Monday, February 16, 2015

A Food Experience in Bruxelles - In't Spinnekopke

I have been here in mid January after having searched a lot on the Internet for a true Belgian experience - and I was lucky to find this place!!!

The location is in an old bruxelloise house in the center but still a bit off the touristic path and it looked like the other guests were locals, which is always a good thing! The staff was extremely friendly and patient with the 7 of us an catered to all our needs. The service was fast and always with a smile on the face.

Everything we ordered was delicious - for starter I had coquille Saint Jacques in a cheesy rochefort sauce due to which I had to leave my table manners aside - I had to dip in my baguette because it was yummy! As a main I had eel in a greene sauce served with frites and as a desert I had the moulleux aux chocolat, which I hadn't eaten so perfectly done in a long time! !!

My friends enjoyed other dishes such as horse steak done pink medium - very tender (I tasted every dish at the table ), oysters, mussels with fries and a sausage dish as well as the yummy desert. Everything was fairly priced so all in all it was a great experience. I would return there anytime and will recommend it to anyone!

Oh...make reservations!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Unlock Your Heart - Share a Moment - Taste the Love

There's an old saying, stating that the way to unlocking someone's heart is through their stomach. It mainly referred to a man's heart and was directed at women who were supposed to cook their way through a man's affection.
Even if times have changed and both women and men know that their partner or partner to be will appreciate other qualities and will fall in love with so much more than just cooking, taste has a magical way of connecting memories and of generating the perfect decor for a moment which you will never forget.

It is true, just close your eyes and taste your mother's cooking and you will be teleported into your childhood, take a bite of an exotic fruit and you will have summer all around you. Sweet, bitter, fresh, floral, nutty - every flavour brings back so much of what is locked in your heart, of who you are.

This is why zChocolat's proposition for this year's Valentine's day is more than perfect: unlocking your darling's heart with a selection of wonderful chocolates, because there is no taste that talks more about love than chocolate.

I received the wonderful Valentine's Day Ruby which arrived in an elegant mahogany box with a key on the outer lid - what better invitation than this to open and discover what is hidden inside - and I'll let you in on the secret: just like opposites attract, so is this box created: on the one hand you have the 12 "romantic" heart-shaped chocolates, on the other hand you have the traditional assortment. The heart-shaped assortment also mixes dark ganache with white chocolate, soft milk chocolate with hazelnut, vanilla caramel with a dark exterior and a bergamote-infused ganache in a red cover - different but perfect together. You can also enjoy 15 of the traditional assortment with 3 of the famous z-chocolates: crunchy with sweet and salty, another contrasting yet sexy taste combination which will surely melt your heart.

You see, what I'm trying to tell you is that you will create a wonderful moment for your loved one, be it partner or a family member you want to show your appreciation for, if you choose to share such a box with them, because not only will you be sharing time and a moment you will not forget, but you will also share an unforgettable moment together, and it will unlock their heart. Not only because these are tasty chocolates,...but because you thought of sharing with them the best there is.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Being of Age - The New It Thing

Being young and fabulous is a wonderful state, but it passes really quickly, even before you can realize it. So it's when you notice, that products are marketed at people below your age group,  you are 10 years away from college or discussions around you involve changing diapers, that you are indeed getting old...oldER...of age...oh,..whatever you fancy calling it, it's still the same thing.
It's the natural course of life, some come, others go, planet earth still turns and life is not spareing any one of us.

It might look like a sad outcome, but taking into consideration how many medical discoveries we have nowadays which help us have a better life at age, and how beautiful it is to age decently, remaining young at heart and free spirited, having more time to discover the world or to enjoy yourself and the world around you more, I guess we should see it as an opportunity.

Just like two fashion houses thought of taking the opportunity and capturing real beauty in their campaigns.

Dolce & Gabbana in their 2015 ad video features elderly women:

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Or take a look at Celine's new ad with Joan Didion, 80-year-old American writer and fashion-inspiration to many:

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So let's stop wining and try to make the best of life's every age and situation and one thing to remember is: age does not stop us, our mind does. We should never stop or settle, we should never give in. We are beautiful and powerful at any age, only if we are happy with ourselves. So be happy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Marsala - the Pantone Colour of 2015

I admit it - one of the first things I do at the beginning of a year is Google-ing the Colour-Institute's choice of new colour for that year - and 2015 is a powerful one: Marsala! Shade of dark Bordeaux red, this colour reminds me of the ripe pomegranate fruit, of sexy dresses and fleshy lips...

It tells me: confidence, boldness, royal, sophisticated, love, warmth, earthy, raw, wine, natural, serenity. So it's about feeling good in your own flesh and loving each minute of life, of being close to nature and your true self.

Take a look at the selection of pictures I've gathered:

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Christkindlmarkt - Nürnberg's Christmas Market

I've heard oh so many times that the best Christmas Market to visit is the one in Nürnberg.
Since my family lives there (and I have done it too for a period of time during my childhood), I have visited the city on various occasions, but unfortunately never during pre-Christmas time.
So it was high time I did that this year, and on the eve of the opening of the market, I arrived in Nürnberg.

The old city market is filled with little stands, so take a lot of time with you (and also money, because there is a lot of variety to spend it on). Wherever there is a "traffic jam" between the stands, you will know that you have reached the next "pit stop" for mulled wine. Walk up to the stage in front of the church to check the daily events and then walk around the colourful stands who have so much to offer - handmade toys, clothes, furniture, specific Christmas decoration, candy, gingerbread, jewelry - there is even a Playmobil stand there. If you walk from this main location with stands you will discover also the international stands, with products from all over the world. I even discovered a Romanian one with oh so jolly people in front of it - they were tasting our national Schnaps and forgetting about the cold while warming their hearts...

Another walk away from the main market takes you to the "Kinderweihnacht", a smaller version of the Christmas market, but dedicated to children. Your little ones can start being creative there: from decorating their own ginger bread to creating Christmas tree decorations or colouring their own holiday candles... it's a beautiful site to see all these children actively doing something for their loved ones and being so proud of their achievements. All in all, that's the best gift one can give you: offering you time and attention. And that is what children can do at the Kinderweihnacht while having a lot of fun.

If you find yourself wandering through Nürnberg's old city, don't miss out on the occasion to go to the most famous Christmas Market and to check the following activities:
- drink mulled wine (Glühwein) or Feuerzangenbowle, another, typical warm alcoholic drink. Wherever you see many people, there's the stand you are looking for
- eat the local Wurst, the small Nürnberger - served 3 in a bun (3 im Weckla)
- eat the original Nürnberger gingerbread, the Elisen-Lebkuchen - they are a bit pricey but something you must check off your list because the most famous recipe for "Lebkuchen" comes from this city
- grab or make a souvenir for a loved one who, unfortunately, could not join you
- make a lot of pictures
- have fun! - because, if you can't feel Christmas then and there, I don't know where you will!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

zChocolat - Taste of Memories and Joy

One of the perfect gifts for me would be to freeze time...and then be transported to another dimension - be it a memory from the past which I enjoy a great deal, or another time I have not met. Just like when you take a bite from your grandmother's cooking and you are directly teleported to your childhood - just like that!

So here I am - Sunday afternoon, winter outside, I am tucked in a warm blanket in bed, my favourite tea waiting for me on my bedside table and in front of me - the new Holiday Sapphire box from zChocolat.

This warm-toned polished box adorned by a golden inlaid pine-tree pattern atop the lid contains a traditional assortment of zChocolat's most popular recipes (see here), but because I had already had the pleasure to taste those chocolates (read on my blog here and here) and because with zChocolat you can customize your boxes in every way that you like, I received mine filled with Orangettes, a typical Christmas delicay.

I pick one up, bite it through the middle, close my eyes and enjoy the bitterness combined with sweetness: orange peels covered in 70% dark chocolate - what a bliss! Suddenly, I am being transported to the South of France, around a Christmas market and many more aromas tickle my nose and palate. This is due to the fact that, when I open my eyes, my hands have already gone in search for 3 more boxes which I took with me in bed (don't tell my mother ;) ). These 3 boxes are filled with assortments new to zChocolat - and they do not  contain chocolate.

Let me introduce to you pates de fruits, nougats and calisson d'aix assortments!

The Pates de Fruits Assortment contains fruit jellies, just like I remember them from my childhood. But these are not made from the fruits from the area I grew up with, but with the essence of the ripest fruits (cherry, lemon, apple, orange, strawberry, raspberry and apricots) from Provence. Only one jelly is enough and you can smell and see the orchards or the fields in front of your eyes. Only one piece is sufficient to satisfy your desire and hunger for sweetness...but I wonder - could you stop at just one? Because I wanted to taste each and every one of them, I wanted to have the complete experience of the fruits in Provence...

The Nougats Assortment is another wonderful taste-of-Provence-experience. The 15 small pieces should not be underestimated - their taste is amazing. The assortment is prepared with whole crisp Provence almonds (the nougat pieces are filled with them!!!) which have been cooked in local lavender honey using ancestral traditions. Believe me - it doesn't just sound like a dream - it tastes like one!

Keeping it on an almondy note - I present to you the Calissons d'Aix Assortment. This Aix-en-Provence specialty is made from an almond paste (Germans call it Marzipan), orange zest and candied cantaloupe, with a sugar-icing top coat - a bit of this and I am reminded of my time spent in the South of France, of the old and picturesque villages I loved to spend my weekends exploring and of the colourful Sunday markets there.

Having all these delicacies to eat in front of me, sitting so comfortable as I am at the moment and drinking my favourite tea, I couldn't be more happier. It's like I've become child again and there is nothing in this world which can steal my happiness. Even without chocolate, zChocolat has again done a wonderful job of offering the best taste with the best ingredients. And if you might doubt what I am saying, I urge you to try them for yourself. Who knows what dimension you will travel to...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stuttgart's Christmas Market

With the holiday season approaching, I am honestly looking forward to the warming Christmas Markets. This year I am off to see the world's nr. 1 Christmas Market in Germany, the one in Nuernberg. Or, at least, THEY say it's the best. I will get back to you with my personal feedback about it.

Last year, I was in Stuttgart...and, to remind me of it, I NOW found the text I had written then, so here it is for you as well:

Every now and then I have the occasion,through my work, to travel to the southern part of Germany, to Baden-Wuerttemberg, to be more specific. I always stay at the same hotel, in a small city next to Stuttgart, and most of the times, after work, I find myself walking through the city center of Baden-Wuerttemberg's capital.
This time I was here with 3 of my dear colleagues, and, although it was freezing cold, we enjoyed some walks and the first mulled wine of this season.
The Schlossplatz has a skating rink open, with music and oh so many jolly people around. And next to that rink we found the first little houses who served the traditional “Wurst”, the sweets such as glazed apples, strawberries wrapped in dark or white chocolate or heart-shaped ginger bread with different messages on them. And of course..the huts selling mulled wine. All the aromas of Christmas past and Christmas to come. It's funny how THESE little things let your eyes shine and fill your hearts with joy. And they did mine!
It was a perfect way of starting to get into that spirit of happiness, of thankfulness. A way to start thinking about all the good things in life, all the big and small things we are so grateful for. And more important, of all the people.
The small huts were just the “beginning” of what was to turn into a bigger Christmas market in the center of Stuttgart. The Schlossplatz, Rathausplatz, the square next to the old castle and the little streets towards the old market have been now filled with these small houses which are just beautifully transmitting the Christmas spirit while letting you slow down your tempo from the crazy Christmas shopping stress, letting you find yourself and your inner peace.
If you have the chance to visit Stuttgart this season, don't miss out on the Christmas market! You won't regret it!

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