Last week and this week we’re experiencing our first bout of Spring weather! Luckily the warmest day, 66 degrees, 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!
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!
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!
Last weekend Koen and I helped out with his father’s wine tasting event – the Tipies Wijncafé (Teepee Wine Café). It was a join venture with my father-in-law’s Grand Vin and one of the Brörmann’s favorite restaurants Het Hooihuis. This is the second time Grand Vin has hosted a wine tasting at Het Hooihuis and we had beautiful sunny weather and a great turnout! Special for the warm weather, Grand Vin debuted its new Rosé and Rosé Spumante. I especially enjoyed the spumante all afternoon! To pair with the wine, Het Hooihuis created a special menu including oysters, burgers, and white asparagus soup. Yum!
Sinterklaas in the Netherlands is celebrated the 5th of December (and the 6th in Belgium) but because my sister-in-law Nikki was in Pakistan, we celebrated a bit later. There are a few differences between the Dutch Sinterklaas and the American Santa Clause. Although the Sint brings gifts to the “braaf” or good children, he is much more strict than my dear Santa. If you are bad, not only do you receive a “roe”, or a cane to be whipped with, but also you will be taken from your parents and home in Sinterklaas’ bag and brought back to Spain, where the Sint lives!
Also, Sinterklaas does not have elves to help him with the days up to Christmas, instead he has Zwarte Pieten, black companions that arrive with him on his steamboat from Spain to help distribute treats. Although originally black to represent the Moorish people who once occupied the Netherlands, they are now black because they are covered in soot from the chimneys! But as an American here, I don’t think I will ever get used to seeing so many people in black face with huge red lips, afros, and golden hoop earrings!
Last Sunday we celebrated Els’ birthday in Antwerp. We started out with drinks at the winebar Baravin, followed by Italian at La Tarantella.
The 21st of July is the Nationale Feestdag van België. The south of the Netherlands proclaimed independence to form the Kingdom of Belgium (the official name) on the 25th of August 1830. This was the start of the Belgian Revolution, which ended on the 14th of July 1831. Leopold I became the first king of Belgium the 21st of July 1831, and every year on this day everyone celebrates in Belgium.
But because the 21st was on a Saturday this year, I went to the Netherlands to spend the weekend (it’s rare that I have 2 days off in a row!). Koen and I had a relaxing time in Roosendaal, enjoying good wine (from Grand Vin, of course), food, and weather.
Friday the 20th