The Belgian coast has always been my favorite place of escape from every day life. On the last day of this unique year, I want to conclude with an image of the magnificent North Sea and wish all of you happiness, peace and the very best for 2016.
"Baracca," a two month old restaurant in Leuven, offers a relaxed but stimulating and interesting dining experience with fresh, natural flavoured food that can be shared if you so wish. It is inspired by the savoury simplicity of Italian cuisine. First time visitors receive a warm welcome and an enthusiastic explanation of what's cooking from appealing Pasquale Amoruso (Kiko) and lovely Anastasia Mironenko (Ana). The atmosphere when I was there was warm, engaging and pleasantly chaotic, and the food was delicious -- so much so that we ordered seconds of our favourites.
"Baracca wants to relive the authentic spirit and conviviality of homecoming by serving homemade woodoven pizzas that are best enjoyed in good company."
A few years ago I wrote about Franco, chef at Pepenero, a restaurant in Leuven at two steps from Baracca: http://whatisbelgium.blogspot.be/2011/11/two-chefs.html.
After a chat with Kiko and Ana, I learned that Franco is Kiko's dad. The world is small but there is something there that is in the genes ...
I hope they will keep up the excellent job and wish them great success. I will certainly be back there soon to share the experience with family and friends.
Boy, were we disappointed to find '' 't Werfje" closed. In this tiny unpretentious café seafood on the Terrace is a real treat when weather permits. Their shrimp croquettes and fish soup are "world" famous at the Belgian coast. Hopefully the renovation project manages to keep the unique atmosphere and spirit intact. See you there from April next year onwards.
Royal Square with the Statue Geoffrey of Bouillon in front of the church Saint Jacques sur Coudenberg. Geoffrey was a medieval Frankish knight and one of the leaders of the First Crusade from 1096 until his death in 1100.
Yesterday evening I had the pleasure to see and hear the fascinating Belgian author Amélie Nothomb at Flagey in an interview by Jacques De Decker and Adrienne Nizet. It was a very entertaining and stimulating discussion.
"I knew that when we reached home after Midnight Mass I should find my shoes in the chimney-corner, filled with presents, just as when I was a little child . . . Papa, too, liked to watch my enjoyment and hear my cries of delight at each fresh surprise that came from the magic shoes, and his pleasure added to mine.” ~ St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul.
"The historical complex of Österbybruk (Sweden): The chosen location is a "Vallonbruk", a social and economic building complex surrounding a forge. Österbybruk is one of the most beautiful examples of the remains of the presence and input of Walloon immigrants in Sweden in the 17th century. More than 1.200 families emigrated in that era to Sweden, where the expertise of our master blacksmiths was highly sought after. They helped to launch the Swedish iron and metal industry. The number of their descendants is estimated today between 500.000 and 1 million people.
The Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore (Pakistan): The roots of the Sacred Heart Cathedral lie in the historical presence of the Belgian Capuchins in Pakistan. Monseigneur Godefroid Pelckmans (bishop of Lahore, 1893-1904) commissioned the Antwerp architect Dubbeleere to build a cathedral using Belgian support and materials. Construction of the cathedral was completed in 1907. In 2007 the cathedral’s hundredth birthday was celebrated. The Pakistani Government released a special stamp with the image of the cathedral and Pope Benedictus XVI sent a congratulatory telegram. In the following year, 2008, the cathedral was damaged by a heavy bomb attack on a government building nearby. The stained-glass windows were particularly damaged by the impact of the explosion. In the meantime they have been restored in Belgium.
The Prize for Belgian heritage abroad (....) does not only award the most outstanding local conservation initiatives, but is also meant to be an indirect incentive for better long-term conservation.
From the proposals sent in by Belgian embassies all over the world, the jury of experts chose 3 winners:2015 is the first year that the prize is being awarded. There is no monetary compensation attached to the prize. The winners are the local governments or private institutions responsible for the protection of the particular heritage site. Every winner will also be honoured by the local Belgian Embassy. The criteria for choosing the winners included: size and visibility of the heritage site, the historical, art-historic, economic and cultural significance of the heritage site, its importance for the bilateral relations and the possibilities of the winner to promote the prize locally in order to create public interest".
Source: Belgian Public Federal Service of Foreign Affairs
This man's un-Belgian look has me still wondering where he is from and what he was doing here wandering the streets of Brussels by himself. While he was happy to have his photo taken, he was even happier to get rid of me without speaking - he practically ran away.