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

 

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.

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

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.

Antwerp

Focus on: Charlotte De Cock

Although Antwerp’s artistic reputation was at its highest in the 17th Century (with artists like Rubens, Jordaens and Teniers), present Antwerp doesn’t have to taste defeat. To this day, Antwerp is a prominent art city that plays an important role on the international art market. Its artists are still of great importance in providing insight into current visual culture.

One of those great artists is young Charlotte De Cock (06/10/87). Born and raised in Antwerp, and with no artsy education at all, she started painting in 2007. She learned to paint portraits by staring in the mirror for many hours. When she finally felt like she mastered every little detail of the human face and body, she started to expand her repertoire with other themes, for example her famous “Marie Antoinettes” (based on the movie by Sofia Coppola).

Her inspiration lies in film, music and literature. Her paintings refer to song lyrics and movie titles. Martin Schmitt from Gallery DiMeo (Paris, France) referred to her work as ‘Rock – Baroque’.

She has already been part of numerous exhibitions: “Body of Art” at the Liverpool Street Station (London) and the famous Antwerp gallery Campo&Campo to name a few.

Her latest craze is all about the Native Americans (or American Indians). While watching a Devandra Banhart concert (American singer-songwriter and visual artist) she didn’t only fell in love with him (who can blame her?) but also with his headwear: a full eagle-feather war bonnet which is a common American Indian headdress (fun fact: Devandra Banhart has actually seen Charlotte’s paintings and he’s a self-declared fan).

Inspired by her favorite Molière-quote (the greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it), the search for feathered war bonnets started. Numerous Facebook announcements and phone calls later, she was allowed to use the war bonnets that used to be on display in the Indian Art Museum in Bobbejaanland (a Belgian theme park). The war bonnets were made by designer Nudie Cohn in the 1940s. With great caution and even greater love Charlotte started to portray the precious feathered headdresses on canvas.

“I don’t believe in mistakes. Everything I’ve done, that has also led me into trouble, I think, is a lesson. Therefore I have no regrets.” Charlotte is a young, energetic lady with a broad fascination; psychology, music, history, film and lots of other things paint the soundtrack to her extraordinary life. Besides a painter, she’s also a DJ in famous Antwerp venues (Kissinger, former Café Capital and Café d’Anvers). Her music is all round, from Gainsbourg to Goose (for the musical dummies: from classic French rock to minimal techno). She designs her own clothes and – just like me – she has a passion for cake-baking.

To quote her deceased father Paul De Cock: “Her spontaneous ventures, her resourcefulness and her natural vivacity make her a cheerful person who has the necessary urge to develop her talents…”

If u wanna see Charlotte’s work with your own eyes:

  • WO-MEN in fine art gallery – Wolstraat 45 – 2000 ANTWERP
  • Veste – Sint-Katelijnevest 57 – 2000 ANTWERP
  • De Godevaart – Sint-Katelijnevest 23 – 2000 ANTWERP
  • Brasserie Lids – Veemarkt 4 – 2000 ANTWERP

Stay updated about Charlotte’s upcoming exhibitions, visit www.charlottedecock.com

Sien Josephine


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

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