In Summer – A Beach in Brussels
The idea is not new. For some years now, these artificial urban beaches have popped up each summer in Berlin, Hamburg and under the bridges of the river Seine in Paris. You won’t have to cram the whole family into your car, or embark on a long, hot journey to feel the sand under your feet and freshen up in the water. In Brussels, this tropical paradise is known as Les Bains de Bruxelles and it lasts for five weeks on the Quai des Péniches, along the Brussels Canal. It opens from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
True, there aren’t many waves, but some ingenuity has been applied to making the beach as attractive as possible; indeed, it draws an extremely diverse crowd of beach-goers. The 6,000 m² of sand are dotted with deck-chairs, palm trees and coconut palms, striped sunshades and beach bars serving vividly coloured cold beverages. The atmosphere is a family one during the day and sports activities include beach football, volleyball, boule and ping-pong, as well as games for young children. Pedalos and kayaks can be hired at reasonable prices on Sundays. You can also go for a ride along the canal on board the Bruxelles les Bains, which offers various tours – the short one takes 55 minutes; the longest one is a 2-hour cruise, and there is also a “cocktail cruise”, by night – while the harbour’s history and geography is expounded on by a guide.
This chill-out on the beach is accompanied by the Let It Beach festival, now in its third year. A variety of concerts liven up the evening on weekends, while on Fridays the music turns to folk, rock, pop and hip-hop. Jazz and world music take centre stage on Saturdays. The Sunday programmes target the younger set, with workshops, dances and, of course, more concerts. Night reverie is bolstered by free sessions of Croisetteke, every day from 6 p.m. on, in addition to theBoat Club,an exclusive floating club which hosts the liveliest parties in Brussels.
Not Without My Ice-cream!
When the thermometer seems to be driving endlessly upwards, another delicious way of keeping cool is to have an ice-cream. And, for those who can’t contemplate a day at the seaside without ice-cream, here are some of the best parlours in town:
Comus & Gasterea (Quai aux Briques, 86)
A place for trying the newest and most unusual flavours. It features some of the strangest ice-creams in the world, with such flavours as caviar, olive oil, Roquefort, lichi, wasabi aubergine and basil, home-made and free of additives or colouring agents. All you need is to be patient, as queues can sometimes build up outside its doors.
Capoue (Rue de Wand, 112)
Chez Capoue is one of the oldest ice-cream parlours in Brussels and, while at Comus & Gasterea you find the most unusual flavours, in Capoue they make the most daring combinations, notably bounty, blood orange and spiced bread. They are also have them sugar-free for diabetics, or lactose-free for those allergic to dairy.
Il Monello (Chaussée de Charleroi, 31 -33)
While Il Monello opened only recently, it has already made a name for itself in the city for its traditional pastries and homemade ice-creams. They also serve the latter atop a waffle for those seeking consistency (or calories).
Zizi (Rue de la Mutualité, 57A)
Zizi, a veritable institution in Brussels, is the city’s best-known ice-cream parlour. In the sixty years they have been open, they have never altered their manufacturing process. The flavours are natural and free of colouring agents.
Brussels is a refreshing destination this summer, but not only because of its urban beach. Throughout the summer, every Friday from 5 p.m. to 11.30 p.m., the Apéros Urbains or animated afterworks are held in some of the most attractive spots in the city. Also featured is the Midis Minimes classical music festival, with daily concerts lasting 35 minutes from 12.15 p.m. (until 28 August), held in the Church of Saint-Jean et Etienne aux Minimes and in the Conservatorio Real.
Come and experience it for yourself. Come on! Pick up your towel and check out the flights to… Brussels!
Text by Scanner FM
Images by Eric Danhiermore info
Napoles pizza e basta
The sun always shines on Naples, and the city thrives on its warming rays. Neapolitans –gentile napolitani–are famous for their good cheer and vitality. When a Neapolitan is happy about something he will often order a coffee and pay for two, his own and that of the next customer to order one –a tradition known as the caffè sospeso or “pending coffee”. What can you expect in a city with traditions like this? Generous portions, for one thing!
The classic pizza napoletana consisting of tomato and mozzarella cheese on a thin soft dough is famous everywhere, and is available in a dazzling range of variants in the city of its birth. Legend has it that popular Margherita version, spiced with basil, was first concocted by a local pizzaiolo in honour of Margaret of Savoy (1589-1655), Duchess of Mantua and Vice-reine of Portugal. But visitors to Naples should also sample the surprisingly wonderful fried pizza served at La Masardona, an ancient family-run establishment now managed by Enzo Piccirilo. It resembles a no-frills doughnut shop, where rock-bottom prices and high quality food make it a unique dining, lunching, or snacking experience. For a superb exponent of the more classic Neapolitan pizza, try Da Michele, where part of the Julia Roberts film Eat Pray Love was filmed. At once dauntingly historic and warmly welcoming, it serves as juicy and tasty a Margherita as you can find anywhere in the city. But more adventurous palates may enjoy La Notizia, where master chef Enzo Coccia’s highly creative and unorthodox pizzas have made it the first and only pizza parlour to win Michelin stars. Unless you count Edoardo Trotta’s newly opened pizza unit of the famed Palazzo Petrucci, which also has a Michelin star. Try his tasty, huge ripieno al ragú (folded pizza stuffed with meat sauce). Another good choice is 50 kalò, managed by Ciro Salvo, though you may have to queue. The extra-long fermentation (rising) of the dough, and the carefully selected local ingredients make for a pizza that many Neapolitans regard as well worth the wait.
Via Giulio Cesare Capaccio, 27
Tel. +39 081 28 10 57
Via Cesare Sersale 1/3
Tel. +39 081 55 39 204
Pizzaria La Notizia
Via Michelangelo da Caravaggio, 94
Tel. +39 081 19 53 19 37
Palazzo Petrucci Pizzeria
Piazza San Domenico Maggiore 5/7
Tel. +39 081 55 12 460
Piazza Sannazzaro 201/B
Tel. +39 081 19 20 46 67
The flaky sfogliatelle (filled shell-shaped pastries), and the babà (rum-drenched yeast cakes) are Naples’ most typical sweet offerings, but the sweet-toothed visitor will also appreciate the torta caprese, originating on the island of Capri but adopted long ago in Campania. A sign on Naples’ most celebrated bakery, Giovanni Scaturchio, boasts of the “Babà, sfogliatella, la caprese e il famoso 'ministeriale'. Sinonimo de napoletanità e di dolcezza” (“synonymous with Neapolitaneity and sweetness”). Some people say they find it a bit old-fashioned, but trade is always brisk there. The ‘ministeriale’ by the way, is a traditional chocolate medallion filled with a cream liqueur made from a secret formula. Then there’s Crostata (fruit pie),and cassata (ice cream with dried fruit and nuts) –the list goes on and on, but Naples is dotted with sweet and pastry shops, so you can always indulge your cravings. Not to mention the ice cream parlours. The latest of these to open its doors is the Rol Gelateria, managed by Olga Nigro and Roberta Rubino, already the most popular place to have a gelato on the Lungomare seafront promenade.
Giovanni Scaturchio Pasticceria-Gelateria
Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, 19
Tel. +39 081 55 17 031
Via Partenope, 12/m
Tel. +39 081 76 48 393
Bar Pasticceria Il Capriccio
Via Carbonara, 39
Tel. +39 081 44 05 79
Via Toledo, 66 (esquina Galleria di Umberto I)
Tel. +39 081 40 22 18
Via Vetriera, 12
Tel. +39 081 41 78 43
(several outlets in the city)
Via Toledo, 275
Tel. +39 081 41 73 39
Many have tried, but few photographers have been able to resist the magnificent, stunning, glorious Naples sunsets. The best vantage point would be the precincts of the Castel dell’ Ovo (Egg castle), a lovely fortress on the islet of Megaride in the Gulf of Naples. The Roman poet Virgil is said to have placed a magical egg under the building’s stone foundations to prevent its destruction. So far, it seems to have worked. And as the locals say, “Se non è vero, è ben trobato” (“even it it’s not true, it’s a good story!”)
Another good spot for snapping the evening skies is any room with a view in the Grand Hotel Parker's, a classical five-star hotel featuring a roof garden overlooking the sea, a buffet breakfast with home-made Neapolitan pastries made fresh each day, and many, many stories about wine. The owner, Maria Ida Avallone, also owns the Villa Matilde cellars, dealing only in local vintages that respect Neapolitan traditions. It is one of Grand Hotel Parker of 520 Independent Hotels Integrated into Small Luxury Hotels of the World ™ ( SLH ), a selection of charming establishments in 70 countries worldwide, from design hotels vanguard one palatial mansions of the seventeenth century, Sanctuaries from the center of some Private citeies islands, from Historic houses idyllic resorts.
Grand Hotel Parker's
Corso Vittorio Emanuele, 135
Tel. +39 081 76 12474
S.S. Domitiana, 18
CAP 81030 Cellole (CE)
Tel: +39 08 23 93 20 88
Wines and Liquors
Did you know that in Naples it’s a tradition to wash down your last bite of pizza with Marsala wine? Not that it is by any means the only notable variety of wine in the Campania region, which is rich in vineyards and wineries, thanks to the winning combination of volcanic soil and abundant sunshine. The traditional Falanghina variety of grape is king, and is the basis of the dry, light whites made in the Falerno di Massico DOC. Other whites worth trying are from the Greco di Tufo DOC and the Fiano di Avellino DOC, while the best local reds are from the Taurasi DOC, while the Lacrima Cristi del Vesuvio DOC is noted for whites, reds, and both smooth and sparkling rosés, as well as sweet white dessert wines. For stronger drinks, the local limoncello should be sampled, and also the cream of limoncello prepared at Limonè. Another unusual liqueur is nocillo ornocino, made with walnuts, and a speciality of E’Curti, managed by Enzo d’Alessandro.
Piazza San Gaetano, 72
Tel. +39 081 29 94 29
Via G. Garibaldi, 57
Tel. +39 081 5312797
One of the most famous products of the Campania region is mozzarella cheese made from the milk of water buffalos. One of the best places to sample –and stock up on– local cheeses, pastas, eggs, tomatoes, olive oil, drinks, and even pannetonne sweet bread, is Campania Mia, run by Rino Silvestro as a showcase of the best local products. The shop is also the nerve centre of Naples’ “slow food” movement, and from time to time special food tasting sessions are held in the streets adjacent to the shop.
Via Belvedere, 112
Tel.+39 32 88 56 24 66
Makes you want to go, right? Do it! Check out our prices here!
Report by Carme Gasull and Belén Parra / Gastronomistas