A day in Louvain-la-Neuve

Louvain-la-Neuve is a Belgian college town, situated in the ‘Brabant Wallon’ province. Over the past few years several new shops, places to eat and bars have been added to this small city.

One of the pleasant features of Louvain-la-Neuve, or ‘Louve’ as the kids call it, is the mix of students and people from outside the university community that can be found strolling around the centre to spend a relaxed day.

Time for sweetness

Les Cup InnA cupcake shop that charms me is Les Cup’Inn! in the Grand Rue nr 27. This small and cosy parlour is integrated in the same building as the Superbien interior design store. So technically, if you get really hungry after buying a new lamp all you have to do is walk a few metres and order a cupcake. I ordered a milk chocolate one with passion fruit and chocolate frosting. They also have mojito cupcakes on the menu, amongst other varieties you can see listed in the picture on the left. Everything you order (including coffee) is take away. My advice is to check it out before 2 pm (although it’s open until 6pm) because those cupcakes are sold out fast!

Beautiful Creations

Oak
The Ooak shop

The Ooak shop is a wonderful green oasis that stores interior design, jewelry, and… they sell sandwiches. What I found most remarkable is the plants hanging from the ceiling and the ‘plant wall’ that is attached to the counter. Ooak is also home to a huge  banana plant. Whether you want to surprise someone with a Cluse watch, treat yourself to a new ring or  bracelet, purchase a snazzy lamp or plant, this cabinet of wonders has it all.

Ooak – Passage de l’Ergot 34

 

Lunch time

Los Belgicanos

Sunny weather asks for a southern lunch. We opted for ‘ Brasserie espagnole Belgicanos’. This tavern offers both Belgian and Spanish dishes. I had a dish of lovely potatoes with grilled zucchini and balsamico vinegar dressing. My guest had anchovies, olives, grilled onion and grilled peppers on toast, accompanied by a small rucola salad. I don’t know about you but I’m getting really hungry (again) while writing this.

There’s more…

You might be looking for a new pair of sneakers, a cooking shop or a new book, then do visit the esplanade or The ‘grand place’ square and its surrounding streets. L’esplanade is a shopping mall which is located very close to the train station.

Transport:

When travelling by train from Brussels, you can take the direct line to Ottignies, which ensures a quick transfer to Louvain-la- Neuve. Pay attention: Louvain (Leuven in Dutch) is not the same city as Louvain-La Neuve!
If you prefer to travel by bus: check the TEC website for the correct timetable.
The car is also an option,the city is about 33km away from Brussels, but keep in mind that finding free parking space might not be easy and that the shopping streets are car free. There is a paid underground parking near the cinema though.

A.Y.P

2 years of coffee and travelling…

peaches and golden ringThe Aypau blog is 2 years old this month, meaning 24 months of coffee and food reviews mixed with travel stories and blogposts about cities and work.

One of the original ideas with this blog was to write coffee reviews. However, I don’t spend all my days in coffee bars, and quickly decided to opt for the “I’ll write a review each time I visit a place that really impresses me” instead of “quantity over quality.” It’s about more than just drinking coffee and eating a slice of cake. Writing these reviews means taking a very good look around the cities I visit, spotting a nice coffee bar, being impressed and producing a post. This can take some time, because not every city hosts cosy coffee-places that pop up on every corner of the street. It also means tasting your beverage properly, trying to describe it with some detail, looking at the menu to see what other treats the bar offers.

Other than coffee, I’ve always been interested to see (and taste) what happens abroad. I so enjoy travelling, which has found it’s written way to this blog. You can expect a review on Warsaw (Poland) as from the second half of August.
I have ideas for other articles as well, more details will be released during the months to come. What I can tell you is that this blog will host a pop-up section: combining my interest in decoration, pure beauty products,… with inspiration drawn from other online platforms. The main part of my blog will continue to focus on coffee, food, travelling and work, so consider the pop-up as an addition, an experiment.
That’s all for now, I’m going to enjoy the rest of my birthday (yes) with some chocolate and a film.

A.Y.P

A trip to Stuttgart (Germany)

maypole
The maypole on Marienplatz

I looked forward to this trip for weeks. Stuttgart was on the menu because I hadn’t visited that part of Germany yet, and because I could meet up with a friend who now lives there. I also tremendously enjoy travelling by train, on this occasion the train offered a beautiful view on large patches of yellow rapeseed flower fields.
Stuttgart is the main city of the Bundesstaat (comparable to a province or county)Baden Württemberg. It’s situated in the South-West part of Germany

I arrived on the last Friday of April and noticed something peculiar…
Several girls and boys were wearing traditional costumes. The girls wore Dirndls and the boys were dressed in Lederhosen. 
My friend explained that the youngsters were dressed this way for the Frühlingsfest or spring festivities. The Stuttgarters installed a Maypole at the Marienplatz. Food, drinks and concerts were abundant. Apparently the youths also celebrated at other places in the city.

Bread & Butter

bretzel
This Bretzel looks ‘compressed’ but tastes the same as the classic version

The first thing I ate upon arrival was a bretzel. This lovely bread product is sold in various foodstands, bakeries and supermarkets around town. I had mine sliced in half, spread with butter. Yes I had a second one…can’t wait to do that again.

At my friend’s place we had a cute breakfast with organic products: pancakes with fresh fruit and wonderful spreads. Many organic brands are also available in my country, but the full range of their products aren’t. Which is one of the reasons I love to travel.

And now, what I always try: coffee and cake! What amazes me every time I’ve visited Germany (wether it was Berlin, Köln or Stuttgart,…) are the pies. They are quite large compared to Belgian or French pies and sometimes look as if they were made for Alice in Wonderland. (I am very enthusiastic aren’t I). Even better is that a large piece of pie is inexpensive in a regular tearoom. So is a cup of coffee.

What I enjoy foodwise in Germany is that you can eat well organically, the range of available products and dishes is wide. But if you want to eat non-organically or good more traditional dishes then that is also possible. You choose

Chocolate

ritter sport
mini Ritter sport (marzipan, yoghurt, milk choc, with cornflakes, nougat)

Let’s not forget about the chocolate. How can one if the most impressive object in the Stuttgart main railway station is a tower of huge Ritter Sport chocolate replicas (no it’s not real chocolate inside because that would melt). Instead I bought a mini chocolate tower of the square chocolate bars. Yes, I ate 1/3 of the tower on the trip back home. The Ritter Sport advertising posters mention that their chocolate is practical (praktisch). I sure do feel less guilty about eating them because hey, they’re practical.

That’s not all, folks

Other than sampling good food you can also visit the television tower, it is 150m high and offers a stunning view on the city.

porsche ducktail
I’m saving up to buy a bigger one 🙂 

Stuttgart is also home to the Porsche and Mercedes Benz musea. I visited the former (as a Porsche 911 enthusiast) and tremendously enjoyed that experience.

If you like shopping then there’s a long shopping street near the railway station – on the Königstrasse – with classic main street stores. If you’re into smaller, independent shops with a twist then visit the fluxus gallery at Calwer Passage (U-bahn Rotebühlplatz).

More Germany? Read my post about Aachen

A Fresh Start…

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Last week I received the news that my work situation will soon change drastically. Talking about monday blues…

It shook up my whole week, and my plan to publish a new read at the end of each month on this platform. I didn’t want to post a draft coffee review because it was time to contemplate, to reflect and… to look forward.

Time for a fresh start. To do more things that bring me joy and help me evolve. Time to write more, because that’s what I do. I don’t need anyone’s permission to write or to confirm that I’m a writer. I just am. Time for a vacation, to allow myself more freedom, and to enjoy good coffee and good food.

So, what’s next? With my work situation… I don’t know yet. I’ll allow myself some time to figure that one out. What’s next coffee- and travelwise? I will travel to Germany in a few weeks, so expect a review about my culinary adventures there, publishing time: beginning of May.

Good night, day or mid day where ever you are

Aypau

 

Time for healthy: Raw Bite Review

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Raw Bite’s colourful fruit and nut bars caught my attention in the supermarket a few weeks ago. So I bought the lavender one called Vanilla Berries. It tastes and smells so sweet and qualifies as a healthy snack, mmm… We’ve got ourselves a win-win situation here. I was planning on having healthier snacks anyway and decided I want to write a few food reviews. These ideas gave birth to a fruit snack haul which I  describe below.

Raw bites offers 8 varieties of fruit bars in happy, sweet colours. They are made with fruit such as dates, (berries), raisins… as well as nuts such as almonds, cashews…
The specific combination of ingredients will be different according to the type of bar: e.g. the orange cashew bar will contain more cashew nuts than for instance the vanilla berries bar. The company that makes these delicious treats is based in Denmark. So this is another product for my scandinavian collection.

My three favourites are :

Spice Lime: a daring combination of chili pepper, ginger and lime. Try this one for breakfast and you’ll have a buzzing start of the day.

Vanilla Berries: lavender packaging, sweet vanilla, mmm.. what else does a girl need…

Apple Cinnamon: The winter is not quite over yet, so let’s indulge in some warmth and sweetness

Good to know: these buddies are free from added sugar, the dates make them taste sweet. They are free from animal products, so if you’re vegan try ’em out. I shared a bar with my colleague who’s aiming to go gluten free, so are the bars by the way.
I bought the bars at a small Carrefour supermarket in Brussels. There they’re sold for € 1,95 a piece, which according to me is a very reasonable price, given the high quality and organic ingredients.

*wait a minute, you wrote that there are 8 varieties, but you’ve only photographed 5. Well, I’m not denying that…I ate the other ones!

Did I have coffee with Maurice?

Coffee and fun at Maurice coffee and knits in Antwerp
Coffee and fun at Maurice coffee and knits in Antwerp

Not quite…I had a capuccino actually. Are the golden letters in celebration of Maurice’s birthday? Who knows…
What I do know is that they have some pretty good capuccino at Maurice. With enough milk, just the way I like it, without even asking.
Maurice is the name of Veronique Leysen’s Antwerp based coffee bar. I heard Veronique talk about her professional plans in a Belgian tv show a few years ago. She named her coffee house after her grandfather, whose picture is proudly displayed above the counter. This young lady also sells knitwear (e.g. scarves, pullovers) in a corner of her coffee house. This sounded so original I decided to visit ‘Maurice’ the next time I was in the neighborhood, which was last weekend. They were open and I wasn’t in a rush. If a coffeebar is on my ‘to drink’ list I will get there, sooner or later…

You can find Maurice at the end of the Meir, the well known and large shopping street of Antwerp. You know, just in case you get hungry and/or tired from all your shopping…the entry is through the KBC bank (they share the ground floor)

Address: Schoenmarkt 35
2000 Antwerpen
Belgium

 

Papounet’s couscous against panic

Couscous makes good comfort food. Because boy did I need comfort and calming down a few weeks ago. I used to scramble down my writings in the ‘drafts’ part of wordpress before publishing. One day I logged in and read the words ‘NO DRAFTS’. They might as well have told me “there’s a boa constrictor in your bathroom”. A large one, with an A+ for constricting… I started panicking. Several features had disappeared from the dashboard, such as wp administrator and media library. I posted the case on the forum, but without receiving an answer. Somehow, today the drafts have re-appeared. Christmas magic? I somehow managed to retreive my second article on Sweden, but felt tired and nervous afterwards. It was way past dinnertime, and very near bedtime. Luckily my dad had made a batch of couscous earlier that week, and insisted I took some home. Couscous is made from grains. This food is made with a steamer (and tastes heavenly when you add some butter). In papounet’s version a sauce with chickpeas,olives,cowmeat and sometimes even shrimps is poured on top. The dish originates from North Africa. That couscous was so good it made me smile, the evil IT perils seemed less worse. Hence the name papounet’s (informal French for dad’s) couscous against panic.

Aypau