Julien, Bar-Tabac

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Outside, Julien

Earlier this year, Julien opened on the corner of the Schuttershofstraat and the Wapper, a convenient one minute walk from my apartment. Julien is a bar-tabac, a popular type of shop in France, where you can enjoy coffee or drinks (bar) and buy cigarettes (tabac), magazines, and newspapers. There is also a colorful selection of sweets from France and Italy! Julien has a cozy, friendly atmosphere and is a great place to have coffee and read the paper in the morning and to meet friends for a glass of wine after work.

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Belgian endive salad with apples, egg, and bacon

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Belgian endive, as the name suggests, is a very popular vegetable here! In Dutch it’s just called witloof. Loaded with vitamins and a delicious bitter flavor, Belgian endive is available year round to make a variety of dishes from salads to casserole type meals. One of my favorite summer combinations is with apple, bacon, and egg. Tonight Koen made the dressing with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and cilantro, which made it extra fresh!

Caffènation

My favorite place to get coffee in Antwerp is at Caffènation and it’s a convenient 5 minute walk from my apartment! The new location by the Nationale Bank van België is huge (3 floors) and now I’m always guaranteed a seat. Caffènation is the only real coffee house in Antwerp other than the Starbucks in the train station. Over here there’s more of a café culture, so the atmosphere at Caffènation feels a lot more American and like home to me.

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Nationale Bank van België

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SHOW 2012

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SHOW 2012 Poster

 

When many people think of Antwerp, they think of the Antwerp 6: Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs, and Marina Yee. They are the 6 graduates of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, who together went to London in 1988 in a rented truck and showed their collections, establishing Antwerp as a notable location for avant-garde fashion. Since the Antwerp 6, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts has produced many other famous alums such as Martin Margiela, A.F. Vandevorst, Haider Ackermann, and Kris Van Assche.

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Antwerp Botanical Garden (De Antwerpse Plantentuin)

Located in downtown Antwerp is the beautiful Botanical Garden (De Plantentuin).  It’s 2 minutes both from my apartment and work, so during the Spring and Summer, when the weather’s nice, I like to picnic in the garden or sit on one of the benches with a nice book.

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Me visiting the Antwerp Botanical Garden in April 2012

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Het Kathedraalcafé

The most famous site of Antwerp is of course the Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwkathedraal) and situated behind is Het Kathedraalcafé. Like the hand of Antwerp, Het Kathedraalcafé (The Cathedral Cafe) is one of the places I take all of my guests!

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View of the Cathedral of Our Lady from the Groenplaats

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Spaghetti alla Carbonara and Sunday Brunch

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Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Tonight I made dinner! About twice a month I become inspired to cook and try a new recipe. Because I have Sundays off, it is always an opportune time to experiment in the kitchen. I decided on Spaghettia alla Carbonara. I asked around for tips, researched its origins, and then decided how I would make it – as authentically Italian as possible. Carbonara translates into “charcoal burners”, which is why in the United States this dish is often called “Coal Miner’s Spaghetti”. Traditionally the Carbonara is made with Italian bacon, Parmesan and eggs and should not be “saucy”. This means no cream!

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