Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Ethiopian Food in Brussels!
I've been on tour in Europe since the beginning of July. July was filled with amazing festivals in France, Switzerland, and Belgium, club shows in the UK, and some splendid down time in Paris, London, and a few other spots. Since the beginning of August, we have had time off in a beautiful apartment in Brussels. We had a big gap in the touring schedule, and it made more sense to stay here rather than fly home and back again. What an opportunity - to truly live in a foreign city! So many of our adventures on the road are enjoyed in fast-forward, zipping from city to city, sometimes barely having time to come up for air. This, on the contrary, has been quite different, indeed.
We are staying in a mostly Arab neighborhood called Schaerbeek, which is liberally dotted with charming, super-cheap fruit and vegetable markets. On almost every corner you can find racks of incredibly fresh produce out on display, and inside they offer all kinds of canned goods, bread, dried beans, etc. All of us in The BellRays love to cook, and we have not let the luxury of having a full kitchen at our disposal go to waste! Soups, salads, breakfasts, dinners, you name it - our kitchen has been a flurry of activity. I've been making hummus regularly, which is always good to have around, and we even made a batch of fresh almond milk.
Aside from throwin' down in the kitchen, we've also tried a number of restaurants in Brussels, some of which have been very good. New friend Sylvia Arthur was kind enough to send me a list of recommendations, and among them was an Ethiopian restaurant. I've always been a fan of this unique style of cooking (and eating!), so I made a trek downtown to check it out. The place is called KoKoB, and man - it was fantastic! It's really close to the Grand-Place - one of the most beautiful town squares I've ever seen.
If you've never been to an authentic Ethiopian restaurant, it is quite an experience. For starters, there is no silverware! Dishes from your meal are laid out on a round piece of very thin bread, much resembling a crepe. You are given a basket of the same bread, which you tear into small strips and use to scoop up your food. Essentially, you are eating with your hands. The food at KoKoB was heavily aromatic and spiced to perfection. I had a combo of 3 dishes - carrots and green beans in a mild sauce, pea flour and shallots in a spicy sauce, and potatoes and beetroot in a rich sauce. The potato/beet dish was the winner, but they all held their own. So, if you ever find yourself in Brussels, make your way down to KoKoB for a proper Ethiopian feast :)
Lastly, a post about Brussels wouldn't be complete without mention of BEER. Belgium has a well-known reputation for producing some of the world's best beers, and it is very well deserved! Ever since my first visit back in 2008, it was evident to me that the brewers here know something special. Perhaps it's in the ancient brewing methods of the Trappist monks, which many of the breweries here still uphold. Our great friends Fliesh and Dorrie took us to the brewery 3 Fonteinen for a private tour and tasting session with the owners, Armand and Lydie. They graciously shared lots of delicious beer with us, as well as fascinating stories about life as a brewer in Belgium.
Here is a list of my favorite Belgian beers, not in order:
If you have a specialty beer store nearby, I encourage you to seek out the taste of Belgium. Or better yet, visit Brussels!
If you're interested in viewing an album of pics taken on my walks around the city, click HERE