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Author: Martijn

Zero-Waste Dinner Delivery

Every once in a while, I run out of frozen meals—prepared by myself earlier, of course—and even Too Good To Go can’t provide me with a suitable meal in time for an upcoming night shift. In those rare cases, I do like a good delivery dinner, but the amount of disposable packaging it usually comes in, can be a real turn-off…

Luckily, SwapBox is now active in Brussels as well, and my favourite Korean fried chicken supplier—Nom Pow—is one of the participating restaurants!

After I’m done, I simply take the bowl home to clean it, and as long as I hand it in a at one of the participating restaurants—so not necessarily the one where I ordered the dish—within two weeks, it won’t cost me anything extra.

The order did still come in a disposable paper bag, though, so I do hope SwapBox will soon add delivery bags to their lineup as well, to make a food delivery truly zero-waste!

The napkin and chopsticks are my own, by the way, and both probably well over thirty years old!

A Trip to the Past

While I’m still awaiting my second vaccination, I continue discovering places in Belgium I haven’t been yet. One that had been on my to-do list for a long time, was the Archéosite d’Aubechies-Beloeil, a site with some archaeological reconstructions from the Neolithicum until the Roman era. I was of course most interested in the latter bit…

So, after an hour on a train, fifteen minutes on a bus, and then another twenty-five minutes on foot, I was finally there!

The outside of the buildings looked nice enough—the temple really reminded me of the time I worked as a volunteer ‘archeotolk’ at Archeon—but unfortunately the inside mostly seems to have been adapted for modern use, like exhibitions and events.

If I ever have a garden, I definitely want a summer triclinium like that!

A Belgian Holiday – Part III

For the last part of my Belgian holiday, I stayed close to home, in the old duchy of Brabant, and I went to Mechelen on Saturday, and to Antwerp on Sunday. It was a weekend well spent.

Mechelen

To get a bit of a walk in before the beers, I got off the train one stop early again, in Weerde. This way, I got to enjoy a bit of green before entering the town. When I arrived in the centre, it seemed just about everybody wanted to spend the day outside—and rightfully so—but luckily I found a free table at Sister Bean, to enjoy a coffee and and apple crumble.

When it comes to beer, it seems De Floeren Aap is the place to be in Mechelen nowadays. Needless to say, I spent quite some time on their terrace, to try some of their vast selection of canned beers. Not for too long, though, because I had a race the next morning…

Brussels Nature Run

Sunday morning I had my first ever running event: Brussels Nature Run! It was also the first time I ran somewhere not completely flat, so that was a bit of a challenge, and I almost regretted choosing the 16K instead of the 10K… It all worked out in the end, and I’m quite happy with the time I made.

Antwerp

The last day of my Belgian holiday, I spent in Antwerp. Because this was actually supposed to be my last day in Scotland, I went kilted on this occasion. I selected Antwerp for this last stop, because I knew there would be plenty of beer places to visit, and beer people to meet.

My first stop was at Billie’s Bottle Shop. Its little beer garden was already packed, but with a bit of improvisation, I eventually had a nice spot to enjoy some of Stéfan’s excellent selection of beers.

Next up was Station 1280, which had set up a terrace on a nice and quiet courtyard. Then it was time to discover a place I had never been before: The Northerner. Their draught beers were pretty standard, but here again, a very nice can list! The pulled pork sub was very tasty—and at that point very welcome—as well.

My last beer stop was, as usual, because of its proximity to the train station, Beerlovers Bar. Saying goodbye to Ben, and to Antwerp, also meant the end of my Belgian holiday.

A Belgian Holiday – Part II

For the second part of my Belgian holiday, I went to Wallonia. The beer world still seems to be a more old fashioned here—both when it comes to bars and breweries—but luckily there are some exceptions.

Liège

My day in Liège started again with a bit of a hike. The south of the country is a bit more hilly than the north, so there was a bit more climbing involved. At least that provided me with a couple of nice views as well!

After reaching the city centre again, it was time to nourish and refresh the body: coffee at Darius Cafe, a waffle—I was in Liège after all—from Une Gaufrette Superlipopette, and some beers at BeerLovers’ Café. I would have liked to have a couple at Wild Lab as well, but contrary to what they had told me before, they weren’t open…

Misery Beer Co.

Two days later I passed through Liège again, on my way to Comblain-la-Tour. From there I hiked to Misery Beer Co., as I did once before, but from a different direction this time, starting at the Comblain-La-Tour train station.

Once arrived at Misery, I spent a wonderful couple of hours there, enjoying a beer that had long eloped me, one that was just released that day, and some of their classics. If there’s one brewery I regret not participating in the crowdfunding of—”it’s in the middle of nowhere, I’ll never make it out there”—it’s this one… They always make me feel so very welcome, and their beers are outstanding!

A Belgian Holiday – Part I

Last Friday, I once again found myself in Bruxelles Midi station in a train. This time however, I wasn’t on a Eurostar, but on a regular Belgian, suburban train. I had some days off work for my long awaited Scotland trip, but since I didn’t feel like going into an expensive quarantine for ten days, I postponed that trip for the third—and hopefully last—time. Being quite the optimist when it comes to travelling however, I waited right until the last minute to make that decision, and by then it was already too late to cancel my days off…

Gueuzerie Tilquin

So I decided to stay in Belgium, the only place I could freely travel about, and last Friday, instead of whizzing underneath the Channel on my way to London, I was cycling alongside a canal, on my way to Gueuzerie Tilquin.

Strong headwinds, in combination with a heavy, 7-speed Blue-bike, made the trip a bigger effort than I envisioned, but the destination was worth it: Tilquin had been celebrating their ten years of existence over the past couple of weekends, and this weekend was the last one. I enjoyed a couple of flights, and had a chat with Pierre, before the winds—and a train from Halle—took me home again.

Leuven

On Saturday I took a train to Leuven, or actually to Veltem, two stops before Leuven’s main station. That way I could get a couple of kilometres under my belt, before reaching my destination of the day: beer shop Hops ‘n’ More, which was hosting a tap takeover by Croatian brewery Nova Runda. The walk to Leuven was nice enough, and mostly dry, but by the time I reached the center, it was pouring down… I even had to cover my beers while heading for shelter under a just-too-tiny terrace umbrella, to prevent them from diluting too much!

Ghent

On Saturday I went to Ghent. There are plenty of beery places there I’d been longing to revisit since lockdown started again, but a day in Ghent of course had to start with a nice coffee, accompanied by a donut this time, at Full Circle Coffee.

Then onwards to Dok Brewing Company, Brouwbar, and Bar Beenhouwer, while enjoying some more sights on the way. Luckily, the weather was a whole lot more pleasant—and dry—than the day before!

Brewery Run Virtual Edition

I’ve started running a little over a year ago, but didn’t have an opportunity to participate in any events: the 20K of Brussels was postponed, then cancelled, and even the ‘corona safe’ Run for Nature in the Sonian Forest was cancelled last minute…

When Brewery Run popped up in my timeline, I just had to do it! Travelling to the Netherlands for one of the ‘live’ versions still wasn’t an option, but at least I could do the ‘Virtual Edition’ right at home, in Brussels. So I ordered a ‘ticket’—which included some Dutch beers and a medal/bottle opener—and set out a nice 10K route, visiting eight of Brussels’ breweries.

Saint Patrick’s Day 2021

When in 2020 all bars had to close their doors mere days before Saint Patrick’s Day, I didn’t celebrate it at all. For this year’s edition it was already clear well in advance that celebrating in pubs again wouldn’t be an option… At least I had time to prepare for an alternative this time!

I started the day with a walk—in my saffron kilt—past a lot of the Irish and Celtic pubs of Brussels. Even Manneken Pis was dressed for the occasion!

When I was back home, I started cooking a traditional Irish dish, that would hopefully also provide enough sustenance for the beery night that would ensue: colcannon. I even poached an egg for the first time!

The main event of the evening however, was an online Saint Patrick’s Day celebration which I co-hosted, on the Discord server I set up for my beer blog. For this occasion I sourced some beers from a couple of different Irish (Third Barrel, Galway Bay, Stone Barrel) and Northern Irish (Boundary) breweries, and the only Irish dry stout by a Brussels brewery: Stouterik!

Sláinte!

Liège & Manoir de Harzé

With one round trip left on my free government issued Rail Pass, and a museum assignment to complete, I decided to go to La Boverie, a museum in Liège, so I could take a nice walk in the Ardennes afterwards. So this dreich Sunday, I got on a rather empty train to Wallonia and spent my morning in the museum, and fruitlessly walking through the city looking for an open espresso bar.

In the afternoon I travelled on to Aywaille, and walked to Manoir de Harzé, home to the great Misery Beer Co., which I had visited before last summer. I had rain, hail, and sunshine during my hike, but it was sure nice to be able to be outside, in woods and fields, without a mask. Upon arrival, I had a couple of cold beers (the shop was still open, and I bought a glass as well), before heading home again with a backpack full of beer…

Happy Burns Night!

Another evening behind a screen again, but nevertheless, dressed up for the occasion, and a plate of haggis, neeps, and tatties in front of me.

Slainte Mhath!

Happy Hogmanay!

This evening once again I mixed traditions. 

Tartiflette is actually a French dish, but it’s also a staple at the Christmas market, that under normal circumstances, would have been right in front of my door for the past month. Chêne, a Belgian dubbel by Brussels brewery La Source, fits nicely with the nuttiness  of the reblochon cheese, and with the the caramelisation of the bacon.

For dessert I went with oliebollen, a typical Dutch New Year’s Eve delicacy. Unlike the Belgian deep fried dough balls smoutebollen, these have raisins and currants in them, which I off course soaked in beer first!

With this sugar and fat overload, I had to choose a beer with enough character to withstand this sensory overload, so I picked OverWorksHocus Pocus, a 10.1% sour stout with raspberries and cocoa nibs, aged in Speyside whisky barrels. It was like having a raspberry-chocolate sauce on the side!

Christmas in Corona Times

No hours spent on trains and buses on Christmas Day this year, the Corona restrictions and common sense made it impossible to travel to the Netherlands to spend Christmas with my family… Instead, I just made the best of it alone at home, trying to recreate a family Christmas as much as possible.

It started of course with a Christmas brunch! I didn’t go through the trouble of creating some—impossible to find here—Limburgish sausage rolls, but just baked some croissants, and had a couple of slices of Christmas stollen.

The previous day I baked my very own kersttulband for the very first time, and it turned out quite well!

Obviously I had to make Christmas dinner myself as well, if I wanted to have a meal at least similar to that of my family. I also set up my computer, so I could at least virtually pull up a chair and sit down at the family table. 

Camera ready, lights, microphone: check!