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    – 09 décembre 2015 –

    December has arrived. Atrium.Brussels has not skipped the tradition of the Advent calendar; we have identified 24 themes which we believe have marked 2015 for Brussels trade. Discover them through four articles which will appear in the weeks leading up to the holiday period. Today, we give you six commercial products that have defined this year.

    Beer: the large kriek is calling me!

    Five years ago, the breweries of Brussels had nearly all been laid to rest. Our capital then had just one remaining, the Brasserie Cantillon,
    the last soldier to hold the brewing fort and defend the national treasure in the Brussels region.

    On 22 December 2010, the ancient brewery received support from the young and spontaneous Brasserie de la Senne in Molenbeek. And since beer that flows gathers froth, in the space of two years, Brussels doubled its hops, through the Brussels Beer Project and En Stoemelings. Then, in 2015, came the micro breweries and speciality beer shops.

    This young generation of passionate brewers and sellers is ambitious. Its goal? To revitalise the capital’s brewery supply and offer a more educational tasting. This step up gives Belgians something to celebrate, having lost nothing from this evolution.

    Brussels does not lack breweries; it lacks rejuvenation in terms of brewery supply. For a long time we have relied on our good old traditional recipes. People are now in search of new flavours; Beerstorming allows amateur brewers to create them themselves.

    Arthur Ries, Beerstorming

    3 key dates:

    • End of 2014: Malt Attacks  on rue Jean Volders in Saint-Gilles entered the brewing arena. This artisanal beer shop also offers Brew It Yourself gladiators raw materials and brewing equipment.
    • 29 October: in Saint-Gilles, chaussée d’Alsemberg welcomed Beerstorming. The idea? To create an educational and fun place to learn about making beer and allow visitors to think up their own beer.
    • 29 October: Chef, un p’tit verre, on a soif! (Chef, get us a little glass, we’re thirsty!) The famous song by Grand Jojo no longer fits in Saint-Gilles; after Malt Attacks and Beerstorming, it was Dynamo‘s turn to launch on chaussée d’Alsemberg. This thirst-quenching bar offers no less than 18 beers on tap.

    Malt Attacks

    Meat…is making a din(ner)

    Statistics say Belgians are eating less and less meat. In Brussels, protein food is not necessarily dying out, quite the contrary. Less meat, perhaps! Better quality, that’s for certain.  In 2015, meat made a din(ner) in Brussels districts. From Molenbeek to Louise, through Sainte-Catherine and the city centre, it made short work of a our capital.

    Irish, French, Spanish, Belgian and Italian; all kinds of meat can now be found. Halal meat, smoked, grilled or matured meats; all kinds are proudly on display in the window and on the menus of many restaurants. There is no doubt that there is more than enough to go round!

    Whether behind counters or inside sur place, passionate traders loudly advertise their strengths: quality, authenticity, respect for the land and artisanal savoir-faire. All are desperate to share their passion, let the public discover or rediscover the art of meat. Every butcher has his sausage.

    We meet a lot of customers who tell us they prefer to come to Colonel from time to time to eat a nice piece of meat, selected and handled according to the rules of art, rather than eat it every day without knowing what they are swallowing.

    Anaïs Droeven , la femme du Colonel

    3 key dates:

    • End of 2014: Colonel, a chic brasserie in the Louise district stood to attention on rue Jean Stas 24 in Saint-Gilles.
    • February: the famous Irish butcher Jack O’Shea began juggling between knives and ovens in the Sainte-Catherine district.
    • 10 August: Le Palais de Balkis opened the first halal and organic charcuterie in Belgium at 163A, chaussée de Gand, in Molenbeek.


    Café bars: like being at home

    Café bars have been multiplying for some years now. In 2015, three newcomers confirmed the trend and launched business on the Brussels scene. It’s no surprise when you visit them the sheer number of “excuses” people have to get there.

    There is the hasty takeaway morning coffee, the strong business meeting coffee, or the slowly sipped coffee enjoyed over an afternoon of reading. The list is long. Faced with this plethora of offers, the basic formula – coffee or tea, free wifi and snacks – is no longer enough.

    It’s up to each establishment to develop its own concept and generate the feeling (almost) of being at home. The quality of the product, hospitality, ambience, décor, furniture and lighting… The combination of these different components must be able to host professional or personal settings in life, but also be cosy and comfy.

    Many customers spend the day working here. Places like ours offer them an alternative, different surroundings for their office or home.

    Sydney Daude et Anouar Ben Abouda, Poz Café

    3 key dates:

    • 28 April: with home-made preparations, a cosy ambience, brick décor and wooden furniture, Hinterland set up shop at 179, chaussée de Charleroi in Saint-Gilles.
    •  13 May: Poz Café opened up a warm, welcoming and cosy setting with coffee prepared 100% the Italian way at 92, rue Defacqz in Saint-Gilles.
    • 27 May: from bean to cup, since this date Yuka Espresso Bar has brought a touch of artisan to boulevard Anspach.


    Literary cafés: books are in fashion

    For Baudelaire, a taste of Bordeaux. Hemingway? A coffee! Jane Austen, a green tea: each reader has their tastes, each author has their aroma! Marrying food for the body with food for the mind is another idea that seems to have sprouted in the minds of many librophiles.

    While the concept, developed in Paris in the 17th century, is nothing new, it marks a new wave nevertheless in our capital… At a time when the book market is slumping, 2015 has witnessed the rise of numerous literary cafés in Brussels. These establishments offer the customer a selection of books, as well as drinks and/or snacks to complement reading.

    Literary cafés are the way to shut the world out while whetting your appetite, the proven trick of leaving home while still feeling like you’re there… Activities, workshops, exhibitions or book clubs, with the passion for literature in capital letters and e-reading in lower case.

    Our concept is conviviality. While our various activities often revolve around books, they attract people who are not necessarily regular readers. Primarily they are seeking a place of exchange.

    Ariane Herman, Tulitu

    3 key dates:

    • February: a maple leaf fell at 55, rue de Flandre. Tulitu, is a light wood bookshop, dedicated to Quebec and LGBT books. There are no drinks or snacks here, apart from the opening of a good bottle at the various events held regularly there.
    • 5 March: Livresse – Bar à livres at 26, Marché aux Porcs, began offering crates of books … and wines! This independent bookshop combines the pleasures of the mind with those of the palate, offering customers works of various genres and a beautiful range of Anjou wines.
    • 5 August: since this date, a young Brussels woman appears to have found a solution to the book crisis; in Parade – café littéraire, the books are not only viewable on-site but also available to hire. Belgian authors are honoured, complemented by quick and ethical snacks.


    Yoghurts…in glamorous fashion

    Dating back to 8500 years BC, yoghurt is milk fermented by the development of thermophilic lactic acid bacteria, and is very popular in Turkey, Greece, the Middle East and India. That’s it for history. While for many, it seems synonymous with dieting, in 2015, the situation has seemed to be changing, and Brussels now sees yoghurt as a glamorous, fashionable product.

    Very popular in the United States, where their frozen version dates back to the ’80s, we were kept waiting for its arrival in our capital. Success took no time at all, however. So much so that in addition to its food truck, Mellow Kitchen this year set up a fixed counter in Place de Londres.

    Far from being a slimming product or the end result from mum’s yoghurt-maker, its flavours and colours are the customer’s choice. Almost anything is possible. The sweet varieties can be married with seeds, fruit, sweets or biscuits. The savoury varieties, in the form of sauce, jazz up a number of hot dishes. Fresh or frozen, breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner; Holy Moly, it’s good!

    We already had a large customer base through our food truck when Brussels was still in the infancy of this trend. At the shop the range is completely customisable, with base products that can be complemented according to your tastes.

    Noémie et Margaux De Clercq, Mellow Kitchen

    2 key dates:

    • March: in Place de Londres, Mellow Kitchen began offering its customisable comfort food from a fixed location, sweet and savoury: frozen yoghurt, pancakes, hot drinks and smoothies.
    • April: at 14, rue du Bailli, Yoghurt Farm began making yoghurt its king and farm-to-table its queen. Fresh, frozen, sweet, savoury, a great place to eat light, healthy food.

    Yoghurt Farm

    Bread: the renaissance of millers

    Bread is one of the few commodities not to have welcomed the end of the Second World War. A warm brown colour during the darkest period of history, it was whitened after the Second World War. After famine came consumption to excess, which, for bread, led to the use of flour from roller mills, production with manual override and industrial yeast.

    Destabilised by this higher demand for the whitest and most risen round loaves possible, country bakers were often forced to shut down their ovens. In 1993, France was gladly saved, with the publication of the traditional French bread decree, which prohibits additives. This prompted passionate artisans to roll up their sleeves and get back to work with dough and yeast, saving the trade from near abandon.

    Was 2015 a prosperous period for chef-bakers, taste adventurers who are reinventing their trade through signature bread and specialities from here and elsewhere? Their inventiveness and professionalism have in any case brought this staple food to the haute cuisine table: a godsend for fans of pistolet (a Brussels variety of bread) and brioche.

    Tartine et Boterham aims to promote extremely talented Brussels bakers/pastry chefs who do not always have the time or inclination to put their address on-line. Through our website, we want to make the people of Brussels aware of the expertise of artisans in our capital.

    Géry Brusselmans, Tartine et Boterham

    3 key dates:

    • February: satisfying food lovers daily, it’s a piece of…Gâteau! The artisanal bakery in Etterbeek began offering a range of foodstuffs made in its atelier with quality raw ingredients.
    • 10 August: Rémy Barat set up his example of Parisian savoir-faire in Place de Saint-Job, Uccle. Barat offers traditional bread based on CRC flour and natural yeast, but it is also a cheese shop, pâtisserie and dairy specialist.
    • 15 November: delightful, artisanal, it’s Tartine et Boterham. The journalist Géry Brusselmans has listed artisanal bakeries on an internet site.



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