A Sweet/Short Honeymoon

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So, as you may have read in our previous entry of the blog, we got married last summer.
We didn’t really plan an elaborate honeymoon, because we mainly wanted to focus on getting our new home built this year. As you can imagine, building a house is a pretty time and financial resources consuming endeavor.
But… When we saw yet another mouthwatering post from “The Avocado Show”, in Amsterdam, we couldn’t resist booking a weekend in Amsterdam. We’re only human, after all.

The morning after our wedding, we got op bright and early, packed some stuff, and made our way to Amsterdam. We arrived around noon, and immediately dumped our bags at “Ecomama”. Ecomama, is a quirky, but very comfortable hostel, and we fully support their philosophy of being responsible for the footprint we leave. This hostel is as green as possible. We like to think we are too.

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After dropping off our stuff, we took to the streets. Amsterdam is one of our favourite cities to visit, when we don’t want to spend too much time on the road (or in the air). It’s about 2,5 hours away from where we live, but at the same time, it’s so different from any city in Belgium. It has a lot of shops we like to visit, museums, and the general atmosphere is something we really enjoy.

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This was however the first time we visited Amsterdam together. That’s why I convinced Stefanie to also try something else for the first time. A boat tour on the “grachten” (canals). It’s one of the more typically touristic things to do. Things we usually try to avoid as much as possible. But since it was so hot outside all weekend, I just wanted to be in the vicinity of water. I needed cooling, like the Led Zeppelin song suggests.
Close to the Anne Frank house is a starting point for various boat tour operators. We picked “Flagship Amsterdam”. A relatively new player on the guided boat tour-market. The captain and guide were both very young, but equally enthusiastic, which rubbed off on everyone joining us on the boat. Which made for a pleasant trip and rewarding experience. I even wrote a TripAdvisor review, to help other people find their way to Flagship.

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It goes without saying I had to promise Stefanie a worthy meal to get her on the boat in the first place, so when we debarked, we pretty much immediately tracked down some vegan deliciousness on the Happy Cow app. Vegan Junk Food Bar caught my eye.
We obviously had heard about Vegan Junk Food Bar before, but never visited it yet.
Since it was quickly becoming a day of firsts, it seemed fitting to head over there and see, and more importantly taste, what the fuss was all about.
We arrived there, and noticed all the outdoor spots were already taken. It was to be expected, the weather being as amazing as it was. We managed to find a spot inside though. Perfect for me. I don’t really function properly when temperatures exceed 26°C.
Not only the exterior and interior of Vegan Junk Food Bar are colorful, but also the staff, and most of the clientele. We didn’t feel one bit out of place, and quickly scanned the menu for some much anticipated goodness. I ordered the Original VJFB-burger. Stefanie picked some weird hot dog, in a purple croissant. Paired with some sides, we absolutely stuffed ourselves. Maybe not the healthiest of meals, but oh so good. No regrets!

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Bellies full, we did feel the need to walk it off a bit. We dragged ourselves back outside, and strolled along the canals for a while. We found ourselves in the “9 streets”. This is a small neighbourhood in the center of the city, that harbours a mass of vintage and designer shops, specialty stores and cosy cafes. Shops were already closing at that time, but that did not deter from the captivating atmosphere these streets radiate.
The perfect romantic frame to end the first of our two days in Amsterdam. And the nicest road to follow back to our hostel. Our private room on the waterside provided us with some much needed cool air, to help us get a good night sleep.

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Bright and early sunday morning. We got up, jumped into our clothes and tried to make it to “The Avocado Show” in time. It’s a first come, first serve type deal there, so it’s just a matter of getting there in time. We knew that the brunch/lunch window gave us the biggest chance to be able to get in, and that was the case. We got there a little before opening time, and after us a lot of people showed op, and formed a line outside.
Inside, it’s avocado heaven. We’re both avocado addicts, there’s no other way about it.
(I wore socks with avocado’s on them for the wedding. Yeah, i know..). Suffering some severe option paralysis, we ordered about half of the brunch menu. A stack of pancakes with the most amazing “avocado butter” (I’d go back, for the “butter” alone!), the avo garden, and the tropicana bowl. We ate until we could eat no more. Such a shame. By now The Avocado Show also has a restaurant in Brussels, so we’re definitely visiting one of them again.

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Like I told you earlier, Amsterdam has been one of our favourite places to go. One of the reasons why, is the Rijksmuseum. Most of the times we come here, is just to visit it. We both have a firm interest in creative and artistic expression, and there’s no better place to get or feel inspired than a museum like this. Walking among that amount of masterpieces is very humbling, and extremely satisfying at the same time. Whenever you visit Amsterdam, wether it’s for shopping, partying, or whatever your reason may be. Take some extra time, and visit the Rijksmuseum, or any of the other amazing museums Amsterdam has to offer.

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Before we headed back home, we needed one last pit stop to fuel ourselves.
Right around the corner of the park in front of the Rijksmuseum, we found “Zest For Life”. Another cosy food bar that exclusively serves vegan & raw food & drinks.
A delicious wrap with sour cream and some taco’s, paired with a big glass of fresh orange juice and a fresh coconut were the perfect closer for our little honeymoon weekend.

 

Kristof.

 

A MOST WONDERFUL DAY

It took us quit a while to write this post, but we took our time to reflect on our wedding day. And with me, Kristof, tied to the couch for a while, due to a little accident at work (crushed foot, you don’t want to know), I decided to compile all the little notes we wrote about our wedding, and mold them into a blog. Finally!

When Stefanie and I were younger we both studied “Audiovisual Formation”, which included every aspect of making movies/videos, aswel as a lot of photography. We also did some work as wedding photographers, which gave us a lot of insight in what a wedding day actually looks like, prior to leaping into it ourselves.
 We learned that a wedding day just flies by for the couple. Everything just happens, hopefully according to plan, but more often than not, the couple doesn’t really get the chance to enjoy the moment. That was the very thing we would try to ensure for ourselves. Make it our day. Nothing too fancy, but recognizable for the people who know us, and memorable for ourselves. Not just by looking at the pictures afterwards.

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When Stefanie and I started planning our wedding, we knew right from the bat we wanted the wedding to reflect us in every way. We did not have a ceremony in a church, or any other religious setting. We just had a small ceremony at The Casino. It is not a casino by any means. It’s actually a cultural center, in a beautiful old building, with a large beautiful theater, and a large foyer, where certain ceremonies are held. Like ours. Our family was there to watch us complete the official formalities with the civic representatives of the city, and joined us for a very nice dinner at t’Hoeveke, a very nice local restaurant.
 Normally they don’t have any vegan option on their menu, but they managed to create a very lovely vegan menu for us.
For the party, we wanted something different. At first we were thinking about an open air party, with tents, and a somewhat festival kind of vibe, but that ended up being a bit of a risk. 
We do live in Belgium, and dry, warm weather is never guaranteed, so we decided to look into local venues that had an inside aswel as an outside option.
We quickly realized that Whatz Hap (which as actually also located at the Casino, where we got married earlier that day) could deliver. Strange we didn’t think of it at first, since we’ve been friends with Jeroen and Sam, from Whatz Hap, for quite a while. They were very keen to accommodate us, and think about ways to make our day one to never forget. 
In the end, our day (July 20th) ended up being one of the hottest summer days of the year, and everyone just sat outside, on the benches and lounge chairs, in a candlelit garden, in a very care-free atmosphere.

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We wanted to create a relaxed get-together among friends and family, with an amazing soundtrack. We actually listen to pretty much all kinds of music, but for the party, we picked some 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s music. It ranged from Frank Sinatra, all the way to Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. And of course the whole Guardians Of The Galaxy soundtrack. We also like our cheesy 80’s hair metal stuff, but that wasn’t the party we were looking for, haha!
Since we already had an exquisite meal at the restaurant with our family, we decided on a luscious dessert buffet for the party. 
Jeroen and Sam took care of the desserts for our omni guests, and De Gastvrijheid delivered all of the vegan desserts.
Every dessert you can think of…. was there! 

We had the most amazing day with the people we love, and we managed to savour every moment.
We got a lot of positive feedback from our guests. Most of them told us it didn’t feel like a wedding party at all. More like a perfect summer evening with friends, dancing, great food, and for some… a lot of drinks! Exactly what we were going for. 

If everything after our wedding will go like we envision it too, our lives will continue to be filled with love, joy, family and friends.

The next day we took off to Amsterdam, for a very nice honeymoon weekender. More about that in a following blog!

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Thanks to everyone who made that day better with their help, presence, love and wishes.

 

Kristof.

 

 

A breach of silence

We’ve been very quiet the last couple of months, except for the odd Instagram post every now and then. Why I hear you ask? Well, we’ve had our reasons… Allow me to elaborate a little..

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Last summer was one to never forget for the both of us. Temperatures seemed to never drop under 25 degrees (Celsius, that is), which did have us spend pretty much every day outside, near a lake or ocean, from dawn till dusk. Therefore we never really got behind our computers. Actually we started learning to SUP (Stand-Up Paddle), and I also gave it a shot to teach Stefanie how to keep a little balance on a skateboard/longboard. For some strange reason her balance on the water is A LOT better than her balance on land. Maybe the difference in impact when falling has something to do with that, I’m not sure.

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Ofcourse we discovered, and rediscovered, some great food in different Belgian cities too. Recently, in my hometown (Overpelt), an organisation named VeggiePelt, started to convince local bars, pubs, restaurants to put at least 3 vegetarian meals on their menu, and also at least 1 vegan option. For a small town, with probably not a lot of vegans in it, that’s a huge thing. I was, and still am thrilled for it, and i wholeheartedly hope that this temporary project ends in a permanent thing! It’s a start!

Me and Stefanie also quit our jobs, and started new ones this summer.
I started working more locally, still driving a truck, and delivering beer and other beverages to local bars, pubs, cafés…
Stefanie also returned to Beringen, (where we live), to work as a communications coordinator for the city. With us both working really close to home, we can probably get rid of one of our cars soon, and do a lot more by bicycle

We move into our new house! We’re done building it, and we moved in just two weeks ago. We’re still stumbling over some cardboard boxes, but things are finally falling into place (not litteraly).  We’ll probably do a virtual house tour on Instagram, or something like that, because we’re really proud of it. Especially the kitchen area! We finally have one that really fits our needs, and allows us to invite more guests, and share a lot more photos of our culinary endeavors.

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Probably the most significant event of the summer: We got married.
July 20th was our day, and we had an amazing, unforgettable time with our friends and family. We’ll dedicate an entire post on the subject, and the short but sweet honeymoon, soon!!

So I think everyone can imagine we’ve had a lot on our plate the last months. For once i’m not talking about food specifically!!
We do hope everyone had a great summer, and will forgive us for our absense. We’re picking it up where we left it, and will share a lot more in the following weeks!

 

Take care!!
Kristof.

An Invitation To Indulge: Greenway Foods

Last friday we got invited to the launch party for the brand new veggie barbecue package from Greenway Foods The event was held at their Antwerp restaurant, smack in the middle of the city, At the ‘Groenplaats’. The package contains a burger, a sausage and a skewer. (Note: Only the burger is vegan at the moment. They are stlll working on getting the saucage and the skewer vegan too.)

Greenway has 4 restaurants in Belgium (Antwerp, Ghent, Leuven and Brussels), which gives us a chance to visit these on the regular, when we’re in either one of these cities, wether it is for business or pleasure.

This event in particular had Paul Florizoone (founder/owner of Greenway) showing his cooking skills on the barbecue for a select group of people, mainly press, (food)bloggers and influencers.
While chatting and networking with the other guests, we were presented with a welcoming drink. The refreshing homemade kefir lemonade, was a good start to this event.

But then.. the food…
To be frank, it was fingerlicking good!
Vegan garlic bread with melted cheese for starters.
(Greenway Foods is developing a new vegan cheese especially for melting, and let me tell you… it is divine! Can’t wait to buy it in stores!!)
Marinated miso eggplant. A kimchi salad with ‘licorice’ herbs. Vegan tartare sauce. Salt-crusted beetroot (Kristof didn’t succeed in the last couple of years, but Paul did. He turned me in to a beetroot lover! #beetrootrules #beetloversunite )
And ofcourse the burger. It’s a well seasoned spicy burger that works perfect on the bbq, and could be combined with a plethora of cuisines.
You can easily make it work with Mexican, Greek or Asian dishes. Or as an all American vegan burger with for instance, some pickles and corn on the cobb. It would taste great either way!

Since i’m equipped with a rather small stomach, i couldn’t possibly try every side presented on the table, so i limited myseld to the ones i thought the most interesting to try ourselves, at home. Everything looked amazing, and judging by the comments across the table, everything tasted wonderful!

And if that wasn’t enough, out came the desserts…
A perfect vegan lemoncurd cheesecake, which was super flavourful, and light at the same time, and a moist coconut chocolate cake to top things off in a pretty decadent way.

For this event i was joined by my sister Eline. Kristof had no way of ensuring he could get there in time, due to his work. He would have stuck out like a sore thumb too, because all the guest were female.

Thank you so much Greenway Foods and Greenway Antwerp for having us. We had a blast! (And gained ten pounds!!)

What is your favorite bbq recipe? Gimme!
Love, Stefanie

LET US TELL YOU ALL ABOUT EVE

We can imagine that a lot of our fellow vegans are familiar with this.
Non-vegan friends come across a facebook event, a promotional campaign, or basically anything containing the word “vegan”, and without blinking, send us a link, give us a shout, text us like: “Hey, this looks like something for you guys!”
Well, a lot of people gave us a heads up about the opening of a new concept store in our province’s capital Hasselt, that holds the idea of sustainability in high regard.
Safe to say, that we were all ears!

Yesterday was the day of the grand opening, and we wanted to check it out immediately.
The first real cold snap of the year was on it’s last legs, but still ice and a little snow made conditions a bit sketchy. However, that didn’t keep us from going. Carefull not to fall on our faces we made our way to the little shop called All About Eve.

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All About Eve is dainty shop that offers a wide range of cosmetics, skin care products, make-up, perfumes, … all of which are vegan. Evelien, the host, is  a very experienced make-up artist and truly passionate about natural, sustainable vegan products, and is very happy to supply you with the best advice and expertise, as well as giving you pointers in how to apply said products. Stefanie is probably coming back for her wedding make-up 😀

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Upon entering we were offered a complementary drink. We both settled for a non-alcoholic aperitif, a fruity sparkling drink with a raspberry in it!
Our curiosity took us upstairs to the domain of chef Bhumi.
We knew that they would serve some vegan dishes, sandwiches and a fine selection of teas, but had no idea what to expect really. We immediately noticed the very large table in the center of the room, which is an awesome way to seat people, and induce conversation between different guests, and create a very open and home-like atmosphere.
We’re always very keen on mingling with other people, hear about their experiences and stories, and more than happy to tell our own.
From the menu, we selected a delicious coconut chocolate milk to brush off the cold.
We couldn’t be happier with that decision. I want to make a special note about the biscuits that were served with the hot drinks. They are home made, and to die for, really.
If they would sell them seperately, I’d buy them by the truckload.
We took our time to inspect the menu further.

Stefanie opted for the “Aussie Brekkie”: A couple of pieces of toast, with mixed grilled veggies (Mushroom, Eggplant, Zucchini, Tomatoes), a marinated salad with pine nuts, and some sliced avocado.
Kristof’s choice, the Tiny Tempeh (not the rapper), a sandwich containing some marinated tempeh slices, romanesco, lettuce, tomato, veganaise, and ofcourse also some avocado. We both thoroughly enjoyed our meals and are compelled to visit this place very, very regularly.

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The menu also has a selection of bowl dishes on it, and even some pancakes with vegan ice cream and other stuff. We saw the reaction of the other guests when they had their bowl served before them, and we could tell that everyone was very excited, and so were we.. we’ll have to try out the rest of the menu when we come back. Soon.

 

 

DUNKIRK, A JUMP ACROSS THE BORDER.

Kristof is a gentle fella, but has a weak spot for pretty much everything that has anything to do with either the first or second world war.
Christopher Nolan’s movie Dunkirk (IMDB) made him want to visit the city of Dunkirk, and see some of the locations the movie was shot for himself.
Dunkirk played a key role in one of the most memorable events of WWII. I don’t want to spoil it for the people that haven’t seen the movie, but the evacuation of troops locked in by the German forces closing in, was quite the feat.

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Dunkirk is pretty close to the Belgian border, but we decided to leave the car at home (the motorcycle too… it was too cold anyway). We opted to go by train. We hopped on the Thalys train from Brussels to Lille, and took a taxi from Lille to Dunkirk. We booked a room at the Hotel Borel, a 4 star accomodiation near the city centre.
Upon arrival we dumped our stuff at said hotel, and made our way to the beachfront for some fresh air. We walked the entire seawall gazing into the grey skies, and green seas on one side, and little bars, bistro’s and shops on the other side. We came across numerous signs that displayed various events and information about Operation Dynamo, the operaction depicted in the movie Dunkirk.

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We also kept our eyes peeled for menu’s that had any vegan options available, but were a little bummed out by the lack of anything even remotely vegan. We understand that the market may be small for our diet of choice, but no options whatsoever… we weren’t really expected.
Luckily Stefanie always has quite the supply of snacks on her, so we obviously didn’t have to rely too heavily on finding a restaurant. We did however find a recommendation on our Happy Cow app, for the next day. Sweet!

On day two we were lucky enough to get a exclusive tour in Fort Des Dunes.
The fort played a key role during Operation Dynamo in WWII. Operation Dynamo evacuated 338.000 allied soldiers. We were a part of the first guided tour in English, and the whole organisation and touristic exploitation of the Fort is pretty new. They are still on a learning curve, but every beginning is difficult. We did get a lot of wonderful information and we’re sure that this hidden gem will become a very interesting and informative attraction very soon.

If you are interested in WWII history we can also recommend a visit to the Atlantikwall at Raversyde (more info, click here!). Their exposition and guided tours (and audio tours) are available in multiple languages, and can give you a more complete experience. Located about an hour drive from Dunkirk, along the Belgian shore, near Ostend.

We went for a meal in the city centre.
Oponopono restaurant had several veggie options.
There was one vegan burger: the “Steak au legumes”. It’s a vegetable burger with parsnip puree, red onion and fries. Pretty good! Friendly staff and a laid back atmosphere.

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Afterwards we went for a stroll in the city centre, but the cold was a little too much at times. We went back to the hotel for a warm and cosy evening in our hotel room.
In the morning we checked out. A taxi brought us back to Lille, where the Thalys train awaited us to take us home.

 

If you want to share your war tips with Kristof? Let us know here!

 

2017, YOU HAVE BEEN KIND TO US

With the year coming to a close, we find ourselves remeniscent about what has past 365 days have brought us, while pondering future endeavours.

We went on some amazing trips throughout Europe.
In July we took the bike out for a spin and visited Goes in The Netherlands.
Barcelona was a home to us for a couple of days in september. Sun, sea, beautiful architecture, amazing food AND a proposal, made it a trip to remember for eternity.
Seeing how London is only a trainride away from us in Belgium, we went there for a luxurious weekend in November.

We had some of our favorite food this year on these trips.
The avocado starter and the sweet carrot curry at De Zeeuwse Hemel in Middelburg (The Netherlands).
The Korean BBQ Báhn Mì baguette from Eat Chay at Hackney Downs Market.
I still dream of that baguette!
And the Kare Burosu ramen at Wagamama hit the spot on a cold evening.
We might just plan a trip to London for the food, but end up shopping our proverbial asses off in the process

What were your favorite foodspots this year? Dishes you remember? Places you’ll never forget?

Best wishes for the new year!
We wish you a year filled with laughter, good friends, amazing food an beautiful places!

See you in 2018!

VEGAN CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS

Christmas shopping… Love it or hate it. Busy city streets, shops filled to the brim with either decorations, pretty lights, or people going bananas. Wether you prefer to endure the physical endeavour of visiting the shops, or go on an online shopping frenzy…  we have some tips for you, and your vegan (or non-vegan gift recipients!)
A vegan lifestyle can mean so much more than just a vegan diet, so we’re listing a couple of shops, webshops,… that extend veganism in various directions.

Bazaar Deluxe is a fashion brand that operates from Belgium. Hsuan and Michal design clothes for the vocal vegans among us. Tank tops, t-shirts, sweatshirts… all of which are fabricated in an eco friendly and cruelty free manner!

By Blanch is an ethical and vegan shoe brand, based in France. Owned by Mireia M. Blanch, born and raised in Barcelona, and passionate about cruelty free fashion, and her plant-based diet!
Personally, I’ve had my eye on these pretty green boots ever since I spotted them at the vegan fair in Brussels. Just look at them!!!

Dr. Martens
Many of you might know, some of you might not, But you can get your hands on some awesome vegan Docs. We both like them a lot, and will probably always have a pair in our closet, or on our feet.

Joeke Vandermeer makes some of the most original and beautiful illustrations of animals. Recently she started making mugs, dinner plates, bowls, everything to embellish your christmas table, and wow your guests…
We love her stuff!

Lush has quite an array of vegan cosmetics available, but we’re primarily stoked on the vegan-friendly bath bombs. They have special christmas versions available during the holiday season!

Etsy is also a home for a lot of our creative vegan friends. You can find an almost infinite amount of fun stuff on there, and buy directly from the creator!

Ofcourse a coupon for their/your/our favorite restaurant is always an option.
We love eating at De Gastvrijheid , Loving Hut,  or De Levensboom
All of these restaurants are located in Belgium.

Or choose to support local charities, animal shelters…
They will always welcome helping hands, and donations!!

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!!!