Antwerp · Food · Restaurants · Travel guide

Josephine’s Treasure Map to Antwerp (2)

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” It was Luciano Pavarotti who once said these words, and he is a wise man. For most of you it might not come as a big surprise, but I love food. I love it so much, I’ve dedicated more than one blog post to it. That’s why the second part of my Antwerp Treasure map is all about: food.

FROM BRUNCH TO DINNER AND BACK AGAIN – Lately I enjoy waking up early on a Saturday morning (i still have to get used to saying that, as my former hobby was sleeping in) and assembling friends and family to go for breakfast in one of the many coffee bars Antwerp has to offer. I remember when I moved to Antwerp about 10 years ago, there weren’t many nice and cosy (and free WiFi-ed) coffee bars as there are now. Or maybe I didn’t know they existed, since I was mostly busy with my other hobby back then (sleeping in, followed by my anti-hobby: running to class). Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but it seems to me that going for breakfast (or brunch) is becoming a bigger thing than going out all night.

On a Saturday morning it’s always nice to visit the open air market. Since shopping for food on an empty stomach might hurt your wallet (as my mom says), get some breakfast first at Perruche (1). This small restaurant offers a very good breakfast and an even better service. Sweet Laura, that girl knows the drill of running a place! Adding up to the feeling of being at home: her mom occasionally pops in (actually she popped in once and never left) to provide happy customers with toast, special sandwiches, provincial spreads, spaghetti, soup and cake. Fun fact: Perruche, which is the French word for parakeet, used to be a small store which sold – you guessed it – parakeets (and other tiny, noisy birds). If you are a bagel lover I recommend Barnini (2),which is also in the same area (maybe you can try both, who cares about the market, right?!). No parakeets here, only owls. By the way, they have great coffee (in every size and color, with m&m’s on top or a good splash of chocolate sauce). I know because owner Annick used to train me in how to make the perfect coffee.

(c) Sien Josephine(1) Perruche – Oude Vaartplaats 60 – 2000 Antwerp (pope-approved)(c) Sien Josephine(2) Barnini – Oude Vaartplaats 10 – 2000 Antwerp

Time for lunch! Probably the most well-known place in Antwerp to go for lunch is Lombardia (3). Everybody knows this place, including Sting, Moby and Steve-O! Yes, big artists have fallen in love with Alain Indria’s gluten-free veggie health food love-temple. The interior looks like a huge container filled with pictures, colors, a giant golden bull, more color, graffiti and plants. You always feel sunny California in here and you would almost expect some half naked surfer dude walking in, straight from the beach, board still under his arm (if he ever does, ladies: I saw him first!). I love this place. Alain’s mom, Odette, opened Lombardia in 1972. Back then it was only a health-food shop. The most famous product Alain is serving is without doubt the Ginger Love tea (supposedly Alain came up with Ginger Love at table nr 18 in the back – so for any creative inspiration i suggest you take your lunch at table 18). It’s so good even Starbucks wanted to buy the recipe and the Wall Street Journal tipped Alain’s Ginger Love tea as a must when visiting Antwerp. Other good stuff I think you should try: Beasty Boy sandwich, Hot Mexican Tuna, the Magic Mushroom and Moby’s own Moby Juice.

Lombardia

(3) Lombardia – Lombardenvest 78 – 2000 Antwerp

Check out what Sting has to say about Lombardia:

For the real treasure hunters there is RA Kitchen (4). Located right in between antique shops, you will find this very cool restaurant (which in fact is part of a whole concept fashion store). The dining area alone is worth a visit: a mix between vintage tables, an informal living room lounge area, a mezzanine daybed and (on sunny days) a summer terrace. Ra Kitchen is all about fresh ingredients, a seasonal and eclectic menu, traditional flavours, unconventional methods and a touch of the past. As the Word magazine describes it, it’s a “quiet culinary universe of coolness”. Fun fact: every month, Ra Kitchen invites a special friend or talented individual for an event open to all! Take a look at their Facebook page to stay updated on upcoming events.

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(4) RA Kitchen – Kloosterstraat 13 – 2000 Antwerp

Other great places to get your food-groove on:

  • ULTIMATUM, Grote Markt 8: food, drinks and an occasional GREAT party
  • CHEZ FRED, Kloosterstraat 83: the best “stoofvlees met frietjes” in town
  • POTTEKIJKER, Kaasrui 5: for the romantic and nostalgic hearted people
  • FISKEBAR, Marnixplaats 12: it’s all Fish and all Scandinavian

Special thanks to

Alain Indria (just for being you), Steven Neuman (for countless breakfasts), Romain Brau (for inspiration) and Laura (for two eggs instead of one).

Next episode:

Dance the night away in Antwerp’s nightlife + SPECIAL SURPRISE FOR OUR READERS!

All pictures are under copyright protection

(c) Sien Josephine 2013

Antwerp

Caffè Internazionale

When it comes to writing a blog there are two things you need: connection (preferably the internet-kind of connection) and coffee. Both are (well) provided in Caffè Internazionale: not the newest, still the hottest but most of all my personal favorite, located in the south of Antwerp.

More than a year ago, Marco Migliore turned a dark empty restaurant into a warm open lunchbar with a vintage and international feel. Popular dish (and also very new for Antwerp) is the pastrami-sandwich. Although this Romanian Jewish specialty has been a famous treat in New York since Katz’s Deli (a kosher-style restaurant) introduced it in 1888, it’s safe to say that Antwerp has also fallen for its beefy charms. Pastrami is typically sliced and served hot on rye bread, accompanied by coleslaw and a salted pickle.

Other foody goodies on the menu are salads, pastas, classic homemade soup (different day, different soup), a huge breakfast choice (which you can get all day long, very interesting on a Sunday) and of course desserts, delicious cheesecake included.

The food is not the only reason why I keep coming back to this place (although it plays a very important role). To me Caffè Internazionale equals home: the staff as well as the regular customers (a.k.a. the people I happily call my friends) are all one big family.

The moment you enter the place you feel the creativity and smell the coffee that goes along with it. Musicians, artists, graphic designers, fellow bloggers, people with ideas; everyone finds their own place at Marco’s huge front room table. A shot of extra caramel in your café latte, a pastrami to go, a freshly cooked, afterhours dinner for Marco’s friends, he’s done (and I’ve eaten) it all.

 

Thank you Marco, for bringing us all together!

Sien Josephine

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv… tell a vibe

Together with about half the world’s population, I wake up excited for one of many morning rituals: coffee. Where? Which? How? With whom? And if you can add something sweet: lamalo (lamalo meaning ‘why not’ in Hebrew).

It’s been over a year since I quit smoking and I’ve developed this          pseudo-need for sweet. I used to not even like chocolate, and  now I feel this urge for sweet taste in the mouth. So my favorite pastry of the moment: chocolate yeast cake. Doesn’t sound as good as it tastes and no it’s not a fungus. In Yiddish it’s called Babka, for all of those with Yiddish skills. Even Martha Stewart has a recipe for it, but it’s not the easiest to bake: http://www.marthastewart.com/312994/chocolate-babka

My favorite Tel Avivi coffee place of the moment is called Ben Ami (www.benami.co.il) and it’s very well located. First of all it’s a two-minute walk from my home. It’s located on a junction of 3 streets: Nahmani Street, Melchett Street and Montefiore Street. What’s in the middle? King Albert Square and yes it is named after our Belgian king that came to visit in the early 20th century. The view from the cafe is on one of Tel Aviv’s finest buildings and it’s called the Pagoda. Built in 1925, it is one of the most typical constructions of the eclectic style, combining oriental and occidental motives. It was originally built for a rich textile negotiator from New York called David Moshe Bloch. The architect, Alexander Levi, originally from Berlin arrived in Palestine in the twenties but went back to Germany in 1927 and died in Auschwitz in 1942. No one really knows if someone is living there, but it’s very well maintained. Rumor has it, it’s owned by a Swedish jewish family that owns Puma.

When wondering what it is that I and so many others like so much about Tel Aviv, there are many answers. How can we describe this vibe to those who never came to visit? To those who don’t get to see this side of Israel in their media? Enter my blog! Tel Aviv gets so many adjectives; it’s young, vibrant, happening, cool, hip, in, hot, fresh but why? Some say it is because it’s the city of contrasts, clashes and paradoxes. The mixture of old versus new. Orthodox versus secular. East versus West. Europe versus USA versus Middle East. Tradition versus innovation. A synagogue versus a gay bar. An old colonial house versus a Philippe Starck tower. It’s this clash that gives the city its surprising and slightly uneven gait.

Let’s keep blogging and unravel the secrets of my dear city. Till later, Marilyn

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