Dat het niet goed gaat met dit land...

Wanneer een manifestatie tegen deze 1-jaar extreem rechtse regering op een miezerige woensdagmorgen zoveel volk op de been brengt, kan je wel stellen dat het niet goed gaat met dit land. Dit stemt mij droevig. Bij het aanschouwen van de troepen vanop mijn fiets springen de tranen me bijna in de ogen.

Ik zie veel rood, veel groen en hier en daar wat blauw. Vanuit mijn keuken in Schaarbeek terwijl ik achter het fornuis mijn linzensoep maak, hoor ik ontzettend veel lawaai. Het zijn vooral de bommetjes die opvallen. Het geluid houdt aan en wordt alsmaar sterker. Met de fiets is het amper 5 minuten rijden tot aan het noordstation. Mijn nieuwsgierigheid krijgt al gauw de bovenhand en weg ben ik.

Vanuit alle gaten in het station stroomt de menigte toe. Met toeters en bellen en veel pancardes. Dat ze woedend zijn op deze regering leidt geen twijfel. Toch loopt iedereen rustig mee.

Toen ik nog werknemer was, alweer bijna twintig jaar geleden, heb ik nooit de nood gevoeld me over de binnenlandse politiek te uiten. Na meer dan vijftien jaar als zelfstandige heb ik die behoefte wél.
Helaas bestaat er voor ons, zelfstandigen, geen vakbond of vereniging die voor onze rechten vecht.

Ik heb begrip, veel begrip voor deze mensen die hun koopkracht ten gronde zien gaan, die steeds langer moeten blijven werken en van een deftig pensioen niet zeker meer zijn. En deze regering doet niets.

Het duurt niet lang meer voor ik weg ben uit dit land. Niet dat er niets goeds te melden valt. Oh no. Maar mijn strijd hier is alvast gestreden. Ik heb me blauw betaald aan belastingen en sociale zekerheid, en wat heb ik ervoor in de plaats gekregen? Mij krom gewerkt wegens gebrek aan een betaalbare hulp. Notarissen en apothekers zijn een beschermd beroep. Maar kamers kan Janneke en Piereke verhuren. En nu is het wellekes geweest.

Oh Dierbaar Belgiê, ik heb je lief. ik zie je graag maar nog liever vanop de andere kant van het water !

Eating out in Buenos Aires Japanese Style

I admit, it has been awhile. But a few good dining experiences in Buenos Aires are always a good excuse for writing.

It is Winter in this town, cold, grey, humid. In between meetings and visiting my 'chantier', it is a no do to jump in the swimming pool. So I dine & wine.

'Osaka' in Palermo is the first place I try. It has been on my list for some time, and since I am staying just around the corner till tomorrow, this is my chance.

Osaka: degustacion de ceviche

I am early and get a seat at the bar from where I can follow the kitchen activity. I am one of the first, still on European time. Portenos eat late and I need to get used to it again. 'Osaka's cuisine is an homage to both Peruvian and Japanese culture, rooted in thousands of years of culinary tradition. I opt for three kinds of niguiri sushi, marinated first in orange juice or pisco.
I eat while watching the colorful dishes being prepared in front of my curious eye. Every bit and bite tastes heavenly.
The food is not cheap here, but worth every peso I spent.

Since I wonna try some restaurants in the 'Marcel' area, I remembered going back to 'Ichisou',
My sushi assortment at Ichisou

a typical family run Japanese restaurant just a few blocks down from my hotel on calle Venezuela. Allow me to say the sushi I had was an orgasmic experience. Yes, I said it. The place is nothing fancy and could do with a subtle make-over. But god, what they serve here is beyond doubt the best sushi in town, if not the best I ever had. Never dare to say this place is expensive as one French lady once did. For a 12-piece assortment of niguiri, one green tea, miso soup and a green tea ice-cream, I paid 22$, or 21€, that is after the 10% discount I got for paying cash. Cause this is Argentina: change your dollars in a cueva first, and get 50% more value for money; than pay cash and they will grant you a discount on food, furniture...

They will also tell you prices will go up to make you buy, right then and there. And indeed, prices do go up. But as long as the dollar blue remains strong, Argentina will remain, relatively, cheap, at least for us, Americans and Europeans.

Next time I am around, I will be living here. 'Shabu Shabu' on Moreno will hopefully be open then. It came highly recommended to me by a Japanese lady I met at 'El Beso' this week. And that means something !

So if you like Japanese food, then staying at the
'Marcel de Buenos Aires' is your perfect choice. 'Yuki' at equally just 7 blocks away is another highly recommended Japanese gourmet temple too.


"Osaka", Soler 5608, Buenos Aires www.osaka.com.pe

"Ichisou", Venezuela 2145, BA *

"Yuki", Pasco 740, BA *

"Shabu Shabu" or "Nipponbashi", Moreno 2095, BA *

Permaculture, permafungi in the heart of the city...

The official start of Summer was not going to be a sunny day, so I was happy to have registered for the ‘Permafungi workshop’ in stead. I first read about the possibility of growing oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds while visiting an exhibition called ‘Safe food from the Fridge ‘ held at the Belgian seaside town Bredene last Summer. Then I had the chance to visit their ‘caves’ at the Tour & Taxis site in Brussel and have a taste.

They were so yummy but taking into account the precautions necessary to keep ‘bacterial intruders’ out of the coffee grounds and straw mixture, I figured I would never be able to do this myself. Till yesterday …

The workshop wasn’t cheap, 50 € to be paid twice since my daughter decided to join me. But it would last from 11 am till 1630 pm, and so, I figured, worthwhile.

And it WAS ! I returned home with two large ‘sausages’ each, good to harvest 4 x 1,5 kg of oyster mushrooms at home in just a few weeks from now.

How did it go? Well, Stein, our Flemish speaking host took us around the production site first.  Growing mushrooms occurs in three phases:
1.     inoculation
2.     incubation
3.     fructification

To keep the temperature stable in the three rooms and not to ‘infect’ the different processes, we were only offered a small glimpse of the fructification.
For lunch we had omelette, salad and cheese together with plenty of the oyster mushrooms from the permafungi place. Then it was time for us to try…

Per 2 persons we received a big white plastic box we had to disinfect first. Stein would then weigh and distribute 1,25 kg of coffee grounds. Next, 5% of the total, i.e. 125 g of mycelium is  added to the coffee grounds. At last, another 1,25 kg of pasteurised straw is mixed with the coffee grounds. The mixture, called substrate, is then squeezed into large transparent plastic bags, closed by tying a knot.  Nerjis and I made two each, four in total.

They now hang in the space of my loft where the heater is. Ready for the incubation. With a permanent 20° C the temperature in there is right and it is permanently dark in the room too. In 20 days from now my now dark brown bags should be white.

When the bags will be entirely ‘colonised’ I will have to take them out of there and hang them where there is more light and where it is humid to allow for the fructification to start. Up to ten days later I should be ready for my first harvest !

Time to figure out a recipe ! Or with 6 kgs of oyster mushrooms on the way, more recipes than 1.

If all goes well, I will give it a try at the Marcel de Buenos Aires, the small ecological boutique hotel I am soon launching in Buenos Aires. I already have a beehive, a henhouse, now I hopefully know how to grow mushrooms from the coffee grounds of the hotel… 

It's berry time ...

It's berry time, even in my 'shared' city garden. They grow every year, but this year there are more than any other previous year. This must be global warming !  And each year I see the pigeons having a ball! Not this time. I will have my share.

It is lightly windy, the berries are dry and I for once have time to pick them. In less than fifteen minutes I collect what I guess a good kilo of the berries that grow along the wall of the parking lot where I live. They are juicy and tasty !

Mmmmm what will I do with them? I'll bake gluten gree pancakes for breakfast tomorrow morning. Maybe I can serve them with berry jam? I'll give it a try !

Insalata Caprese ... my way

 I guess all of you know how to prepare a decent ‘insalata caprese’. It is the Italian dish ‘par excellence’, found in every Italian restaurant worth the name.

I also remember having promised to teach you how to make ghee this time.  That promise will be kept, only just not now. I have a better idea….

Sharing my 

left overs
out -of -the-fridge
inspired version of the Caprese.

I have a few bio-cherry tomatoes, well, not in the fridge. That’s NOT the best way to preserve them. Two daily fresh mozzarelle de buffola. Don’t settle for anything less !
In the fridge I discover the last fresh young garlic I did not use in the pasta of yesterday.
My homemade gluten free bread has to be eaten before it goes bad.
Well, seems like I have all I need!

Cut the fresh young garlic in thin slices and fry in a pan. If you like cumin, fry the cumin seeds too. Just mix both.

Meanwhile, cut the mozzarelle in slices with a ceramic knife. Then half the beautiful cherry tomatoes. They will keep the sun in them if you keep them out of the fridge.
Poor olive oil over the mozzarella, then add pepper and salt. If you have some fleur de sel, then wait till you have first distributed the nicely fried young garlic over the mozzarella.

Serve with bread as I did with my gluten free version.

Healthy ! Yummy !  

Asparagus and Strawberries make the Perfect Meal !

I am no Jamie Oliver nor a Jeroen Meeus, but I know how to cook. I love it too. And I definitely know how to eat !

And what is better than to cook with fresh premium ingredients from your own soil. When last week I went on a bike ride with a friend through the #Scheldeland, we ended up stopping in Wintam at the local asparagus farmer. We bought white asparagus fresh from the day, sweet strawberries, gorgeous raspberries, new harvest potatoes, eggs and cauliflower. We needed good butter and excellent wine to make the perfect meal. As it tasted so good, I returned to the same farmer a week later.

Back home, I cooked the same meal, only this time somehow better prepared. All it missed the first time was some soft white cheese to top the strawberry desert.

Curious enough now? Well, here is my secret:

wash the fresh potatoes and boil them till soft - boil the eggs, 1 per person till hard, then crush with a fork in a deep plate - meanwhile peel the asparagus with an asparagus peeler ( sounds logic, doesn't it ) - then boil in lightly salted water and add some butter to it too - when almost soft, turn off the heat and let sit in the water for an additional 10 minutes - then drain - 
melt the butter and add ground pepper to the melting butter

serve the asparagus topped with the crushed eggs, poor over the butter and serve with the cooked potatoes - add salt and pepper to your own taste

Don't forget Desert : 

cut the strawberries in 4 parts, put in a bowl and add some brown sugar, then mix; turn and let the sugar bring out the juice of the strawberries  ( do NOT put in the fridge )

mix the soft white cheese with 1 or 2 egg yolks ( depending on the qty of the cheese ) and 1 or 2 bags of vanilla sugar - return the mixture to the fridge till ready to serve
divide the strawberries into the bowls ( count at least 150 g / pp )

Top the strawberries with the white cheese and sprinkle some chopped mint leaves on top

You are now ready to taste heaven !

Enjoy !

P.S. : And next time, I'll teach you how to make ghee

Shopping in Brussels

Shopping in Brussels can be fun, but tiring too. My daughter needs a cotton white dress for the school party and paint to dye that same dress. I accept going there today, but I need ice cream first.

Probably the best ice cream in the capital  is Comus & Gasterea. The French guy who runs the place on his own once quit his busy job to turn to making ice cream.  Nerjis chooses strawberry and speculoos in a cone; I go for the caramel salé and yasmin – ginger flavour without the cone. It tastes absolutely delicious. Too bad his place is not just around my corner…

From the Quai aux Briques we head for the Muntplein. I insist on a short stop at ‘De Standaard Boekhandel’ and walk out with a ‘Memo’, a magazine on history which looks promising.

At the Veritas they only sell dye for natural fibers. And the dress we bought yesterday at the H&M is but that. The lady at H&M makes no objection when we return the dress even with the ticket left at home. She shows a rarely seen efficiency and speed in every move she makes. Wow!

As Primark is just next door, Nerjis wants to give it a try. I look at the people in the queue and am about to resist.  It looks like the whole of Belgium is trying to get in. All of a sudden the line moves at a rapid speed and we can all go inside.
I hate it instantly. Poor quality, ‘franatic’ buyers, endless lines everywhere.  And yet, our Primark experience has a lot in common with shopping at Ikea. What you need, they don’t have; and what you buy, you don’t need. Somehow, that’s not completely true. I just hope the 2€ shampoo is of decent quality.


In rue Neuve sits an older man from Moroccan origin. He is cutting empty metal cans and by folding the cut sides he turns the re-used cans into candle holders. I admire his creativity and ecological spirit and buy one for 1 €. 

Where did time fly? My legs hurt and I need to get away from here, far away from the busy streets of the center. I love Brussels but half a day rue Neuve is more than I can take.