Antwerp

Architectural Antwerp pt. 1: Southern contrasts

I woke up this morning with a bright little sun, reluctantly (and hopefully) announcing the beginning of Spring: my favorite season. I decided to spend the day outside, even though i was still recovering from a nasty cold which had kept me in bed for a few days. I started my day with some breakfast and family time (real family this time) at Caffè Internazionale (where else?) and from there I started the Tour d’Anvers. Camera at the ready, I rediscovered the South (or ‘t Zuid), coeur artistique d’Anvers.

I have walked the streets of this part of Antwerp over and over again, but the architectural variety never seizes to amaze me. It is said that the original street plan of the Antwerp South was inspired by Haussmann, a French civic planner whose name is associated with the rebuilding of Paris. The South quickly got the nickname “Le Petit Paris”. The neoclassical Royal Museum of Fine Arts was completed in 1894. It was primarily built as a “Temple to fine art” for the 1894 Antwerp World Exposition. On top of the building are two bronze figures of Fame with horse-drawn chariots by sculptor Thomas Vincotte, separated by four monumental sculptures representing Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, and Graphics.

Along with other monuments and cultural attractions (such as the Hippodroom-theatre, build in 1903), it made the South a fashionable place to live. After the V-bomb attacks during the Second World War, the area went into a long period of decline. The closing of the Southern Docks and the demolition of the Hippodrome in 1972 turned the South into a forgotten area, full of faded charm. With its revival mid 1980’s it became once again the fashionable heart of Antwerp. The opening of the Museum for Modern Art (MUKHA) in 1987 brought the South back to its artistic and cultural destination. More recently, the development of the large law courts complex on the former South Station site, labeled the Antwerp South’s architectural importance. This award-winning project, designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership in association with VKStudio and Ove Arup & Partners, opened in 2007.

The South of Antwerp is an area of contrasts. It’s a mixture of old glory and new modernism. A good example is the “Boathouse” in the Schilderstraat. This typical art nouvau-house was built for P. Poels, who owned a famous ship repairing company. It also reminds us of the primary economic activity of Antwerp: the harbor. A modern counterpart of the Boathouse is the gable of the Hoopnatie-building, which looks a bit like the bow of a cruise-ship.

This short but rich history gives the South its special feel. I like spending time here, especially in Summer when the terraces are filled with people or when i can enjoy the sunset on the stairs of the Royal Museum with friends while listening to some poetry and music at the Zuiderzinnen-festival (more on that later).

I finish my walk with a nice cup of tea, with the promise of taking you with me on a tour through my beloved Antwerp again soon.

Sien Josephine

 

Music · Tel Aviv

Live on Mars

I moved to Tel Aviv in 2007 and I guess one of the main purposes of this blog is to tell you why I’m still here. For sure back then, I didn’t really know what to expect, as always when you dive into the scary unknown. I came in January 2007 to “check it out”. I had an apartment to arrange and told myself I’d stay if I’d find work in my industry: the music industry. Certainly not a country with a big international live music scene then. So in my first year I worked as a music supervisor for tv, films and commercials with a genius music man called Koby Ben Atar. Then, in 2008, Paul McCartney announced he would perform in Tel Aviv and it was obvious I’d find my way to be part of that. The show drew 57,000 fans to the Hayarkon Park and was the beginning of a new wave of big concerts.  In 2009 Leonard Cohen announced his concert at the Ramat Gan Stadium and of course I joined forces there too. It was an unforgettable evening for the artist, the crew and 47,000 people in the audience (but wait, my history with him is not over).  And this is how it keeps going: I work as a freelance local promoter/production under Live on Mars. Doing shows like: Rihanna, Tom Jones, Julio Iglesias, the Pet Shop Boys, Harlem Globetrotters, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Justin Bieber, Metallica, Rod Stewart….

As these are outdoor shows and mostly happen in the summertime, in winter there are other things to do. Going on tour for example. In 2010 I had the honor to be asked by Leonard Cohen to be part of his crew and join a 5 month world tour.

You can watch the archive and photos here:  http://leonardcohen.tumblr.com/archive

So, my business is called “Live on Mars”. Why? Because as most of you know, they call me Mars since I’m a kid. For my creative world I use “Life on Mars”, but more about that later. What do I do? Many things; between organizing shows, events and production work. It mostly involves international visits where my side activity is to show these people around; through culture, food, hospitality and entertainment I have the chance to share with them this amazing city. Of course I say this because most of them arrive with a lot of prejudice. Besides the usual security questions they sometimes even ask me if we ride camels, if we have internet and stuff. So it’s an honor for me to be their first impression and to make it a positive impression. I feel safe in this city. Safer than anywhere else in the world. And so does every guest I’ve ever had, both for professional and private visits. All these visitors give me a great opportunity to view, review, discover and rediscover life in Tel Aviv. Stay tuned for more…

Antwerp · Food · Restaurants

Nostalgia in the North

One thing I love about Antwerp, besides Elixir d’Anvers, is the fact that – wherever you find yourself walking – it surprises you with little cosy places like this one. The “Caravan” (translated: the trailer) is a lunch bar in the north of Antwerp, very close to the Park Spoor Noord, which makes it a number one destination in Summer (in high season you can even have a picnic basket to go).

The area, better known by locals as “Den Dam”, is quite isolated from other areas in town and was recently renovated. For example the Park Spoor Noord, which used to be a large terrain that was owned by the Belgian Railroads for repairing and maintenance of trains, is now renovated into a new green lung of the city. It didn’t take long for restaurants and bars to emerge in this part of town, once economically revolved around old abattoirs (or slaughterhouses).

“Caravan” is decorated with secondhand and vintage-furniture, which gives customers the feeling of being at home. Chairs and tables of different styles and sizes, a cupboard that could’ve been owned by my grandmother, an old armchair, even the tableware makes me feel all nostalgic. The menu offers breakfast formulas with a twist, such as the “hangover breakfast”: a strong breakfast with some aspirin on the side. Lunch also looks delicious: from country food to world kitchen. And everything is as fresh as morning’s dew! “Caravan” obviously deserves a place in my top 5 of favorite breakfast & lunch bars. Oh and did I mention they have cheesecake?

“She graduated high school I bought her a trailer
In a little park by the side of the road
I could’ve had the Army
I could’ve had the Navy
But no I had to go for a mobile home”

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Trailer

De Caravan, Damplein 17, 2060 Antwerpen, T: +32 (0)3 297 68 52.

Open every Monday to Sunday between 10pm and 9am, closed on Tuesday.

Uncategorized

Shabbat Shalom

While most of Europe is freezing in these horrible winter temperatures, we had a day of Spring today. Today is Saturday and Saturday is Shabbat; the 7th day of the Jewish week and the Jewish day of rest. On Shabbat, Jews recall the Biblical Creation account in Genesis in which God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days and rests on the seventh. That’s why weekends here in Israel are Fridays and Saturdays. So today, everybody just went out. Walking around the streets of Tel Aviv, there’s always so much to discover and to photograph. In days when blogs attract attention mostly by photos and less by words, I’ll just post this picture of Rothschild Boulevard hoping you’ll understand the sunny day and happy vibe in town.

Saturday also means free time for creations to me. Before reaching the textile and the yarn, I decided to make some Lokshenkügel. Say what? Kugel is a yiddish word and its definition is: “an Ashkenazi Jewish pudding or casserole, similar to a pie, most commonly made from egg noodles or potatoes, though at times made of zucchini, apples, spinach, broccoli, cranberry, or sweet potato. It is usually served as a side dish on Shabbat and”. Didn’t know that but hey, fits my shabbes. It’s not a very common dish and not for everyday but once in a while you can really crave for it. I like the pasta tasting sweet. My recipe is a combination of others: first of all, cook about half a kilo of pasta, not necessarily egg noodles, but small ones. In a bowl, mix 4 eggs, +- 250 grams of sour cream (some people add cottage and/or cream cheese too), 1 cup of sugar (I combine brown and white), 4 tablespoons of melted butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Once the pastas are cooked (max. 5 minutes) and drained, add them to the bowl and stir. Meanwhile prepare the topping, and here’s when you can use your fantasy: I used Kellogg’s Special K, oatmeal, walnuts, some melted butter and a tablespoon of cinnamon. Then just put it in the oven for maximum an hour, on 180°C. Let it cool for 10 minutes when done and mmmmmm…

And now to the crafty part, I’ve just finished this beautiful worsted cotton raspberry scarf for a friend and I’m about to start a new one on demand – the color is called graphite. So maybe I should go do my sewing class homework? Not now. I’ll quickly finish this little pouch for someone first. And why do I always see something to clean, something to rearrange, something to do? Will I ever be able to relax in my own house on Shabbat?

Antwerp · Lifestyle · Shopping

The Story of Pola & Charles

It reads like a fairytale. Pola, a loving grandmother who lived in Antwerp, met Charles, who moved to New York after World War II. They fell madly in love with each other, and Pola followed her heart all the way to the Big Apple. Now, almost 20 years later, their granddaughter (and pride) Laurence Lapa runs a multibrand boutique, named after her two biggest inspirations in life.

Almost 1 year ago Laurence opened the Pola&Charles-store in the Nationalestraat in Antwerp. The interior is based on the city she came to love: that of a typical New York boutique. It’s probably best described as cosy with a raw edge.

“This place used to be a little dark shoe-shop, ran by a very old lady. By opening up the whole first and second floor and by using elements of a more industrial nature (for example the metal stair), we created a more lofty-feel to the place.” It’s true, despite the fact that the shop is quite small, you have a feeling of openness and light. The mixture of raw elements and soft clothes give the store a special attitude.

The cosiness isn’t limited to the interior of the store. It can also be found in the philosophy behind Pola&Charles. It’s all about individuality and personality. This reflects in the clothes, handpicked by Laurence herself, based on her personal choice. Laurence travels back and forth between New York and Paris to find those special brands that stand out. My personal favorite? Gat Rimon!

Gat Rimon was founded by three friends who went to Israel, sat themselves down in a street called Gat Rimon in Tel Aviv and decided to leave their jobs and dedicate their life to fashion. It’s safe to say that Stéphanie Mardokh, Yaël Benhini en Cynthia Pariente have succeeded as well as Laurence Lapa to make their dream come true.

Perfect fits and soft materials make this little store the reference for “basic chic”. New addition is the home collection, expected to arrive mid-february!

Visit Pola & Charles – Nationalestraat 21 – 2000 Antwerp 

Mon – Sat: 10.30 am- 6.00pm

Brands: Vince – James Perse – Band of Outsiders – Gat Rimon – 7d – Swildens – Wren – Resin – Fine Collection – Current/Elliott – Brooklyn We Go Hard – My Pant’s – Sundek – Le Fabuleux Marcel – Jane Carr – Ela Stone – LnA – Veja – A Peace Treaty – Petite Mendigote – Officine Creative

Focus on

Focus on: Idan Raichel

Israeli “Singer of the world”

A country has its own musical styles, trends and roots. You would think Israel (also known as “Ingathering of the Exiles”) would offer a lot of interesting world music export products as it is a melting pot of cultural diversity – from Ashkenazi Eastern European Jews till Sephardim or Mizrahim from the Maghreb and surroundings. One of the secrets of making successful music is digging deep in your own and your surrounding roots. As much as Israel is a musical country, with a lot of talent and plenty of musicians; unfortunately, too many local artists these days are busy sounding ‘like’ others instead of creating original and authentic music. Only very few Israeli artists have had international careers – no, the Eurovision contest doesn’t count. One brilliant man called Idan Raichel (12/09/1977) has successfully combined all his influences, his talents and his fascinations into something unique and managed to break down all musical boundaries with his musical project: “The Idan Raichel Project”.

I’ve known Idan since 1998 right after his military service in the army’s rock band. He was then active as a counselor at Hadassim (a boarding school for immigrants, mainly from Ethiopia) and a successful keyboardist with Israeli popular singers. In 2002, from his home studio in the basement of his parents house in Kfar Saba near Tel Aviv, his experiments fusing Israeli pop music with Middle Eastern, African, Indian and other global sounds resulted in what would become the biggest-selling record project in Israeli history and propel Idan to a role as a major figure in the international global music scene. The songs are sung by guest singers and by Idan himself. This project has changed the face of Israeli popular music through a message of love & tolerance and original sounds coupled with sophisticated production techniques.

In 2006, after many number-one hits and a spectacular live show throughout the country, the project got signed to a world music label and embarked on an international adventure. Firstly known in circles of Jewish, Ehtiopian and Israeli communities, the Idan Raichel Project now regularly sells out concerts in large performance venues. Wherever they perform, the Idan Raichel Project unifies the audience into a celebration of what is unique about the cultures of the world, as well as that in which we are all alike.

“This one-man Middle East peace accord makes music that is an ambitious celebration of multicultural diversity. The ethnic elements are cleverly rewired with modern grooves to create an ambient journey that thrillingly bridget the traditional and the modern.” – The Times (London, UK)

Idan Raichel will be performing an acoustic set at the Centre Culturel d’Uccle on February 16th at 20h30.
Website: www.idanraichelproject.com/en
Videos: http://youtu.be/kmW2yAYhMmM (“Mim’amakim” meaning “From the depths)
Videos: http://youtu.be/CtpCGfRRToo(“Im telech” meaning “If you go”)

Antwerp

Sweets for my sweet and sugar for my tummy

You know that story of the little girl who got an Easy-bake Oven for Christmas and loved baking cakes ever since? Well, that’s not me. First of all, I never got an Easy-bake Oven for Christmas (never asked for one either) and I baked my first cake not so long ago. However, when it comes to eating cakes and pies, I can go all “story of my life” on you.

That’s why I was very happy (being the understatement of the century) when my good friends (and fellow bloggers) Ruth and Babs invited me for the opening of the new “Les Tartes de Françoise” store in Antwerp. Oh dear Lord, was I doing a small victory dance when I found out the store was in fact located on MY side of town (somewhere in the South area – the dodgy part). Arriving at the scene, all I could see was the abundance of pie. No wonder “Share happiness” is their message (or as I like to say: “sharing is caring”).

The story behind Les Tartes de Françoise is rather unique. Françoise and Olivier brought a homemade lemon merengue pie to a dinner with friends somewhere in the good old nineties. Their friends were so impressed they told their friends, who told their friends and so on. After a while Françoise and Olivier got orders from restaurants on the lookout for homemade products. Weddings and birthday parties followed quickly. Keyword of this family business is craftmanship. And boy, do they craft good!

What’s on the menu? Did I mention the pies? Les Tartes de Françoise offers a selection of sweet and savoury pies and quiches, (home)made with fresh ingredients depending on the season (pumpkin pie,  almond and pear pie, carrots and goat cheese quiche, …) and of course a wide range of classics (“Hello gourmand au chocolat, how you look lovely today“). Absolute favorite however is the cheesecake made out of curd cheese with a speculoos crust. Françoise’s cheesecake is so popular it even has its own Facebook fan page.

Does this got you all drooling too? Check out the menu on www.tartes.be and order your cake online.

I will gladly come over for a piece.

Huge thanks and bloggerly love goes out to Ruth Van Soom and Babs Jacops.

Les Tartes de Françoise Antwerp opened in December 2011: Ieperstraat 20-22, 2018 Antwerpen. To add even more plaisir du goût, it’s open every Sunday from 9 am till 2 pm.

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