I am always happy when new places open up close to where we live, and this year we are especially spoiled with Bar Attak and just last week Little Butcher’s Summer Grill.  Most of the summer bars and restaurant score high on atmosphere but usually disappoint in terms of food.  Whilst the old coach house with its brick walls and timber beams is definitely a great location, Little Butcher’s completely blew us away with the quality of their food and drinks.

They make their own tonic and serve such drinks as Kurkuma Sour (kurkuma infused gin, lemon and orange bitters) and Fritz Rubarb lemonade.  I went for the Vulson Rye n dry (rye spirit, ginger ale and lemon).  I had not tasted the Vulson before, I expected an agressive whiskey taste but instead got a pale coloured drink with a spicy, soft taste. I think I’m over G&T now, and this was a great alternative.

There is a huge outside kitchen with grill, and a focus on the menu on grilling and smoking local organic food.  We started with turkey brochettes and bitterballen (dipped in mustard! bliss!), followed by the grilled calamares in lemon butter and an incredibly tasty bavette steak.  We loved the food so much we have already booked to go back in a few weeks time when ex Noma souschef Yannik Van Aecken will take over the grill.  Tickets are selling out quick, so if you want to go book here now!

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When people ask me for restaurant recommendations in Antwerp, L’ Epicerie du Cirque in the Volkstraat is always one of the first places that I mention.  Right next door is the deli Comptoir by L’Epicerie du Cirque which is the perfect place to pick up delicious freshly made food as well as a selection of charcuterie (from De Laet & Van Haver), cheese (from Van Tricht) and baked goods (from Toon De Clerck).  You’ll also find La Tomaterie Carnoli rice and pasta’s, Palais des Thés teas, Pacari and Chocolate Makers chocolate, Cartwright & Buttler biscuits and Fentimans lemonades.  A gift basket customized to your host’s tastes would make the perfect gift!

For those who don’t want to cook during the holiday season, Comptoir offers a choice of two different menus with mouthwatering dishes such as bisque with lobster and buttermilk, seabass with kingcrab and preserved lemon, pheasant with parsnip and Savoramusterd mash, chocolate duo à casser en moelleux.  You need to order these in advance, find all the details here.  If being around all this yummy food makes you hungry, you can also grab a small bite to eat at the counter!

Ik word vaak gevraagd om restaurant suggesties in Antwerpen en L’Epicerie du Cirque in de Volkstraat is altijd één van de eerste plaatsen waar ik aan denk.  Er vlak naast is de traiteur Comptoir by L’Epicerie du Cirque, de perfecte plek om verse huisgemaakte schotels mee te nemen, alsook een selectie van charcuterie (van De Laet & Van Haver), kaas (van Van Tricht) en brood en patisserie (van Toon De Clerck).  Daarnaast vind je er ook La Tomaterie Carnoli rijst en pasta’s, Palais des Thés thees, Pacari en Chocolate Makers chocolade, Cartwright & Buttler koekjes en Fentimans limonades.  Een mandje kan je zelf samenstellen en wordt mooi ingepakt als cadeau.

Voor hen die niet willen koken tijdens de feestperiode biedt Comptoir een keuze uit twee menus met overheerlijke gerechten zoals bisque met kreeft en karnemelk, zeebaars met kingkrab en gekonfijte Marokkaanse citroen, fazant met pastinaak en Savoramosterd-puree en duo van chocolade: à casser en moelleux.  Deze dien je wel op voorhand te bestellen , de details vind je hier.  Als je honger gekregen hebt van al dat lekkers kan je ook ter plaatse een kleinigheid eten aan de toog!

 

 

 

 

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Dear Santa….

As I am an extremely helpful person and understand you are mighty busy at this time of year, I just wanted to help you out in case you need some inspiration for my Christmas presents.  

Annemarie

 

(from top to bottom)

You can always count on COS for pretty gifts that look a lot more expensive than they are.  These traditional Chinese scissors have many uses both in and outdoor and are a steal at 7 Euros.

Belgian artist Michael Verheyden designed this tray for When Objects Work.  Michael has designed so many beautiful things, it took me about half an hour to choose a favourite from his website!

This copper trivet from Oji Masanori protects your counter or table from hot pots and pans with style.  Available now from the Joy of Little Things boutique.

The iconic Lumière Noire scent by Francis Kurkdjian is also available as a home perfume at the Graanmarkt13.

I have been coveting this bracelet by Antwerp based designer Salima Thakker for years.  It is just the right blend of edge and sophistication.

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In October I am organizing another Kinfolk event together with the lovely Suzy from the seepoint blog.  For those of you who don’t know Kinfolk, this American magazine dusts off the tradition of entertaining by promoting sharing a table with new and old friends, gathering around good, simple food.  Its gorgeous images make you want to call up your friends to organize a dinner party.  And then there are all the lovely articles like “The art of weekend rest“, a recipe for matcha ice cream and instructions on how to dye your own textiles.     The Kinfolk events take place every month around the world along a set theme. If you want to know what to expect you can check out the images of past workshops here or browse through the images of past international events here.

On the 26th of October we will honour the release of The Kinfolk Table cookbook.  It will be a celebration of everything it represents: widespread and local community, timeworn recipes and the simple joy of sharing food with friends and family.

The Kinfolk Table: Recipes for small gatherings is a collection of 45 profiles of chefs, bakers, writers, butchers and artisans, all of whom provide a classic family recipe along with a favourite to-go dish.  The book centres around simple, unfussy food.

The event will take place in Colonia restaurant in Antwerp.  It is based in a beautiful old printing works with wooden beams and tiled floors. Colonia cooks honest, simple food in an artisanal way. They are obsessed by taste and quality of ingredients.  Working with small scale food providers, they select the best of what every season has to offer and complement it with wines from small wineries.

Colonia will offer a menu inspired by the Kinfolk cookbook that will consist of an aperitif, a starter, main and side dishes, cheese, half a bottle of wine, water and tea or coffee.   We ask everyone to bring a desert to share as well as a recipe to swap – an old family tradition, a new favorite or a simple go-to recipe for a hurried weeknight.   The event will take place Saturday 26th of October from 6.30 to 9.30 pm.  If you want to join us, please buy your ticket here.  Any questions you can post here or contact me via the link at the bottom of this page.  We are looking forward to sharing good food with some new and old friends!

 

 

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I can’t think of a better way to spend a sunny sunday afternoon than attending a Kinfolk event learning how to preserve fruit and vegetables.  We pickled cubed fennel, carrots, onions and cucumbers; layered grilled red and yellow peppers with garlic and herbs and made orange marmelade.  My pantry has never before looked so well stocked!  With thanks to Jasmijn and Suzy for hosting the event.  All pictures by the talented photographer Melissa Milis, see the full reportage here.

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Even though I love to cook extensive meals (you know the ones where you’ve used every pot and pan you own) I am attracted even more to the casual meals.  The unexpected get together with friends after work to make the most of a hot summer night, spreading a picknick blanket in the dappled shade of an oak tree and enjoying homemade cookies on a Sunday afternoon, sipping a glass of wine on a Friday night and opening a jar of truffled artichokes picked up on a holiday to Rome…

For this reason, Kinfolk magazine with its gorgeous stories of friends sharing a table and its recipes for casual entertaining resonate with me very strongly.  For this reason, I was happy to host the first Kinfolk event in Belgium last Sunday, inviting a mix of friends and complete strangers into our home. It was a truly international scene with around the table guests from Belgium, Lithuania, Sweden, The Netherlands, the US and Italy.  We talked about food, made ricotta and paté together, then shared a meal of charcuterie, cheese, homemade chutneys and salads.

For me, the fun was not just the actual event but – in organizing it – getting to meet the amazing and passionate people behind the food we ate.  Hendrik Dierendonck not only sources the best meat from all over Europe, he was also instrumental in reintroducing the “forgotten” breed of the Belgian Red beef (which I learned is only happy when standing in the seabreeze on grassy pastures close to the sea in a small corner of Flanders…).  Visiting the Dierendonck workshop and seeing how his respect for the animal translates into thinking up new ways of using every part of it was really inspiring.  If you ever find yourself in Nieuwpoort or St Idesbald get yourself some dried entrecote from Dierendonck, then please invite me over, I’ll bring the wine!

Likewise, seeing the heart of the Van Tricht cheese operation in a corner of the De Koninck brewery where rows and rows of cheese mature slowly was wonderful. I almost felt like I should speak in a whisper so as not to disturb the magic happening there. My new favourite is the Vanillien, made from raw goat’s milk on a farm in Normandy and marbled with vanilla seeds. It tastes slightly salty, then sweet. Spread on some sourdough bread it is heavenly!

Through the event, I also got to meet local bloggers with a foodie soul.  Caroline from Avocado Van De Duivel helped me out with the recipes, photographer Eefje De Coninck made most of the beautiful pictures you see here and Els from the collected.be blog is holding that bowl of ricotta you see in one of the photos. If you want to have a go at making ricotta and paté yourself, you can download here the notes of the Joy of little things kinfolk event.  It also includes a list of good butcher and cheese shops.

Finally, I had so much fun doing this I am considering organizing another Kinfolk event later this year.  If you are interested subscribe to the newsletter here to be the first to know! And do check out the Joy of Little Things Facebook page where there are more photos of the event.

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Photography credits in order / cover photo by Parker Fitzgerald photo by Tec Petaja / photo by We are the Rhoads / photo by Tec Petaja / photo by Leo Patrone / photo by Leo Patrone menu illustration by Anja Mulder letter pressed by Type A Press / photo by Kathryn Koschitzki / photo by Sarah Winward

I have been a big fan of Kinfolk ever since their launch some two years ago.  For those of you who haven’t heard of them: Kinfolk is a quarterly magazine and blog that is all about gatherings, about people coming together for a meal and enjoying food.  It’s about everyday entertaining from a picnick in the park to an impromptu get together after work….From breakfast for two to a meal for many… The photography is stunning, do check out their website or buy their magazine (I don’t know of any Belgian stockists but there is also an ipad version!).

In 2013 Kinfolk started monthly gatherings around the globe where likeminded people get together, learn about food and share a meal along the same theme.  I am thrilled to announce I will be hosting Belgium’s first Kinfolk gathering on Sunday the 30th of June.  This month’s theme is “at the butcher block” and focuses on meat, cured goods and accompaniments.  There will be a workshop where we make chicken liver pate as well as fresh ricotta.  And of course we will sample these goodies we make afterwards with a selection of cured meats, cheese, artisan bread, homemade chutneys and wine!

I would love for you to join me!  Tickets are sold exclusively through the Kinfolk website.  I will put a message up later this week on how to buy one (or more!).  Please note the workshop will take place in my home in Antwerp so only 12 tickets are available. Starting time 2.00, finishing around 5.00. The workshop will be in Dutch but let me know if you are an English or French speaker and want to join and we will try to arrange something. Any questions you have please email me annemarie@joyoflittlethings.com. You can download the programme here. If you wish to reserve your place now send me an email and I will put you on the list.

 

Ik ben van bij de start zowat twee jaar geleden een grote fan geweest van Kinfolk.  Voor diegenen onder jullie die nog niet van hen gehoord hebben: Kinfolk magazine verschijnt vier keer per jaar en er is ook een blog.  Ze schrijven over lekker eten en vrienden die samen komen om te genieten van een goede maaltijd.  Het gaat om alledaagse gebeurtenissen van een picknick in het park tot een ongepland na-het-werk samenkomen… Van ontbijt voor twee tot een maaltijd voor velen… De fotos zijn fantastisch, ga zeker eens kijken op hun website of koop het magazine (ik heb geen weet van belgische verkooppunten maar het is ook beschikbaar voor ipad).

In 2013 begon Kinfolk met maandelijkse bijeenkomsten wereldwijd waar mensen met dezelfde interesses elkaar vonden om te leren over eten en een maaltijd te delen volgens een bepaald thema. Ik ben heel blij te mogen aankondigen dat ik de eerste Belgische bijeenkomst voor Kinfolk organiseer zondag 30 Juni.  Het thema deze maand is “at the butcher block”  en gaat over vlees, charcuterie en alles wat daarbij hoort.  We maken samen paté en verse ricotta.  En natuurlijk proeven we naderhand van al dit lekkers en ook verse charcuterie, kaas, artisanaal brood, huisgemaakte chutneys en wijn!

Ik nodig jullie heel graag uit! Tickets zijn enkel te koop via de Kinfolk website.  Later deze week zal ik de details publiceren van hoe je deze kan bemachtigen.  De workshop vindt plaats bij mij thuis in Antwerpen dus er zijn slechts 12 tickets beschikbaar.  We beginnen om 2.00 en eindigen om 5.00.  De workshop is in het Nederlands.  Indien je nog vragen hebt kan je mij mailen op annemarie@joyoflittlethings.com. Je kan het programma hier downloaden. Als je nu je plaats al wil reserveren stuur mij dan een email en ik zet je op de lijst.

 

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