The Favorite’s List: Rob – The Gourmets’ Market

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The grape section

Summer is here and that means its time to get seriously excited about gorgeous produce: juicy peaches, ripe and earthy heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, fresh lettuces and crispy corn. If you are like me, you live for the seasonal changes on the dinner plate.

Brussels has an abundance of fresh farmer’s markets (Place Jourdan on Sundays, Place Flagey any day but Monday) but if you really want to sample the finest from the season along with a smorgasbord of other culinary delights, look no further than Rob – the Gourmet Markethttp://www.rob-brussels.be/home.cfm?lang=en

Knowing that I longed for the chef’s wonderland that is San Francisco with its many special, local  producers, the Ferry Building and slow trips spend wondering the halls of Whole Foods, the Bear was very excited when he spotted a Gourmet Food emporium when driving up Avenue de Tervueren one day. That weekend we went to check it out and I was in heaven! There are so many special ingredients, just the thing to inspire an afternoon cooking up something delicious. There is a big butcher counter, fish, cheese, baked goods, a HUGE wine cellar and even a lovely restaurant. They offer cooking classes for those who want to improve their skills. I have not tried one yet but its on my “one of these days” list.

I can really recommend Rob’s for when you are out for that special something or looking for some inspiration. Disclaimer: this type of indulgence does not come cheap! Rather than an everyday stop, a trip to Rob’s is more of a treat or an event. Something to leave a smile on your face and a tingle in your tummy. Enjoy!

Where: Boulevard de la Woluwe 28 – 1150 Woluwé-Saint-Pierre-

When: Monday to Thursday from 9am to 7pm,
– Friday until 8pm,
– Saturday from 8.30am to 7pm

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Cured meat heaven
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It’s whats for dinner
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Cuberdon ice cream – aka the day I ruined my new cream sweater
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Where to shop: Etsy!

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Soft frillies

A soft snow has been falling on Brussels for the last few days. This morning it upgraded to “sticking” status so we are holed up here at Bear & Dragon. Staying warm, cozy and well-fed.

What to do for entertainment when the chance of getting outdoors is nil? How about some delicious internet window shopping. There no place I enjoy more for said shopping that Etsy. Collecting point for handmade, vintage and beautiful things. You can honestly find almost anything there! I have to admit, I really love special handmade things. The endless creativity of peope is amazing! Etsy is a website where artists and collectors can offer their wares for sale in one location. It is well organized and getting better all the time. I turned to Etsy when getting those special touches for my wedding, bababoo’s nursery and often for gifts. Although many sellers are in the US, it is truly a global market place and you can search for sellers in your country/area.

A feast for the eyes as well, it is truly a joy to peruse. So enough of me, happy perusing!

Some lovelies for your review

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Want!
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Perfect for a snowy day
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Sweet
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Super chic diaper bag – they do exist

Things to do with a child in Brussels: Brunch at the Orangerie in Parc Egmont

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We saved a seat for you

Its Sunday. In San Francisco, where I am from, Sunday morning means one thing: Brunch! Whatever shenanigans you got up to Saturday night can always be soothed with an “all-you-can-eat” pancake, Eggs Benedict, bacon, and Bloody Mary extravaganza. When I moved to Brussels, I would mark each brunch-less Sunday with a strong cup of coffee and a small tear. That is until I discovered the deliciousness that is Brunch at Parc Egmont.

The Orangerie at Parc Egmont is ideally located between Sablon and Avenue Louise. One thing I love about Brussels is how you can go through a doorway or up a staircase and immediately be transported to a different world. This is how it feels when you enter the calm of Parc Egmont, completely surrounded by a tall brick wall and take in the charming restaurant, grand old trees and gently sloping lawn. The setting is worth the trip alone and the Parc makes for a perfect and safe run around zone for the little ones to play in.

Besides the bountiful spread of pastries and breads, salads, made-to-order omelets and fresh juices, there are a variety of adult breakfast beverages a la mimosas and long-lost Bloody Marys. You can sit inside the pretty dining room (they have high chairs, yeah!) or on nice days enjoy the patio and take in the sun.

Come spring you are sure to find us camped out, debating whether to squeeze in one more chocolate muffin. Bon Appetite!

Where: Parc d’Egmont, Brussels, 1000

When: Saturday and Sunday until 1:30

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We love Brunch
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Can you spot the bababoo?
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Seriously, they have made-to-order omelets!

Things to do with a Baby in Brussels: Rent a toy at the Ludotheque

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View of a room

On rainy days like this, it is hard to get up the motivation to go outside. That turns one’s eye to available indoor options AKA toys and games. Well as much as I love new toys, and I DO love new toys, it gets to be a bit much when they are stacking up and Bababoo gives them no more than a fleeting glance. So what is a rain-avoiding momma to do? How about check out some new digs at the Ludothèque in Etterbeek. 

The Ludotheque is a Toy Library where you can check out toys. I was turned on to this resource back in the early fall and since selecting the “Musical Escargot” have been going regularly back for more. For the highly reasonable price of 0.50 EUR per week, you too can take home a new and exciting toys for your little one. Hooray!

In addition to toys, there are lots of games and puzzles for the older set. You can try before you rent in the small but well organized play space. Selecting your new friend is fairly straight forward in the catalogs where you can see pictures of the toys, their name and the recommended age. You can also preview the catalog and toys here.

Some of the toys are a little old (I am looking at you Sony cassette player!) but they are also classics. So stay dry and let the good times roll!

Where: Avenue Auderghem 233 – 1040 as well as many other locations. Check out the nearest here.

When: Hours vary by location but here is Etterbeek

Monday: 16h – 18h and Ready playroom

Tuesday: 15h – 17h and Ready playroom

Wednesday: 14h – 16h30 and Ready playroom

Thursday: 15h – 17h and Ready playroom

Saturday: 11am – 12.30pm and Ready playroom

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Let’s play!
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At your fingertips
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Hours and hours of fun!
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Have a dry seat

Things to do with a baby in Brussels: Read a book at Le Wolf

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Among the trees

Have you been to Le Wolf yet? What are you waiting for? With Brussels firmly in the grip of an icy January, I love nothing more than to cozy up with my little one and a book. And some cake and coffee. And there should also be a tiny cinema there playing delightful short films. Sounds a little specific? Well luckily, there is a wonderful children’s book store that foots the bill.

Le Wolf is tucked away behind Grand Place at Rue de la Violette 18. When you come in, you are immediately struck by the whimsy of it all with floor to ceiling birch trees, rows of bright books, wonderful art and a little house/cinema all nicely laid out for your pleasure. They do of course have loads of wonderful books in French and Dutch (practice makes perfect :-)). The cinema also plays short films for 2 EUR a go.

If you fancy a cake or coffee there are always several yummy looking ones in the little cafe.

But I have saved the best for last! There is a reading room in the back where you can relax on beanbags or a couch (very convenient for nursing as well) and read until your heart’s content. I really love this place! Check it out when you need to get that ball of energy out of the house but don’t want to freeze your face off. Salut!

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Tickets please – a most charming children’s cinema
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The perfect reward for good behavior
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Welcome to Cafe Whimsy
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Endless possibilities
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I love books!
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I think I’ll take that one…

The Favorites List: Pépin la Lune

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One day I will…

Ooh la la, what a lovely place to dream a little dream. I first stumbled onto this treasure after Sabloning (seriously, this should be a verb) and headed down for a little wander in the general direction of Gare Centrale. When to my delight, I saw the first hints of a whimsical shop just begging to be shopped.

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Love

Inside you will find a wide range from vintage children’s furniture, some toys, clothes, and art. I am seriously considering buying one of the heart breakingly lovely duvets of a circus with a bear riding a tricycle even though bababoo is sure to not need a bed that big for at least a couple more years.

Pépin la Lune has some of the sweetest things! A bold combination of new, vintage and just plain fun merchandise makes it always a pleasure to partake. You must be thinking, “Wow, I wonder how much free stuff Nicole gets here.” I swear it is nothing! I just hope you have the chance to check it out. If you are like me and still lacking some presents for the little person (yours or someone elses) then stop by. A little on the pricey side but just right when you are looking for that special something.

Thank you Pépin la Lune!

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Yes, this is my dream bed!
 
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The taste maker

The Favorites List: Oliwood Toys

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One big surprise in being a mom is how extremely excited I get going into toy stores! Perhaps it is my general love of whipping out the credit card to bring home shiny new things but there is just a little extra magic in the rows of bright colored blocks, games, dress up clothes and cuddley magical animals (purple, green and orange porcupine anyone?). The toy shop that gives me that special zing at the moment is Oliwood Toys on Avenue de la Chasse.

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You had me at “My Way”.

Recently evolved from a smaller, cramped space to a spacious, well lit and well, highly magical, wonderland, Oliwood is where I go to dream. Prominent in the collection are such favorites at Lilliputiens, Haba and Moulin Roty. Also a heavy weighting toward wooden, beautiful and durable toys, games, costumes, you name it! Although I have spent most time exploring the baby section, I have been drawn in a trance-like state towards the older kid toys, fantasizing about when I can get Bababoo this gorgeous puppet show theater, oh my.

WARNING: Do not go in here without planning on walking out with a very exciting, shiny new toy for yourself, err, I mean your little one. Happy shopping.

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Do these come in my size?
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Cow one please. 🙂
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Please mommy?

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The favorites list: Jack O’Shea

When we first found our way to Brussels for some apartment hunting, we stumbled upon an idyllic little street tucked behind the EU commission called Rue Franklin. At the time we hoped to find some new digs on this cute little tree lined streets but alas it was not in the cards. What we did find is the best pizza in Brussels, a funky dive bar called the Hairy Canary (tweet!) and the subject of this post, Jack O’Shea. http://www.jackoshea.com/ImageImageImageImageImage

This family butcher had now become one of my absolute favorite places to get some dinner inspiration. Tired of scouring local butchers for yummies like short ribs, beef cheeks and oxtail, look no further. The very friendly, English speaking butchers are sure to help you find what you are looking for. What do I love most? You can’t go wrong with the house made sausages. Think Guiness Beef, Spicy Italian and Chorizo. Must say, they also had the best steaks I have found in Brussels at a reasonable cost. I recommend the aged New York Strip!

Not just meat but some specialty cheese, great wine selection focused on new world, South Africa especially (hello Chocolate Block Syrah!) and some small Irish/English jellys, stock bases and breads. YUM.

A stop in on this 222 year old family butchery is a delight and thus earns a spot on my favorite list. Thanks Jack!Image