Veurne: The Beautiful Market Square Of Belgium

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It was lovey to discover one of the most beautiful market squares of Belgium in relaxed Veurne. The market square (Grote Markt in Flemish) is so captivating, as it is surrounded by impressive postcard like buildings.

Here besides church bells, the sound that comes from the Belfry imprint musical memories in the heart. The surrounding coffee shops and restaurants within beautiful buildings are so inviting to sit and admire the square while seeping hot chocolate or beer at the terrace.

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It was in the morning, so I ordered chocolate milk as I usually do in Belgium. I wanted to have hot chocolate with shot of coffee which I had in one of the cafe’s in Brugge (Bruges), absolutely loved it but slowly realize not all the cafe’s serve hot chocolate like that.

After having a conversation about my preference with the waitress, I finally decide to have the chocolate milk and espresso separately. I didn’t know what to expect besides the facts I learned that Veurne is the place for foodies, quality products and of course Chocolate and Belgium is a marriage made in heaven.

Unlike previous experience, this time I got little balls of dark chocolate, milk and whipped cream separately, and the espresso accompanied with little pastry filled with beautiful golden yellow Advocaat – a traditional Dutch alcoholic beverage. Besides being small, its eye grabbing color, the strong taste in spite of being creamy in combination with little crunchy pastry, it was strong enough to awaken the senses and I thought how traveling can be a very humbling experience while continue learning.

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Actually, the yellow smiley little pot with one of my favorite plants on the table also helped to brighten up the day and maybe that’s one of the reasons which influenced my decision to pick the cafe in the first place and it was worth it as I had great time making my own hot chocolate in one of the most beautiful market squares in Belgium with great views of impressive buildings and having the Belfry melody as a sound track of this beautiful experience.

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Admiring Veurne’s marvelous building and relish in architecture from old court of justice (Landhuis/Gerechtshof), belfry (Belfort), town hall to the 15th– century Spanish Pavilion. And visiting two beautiful churches like the magnificent and lavishly decorated Sint Walburga Church and the simply beautiful Sint-Niklaaskerk church  adds to the charm.

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On top of its very own culture and history, Veurne paves the way beautifully to charming villages nearby like Beauvoorde, Lo-Reninge and Alveringem.

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Since I wanted to continue with relishing in architecture and history, I Picked Beauvoorde as it is a home to Beauvoorde Castle.

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History, culture and beautiful architecture all to be enjoyed in Veurne.

 

 

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Yumm: Europe’s Culinary Food Festival

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Yumm Festival Kirchberg took place at the ultramodern side of Luxembourg on the plateau of Kirchberg. Place de l’Europe surrounded by trendy buildings of Kirchberg which houses, European Convention Center Luxembourg (ECCL) and the Philharmonie Luxembourg to name the few.

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Five food trucks was elected to participate on this event, to present the culinary culture and diversity of Europe – Kitchen box by so food unlimited from Luxembourg, L’échappée belle representing France, Bammm BQ & Rotisserie representing Germany, Nina Nina representing Belgium and Cravin Cajun’s representing Netherlands – giving a chance for people to eat and vote as they were competing for YUMM Festival Kirchberg Public Choice Award.

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Obviously food festival wouldn’t be complete without drink so the non-competing Birrabus from Italy providing crafts beer in an eye grabbing yellow truck and a wine bar little stall by La Table du Belvédère providing superb wins.

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My Ethiopian Gastronomic Journey

The colorful setting of L’échappée belle food truck representing France was inviting so I started my Europe’s culinary exploration there. As Raviolis was their specialty, I went for Royans Ravioli (Ravioli, Smoked trout, with walnut oil). The stuffed pasta with cheese and parsley was so tender while melting to a surprise of rich Parmesan cheese. The walnut oil gives it a rich nutty flavor and get the crunchiness from pieces of walnuts sprinkled on top along with the freshness of parsley. Burst of flavor and saltiness from the smoked trout.

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To add more character to this dining experience I paired it with Luxembourg’s Riesling white wine from the wine bar stall next to it and turned out to be a memorable European cuisine exploration. The light golden Riesling white wine besides being light and slightly sweet, it took me to on a memory lane of exploring endless vineyards of the Moselle region of Luxembourg. 

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Continued to the all-black food truck by the kitchen box of So Food Unlimited from Luxembourg. Burger was their specialty and I went for So Pepper which is 100% beef, emmental caves cheese, fried onion, arugula, ketchup and homemade pepper sauce. As an Ethiopian with so much tolerance of heat regarding food due to the culinary culture of Ethiopia – spicy, savory and earthy – I usually tend to go for hot and spicy and living in Europe this is one of the things I miss so much from home. Though from previous experiences, now I know what to expect regarding heat due to cultural difference but still the sound of So Pepper resonated with my soul.

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Living in Luxembourg and traveling to neighboring countries, my Ethiopian gastronomic journey is making me to see the influence of Belgium, France and Germany on its local cuisine. So the burger was hearty as a German dish would be. The mild homemade pepper sauce gives it little bit of kick and sweetness from the ketchup and fried onion. Loved the way my taste bud surprised by the fresh, herbaceous and peppery flavor of Arugula. Pared it with fresh fries with homemade mayonnaise a good reminder of Belgian Fries – perfectly crisp and richly flavorful.

Moving to food truck representing Belgium – Nina Nina. In spite of the fact I should go for the Burger as my little background research of this food truck suggested, rather I followed my guts and went for Noisettes de parmesan et sa mayonnaise Truffée (Parmesan Hazelnuts as the French word Noisette means hazelnut) – which is small balls of cheese size of a big nut, slightly fried pared with homemade truffle mayonnaise. The golden brown balls has a crunchy crust and a soft body of cheese which is savory and rich. The Truffle mayonnaise had distinctive flavor of slightly garlicky due to the black truffle which suggests autumn.

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Finally a food truck representing Germany – Bammm BQ & Rotisserie. I went for the Pulled Beef with traditional German potato pancake which reminded me Christmas market in Trier, Germany and Luxembourg and Schueberfouer in Luxembourg. The slow cooked shredded beef simply savory and melts away. Freshness comes from raw vegetable mix underneath. The crispy and savory potato pancake adds up for this hearty dish.

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Well this very interesting culinary journey through Europe via the Yumm food festival Kirchberg in Luxembourg City was being enhanced with good music as a memorable soundtrack for my experience and my Ethiopian gastronomic journey will continue as I believe Food is deliciously edible cultural experience.

 

 

 

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Nostalgia: Damera In The Neighborhood Of Addis Ababa

To commemorate beautiful memories of traditional celebrations in Ethiopia – Damera.

Happy Holiday!

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Bacchus Fountain: From The Esplanade Of Remich

Bacchus Fountain is one of my favorite statues along the Moselle of Luxembourg in Remich – the pearl of the Moselle indeed.

Remich

 

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Flemish: Ethiopian Gastronomic Journey

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Opening the gate to the rich culture and history of Belgium with Flemish regional delights as a key, is still a specific but overwhelming experience for me. ‘Paling in ’t Groen’ is one of Flemish dishes which attracted me first by its deep green color which suggests nature, environment, life, energy and plethora.

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Actually, it’s not the first time deep green color either attracted me or surprised me like this. I remember discovering this particular green Crater Lake located in Ethiopia’s Rift Valley, carpeted with algae deep within a caldera, dotted with white and pink flamingos feasting on the green abundance, was the most soul brightening experience I had in the crater lakes heaven Debre Zeit (Bishoftu).

Green Lake Debre Ziet Ethiopia

After pounding the cobblestones of Brugge, while immersing in a culture and working on an appetite, two attempts to discover the eel swimming in green sauce in one of the restaurants in Brugge memorably failed. The first attempt started with so much enthusiasm while discovering it on the menu and actually having it because not all or many restaurants serves this particular dish. I ordered it without any hesitation and waited with so much anticipation.

The pretty presentation of grilled eel on top of a drizzled bright green sauce with bit of golden brown butter oozed out of the sauce along with salad and Friet (Belgian Fries) gave me mix feeling as it was a surprise. Little bit disappointment sets in as I was looking forward the traditional way of eels in green sauce and maybe the waitress saw that little bit of a surprise on my face and asked if I need more green sauce. The eel was not well cooked so it was bit of struggle to separate it from its bone but I was rewarded with the green sauce which was delicious , which adds up even more curiosity to keep chasing the eel swimming in green river.

I don’t easily give up so in another trip to visit family in West Flanders and as always visiting Brugge, I made another attempt. After discovering the medieval postcard like city on foot from one museum to the other, admiring old buildings, visiting beautiful churches, shopping and stopping for hot chocolate and waffle or beer the day went by so quickly.  We went to one of my husband’s favorite restaurant where locals frequent as the west Flanders being his home turf.

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Beautifully set up, small wooden chairs and tables, the rustic feel with candle lights makes it so cozy, home like and romantic. The place is known for fondue and eel dishes so my choice was clear until the waitress told me so nicely unfortunately that they had everything but that on that day.  We ordered another dish and had great time with good food and good wine which leads to a decision that I had to have this particular dish the classic Flemish way cooked by my Flanders husband at home with love.

My curiosity lead me to a little cook book with interesting title – Wat zit er in De Vlaamsche Pat (What’s in The Flemish Pot) – from my husband’s cook book collection. It is written in Dutch, so my husband had to translate, which is one of the opportunities everyday life presents to interracial couples to strengthening their bond I believe.

Love the story behind this dish even more than the recipe. Legend has it, this was one of the favorite dishes of Emperor Charles V. The very devout catholic Emperor insisted that 12 different kind of herbs being used in preparing the green sauce, 12 herbs representing each apostle – Mint, Parsley, springs of tarragon, Basil, Sage, Watercress, Chervil, Lemon balm, Sorrel, Bay leaf, Savory and Nettle (now replaced by Spinach).

It reminded me the sound of church bells which almost becomes a soundtrack for my traveling experience in European countries and everyday life while living in one. It also reminded me the scattered St. Mary statues accompanied with Jesus on the cross here and there almost in every village, typical Flanders house hold and even in vineyards in the Moselle region of Luxembourg.

Flanders house hold

Gathering the ingredients was a memorable experience by itself. Having great conversation about it during family visit in west Flanders with a family who loves cooking, laced the conversation with traditional tips and leads to the bountiful garden to collect the available herbs. A garden somewhere in west Flanders which is adorned with colorful flowers as well and one happens to be originally from Ethiopia like me.

Ethiopian Plant

Besides the herbs from the garden, as we always do every year we get to take home delicious apples, pears, berries and rhubarb with us. Every time we go back to visit family from neighboring country Luxembourg where we live, the return trip is usually with stuffed car from the trunk to the back seat with vegetables, fruits, homemade Flemish dishes, few things my husband strictly like to have from his home turf and of course things we couldn’t find in Luxembourg except Belgium.

The trip to the store and the shopping experience for the remaining herbs was not anything like grocery shopping as translating from Dutch to English either with my phone or my husband which is quite an experience by itself sometimes funny, frustrating but rewarding for an expat learning another culture. Finding eel was not that easy due to unavailability and being too expensive. We didn’t want to replace it with dogfish as it is becoming common thing to do these days so we went after frozen eels which turned out to be very good.

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Flour coated pieces of silvery grey eels, slowly turning into golden brown while cooking in a butter. Adding finely cut shallot and then white wine and fish stock starts bringing out tantalizing aroma – the smell of cooking fish, caramelized onion, and bit of acidic smell from the wine. While the eels simmering slowly, pouching the greens in boiling water for seven minutes. Obviously, to retain the beautiful deep green color is important so putting the slightly cooked greens under cold water, adding Sorrel towards the end and replacing Nettle with spinach worked out perfectly.

Once the eels simmered down and cooked perfectly, seasoned with bit of salt and pepper, and adding the green sauce, drizzling lime and mixing it right before serving.

Experiencing subtle flavors from the green sauce – hint of grassy from parsley, freshness from the versatile mint, lemony from Sage, spicy from Basil, anise flavor from Chervil, peppery from Summer Savory and earthy from Spinach. Well citron and fish, fish and white wine, fish and green, fish and butter, green and butter makes up greenish, creamy, earthy and rich dish.

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What makes it even more satisfying is the fact that it was spurred by memorable details emanated out of the process and of course Love!

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SCHUEBERFOUER: The Traditional Event Of Luxembourg

A must-do experience!

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Fun!

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Grevenmacher: The Butterfly Garden Of Luxembourg

I had a beautiful and heavenly experience at the Butterfly Garden in the Musel region of Luxembourg – Grevenmacher.

Here are the moments I am being able to capture through my lens.

Relish in nature!

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