Musings on leaving New York and moving to Brussels
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
On a recent Saturday, J and I headed to Antwerp for a leisurely lunch and some sale shopping. (In Belgium, by law, sales are allowed to take place only in the months of January and July.) I had not visited Antwerp since childhood, when I briefly attended Antwerp International School. I was eager to go back and check out how the city had changed. And at a mere 35 minutes from Gare du Midi for only 7€ RT pp, I knew the journey there would be quick, cheap, and pleasant.
I found Antwerp changed, and impressively so. Throughout town, one finds the omnipresent footprint of the Antwerp 6, as well as a number of spectacular new buildings and cleverly repurposed old structures. And, especially compared to Brussels, the town is exceptionally clean - which I found to be a welcome surprise. Based on Antwerp's appearance alone, it isn't too hard to believe the Flamands are the flourishing half of this country.
After slogging through soft (but unrelenting) rain, J and I settled in at Tabl'eau, a cozy little restaurant near the Schelde. Excited to use the remnants of my Dutch, which has gotten pretty rusty after years of disuse, I ordered 2 glasses of warm kriek. The waitress looked at me with a mixture of disbelief and confusion. Turned out it wasn't my Dutch, but rather that warm kriek is not typically served as a beverage. Instead, it was offered here as "coupe warm kriek," or ice cream with warm kriek. (This despite the Bulletin reporting that warm kriek had become the toast of the Brussels Christmas market, after vendors had run out of vin chaud.) I also ordered tongrolletjes, which I felt fairly certain would be (beef) tongue rolls (non-adventurous eaters, keep your comments to yourselves). I was therefore slightly surprised when I ended up with pinwheels of sole, which also turned out to be rather tasty, if not meaty. J ordered salmon risotto and enjoyed his meal without incident.