American style in Brussels

Confession: I’m obsessed with home decor magazines. They are truly my guilty pleasure. I have stacks of them around the house and buy one every time I’m in a newsagent. There’s something about slowing scanning the photo spreads of incredible homes that fills me with inspiration and simply makes me happy. I can’t get enough of them. So when I travel for work, which has been often lately, I always buy a couple to read during the journey.

While running to catch the Eurostar back from London last week I picked up a copy of the US edition of Elle Decor (one of my favs). I was quietly flipping through the magazine on the train and nearly shouted out with delight when I came across a feature on an apartment in Brussels!

Elle Decor - An Eclectic Home in Brussels

The home of Melañio Gomez and Chris Kangas, an American couple who moved here from New York seven years ago, is a beautiful and unique space in an Art Deco building in Ixelles. (Maybe we’re neighbors??) I love the subtle mix of high and low end furnishings, which somehow is a perfect combination of American and Belgian sensibilities.

Elle Decor - An Eclectic Home in Brussels

The apartment features some great designer pieces like the vintage Knoll leather sofa and Eames dining room chairs, but I’m most impressed with all of their flea market finds. Can we please be friends and go shopping together?!

Elle Decor - An Eclectic Home in Brussels

How cool is that metal bench that they found in a dumpster and topped with a mohair cushion?! And I love the DIY creations in the office. The desk is an Ikea tabletop with legs from a brocant. Right up my alley! (Flea market trolling and IKEA hacking are my two favorite past times :))

Elle Decor - An Eclectic Home in Brussels

I’m also digging the blue walls in the guest room, a lovely blend of moody and cozy, perfect for Brussels.

Elle Decor - An Eclectic Home in Brussels

Melañio and Chris, like many of us, have ended up staying in Brussels much longer than planned and say “we’re still not ready to leave”. This city just sort of grows on you, and with an amazing apartment like that, why would anyone ever want to move?

All photos by Richard Powers for Elle Decor.

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I’m baaack!

Yesterday was one of those great days in Brussels. The sun was shining, temperatures reached 20C and everyone was outside making the most of it. I took a stroll around Flagey market, joined friends for brunch at Belga Cafe, did a loop around the Ixelles ponds and the Abbey, and just generally soaked up the warmth and good atmosphere. This winter hasn’t been especially harsh, but the city completely changed over the weekend with the first signs of spring. Such a glorious day truly brings out the best of Brussels which has inspired me to return to this blog.

I know, I know. I’ve been away for almost a year. But let me explain – I had a baby. For those of you who have been there, no further explanation needed. For those of you who haven’t, free time (to do frivolous things like writing) all but disappears. The first few months are now a blur. Once my brain power started to return to full capacity, I needed every ounce to get back to work. Over the past months I’ve thought occasionally about things I should be sharing on this blog but just haven’t quite mustered the strength, or enough quiet moments alone, to actually sit down and type.

But no more excuses. I’m back! Now that said, being back may take on a slightly different form than in the past. The nature, and speed, of life has changed and I’m afraid so have the things I do around Brussels. The husband and I still like to discover new restaurants, but just not as often. I still like to find unique things to do and see around the city, but just not as many. I still want to share the best of Brussels with everyone so am going to start posting again, but maybe just not as regularly as in the past. 🙂

If you’re one of my great readers from before or if you’re brand new to Brussels, I hope you’ll join me (again) on my search to find the best this town has to offer! In the meantime, here are a few snaps from my walk around the neighborhood yesterday. See you all soon!

Abbaye de La Cambre

Abbaye de La Cambre

Abbaye de La Cambre

Abbaye de La Cambre

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Hello, anyone there?

This post is long overdue. It’s been more than a month since my last update to this blog so apologies if you thought I had fallen off the face of the earth. But trust me, I’ve got a couple of good reasons for my absence of late.

As mentioned in my New Year’s resolution post, I started a new job in January which has kept me pretty busy over the past couple of months. There’s another bit of news that has slowed me down recently as well – I’m pregnant! I’m due in early June so am almost 7 months along (yikes!), which is making life more challenging by the day. The second trimester was pretty good but these days I’m feeling more like Elizabeth Banks in What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

And to top it all off, we are moving house. Like I needed one more thing contributing to stress and fatigue levels at the moment! So hopefully you can excuse me for not posting over the past few weeks. 🙂

I promise that I’ll be back soon to write about the best of Brussels and my favourite things in this city. In the meantime, you can find me over on  Twitter and Facebook where I’ll keep sharing all sorts of Brussels goodness that I come across. And if you’re going through any of the above (hopefully not all at the same time like me), here are a few links to help you out.

If you’re new to Brussels or just have a new job…

LinkedIn Expats Networking in Brussels group

International Young Women Partnership

Young Professionals in Foreign Policy

Newcomers to Brussels

or having a baby in Brussels…

Brussels Baby Book (also see the Facebook page)

Brussels Childbirth Trust (I’ve signed up for their prenatal classes)

Antenatal and Baby (classes, midwifery services, support group)

or if you’re moving…

Online list of moving companies and a moving checklist (we’re using Scholts)

Thanks for understanding and see you all back here soon!

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Foodie Fridays – El Turco

If you work in the Place Luxembourg area, you are likely already familiar with El Turco. Having just started a new job in the neighborhood, it was a welcome discovery after years of cafeteria eating. Located on Rue du Trone just around the corner from Place de Londres, El Turco is a cross between a high-quality deli, restaurant and bar. Similar to others in my office, I’ve quickly become a fan, stopping by at least once a week.

As the name suggests, the food (and I’m assuming the owner as well) is Turkish. Laid out in a self-service buffet, the various cold and hot dishes change daily and offer a wide variety of choice. The website describes the food as “Mediterranean cuisine with Ottoman influences”. Sounds pretty good to me.

El Turco Brussels

I’m partial to the humus, grilled aubergine, fresh salads and usually go for one of the hot dishes, like chicken or lamb on the side. They also have delicious prepared items like feta cheese in pastry and vegetable tarte which are hard to resist. They even have typical Turkish bread like you would find sold on the streets of Istanbul.

Once you’ve filled your plate, or take-away box, and reached the cash register, the payment is simple – the cost is based on weight. They have a selection of drinks and a few desserts to choose from as well. If you decide to eat in, you can always go back for seconds, which is tempting as everything I’ve tried to date has been delicious. In total, I usually pay around €10, depending on how hungry I am on a particular day. 🙂 Not cheap for lunch, but worth every bite.

El Turco Brussels

If you’re looking for something different for a meeting (who else never wants to see an open-faced sandwich again?), El Turco offers catering and lunchbox delivery. The cold mezze buffet is €12 per person, with a supplement of €3 per person for hot food. The lunchbox is a pretty good deal at €9 per person, which includes 5 cold mezze and 2 warm dishes (minimum of 5 boxes for delivery).

The kitchen is open all week for lunch and also for dinner from Wednesday to Friday. There’s currently a special deal running for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights – an all you can eat buffet for €20. They also can open on Monday and Saturday nights for group reservations (minimum 30 people).

El Turco Brussels

As mentioned, El Turco also has a bar, which is located in the back of the restaurant (or via Place de Londres entrance). I’ve not yet gone for an after work drink, but it would be a good place to stop between the office and the metro after a long day. They have live music on Friday nights to liven the mood. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming events.

Afiyet olsun! (That’s bon appetit in Turkish, at least according to Google translate :))

73 Rue du Trone (6 Place de Londres), 1050 Ixelles
Tel: +32 2 503 3648
Open: Kitchen – Monday to Friday, 11am-3pm, Wednesday to Friday, 6-10pm; Bar – Tuesday to Friday, 5pm to late

Images via El Turco.

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