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Time for some wine & food indulgence!

Immediately after the Comic Strip Festival at start of September, European Capital Brussels will get ready for another extravaganza, this time for the connoisseurs of food and wine. From 7 to 10 September this year, Brussels Park will once again serve as the setting for the eat! Brussels, drink! Bordeaux festival. Twenty Brussels chefs will slave over their stoves to share their signature dishes with the public. Fifty Bordeaux wine growers and sellers will also be on hand to provide the accompaniment for these delicious foods. They will offer the optimal wine pairings to complement the chefs’ dishes. There’s sure to be plenty to delight the senses of their foodie visitors! For its sixth edition, the eat! Brussels, drink! Bordeaux Festival has once again invited a selection of Brussels’ best chefs to the heart of Brussels Park. There will be new workshops: Wine & patisseries; Wine and chocolate.

Also Read: Comic Strip festival gets bigger, bolder and rewarding too!

Photo: VisitBrussels/ ©E.Danhier

A sixth edition with its fair share of new offerings

  • Restaurant offerings are expanding. Several chefs on the Brussels scene are joining in the fun to present their iconic dishes to the public.
  • A central “square” will be set up right at the heart of the festival grounds. It’s a chance for visitors to partake and socialize with family and friends.
  • This year, the eat! Awards are making their debut. These prizes will be awarded to chefs whose dishes enjoy the greatest success over the course of the event.
  • In this latest edition, several pastry chefs will complement the event menu with dessert plate suggestions.
  • The Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux invites amateurs to discover new wine workshops that focus on patisserie and chocolate.
  • The Tchin Vittel! space will offer cooking workshops to visitors. Accompanied by talented chef Bruno Antoine, they will concoct their “bistronomy” box together, which they will then be able to savour in this friendly atmosphere.

Also Read: Getting tipsy in Belgium

New iconic Brussels chefs are joining the party and enhancing the festival’s offerings. The will offer visitors a signature dish representing their culinary identity at the special price of € 9. Several pastry chefs will also enhance the festival’s menu. They will offer sweets aficionados delicious desserts by the plate at the special price of €9.

The perfect pairing

Vins de Bordeaux, the festival’s essential partners, are coming together once again on this journey through fine cuisine. For the occasion, nearly 50 Bordeaux wine growers and merchants will meet in Brussels to reveal the history and secrets of their wine.

These elegant and unique wines, the fruits of the meticulous blending of several grape varieties, will thrill the public’s taste buds. It’s a singular chance to discover the new Bordeaux reds, fresh and fruity, the dry whites, the rosés, the clairets and the sweet wines that can be paired with all cuisine, whether simple or refined. A wine pairing carefully selected for the occasion will also be offered for each dish, sweet or savoury, presented at the festival.

eat Brussels

The Bordeaux pavilion, the Belgian selection

For the second year running, the pavilion will present the 2017 selection of Bordeaux wines chosen by a panel of Belgian wine and gastronomy professionals. These wines, selling for €4 to €25 are all available in Belgium. eat! Brussels, drink! Bordeaux will be the only opportunity to sample the sumptuousness of this 2017 selection.

The Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux pavilion

The Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux will once again be on hand to conduct a variety of workshops for Wine Pass holders. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the public, expert or novice, to (re)discover Bordeaux wines in an original, fun way and participate in tastings.

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Getting tipsy in Belgium!

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On our first lunch in Belgium, at a restaurant in Brugge

Disclaimer: Well, I know it is World Whisky Day! But this post is not to commemorate that, rest assured. It was long due.

I am not a teetotaller but not a tippler even. My research about Belgium indeed told me that Belgian chocolates are the best, but I came to know about Beers and Wines of Belgium, only once I landed there. SO, once I was there, that aspect was duly explored. And, it turned out to be very interesting indeed.

Well, Belgian is well-known for it Beers world-over. Its said that Belgium has been churning out beer since the crusades. Capital Brussels is proudly included in one of the top beer cities in the world. It is considered also as the capital of Belgian beer culture. There are countryside monasteries that brew monk-made Trappist ales. Cantillon Brewery is said to be producing its traditional beer since 1900 and still uses the much of its original equipments.

Our second experience of the taste was at Belga Queen restaurant in Ghent, one of the most famous restaurants in the city.

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Ghent has another story for us and this one was very interesting. In the historical centre of Ghent at a short distance from the famous cannon is this bar. Both the bar and the cannon, share the same name- ‘de Dulle Griet’. Well, everything about this bar is magnificent- the interiors, people and the large collection of beers and a many legends attached to it. But what interested us most was one of its commandments – Drink Max, Shoe off! This one is for the house beer- Max. It is served in 1.2 litre test tube shaped glass held in a wooden rack. Seems exactly as if you are in your chemistry lab. Now the cliche- this test tube glass and wooden rack combo is so expensive that the waiter will ask you for a show as deposit. These shoes are put in a basket and wished to the ceiling. You get your shoe back only once you finish the drink and return the glass. This glass is called as coachman’s glass.

But it was in Antwerp, where we were exposed to the real variety of the Belgian beers and wines. First in this bar-

Soon after, we went to a store where we could find a beer brewed out of every fruit, we could have imagined. That was an eye-opener-

Stories kept unfolding, as we kept moving. This one was just before the lunchtime, and it was big cellar as well as bar and restaurant. A truly amazing place-

Last but not the least- a bar holding a Guinness World Record in Brussels, in the last leg of our journey. This Delirium cafe in Brussels in January 2004 had 2004 different brands of beers commercially available.It had beers from 60 countries available here. Amazing, isn’t it. See, how this bar looks from inside-

Belgium is said to be world’s smallest wine producer among countries with officially recognised and designated wine regions. But it produces very high class wines. Who won’t love when the bar itself is in shape of a champagne glass. Isn’t it!!

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P.S. World Whisky Day was founded in 2012 and is celebrated on third Saturday of May every year.

Pride festivities start in Belgium today with MiniPride

Belgian Pride 2012 �VISITBRUSSELS -E.DanhierAs a rousing start of the PrideFestival, MiniPride is being organised on April, 29th. This parade is the folkloric version of the big PrideParade, that will be held later during the PrideFestival. The MiniPride starts with an opening reception in the city hall. Pride starts from 6.30 pm in the ‘Galerie Des Souverains’. This reception will be followed by a manifestation with the fanfare of the Meyboom. The actual PRIDE.be will take place on May, 14th  to enable people to come together to pursue equality of rights and to improve the life of the LGBTQI-community.

Starting from the City Hall, the MiniPride procession goes towards Manneken-Pis, which will provide in his own way for cherry. After this, the procession returns to the Grand Place which will be lit up in rainbow colours. Then the crowd goes towards the Kolenmarkt, where a bus of the MIVB-STIB will be waiting for us. What will stand out, are the rainbow colors on this bus.

Belgian Pride 2012 ©VISITBRUSSELS -E.DanhierIt is possible that one of these days you’ll come across a tram in Brussels, covered with rainbow colors. The bus does a whole tour through Brussels where several buildings are illuminated in rainbow colors.  The bus drives among others past the Kunstberg, the P&V-building at the Kruidtuin and the Belfius tower at square Rogier. The MiniPride ends with a little party in the RainBowHouse Brussels at the Kolenmarkt.

Belgian PrideOwing to current security scenario across Europe this year The Belgian Pride will create a security zone around the event. This means that there will be just a couple of entrances and exits in order to exert greater control and to assure more security. There will be different direction indicators to guide people to the entrances. Due to terrorism related incident in Beursplein in March this year out of respect for the victims and the affected families, the event will not take place at the Beurs this year but at the Kunstberg. As a result PrideParade map has been slightly altered.

The most important thing hasn’t changed: PRIDE.be is still an event open to all people, Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Trans, Queer, Inter and all their friends. People who are coming out and are ‘pride’ of who they are and who they love.

Lip smacking Salon du Chocolat in five days from now

IMG_3208Well a hint of chocolate opens your taste buds. What if there is chocolate everywhere around! And that too Belgian chocloate!! Its a grand celebration of Belgian chocolates, in just five days from now. The third Salon du Chocolat in Brussels will take place from Friday 5 February to Sunday 7 February in Hall 1 of Brussels Expo.

This year’s event which will be primarily dedicated to a celebration of Belgian chocolate and For the City of Brussels, the event is a clear boost to the economic development of the entire Region: “With more than 30 chocolate specialists, Brussels’ expertise deserves a spotlight! I am very happy that this international event has come to our capital,” said Marion Lemesre, alderwoman for economic affairs for the City of Brussels.

Philippe Close, alderman for tourism for the City of Brussels, added that “Belgian chocolate is much more than just something good to eat. It is a symbol of Brussels and Belgium. So it is an honour to host this international show at the very heart of chocolate craftsmanship!” Jos Linkens, managing director of Neuhaus, and Olivier Ghenne, sales director for the Benelux and France for Leonidas, were there to call attention to the fact that, although they are still Belgium’s leaders in terms of sales, young talent is ramping up the competition in the chocolate industry.

IMG_2516For Didier Smeets, who represented Belgium at Milan’s Universal Exposition in August 2015, nothing could have prevented him from missing this year’s show as, for the past year, he has been much in the limelight. He was certainly the youngest last year, which is why he was quickly picked out by the spotlights, but his talent and creativity have been the keys to his quick success – demonstrated yet again by the praline he will be offering up for Valentine’s Day, the ironically called ‘Le Solitaire’.

Chocolate FashionJoost Arijs has just opened his second shop in Antwerp (joining the one in Ghent) and it is with great enthusiasm that he will be presenting, at the Salon du Chocolat, a unique and wholly original creation: a matcha tea macaroon!

“For the Salon du Chocolat, I wanted to create an amazing macaroon that was totally out of the ordinary.”

This year, the Salon du Chocolat in Brussels will place special focus on the ‘bean to bar’ trend, including a production line presented by Callebaut. For the carnival-themed fashion show, the line-up will feature 100% Belgian dresses created by Edouard Vermeulen from Natan, Namur designer Nathalie Stockman, the Ateliers Lannaux, as well as Lauranne de Jaegher among others.

Belgian ChocolatesThe demonstrations line-up will include a number of top chefs such as Arabelle Meirlaen, Sang-Hoon Degeimbre, Eric Fernez, Christophe Hardiquest, offering a not-to-be-missed programme full of surprises. The Gala Evening will take place at 7 p.m. on 4 February for special guests with, as the highlight, the now traditional Chocolate Fashion Show.

Spirit of Renaissance in Brussels through Carolus V Festival

Ommegang 2014Brussels will be filled with the spirit of the Renaissance and its artistic and scientific innovations during the Carolus V Festival, which will run from May to September. The Festival will be shining the spotlight on Europe’s 16th-century heritage and history thanks to a schedule packed with festive, cultural and family activities dotted across the European capital. And as of this year, the Carolus V Festival is also being honoured as a European cultural route by the Council of Europe.

A look at the events in this year’s festival that are not to be missed:

  • Exhibition at the Brussels City Museum: Rebirth of an exceptional work of art: Pieter Coecke’s tapestry cartoon (until 30 April 2017)
Diner of the Ommegang - © E. Danhier
Diner of the Ommegang – © E. Danhier

The Museum is preserving an exceptional work of art: an immense picture measuring 3.40 x 3.80 m, dating back to the 16th century and featuring the martyrdom of St Paul. This large-scale picture has served as the model for tapestries by generations of weavers. It is one of the rare tapestry cartoons to have survived the passage of time.

It is currently undergoing major restoration at the hands of an international team. The restoration work is taking place live at the museum, so that visitors can watch the progress of this awe-inspiring task.

  • Exhibition at the Coudenberg: A Renaissance banquet (from 19 May to 28 August 2016)
Diner of the Ommegang - © E. Danhier
Diner of the Ommegang – © E. Danhier

A banquet is a re-enactment of princely power and a political act. People show off, are seen and also sit down to eat, but it is more than that. In the Renaissance, the art of the table took on a new meaning and spectacular preparations were made for sumptuous feasts that dreamed up ways to impress the guests. The exhibition is being held in the heart of the remains of the Coudenberg Palace, in the kitchen of the Aula Magna, the great hall of the palace. In the rooms of the museum and the Hoogstraeten hotel, visitors will discover the customs, etiquette and culinary practices of the Court.

  • Exhibition at the Museum of Medicine: “The Art of Healing in the Renaissance” (23 May to 1 September 2016)

In a tour of over 150 works of art and archaeological finds, visitors will discover medicine in the time of Charles V and the ancient, Arab and mediaeval traditions on which it was based.

  • Family Day (5 June 2016)
Ommegang 2014
Ommegang 2014

On Family Day, the Renaissance will open its doors to modern-day families. The programme at the Coudenberg Palace will be filled with festive delights: tastings, crossbow shooting, a show of medicinal plants from the new world, a meeting with historical characters, typical games of the Renaissance and even building your own model of the palace… It will be an occasion to go back in time and learn about this era in the company of your family and friends.

  • Ommegang week (5, 6 and 7 July 2016)
Ommegang 2014
Ommegang 2014

On the evening of 6 and 7 July, 1,400 performers will bring to life the spirit of the Renaissance in the centre of Brussels. Charles V’s carriage and a procession including musicians, dancers, horsemen, guards and flag carriers will parade along the city streets from the Parc de Bruxelles to the Grand Place. There, the great annual show will be staged with these characters from the past. Based on this key event, a mediaeval market and village, jousting and a crossbow shooting workshop will turn the region’s clock back to the 16th century on 5, 6 and 7 July.

Chocolate Lovers to be in Brussels coming February

Salon Du ChocolateWell, this for you if you have got anything to do with chocolates. If the word chocolate does not makes you lick your lips, than you can perhaps skip this.

For the third year running, following the success of previous editions, Brussels is hosting the Salon du Chocolat from 5th to 7th February 2016, for another celebration of Belgian chocolate. It will be held at Palais 1 of Brussels Expo for an especially flavoursome 2016 edition which will bring over 80 participants together – chocolatiers, patissiers, confectioners, chefs, pastry chefs, designers and cocoa experts. The Salon du Chocolat is the world’s largest event dedicated to chocolate and cocoa. Created 21 years ago in Paris, by Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet, it is held in the world’s major cities, across all four corners of the Earth. The Mondial du Chocolat et du Cacao® is continuing its international tour, with about twenty events scheduled worldwide, and new destinations such as Milan.

Cocoa Expressions, Chocolate Innovations 

Salon Du ChocolateThe theme for the new edition, “Cocoa Expressions, Chocolate Impressions”, will focus on current trends in the world of chocolate and pastry and will celebrate the creativity, avant-gardism and capacity to innovate of a whole profession. Of really noticeable trends, that of “bean to bar” will be given pride of place at this 3rd edition. Starting out in the United States in the nineties, the “bean to bar” trend has seen increasing success in Europe: a growing interest that fits in the general tendency to observe expertise, authenticity and traceability.

Some passionate chocolatiers are no longer content to use merely couverture chocolate, but have decided to get right to the roots and select their own cocoa beans from plantations, on the quest for unique soils and flavours. Just as with wine, every region which produces cocoa in fact has unique characteristics when it comes to taste; more specifically, every plantation has something which is unique to it, rather like a “château” in the middle of a vineyard. These taste artists then inspect the way the beans are processed, especially the tricky torrefaction stage, for complete mastery of all flavours, to pass them on to chocolate lovers in unique creations.

Salon Du ChocolateThis year, the Salon du Chocolat will inaugurate a new space: Les Espoirs du Chocolat” (“The Promising Young Talents”). The Show’s philosophy is indeed to promote the profession and highligth the new generation of talented chocolatiers and patissiers. The Hopefuls selected include the young chocolatière Euphrasie Mbamba de Sigoji, whose creations are inspired both by Belgian culture and by the raw materials from her native Cameroon.

A permanent show accessible to all

For 3 days, the Show will be putting on a comprehensive programme of fun and educational events for children and grown-ups alike.

Chocolate Fashion ShowThe Chocolate Fashion Show: this is on the theme of carnival, on which chocolatiers and designers are working in duo, to present a festive and tempting 2016 collection. The creations will be unveiled as a preview at an exclusive invitation-only Gala evening on Thursday 4th February, and presented to the public at a unique show scheduled at 5:00 p.m. daily from 5thto 7th February. The Belgian talents on show this year include: Laurent Gerbaud & Patou Saint Germain, Nadia Flecha Guazo (Chokolate) & Débora Velasquez, Conte de Fèves – Céline Bouzegza & Nathalie Stockman, Valentino & Sixtine Anne de Molina, Ducobu & l’Atelier Lannaux, Didier Smeets, Leonidas, Jean-Philippe Darcis, Chocolaterie Bruyerre, Van Dender and Callebaut.

Recipe demonstrations: on the podium of the “Pastry Show”, the greatest chefs, pastry chefs and master chocolatiers will relay every hour to present, live, their best chocolate recipes and share their professional tips with the public. Names already mentioned: Christophe Hardiquest (Bonbon), Laury Zioui (L’Éveil des Sens), Eric Fernez (D’Eugénie à Émilie), Eric Martin (Maison Lemonnier), Sang-Hoon Degeimbre (L’Air du Temps & San), Maxime Collin (La Villa Lorraine), Benoît De Witte (Benoît et Bernard De Witte), Alexandre Dionisio (La Villa in the sky), Hendrik Dierendonck (Carcasse) in duo with Dominique Persoone, Steven Vandeparre, Van Dender, Julien Lapraille, Fabrice Collignon, Arnaud Champagne, Joost Arijs, Maison Pierre Marcolini, Paul Wittamer, … This year, the three days of recipe demonstrations are sponsored by Couplet Sugars.

Conferences and tastings: visitors will perfect their knowledge and explore all of the subtleties of cocoa, at conferences hosted by chocolate experts and aficionados, at the “Chocosphère”.

Chocolate tastingThe themes covered this year include:

  • Combining Chocolate & Health with the concept of “Hippocratonomie” in the presence of the starred chef Arabelle Meirlaen and Professor Vincent Castronovo, Oncologist and Senologist at the University of Liège.
  • Pairing Wine & Chocolate: let’s explore new paths! with Patrick Bottcher, Chronicler and author of Tronche de vins.
  • Beer & Chocolate with Laurent Gerbaud, Jean Hummler (Moeder Lambic) and the Brasserie Cantillon.
  • The bean to bar trend through several conferences by Alice Voisin, El Sauco and Benoît Nihant.
  • Belgian Chocolate: tradition and innovation with contributions from Paul Wittamer and Jist Heyninck.
  • History & Chocolate with Nikita Harwich, Member of the French Chocolate and Confectionery Academy.
  • The Lands of cocoa with a conference on the Cunas Indians hosted by Eddy van Belle (Choco-Story Brussels).

Workshops: visitors will have the opportunity to participate actively through a variety of pastry workshops, hosted by Les secrets du Chef and Conte de Fèves. On his stand, the chocolatier Jean-Philippe Darcis will offer not-to-be-missed Master Classes to pastry lovers, including sampling. And those aged 6-12 will enjoy workshops specially designed for them in “Chocoland”, hosted by La Route Belge du Chocolat.

Book signings: in partnership with the famous Brussels bookshop Filigranes, the Show will offer visitors the chance to see the latest cookery literature and have recently published books on gastronomy, chocolate and pâtisserie signed. The authors present at the signing sessions will include: Arabelle Meirlaen (Ma Cuisine intuitive, Éditions Gabriel), Hendrik Dierendonck (Mange Bruxelles, Sh-op Éditions), Julien Lapraille (Ne m’appelez pas Chef !, Génération W Éditions), …

Exhibitions and happenings: Leonidas will be celebrating fashion through a giant 4.20-metre-high sculpture, designed by the artist-chocolatier Jean-Luc Decluzeau. The work will represent a mannekin of a woman entirely knife-sculpted in a 500 kg block of chocolate. The sculpture will be sublimated with a lustre of chocolate 2 metres high and 1.20 metres wide, adorned with several tens of pieces of Swarovski crystal.

Salon Du ChocolateThe Choco-Story Brussels museum will host an exhibition at the heart of the Show, plus many animations in partnership with La Route Belge du Chocolat: introduction to tasting of hot chocolate, magic tricks and chocolate massages. New this year: guides will take small groups of visitors around for a mini-guided tour of the exhibition, with sampling breaks at the stands of several chocolatiers. Also worth seeing in the area: the official launch onto the Belgian market of the Encyclopaedia of Chocolate and Confectionery, a reference work, the fruit of ten years’ works and research by the French Chocolate and Confectionery Academy.

And many other surprises to be explored on the exhibitors’ stands, such as Godiva, which will be celebrating its 90th anniversary at the Salon du Chocolat.

Upcoming events!

Tokyo: 26-31 January 2016, NS Building
Kyoto: 27 January – 14 February 2016, JR Kyoto Isetan
Osaka: 27 January – 14 February 2016, JR Osaka Mitsukoshi Isetan
Fukuoka: 28 January – 14 February 2016, Iwataya
Sapporo: 31 January – 14 February 2016, Marui Imai
Nagoya: 31 January – 7 February 2016, Mitsukoshi
Sendai: 2-14 February 2016, Mitsukoshi
Brussels: 5-7 February 2016, Brussels Expo
Milan: 13-15 February 2016, The Mall
Moscow: 5-8 March 2016, Expocentre
London: 14-16 October 2016, Olympia National Hall
Paris: 28 October – 1 November 2016, Porte de Versailles
Lyon: 11-13 November 2016, Centre de Congrès – Cité Internationale
Seoul: 19-22 January 2017

Fly with balloons in comic festival!

Fête de la BD 2011 Stripfeest
Fête de la BD 2011 Stripfeest

On the occasion of the Brussels Comic Strip Festival, the 7th Balloons’ Day Parade will take place along the main streets of Brussels on the first weekend of September. Composed of famous Belgian comic strip characters, the Balloons’ Day Parade will give kids young and old the opportunity to see these gigantic balloons.

Fete de la BD - Stripfeest
Fete de la BD – Stripfeest

This year, the Balloons’ Day Parade will take place on Sunday 6 September. For an hour and a half, a parade of giant balloons taking the form of comic strip characters will cross the city, turning it upside down. The Balloons’ Day Parade and the Comic Strip festival will plunge comic fans into the fantastic world of Belgian comics. Another brand new balloon representing a famous comic strip character will join this year’s parade.

Fete de la Bd - Stripfeest 2012 (c)VISITBRUSSELS -E.Danhier
Fete de la Bd – Stripfeest 2012 (c)VISITBRUSSELS -E.Danhier

The impressive sight of the balloons being inflated will begin in the morning at the Place des Palais. More than 1.000 m3 of helium will be needed to breathe life into the balloons, most of which have crossed the Atlantic to participate in this event. During the afternoon, Billy, Spirou, Tintin, Le Chat and their new friends will parade through the city centre. They will pass down important streets like Rue de la Loi, Mont des Arts, Boulevard Anspach and the Bourse quarter. The route comes to an end at De Brouckère, where the balloons will be deflated.

The Brussels Police Band will open the parade. In addition, folk groups from around Belgium will join this colourful parade to provide entertainment.

Comic strip fans can also satisfy their passion at the Comic Strip Festival in Brussels Park as well as other themed events around the capital over the weekend.