Ever since reading about ICI on the Brussels Kitchen and S Marks the Spot blogs, I’ve been curious to go there for lunch.  And yes, of course the food is amazing, the Assiette Mixte a very generous portion of  seasonal vegetables freshly prepared that morning (think tasty roast pumpkin and quinoa salad) and can be ordered vegeterian (with goat’s cheese) or with meat or chicken.  There is also a lunch menu that includes soup, salads and a freshly baked cake. But what is hard to describe is how cosy this place is, the benches full of cushions, the waiters so friendly and helpful. Definitely worth a detour but keep in mind it is best to book as from what we could see, this little place gets busy over the lunch hour.

PS If – like me – you’re too full after lunch to taste their amazing desserts, take a chocolate moelleux to go!

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I don’t think anyone who really knows us will be surprised by this diary of our trip to London.  Yes, we did some exhibitions (I highly recommend the Radical Geometry exhibition at the Royal Academy) and shopping (we liked Margaret Howell, Selfridges and Marylebone High street), but mainly we went to London to catch up with friends and enjoy the food… The highlights:

Dabbous

Intrigued by the accolades heaped upon chef Oliver Dabbous, we have been trying to eat at this restaurant in Whitfield Street ever since it opened (as we usually book our london trips 4 months in advance, this will give you an idea for how hard it is to get a table here).  We started off with some fabulous cocktails downstairs: the Sting & Police was a blend of pink peppercorn infused scotch shaken with lemon verbena and smoked black tea.  The day Christopher Ralm Left a concoction of americano, manuka honey, lemon verbena, orange blossom and mead.  The food that followed was mind blowingly tasty and fresh and served with delicious sourdough bread and smoked butter: peas and mint, a coddled egg nestled in straw with tiny pieces of mushroom, barbequed skate with cockles and scottish raspberries as dessert.  Remember: patience is a virtue, keep trying to book here people and if you have any connected friends, shamelessly use them!

Attendant

A coffee shop in an underground deserted public toilet definitely sounds weird but we liked the atmosphere and coffee here so much we even braved hurricane Bertha for a second visit.  The cold brewed coffee was very intense but refreshing and the salted caramel brownie out of this world good .

Lovage

Right next door to the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, Lovage offered the best juice menu we’ve ever seen (with roots and bulbs a close second).  I loved the Banana & soy shake which included tahini, dates, lucuma powder, pink rock salt and wildflower honey.

Ceviche

Peruvian food seems to be a new trend.  The ceviche and pisco sours were very good here. Do order the corncake as a side to mop up all the lovely juices.

Ostuni

Close to where our hosts live, this place is not only convenient but also offers great authentic italian food (with some very friendly waiters).

 

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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 had the great luck to be invited to the opening of the new Ellis Gourmet Burger in Antwerp. After Brussels and Knokke, a new location was added with a duel between Michelin starred chefs Vicky Geunes (‘t Zilte) and Nick Brill (Oud Sluis).  No knives were thrown as far as I could see, on the contrary, Vicky Geunes even helped out Nick Brill who was stuck in traffic and arrived hours late….The lamb burger by Geunes was finger-licking-ly good… but the oyster and lobster burger by Brill was… wow unbelievably amazing and in a category all by itself.  If you weren’t there to taste it, make haste to visit Ellis in its location across from the MAS and sample the Lovin’ Spoonful Burger created with Michel Van Tricht or any of the other 15 burgers they have on the menu.  See you there for an Ellis Special Bacon and Vanilla Milkshake.  I’ll even share my french fries!

Ik had de ongelooflijke chance uitgenodigd te worden voor de opening van de niewe Ellis Gourmet Burger in Antwerpen. Na Brussel en Knokke, opende dit restaurant de deuren met een duel tussen sterrenchefs Vicky Geunes (‘t Zilte) en Nick Brill (Oud Sluis).  Er werd niet met messen gegooid voor zover ik kon zien, in tegendeel: Vicky Geunes hielp zelfs bij de mise en place van de Nick Brill hamburger toen die laatste uren te laat kwam door de files.  De lamsburger van Geunes was om duimen en vingers af te likken… maar de oester en oosterscheldekreeft burger van Brill was … wow onbeschrijflijk lekker en hoort thuis in een categorie helemaal bij zichzelf.  Als je er niet bij was, rep je dan naar Ellis tegenover het MAS voor een Lovin’ Spoonful Burger (ontwikkeld met Michel van Tricht) of één van de andere vijftien burgers op de kaart.  Ik kom mee en bestel een Ellis Special Bacon en Vanille Milkshake.  Ik wil zelfs mijn frietjes met je delen!

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Whilst Thailand’s traditional temples, architecture and fresh food didn’t disappoint, I have to admit I didn’t expect much in terms of modern architecture or trendy “city life”.  Shame on me! Bangkok’s skyline not only looks like New York, many of its bars and restaurants also have the same vibe.  Here’s a list of my favourites.

KOH LANTA ISLAND

Costa Lanta

Designed by architect Duangrit Bunnag, this boutique hotel consists of 14 pavilions set in a tropical garden and linked by boardwalks.  The huts are amazing: a concrete “box” with two walls made of timber screens that pivot and slide open completely.  The bathrooms are made of polished concrete. Salvaged timber is used throughout for the structure, the bed base, shelves… The pool is an inky black rectangle with view of the beach.  If you want to see more of Bunnag’s work you can find his flickr stream here.

CHIANG MAI

The Chedi

In Chiang Mai, we fled the tackiness of the night markets for drinks at the Chedi instead.  Described on their website as “Japanese ryokan meets Louis Kahn”, this hotel consists of a modern building and a colonial style one that used to be the British consulate but now houses the restaurant and bar.  Lemongrass infused cocktails came with icecold towels and a bottle of Chedi branded mosquito repellent!

Ristr8tto

When in Chiang Mai, we would start our day with a coffee from Ristr8tto.  The multi award winning Barrista is absolutely passionate about his coffee and it shows.  I have never seen such an elaborate choice of single origine coffees and their house blend is delicious as well.

BANGKOK

Pullman G hotel

The Pullman G hotel in Bangkok is conveniently located close to a skytrain stop, the malls, Dean & Deluca and a Japanese restaurant we tried on our last night called AOI.  We don’t know Japanese food very well (other than sushi of course!) and were pleasantly surprised by the depth of flavours in all the dishes. The rooms in the Pullman hotel are all white, refreshing after a day of colourful temples.  Views from the rooms are breath taking.  I literally could not take my eyes of the view, especially at dawn and dusk.  Even if you are not staying here, it is worth it going for a drink in the Scarlet bar.

Sirocco and Gaggan

Whilst in Bangkok, P and I celebrated 20 years together with an amazing day of spa treatments and shopping followed by drinks at the Sirocco sky bar and dinner at Gaggan.

Sirocco is based on the 63rd floor and offers an amazing sunset view over the river.  The Bangkok skyline never fails to delight and starting off our night there was very special.  The cocktails were (like everywhere in Thailand) delicious.

I had read about Gaggan on design blog Studio Anetta, it calls itself a progressive Indian restaurant.   I call it the most mindblowing Indian food I have ever tasted! It is based in an old wooden house completely  surrounded by skyscrapers which makes it all the more delightful a find.  We sat in the library where the chef when he came by the table started pulling out picture books to show us breathtaking images of India.  The chef Gaggan Anand has impressive experience and even interned at El Bulli.  All  10 courses of the tasting menu were delicious.  As it was our anniversary he prepared for us an amazing dessert of smoked vanilla ice cream.  An incredibly unique and special meal.

Nahm

It is easy to see why Chef David Thompson’s Nahm restaurant is in the top 50 best restaurants worldwide.  The food was an explosion of flavour: from the spicy pork with mint, peanuts and crunchy rice on betel leaves as a starter to the coconut and turmeric curry of minced prawns with banana blossoms and asian pennywort (the taste! the colour!), to the thai dessert, it was all delicious.  My only regret was that we only discoverd Nahm on our last day in Bangkok so we couldnt go back a second time. We were looking forward to visiting the London branch but I just found out they closed down last weekend as they couldn’t get the produce they needed.  A shame!

 

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