Sunday, September 21, 2008

Where will you go?

Foundation Folon, La Hulpe, Belgium, until 28th September 2008.

What if we could fly?

Fondation Folon, La Hulpe, Belgium, until 28th September 2008.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rotating house, Belgium

It's not everyday that Wavre, Belgium gets to be the subject of an article in the New York edition of the New York Times. But on September 2nd an article was published to celebrate the 50 years of a rotating house built by François Massau. In these days of $100 dollar oil the concept of rotating buildings to capture solar energy is catching on. But after having built 3 heliotropic "a la sun flower" houses François Massau never achieved financial or architectural recognition. Talk about being in advance of his time! Take a look at the video to see what architects are planning in Dubai in the field of dynamic architecture.

Solistes au Domaine, Brussels

Beautiful evening at the Abbaye de la Cambre. Small Sinead O'Connor with the powerful words and "I'll make you smile & groove in a minute" Billy Paul of Me and Mrs Jones fame. We liked the concept: you walk around the parc to see 20 minutes of each performer on 5 different stages.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Earthquake, Belgium

As the world watches Ike roar ashore in Texas Belgium is the victim of earthquakes, the international media is censuring the news out of this small country! At 3:14 this morning an earthquake measuring 2.6 hit the area around Ottiginies-Louvain la Neuve, Brabant Wallon. See the information from the Royal Observatory. Ok, I'll admit it, I woke up, looked at the time, went back to sleep. Not really earth shattering. We lived 6 months in the LA area, never experienced an earthquake, and have to move to Belgium to experience an earthquake. Must be linked to global warming....

Solistes au Domaine, Bruxelles

We are going to this concert tonight in Brussels. 4 stages, some famous soloists (José Van Dam, Catherine Lara, Billy Paul, Sinéad O'Connor, Lu Yu Cheng) and the beautiful setting of the Abbaye de la Cambre in Ixelles, Bruxelles. Wish us luck with the weather!
Solistes au Domaine.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fifteen Cornwall, Jamie Oliver

We had dinner in July at the Jamie Oliver Fifteen Cornwall restaurant. If you have not heard of this star of the social entrepreneurship world the basic concept is to take disadvantaged youngsters and to transform them into top chefs. The first wave of youngsters to go through the 2002 programme at the London restaurant was the subject of a very successful reality show. The selection process for the Cornish restaurant is pretty grueling. This year 300 candidates were whittled down to the 20 chosen. The concept still needs improving as Jamie Oliver has the courage to admit in a commissioned report.

The excerpt below from the Fifteen web site gives a flavor of what happened to the first cohort in London:

"Where are they now?

Fifteen disadvantaged youngsters with little or no culinary experience were taken on as apprentices by Jamie Oliver to run his original restaurant in 2002. Seven (marked below with an *) completed the course, graduated and some of them are now working in top restaurants from London to New York. Others are doing something completely different

Dwayne Working at Pizza Express
Kerryann Now has two children and is working at a supermarket cheque-out, but would like to get back into cooking
*Ralph Chef de partie at Spotted Pig, New York’s first gastropub
Johnny Has set up his own catering business in Australia
Michael Lost contact
Jules Lost contact
Nicola Lost contact
Lindsay Living in Cornwall
*Tim Chef de partie at Moro restaurant, London
*Ben Chef de partie at Theo Randall, InterContinental, Mayfair, London
*Elisa Journalist on the Daily Express
*Warren sous chef at Hope & Anchor, a gastropub in Waterloo, southeast London
Roberto working for the family business
Nicola lost contact
Jamie Grainger Smith Restaurant Manager at Fifteen

Source: Fifteen"

The food was good, I had an appetizer of Cornish caught squid and rock bass. All expertely executed. A tad pricey, but the profits go to the Foundation, what can you say!

The setting is really a show stopper. The restaurant was built almost on the beach of Watergate bay. During our dinner the windows were open, long boarders were taking wave after wave, the sun was slowly setting, a dream of a summer evening.

US visitors link
EU visitors link

Friday, September 05, 2008

Starbucks, Brussels

Update October 25, 2011:
Starbucks has opened its doors in Gent on Korenmarkt.

Update March 2011:
Belgium now has 3 starbucks at the Brussels airport, 1 at the Antwerp Central Station and 1 in Brussels at the Central Train Station as of April 2011. Full details in this article from

With the opening of Abercrombie & Fitch at 20 boulevard of Waterloo in Brussels sometime in the spring (although I can not find anything official) Brussels would see the arrival of two major american brands. As read in Le Vif.

March 2009:
A few months ago a Starbucks at the Antwerp Central Station was announced for opening in 2009. Concourse A and Concourse B at the Brussels airport now also have Starbucks locations, along with the first location in the departure hall.

Since August we have our first Starbucks in Belgium. OK, not really, it's located in the Brussels airport. I call that international territory. When will they venture into the heart of Belgium and compete with the free speculoos and chocolate wielding local barristas? If you are craving a city experience your closest Starbucks is in Aachen, Germany. A good opportunity to get some culture in (Charlemagne, 500 years of Holy Roman Empire king crowning, cathedral). Afterthought: if you can wait, combine a trip to the local Christmas market with a dose of caramel macchiato!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Domburg Beach, Netherlands

Domburg Beach
Originally uploaded by DanSand
Besides eating mussels and herring in Zeeland it is highly recommended to go have a dip and enjoy the beautiful shore. Bring your bike! The area is more than bike friendly. I was frustrated: the blackberries in the dunes were gorgeous and only about a week from being ripe. 1 hour 30 minutes from Brussels is close but a bit far to justify a round trip for bramble jelly!
Here a link to a map of where the photo was taken:
Domburg Map

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Veere, Netherlands

Veere, Netherlands
Originally uploaded by DanSand
The village of Veere in Zeeland, Netherlands is of the perfect size. You can walk around the port and the main village square in the space of 30 minutes before deciding on the right place to get lunch, coffee, herring or an ice cream!

Hollandse Nieuwe

Eating herring in Veere
Originally uploaded by DanSand
In an easy 1 hour 45 you can reach Zeeland, Netherlands from Brussels. We spent a few hours in Veere, an old fishing village. Eating herring at the Lekkerbeck fish stall was a definite highlight. Although technically the New Herring is caught from May to July the August herring still tasted plenty good enough to my uneducated palate. The fried fish on offer at the same outdoor stall was also a treat.