November 21, 2015

tangerines and persimmons the anti-dote to winter

As fall turns to winter, and orange disappears from the street view and cold grey takes it's place, i turn to colours full winter fruit such as tangerines and persimmons. 

Very versatile from topping your granola and yogurt, pimping a boring salad or grilled tangerine with a niece piece of venison or lamb, simply delish.

I love eating a persimmon just like an apple: it's sweet, soft, juicy flesh is so satisfying. 

Tangerines make a great syrup that you can store or gift for the holidays; just boil sugar and water till syrup, add juice of tangerines and zest and reduce further. Store dry and cool in sterilised glass jars.

Look for them at the market, they are bang in season now!

November 12, 2015

Marrakech full of colour and flavour

A dear friends surprise birthday trip to Marrakech brought 10 of us from Brussels and Paris together. It was such a blissful holiday as for once I didn't have to think where to go or be part of the plan, I simply showed up and enjoyed discovering new places and my friends company. 

Apart from being called to pray daily at 6H20, it was a relaxing 5 day stay. We rented a riad "La Villa Bleue" and enjoyed lazy breakfasts by the pool and long al-fresco lunches, recharging naps in the afternoon and visited some local sights: quad driving in desert, le jardin majorelle, the medina and a traditional hammam and scrub. 

We discovered some great restaurants with live entertainment and flavourful local food. I was a bit surprised to find in few restaurants 3 different types of cuisine served; they seem to love Asian food like springrolls. I stuck with local cuisine such as chicken and lemon tagine. 

"Le Palais Jad Mahal" has amazing dancers entertaining you throughout your meal as well as live music afterwards at the bar.

"Bo-Zin" has a very Laurence of Arabia feeling to it with it's white tenting and dark wood floors and tons of candle light.

"Comptoir Darna" was a perfect mix of an international cocktail bar with local flair such as live traditional music and belly dancing with lots of flair and pomp.

"Cafe Bazaar" a roof top terrace located in the medina was just the perfect oasis to recharge and enjoy some sunshine after a stroll in the souk.

The hassle of negotiating taxi fares was exhausting but I left it to my eager friends demanding a fair rate. I really switched off and simply paused, such true bliss! 

The colours and flavours were magical ...

November 7, 2015

in season: wood mushrooms: girolles, chanterelles and cepes

Best way to cook wood mushrooms is keep it simple: a little bit of butter and flat parsley is all you need. They are the perfect interpretation of fall and accompany by excellence game, chicken. They are fab in pasta or with risotto. LOVE!

I selected some girolles, chanterelles and cepes.

How to: Clean them with a dry brush or a moist towel to remove sand or dirt. with a small knife scrape the stem of dirt or cut any bruised parts. Especially with cepes, prone to small  worms so you have to check the 'chrooms before cooking.
Melt some butter and throw them in. Cook gentle and add some cream (optional) or chopped fresh flat parsley and serve.
You can keep them in the fridge wrapped in paper bag or kitchen towel for a few days but best to eat them rapidley. You can blanche them or lightly sauté them (no cream) and freeze.

November 1, 2015

Paris, a girl best friend!

Work took me to Paris for a few days, and in between conference sessions I made time for Paris to spoil me. NO matter what, I always squeeze in a moment to stand still and admire art: ancient or new, i love it all. "Le Grand Palais" is one of my fave places to hide for a bit; I discovered one of the only female portraitist under Louise XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Elisabeth Louise Vigee le Brun (1755-1842). 130 of her portraits no less were on show. She had such talent and lived 12 years in exile during the revolution where she found it hard but did brilliantly  adapting to different European tastes in portrait painting and kept going. 
What an artist, what a woman!

I jumped up and down in the metro station when I saw a sign for Karl Lagerfeld photographs expo opening that day. Of course I rushed to it. The private little museum "Pinacotheque de Paris", near place Madeleine, is known for showing avant-garde work and Karl didn't disappoint. His work was raw, sexual, hard and the way he confronts ageing with his "Portrait of Dorian Grey" really touched me. I sat down for a while taking it all in: so hard, so real, so inevitable. "Le Voyage d'Ulysse" was than again extremely sensual and felt like floating through a beautiful dream world.

Of course food is always a priority when I am in Paris. A little bistro "Baroche" near my hotel, "Le A Hotel", rue d'Artois, had a fab daily lunch special with duck. I love eavesdropping the french and their lunchtime conversations and submerge into their drama. We had a birthday dinner at "Le Terroir Parisien" where we enjoyed some yummy rillettes ad proper French charcuterie . And a work dinner was hosted in the Eiffel Tower, which was enchanting. Of course a stolen PINK moment at Laduree is a must.

Shopping can't be avoided as supplies are needed and for the sake of getting through my list fast I popped into Galeries LaFayette: a few lipsticks, some make up, Mariage Freres tea and an early birthday present for myself at Valentino. I had to dodge a lot of Asian tourists to keep on track.

Paris gets me so charged and bubbly, it's exhilarating walking around, and taking it all in! I am sad every time i leave but THANK GOD it's only a short train ride away so I will be back soon.

Be seeing you soon, my BFF! xoxo

October 21, 2015

Tourist in my own town Brussels and an apple crumble

When Brussels had the distinct pleasure of hosting the World Fair in the 50ties, the Atomium was kept to adorn our lovely capital for ever. I visited it as a kid, and now in the hood i just had to go up and take a look again. The elevator ride is fast, before you know it you are 90 meters above the city.

With fall come the apples and we are so blessed with such great variety in Belgium. I love these little Cox apples: sweet, tart and very juicy but firm. Perfect for a crumble. And chestnuts, that lovely woody earthy smell when you bake them. I just had to combine them.

i used a small Le Creuset skillet of 15cm.

need: 2 apples, 3 chestnuts, 2 table spoons of cream of chestnuts, 2 table spoons oats, 20gr butter, 20gr flower.

go: Score the chestnuts and roast in the oven at 180C for about 20 min. Let them cool and peel and cut them in dice size chunks. Peel, core and cut the apples, in a bowl mix the apples,  diced chestnuts, oats and chestnut cream. In another bowl crumble the butter into the flower with your fingers. Ladle the apple mixture into the skillet and top with the butter and flower.  Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes until golden and bubbly.