Belgian Vineyards with Hannah

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Exploring the vineyards

Every couple of months Koen and his friends have a Boys’ Weekend. This time Koen was the host, so I was very happy to escape the boys and stay with Hannah in Leuven for the weekend. We had beautiful, sunny weather and decided to explore the Belgian vineyards of Hageland.

We visited the heart of the Hagelandse wines – Wezemaal (Rotselaaar). They have a visitors center in a 19th century neo-gothic building where you can learn about the Hagelandse landscape and watch a video of the winemakers themselves sharing their passion. We didn’t realized you needed to make an appointment and were lucky we were able to join another group!

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Moscow: Sahli Georgian Restaurant

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Inside Sahli

For Koen and my big trip this year, we planned a three week trip from Moscow to Beijing, traveling by train on the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian Express. After a ton of research, an intinerary was made and we were ready to go off and explore!

The first day we arrived in the late afternoon and wanted to start off slow, to save our energy because the next day we had a lot of planned to do. So we decided to head to Sahli for a delicious Georgian meal.

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Mom’s Birthday Part Two: Orso Pizzeria

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Orso Pizzeria

 

Because my mom was celebrating her birthday in Antwerp, of course we wanted to go out for dinner. I feel like over the years my parents have really gotten to know Antwerp the city, but not really Antwerp the province, which comprises of many smaller cities. For the birthday dinner we decided on Orso Pizzeria in Berchem. Berchem is most famous for its art nouveau style architecture. On our way to dinner we were able to look at all of the beautiful houses!

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Florence Day Four

Eggs Florentine on foccacia for breakfast!

Eggs Florentine on focaccia for breakfast!

Day Four was our first day spent together with everyone. One of the big things everyone wanted to do while in Tuscany was to see the countryside, visit vineyards, and sample Chianti wines. After a bit of searching we decided on the Chianti Afternoon Wine Tour.

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Copenhagen Day Three

Danish breakfast!

Danish breakfast! The big breakfast on the left and the small on the right.

Day three began with another delicious breakfast at Brødflov on the Falkoner Allé in Frederiksberg. We were the only none Danish people in the crowded organic bakery, so we felt like we made a great choice. The staff was super friendly and helpful. Koen ordered the big breakfast that came with your choice of two types of bread – in Koen’s case a sourdough roll and a tebirke. Tebirkes are a sort of Danish poppy seed pastry that are flaky and a little sweet and sticky thanks to the butter and marizipan. In addition to the two types of bread, Koen received three types of Danish sausage, two types of Danish cheese, and a portion of skyr (Icelandic yoghurt).

I ordered the smaller version which also includes two types of bread and chose the spelt sourdough and kanelmonster (giant cinnamon roll). With our breakfasts you’ll see a portion of homemade raspberry jam. As an American I thought it was just to eat on my bread. But then I looked at the girl next to me and realized I was eating my breakfast completely wrong. First of all the bread comes sliced in half and you receive two slices of cheese. So you put one piece of cheese on each slice. Then you put the jam on top of the cheese. Yum! Luckily it wasn’t too late and I enjoyed the rest of my meal the correct way. Both the big and small breakfasts came with a cup of coffee and the fresh juice of the day, which was carrot, apple, and ginger.

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Brörmanns in Burgundy Day Two

Driving to Beaune

Burgundy countryside on our way to Beaune

Because we spent the first day at the house relaxing, for Saturday we planned a day trip to Beaune, known as the “Capital of Burgundy Wines”. Where better to take a walk through the vineyards, visit a chateau, and taste a few wines?

We began our day in Beaune with fuel for the rest of the day – aka coffee! After our caffeine boost, we headed to the Parc de la Bouzaize for a family picnic. We already packed the necessities – French cheese and fresh vegetables – and picked up fresh baked baguettes while walking through the city.

After lunch, we took a walk through the park which ultimately led us to the vineyards. What a breathtaking view. This was the first time I’d seen a vineyard. In Beaune, there are many routes you can walk through, and we took the one up a hill and were able to overlook not only the vineyards, but also the city of Beaune. The sun was shining, the sky was clear and blue, I had to keep pinching myself to know it was all real.

This was the perfect precursor to our tasting. We visited Bouchard Père et Fils, one of the oldest wine estates in Burgundy (founded in 1731!). Taken from their site, here is a description of the Château de Beaune:

In 1820 Bernard Bouchard purchased the Château de Beaune, a former royal fortress built in the 15th century by King Louis XI.

Four of the five original towers of the fortress, as well as parts of the ramparts, still stand today, and have featured on the list of historic monuments since 1937.

The cellars run deep underground beneath the property providing ideal natural storage conditions for Bouchard Père & Fils’ fine wines. 

Up to 10 metres deep, the wines develop and age undisturbed. These include a unique collection of over 2,000 bottles from the 19th century. A priceless historical legacy with, as its icon, the oldest wine – a Meursault Charmes 1846 which still retains its luster.

After our tour of the Château, we were able to sample 6 wines – 3 red and 3 white. Koen and I couldn’t leave without buying a few bottles!

A trip to Burgundy wouldn’t be complete without a typical Burgundy meal – boeuf bourguignon, a meat stew made with red wine (from Burgundy, of course). For dinner we made reservations at 21 Boulevard, a restaurant specializing in the food of the region, located in a 15th century cellar. It was a great way to end our day in Beaune!

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Watermelon Gazpacho / Chacalli Wines

Watermelon Gazpacho

Watermelon Gazpacho

I love experimenting with soup and was excited to try the Watermelon Gazpacho from Green Kitchen Stories. It was a relatively warm summer day in Antwerp and a cold soup sounded refreshing. Although the soup tasted delicious, it was a bit much as a main course. I think it would be better as a starter – strained and served in drinking glasses for a party, perhaps with a shot of vodka.

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Zuid Café

Zuid Café

Zuid Café

Last week and this week we’re experiencing our first bout of Spring weather! Luckily the warmest day, 66 degrees F, was yesterday when Koen and I were both off from work. I think all of Antwerp was outside, enjoying the warm sunny weather! We took the opportunity to take a long walk to the South of Antwerp and enjoyed our first terrasje, or outdoor café, of the year at the Zuid Café. Because we had already had lunch, we only ordered drinks. After seeing everyone else’s food we definitely want to go back to try the food – everything looked so delicious!

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Sinterklaas 2013

My surprise for Dook!

My surprise for Dook!

Now that it’s almost Christmas, I realized I still need to share my photos from Sinterklaas! In case you don’t remember from last year, the “surprises” are homemade gifts tailored to the likes and hobbies of the person whose name you’ve drawn. This year I drew Dook, Koen’s dad. Because Dook is the biggest wine lover I know, my surprise had to do with wine. I fingerpainted a map of the world, then created a pathway through the major wine countries. Starting in California, Dook had to answer questions about wine to move forward. After successfully completing the game Dook was able to open his gift!

 

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The Glorious

Outside The Glorious

My mother-in-law, outside The Glorious

To celebrate Koen’s first paycheck from his new job, we invited Koen’s parents out for dinner at The Glorious. The Glorious’s sommelier, Jurgen Lijcops, who is often on Flemish TV speaking about wine, has created a winelist for the restaurant that is always evolving, depending on the month and season. For any wine lover,  a trip to The Glorious is a must! I had been there once before for Christmas dinner with my colleagues and really enjoyed the food. Because of the wine and food, Koen and I thought this would be a great restaurant for celebrating his first paycheck! It was a bit more eventful than we expected (we were brought the wrong wine, the waiter spilled soup on my father-in-law, and a glass broke), but we still enjoyed the wine, food, and company!

 

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