Things to do with a baby or toddler in Brussels: Sip, shop and play at Haricot Magique

Stroller Cafe. Fabulous idea!
Stroller Cafe. Fabulous idea!

Somehow when I started maternity leave I envisioned myself frequenting cafes, sipping coffee and chatting with a friend while our little ones snoozed nearby. Much to my surprise, there is somewhat a lack of chic and yummy momma cafes. In Brussels? Really?! Strange! A while back I heard about Haricot Magique (Magic Bean) but it took me until now to make my way to Schaerbeek to check it out.

What a lovely place. Just as I imagined only better! It is as though they made a check list of all the ingredients that go into a great momming lunch and made it happen. You need a nice, fun place for kids to play while you sup? Check. Fresh healthy food (baby and adult) and free trade coffee? Sure. A bright bathroom with changing table, potty and real towels? Check, check, check. We had such a nice time here! I also learned that they have lots of fun sounding workshops, book readings, etc. We will be sure to check one soon. Maybe Introduction to Music on Saturday!

If you are in the vicinity of Parc Josephat, stop in! You won’t regret it. Cheers.

Where: Avenue Louis Bertrand 22, 1030 Bruxelles

When: Monday – Saturday, 9:30 – 18:00

Be welcome
Be welcome
Future birthday presents
Future birthday presents
Something for everyone
Something for everyone

 

Les Poussette
Les Poussette
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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

Things to do with a baby in Brussels: The best hot chocoloate

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Making due with Neuhaus

Holy snowy day Batman. Brussels is kicking up some serious March bluster with driving wind and several inches of fresh snow. Wowee! We are holed up at home, soaking up the heat and watching the swirling drifts.

What, you may ask, could possibility drive us from our warm, safe and cozy home on a day like this? Only one thing: hot chocolate. And if we are going to get all bundled up and go, it must be for the very best hot chocolate in all of Brussels. I am talking about Fredric Blondeel. Located just step from the St Catherine metro stop (probably 30 steps), this little chocolate chop takes the cake In a town bursting with chocolate savants. Self-professed “master in cocoa”, Fredric has truly made an art out of your liquid happiness. Think options like Madagascar chocolate with a hint of vanilla and saffron threads. Oh my god, its good.

You can bring the little one and cozy up on the pillowed bench. Little tables and cushions make a lovely setting for this petite masterpiece.

So if you get outside today, drop in, warm up and die happy.

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Baby its cold outside

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: 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

Things to do with a baby in Brussels: Sing a song!

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Zoe gets into the groove

Ah nursery rhymes, while so many things change, they always stay the same! Row, row, row your boat, The Hokey Pokey, Jumping Bean…these hits never go out of style. If you memory of exactly how these go is getting rusty then I have a prescription for you, Monday Singing at the Holy Trinity Church.

Definitely one of the high points of our week, the singing group is for little ones, six months to three years. There is of course singing with all the dance, jumping and movement that make this a hit for even little babies. Also time for unstructured play with loads of toys for all ages that live at the Church creche. A 2 EUR donation gets you snacks, tea and helps the group keep going.

Try this group once and you will be hooked. A nice community, fantastic group leader and thoroughly enjoyable afternoon past time.

Where: Holy Trinity Church, Rue Capitaine Crespel 29, 1050 Brussels (Louise metro)
When: Thursday, 10 – 12 pm
Who: Mommies, Daddies and little ones 6 months – three years

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Right this way
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“We’re gonna shush, shush, shush. Don’t make any noise.”
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Playtime!
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I love new toys 🙂
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Rainbow

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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