Bruxelles la Belle Where I live, where I love Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:55:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 BAKE Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:52:14 +0000 bake windowBAKE is a small baking business run by Bérangère. She specialises in all things American (cookies, brownies and cakes, yum). And while she has no shop of her own, she sells her bakes at some of the city’s best coffee spots. And … she made bake-your-own cookie boxes, which I tried, tasted and loved!

I first heard of BAKE when I visited Scandinavian interior and tea shop Hei. It’s one of the few spots where you can taste the delicious treats made by Bérangère. The other ones are APDM bagel bar, AMI, Chez Franz, Vroom Vroom mobile coffee bar and Prélude. The last one, located in Saint-Gilles is where the BAKE headquarters are located, they share the same kitchen.

I was invited over earlier this week, an offer I couldn’t refuse. Those who know me know I loved to bake myself, so how could I refuse a peek into a professional kitchen? Bérangère introduced me to BAKE’s novelty for the Christmas season: a DIY box with all the ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies, the perfect gift for those with a sweet tooth. All you have to do is follow the recipe (included) and add butter and eggs.

I went home with a box and couldn’t wait to try!


Four pictures, it’s that easy! The recipe is for 12 large biscuits. I used half of everything to make 12 small ones, although they still turned out big. I’m not complaining. (And did you see how many chocolate chips there are?? They’re so good, and it’s hard to resist snacking on them while you’re waiting for the oven to heat up…)

The box costs 17 euro (if you pick it up at BAKE), 20 euro at Prélude, Hei or AMI.

82, Rue Antoine Bréart,


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Christmas decoration Sun, 16 Nov 2014 14:57:48 +0000 x-masFrom traditional wooden decoration to all things glitter and kitsch, here are my favourite spots to find everything you need (and more) to get into the Christmas ho-ho-holiday spirit (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Dille & Kamille: For cute wooden and papier maché baubles (such as the ones depicted above), Christmas crackers, napkins, Christmas-themed cookie cutters, wrapping paper and tags and everything you could possibly think of to decorate your table. Not too expensive, although you want everything and end up with a full bag (it happened to me).

Maisons du Monde: While I’m not a big fan of this furniture and deco shop throughout the year, I do love their Christmas selection. Candles, blankets with Fair Isle prints, and enough baubles and pendants to decorate an entire pine forest. From ‘antique’ styled baubles to cookies and gingerbread men (my favourite). Lots of glitter and gold, and circus-related deco as well (even though I don’t get the link with x-mas). Reasonably priced. Anspach Shopping Centre, accessible via Boulevard Anspach.

New Dewolf: This shops has been around for ages and is usually the first one in town with a Christmas tree in the window. They specialise in all things deco and go the extra mile in the months leading to the holiday season. You won’t find ‘basics’, but you can chose from a wicked series of brightly coloured, glass decoration for your tree: from cellphones to dancing squirrels. You read that right. Pricey.  91, Rue Haute

Oxfam Fair Trade shop: I used to live near an Oxfam Fair Trade shop and loved to visit every now and then for coffee, chocolate, honey and more. They sell candles and decoration as well, made by artisans from countries such as Thailand and Madagascar. I picked up the cutest ceramics nativity scene from Bolivia. While you’re there, try the fair trade wine and bubbles, and get some of the yucca crisps or nuts to hosts your next party. The quality of the products is amazing. You might pay a bit more than elsewhere, but your money goes straight to the farmers and artisans. There are several of these shops in Brussels, the one in the centre is quite a big one. 137, Boulevard Anspach (1000 Bxl)

Zara Home: Lots of glitter and gold this season, with items to decorate your entire house (including bed and bathroom!). Every year, they have the best selection for candle lovers (scented or x-mas shaped). On Avenue Louise and at the Woluwe Shopping Centre.


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Yawn Space Tue, 11 Nov 2014 12:20:32 +0000 yawnThere’s a new concept store in town. One with a very particular concept: fashion, accessories and items from Russia, Georgia and the Ukraine.

I had no idea what to expect when visiting the shop. Luckily, owners Eugene and Vladimir were more than happy to guide me through all things on display. As it turns out, designers from the former Soviet Union burst with creativity and it’s no surprise some of them got picked up by fashion magazines such as Vogue. Russian Anton Belinskiy for instance, whose collection is sold at Yawn – he even made a specially designed series of t-shirts and sweatshirts with a big print of hands spelling Y A W N in sign language.

Spread over two (small) floors, you’ll find clothes and accessories in bright colours. I really liked the graphic necklaces by Dis/Order (the picture above is from their collection). The leather backpacks by Pleathure are pretty cool too, with their hidden zips they’re perfect for your daily commutes (if you too had your wallet or phone stolen on a busy tram or bus, I’m sure you’ll agree).

The Yawn team (or family as they call themselves) are planning quite a few cool things for Christmas, which is abundantly celebrated in Russia. Be sure to pay them a visit when you’re next in the area!

65, Rue du Vieux Marché aux Grains, open Mon – Wed 12.00-20.00 and Thu – Sat 12.00-22.00

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The Black Sheep Mon, 03 Nov 2014 11:49:29 +0000 The Black SheepWhen choosing a bar for a night out, the same issue always pops up: the girls want a place where they have decent wine and cocktails, and the boys need an extensive beer menu. The Black Sheep behind Place Flagey has got both, and serves a mean burger to boot.

I’ve visited The Black Sheep a couple of times now, and I felt a post was needed as the place got better every time.

On my first visit, my friends and I were after some comfort food and drinks on a rainy Sunday afternoon. We picked The Black Sheep, but had no idea what to expect. It’s definitely not your average English/Irish pub with wood cladded walls, carpet floors, Guinness memorabilia and ‘The Wild Rover’ songs. The place is quite large actually, with seating available for just over 100 people at the same time. There’s a very large bar with well stocked fridges ( a varied choice of Belgian craft beers, the Brewdog UK range and much more). And, you can pay by card (hurray for that!)

First time there, we went for Fish & Chips and a cocktail (or a fancy beer for the men). It did the trick. The place wasn’t very busy, but the staff were great, the cocktails were spot-on and the bill not too expensive.

One of the next visits was a Friday night. A completely different scene, with people dancing and very busy bar tenders. One of them suggested making me a ‘Tiramisu Martini’, which basically is a liquid dessert with cold coffee, cream and a fair bit of alcohol. Bonkers, but so good.

Our last visit definitely was the best one. Lured in by a new menu featuring burgers, chicken and fish and chips, my friends and I planned another trip on a Sunday evening. The ladies ordered cocktails (try the Bramble with gin and berry liqueur, 7,5 euro), the boys went for beers (try the Paix Dieu beer (10%), only brewed when there’s a full moon) and we ordered a platter of starters as well. Served on a wooden board, we got tempura vegetables with homemade dips, nacho crackers with cheese and mozzarella bread. The Black Sheep has a new chef who loves to make everything himself, which is great (and absolutely an upgrade from the usual pub grub).

We all ordered burgers (priced around 12 euro). The new menu has amongst others a classic version, the Ring of Fire (with chorizo) and the Jack Daniels (with whiskey marinated beef and bacon). Choosing is losing, and we all ended up with a different one. The buns (classic or rustic) were made with the chef’s own recipe and so was the meat. And the chips deserve a few lines of attention as well: they’re something in between potato wedges and french fries, deep fried in beef fat. Best (pub) fries ever!

To round up our greasy (but tasty!) Sunday, we got dessert as well. Vanilla ice cream fried in an oreo biscuit crust, a Ferrero Rocher mini muffin and a shot of Tiramisu Martini (hello again!). A bit much, but if you’re testing a new menu, you might as well do it right …. and we’ll definitely do it again.

Extra credits go to manager Chris and his team for making us feel very welcome and helping us pick the right food and drinks, the chef for choosing to make everything himself, and the playlist of the evening featuring a lot of Oasis.

Note: I snapped some pictures, but the evening light really didn’t do the food any justice.

Note2: Check The Black Sheep’s Facebook page for updates on parties, comedy nights, the new menu and much more.

8, Chaussée de Boondael, open Wed-Thu 17.00-01.00, Fri-Sat 17.00-03.00 and Sun 17.00-00.00



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Too Many Vintage Sun, 26 Oct 2014 10:40:28 +0000 too many vintageThere aren’t many vintage shops on this blog, I know. That’s because I’m not the most eager thrift shopper in town. But the selection at the newly opened Too Many Vintage could convert me: oversized woollen coats, large cardigans and leather skirts … yes!

You’ll find the shop on Rue des Chartreux, on the spot where Origami used to be. You can’t miss it, it’s the shop with the big yellow neon lights. Too Many Vintage is run by Audrey, a vintage lover from France who discovered Brussels during events such as the Vintage Market. The name of the shop is a wink at the Belgian electronic music band Too Many DJs and the fact that Brussels already has quite a few vintage shops.

But I feel there’s something different about this latest addition. Audrey bases her selection on what’s happening in fashion at the moment, and seeks high and low for similar pieces from a couple of decades ago. That’s probably why stepping into Too Many Vintage doesn’t feel like a trip down memory lane, more like walking into a contemporary boutique.

I love the selection of winter coats, from classic long ones with a fur coat, to large oversized ones, leather perfectos and entire (fake) fur ones. They’re very reasonably priced, starting at 60 going up to 200. The big cardigans are a hit too, from plain coloured ones to multi-colour models, with or without appliqué patterns. Same goes for the flannel checked shirts (for men as well), as the suede jackets and leather skirts.

There’s a selection of bags, shoes, scarves, gloves and other accessories as well.

While you’re there, pop in to Brocéliande for great vintage furniture and home interior inspiration, or go for great pizza at Divino.

33-35 Rue des Chartreux, open from Tuesday until Saturday, from 11.00-18.00 ( 19.00 on Friday and Saturday)


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Forcado Sun, 19 Oct 2014 09:03:01 +0000 photo-14Biting into one of Forcado’s ‘pastel de nata’ was one of the tastiest experiences ever. Sweet, creamy, crusty … it put a big smile on my face! This delicious custard tart is available from the Portuguese bakery on Chaussée de Charleroi.

For years in a row, Forcado (then called ‘Le Petit Forcado’) was nothing more but a tiny shop with a hidden kitchen, where the Portuguese baker would spend most of his day making several batches of the pastels. There was no space to sit down and enjoy the treats with coffee. But when you visited the bakery, the owner would happily step out of his kitchen and explain all about his little tarts.

Last summer, Forcado expanded to a larger space a couple houses further up Chaussée de Charleroi (across from King Kong), run by the son of the Portuguese baker. There’s a big counter with a varied choice in patels (classic one, with speculoos, with coffee, with fresh raspberries or lemon). There are gluten free little cakes too, flavoured with chocolate and orange. All made at the old Forcado, and brought to the shop by the dad (on his slippers!)

They go really well with a nice cup of coffee and are dangerously more-ish!

Treats come at +/- 1,7 euro each, and are worth every cent.

-> More Portuguese food? Try the cozy tea-room Jynga or shop wines and condiments at Sol Ar.

196-198, Chaussée de Charleroi, open from Tuesday until Sunday, between 10.00-18.00

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Ponti Corner Mon, 13 Oct 2014 17:32:17 +0000 PontiPonti Corner just opened near Bourse, a few houses away from the famous Fritland and Brasserie Falstaff. I thought it would be a tourist-y place, but it’s nothing like that (forgive me dear reader, I get it wrong sometimes).

In fact, Ponti Corner is quite a large, and very pretty coffee bar/eatery with an outside terrace looking out to the Bourse building. Once inside, there’s a very large counter with fresh pastry and shelves packed with biscuits, jams and other treats, as well as ample seats and tables. At the back of Ponti, there are chesterfield sofas and more tables. There are magazines everywhere, books on interior design, chandeliers made with coffee cups and a great picture of Jack Nicholson.

The place looks great, and so does the menu. There’s breakfast (served until 11.30h), sandwich lunch, hot meals, dessert and treats and cocktails. Lots to choose from, but as it was (late) lunch time when we arrived, we sat down in one of the chesterfields and I ordered a toasted sandwich with ham on the bone and mature cheese. My friend went for the smoked salmon sandwich (both were beautifully presented and priced around 8 euro, which I must admit was a bit on the high side).

We had to wait quite a while before our lunch arrived (it wasn’t so bad in our case, as we had lots to chat about – but our neighbours at the table seemed to be less enthusiastic about having to wait that long). Once the food arrived, we tucked in right away. You can’t go wrong with a cheese toastie, and served with a tasty salad, it made for a nice lunch.

We didn’t stay for coffee, but the baked treats in the counter looked very tempting. We queued to pay and overheard the people in front of us complain about having to wait too long for their food as well. Growing pains, I hope, as Ponti Corner is a great addition to the city centre, whether you’re after breakfast, lunch, an afternoon break, afterwork drinks or pre-party cocktails!

41, Rue Henri Maus, open every day between 08.00-22.00

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Mémé Café Sun, 28 Sep 2014 13:28:06 +0000 Meme caféDon’t be fooled by its name, Mémé Café has got nothing to do with old ladies (mémé being the Brussels word for grandmother). It’s a cozy eatery with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free food, both sweet and savoury.

I first visited Mémé Café a while ago. It was late afternoon, I was hungry and stumbled upon the place by accident. The sandwich I ordered was no longer available, but the owner suggested a great-sounding mix of whatever was left. While waiting for my sandwich to get toasted, I overheard him explaining all about his tea selection to a couple of ladies. Such passion and enthusiasm, it was lovely to see.

I paid for my sandwich, left and couldn’t wait to taste. The toasted bread was filled with caramelised onions, semi-dried tomatoes and roquette salad, a sweet, crunchy and salty mix that left my tastebuds happy for the rest of the day. (And made me regret not having ordered one of his banana and raspberry muffins).

A couple of weeks ago, a friend ordered her birthday cake at Mémé Café. Luck was on my side, it was a large banana, raspberry and chocolate cake! No gluten, no extra sugar, but deliciously moist and rich in flavour. Almost too good to be true.

When I was in the area again last week, I went back for a sandwich (and finally, a picture). It was lunch time, but not too busy (probably because it’s a bit off the beaten lunch track). I went for a feta cheese and tomato sandwich. The owner -still as enthusiastic as the first time- suggested adding some crunchy cabbage to it, which was a great idea (again).

I usually have my lunch on the go, but if you have time, I suggest you sit down for breakfast, brunch or lunch and take the time to enjoy all the homemade food. Besides sandwiches and sweet cakes or muffins, there are salads and quiches too.

Hmm, I’d love a banana muffin and a cup of coffee right now!

Note: Thanks Jyl and Michelle for suggesting a post on Mémé Cafe, happy to read you love this place too!

17 Rue des Riches Claires, open from Tue-Fri between 08.45-18.30 and on Sat from 10.00-19.00


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Bocca Moka Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:21:25 +0000 Chesterfield room bocca mokaI’ve been meaning to post a review on Bocca Moka for ages, but somehow I never got around to it. This new-ish coffee bar deserves all the attention, as the brews (and the cakes) are delicious.

You’ll find Bocca Moka on Chaussée de Charleroi, near great Thai place Premier Comptoir Thai. You can’t miss the place, there’s usually a black board with funny quotes outside. It’s a spacious coffee bar with ample seating near the window, at the back, on the lower floor and in the garden (yes, there’s a terrace too).

While you can order a simple cappuccino or an espresso, I recommend you take the time to read the coffee menu and pick something new. A Japanese syphon coffee for instance, where a halogen lamp slowly heats the water and a perfect cup of coffee is prepared drip by drip. These so-called slow coffees are ‘a thing’ nearly every where else in Europe, but luckily there are coffee bars in Brussels joining the movement as well. Slow drip coffees are very light in taste, but so full of flavour. It’s a new way of drinking of coffee, which requires utmost precision and timing while making it (you’ll see the barista weighing the ground coffee!), but it’s worth the wait.

Next on my ‘to-try list’ : a barraquito, a coffee with condensed milk, foamed milk and cinnamon. Oh that, and a slice of apple pie!

Bocca Moka does great take-out coffee too, and has bagels for lunch.

41 Chaussée de Charleroi, open every day but Sunday from 07.30-18.00 (on Sat, as of 08.00)


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Kokuban Sun, 14 Sep 2014 11:13:23 +0000 ramenNow here’s a restaurant nearly everybody’s talking about. With good reason: Japanese ramen bar Kokuban is every bit as good as you’d expect. 

It’s always bustling at Kokuban, and it’s best to book a table. The menu mainly features delicious noodle dishes, served in a pretty white and blue bowl. There are some salads as well. But while waiting for your main dish, I suggest you spark your appetite with some gyoza. Filled with chicken and vegetables, these Japanese ravioli go down a treat. Or go for some crunchy Edamame (green beans).

The ramen are freshly made at Kokuban, and come served in a super tasty broth. I choose the Karaage ramen: crispy chicken, soy beans in a chicken and vegetable bouillon. Just perfect.

Go authentic and have some plum wine or (hot) saké with it .. or don’t, and have a glass of white wine (which I did).

If you fancy dessert afterwards, they serve amongst others Japanese flavoured ice cream (with green tea, black and white sesame) and almond pudding.

Eating at Kokuban is always a good idea, whether there’s just two of you or you’re dining with a larger group. And more good news: main courses are priced between 12 and 18 euro!

Note: The food was so nice I forgot to snap a picture. The one in this post is from the Kokuban website.

53-55, Rue Vilain XIIII, Ixelles, open every day but Sunday between 12.00-14.00 and 19.00-22.00


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