat is hip and trendy, so sooner or later you are bound to bump into a familiar or famous face! However, a few hours later I found myself in ‘The Chocolate Line’ shop of Dominique Persoone, I know, I know, just follow the chocolate smell when near the Palace on the ‘Meir’ and you’ll be drawn in too! You can admire the interior, taste yummy chocolate, buy some chocolate pills or a seductive chocolate lipstick and get a glimpse of ongoing creations in the open atelier/kitchen…a signature on the writing wall in that kitchen caught my eye…a yummy chocolate quote by…Tom Lanoye!
I had a quick lunch at Lloyd Loom, more out of necessity to have my feet up and take some pain medication than I was hungry at that time…I know they have comfy chairs and it was the perfect place for me to reboot and have a croque madame with some OxyContin, that last one not on their menu! Luckily the meds did their thing and allowed me another two hours filling my heart and head with deco ideas and getting Spring fashion inspiration before a second pain attack rolled in and I wisely decided to head home.
cat fun at Sissy-Boy Antwerp
Jelly fish deco at Jüttu
Hout van je stad, what a great idea!
Lemon and dreams of Spring and Summer
In the evening I got treated to a third attack, however, it is so much easier to counter such an attack when having beautiful memories or inspiring things in mind to cling onto: the warmth of the sun that made me long for Spring, the contours of the city hall against the blue sky and the group of German tourists I helped out by showing them the direction to the cathedral, the funny jellyfish deco I spotted in Jüttu and the beautiful printed blouse of designer Natalie Vleeschouwer, the Valentine decoration and Spring/Summer fashion that is filling the shop windows, the overwhelming abundance of colours in flower shops and in the Zahia store where I buy beads for necklaces, oooh and let’s not forget the smell of chocolate! Yes, some days are just great…though it took me almost two days to recover before being able to go through the pics and write this post!
Hope you enjoyed your own little stroll reading through, enjoy your day!
Every year on the 15th of August the historical centre of Antwerp forms the decor for the ‘Rubensmarkt’. More than 200 stalls with food, drinks, clothing, flowers, etc…so far nothing exceptional, I know, but what makes this Rubensmarkt so special is the traditional aspect linked to it: the stall owners are all dressed in baroque costumes and they seem to have just stepped out of one of Rubens’s paintings!
15th of August being a public holiday here in Belgium, celebrating Assumption of Mary you can expect big crowds, especially as Antwerp throws in a second celebration that day! Due to a pamphlet written in 1913 by artist Louis Van Kuyck declaring that day a ‘day of all mothers’. Over the years the rest of Belgium and Europe copied the Amercian tradition to celebrate in May, but here in Antwerp, well yess, we feel the need to be different, sorry 😉 In our Household we usually celebrate twice, you can’t have enough reasons to make your mum feel special and appreciated, right?!
If you plan a trip to Antwerp in August one of these years, do try to enjoy one of the typical traditional markets like this one, add some sunshine and great company and you will have a fantastic day!