Friday, 21 February 2014

Broad Bean Blossoms

The last couple of days have been unseasonably warm for the time of year, and my broad beans have been flowering away. I planted three seeds in November - all have sprouted, but this particular plant is the strongest (and now prettiest!) looking of the lot. The blossoms seem so delicate, and up close, smell very sweet. I hope this means I'll get to enjoy some broad beans in a couple of months.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Fast Food Brussels

So, I went to Brussels last week! Which you would have known if you bothered to follow me on Instagram (or 'Instant-gram', as the Manbacon calls it). It ain't all fine-dining in fancy restaurants when I'm on holiday...sometimes I get to eat some fast food too. 
The interior at Exki in Porte de Namur
Exki is a Belgian chain in the vein of Pret a Manger/Itsu, and they seem to be everywhere in Brussels. We went to the branch in Porte de Namur, because we needed to calm down after a visit to the Dino Museum where we were surrounded by rowdy toddlers.

The food is precisely what you'd expect from such places - clean-looking, supposedly healthy sandwiches, pastas, noodle dishes, soups and drinks. Their staff are cheery and wholesome-looking, and the dining room upstairs was bright, airy, and warm, with a mix of Ikea-style and random 'vintage' furniture. All very clean, as you'd expect. It made me feel a little like I should have wiped my battered plimsolls on the mat before entering. They also provide complimentary Wifi, so you can grab a couple of drinks and while away an afternoon if you're so inclined.

Manbacon went for a roast chicken sandwich from the refrigerated section - probably not the best choice on a blustery cold Brussels afternoon. So it wasn't much of a surprise when he said he didn't think much of it. The single bite I made tasted rather...indistinct, and certainly didn't make me want to have more. In fact, I'd initially assumed the beige, insipid-tasting meat was some sort of turkey, until informed otherwise. My quiche, on the other hand, was pleasantly warm and had generous portions of bacon and ham in it. What else can I say about it? It was a salty warm quiche, I had no complains.

Exki (locations all around Brussels)
Bacon, ham and cheese quiche
Phillipa - roast chicken sandwich with a carrot and ginger emulsion, salad and olive oil dressing
Hector on De Brouckere
How could we resist the bright lights of Hector? It seemed so out of place, a fried chicken joint right beside our fancypants hotel. We'd been burning through episodes of Breaking Bad, and if you've seen it, you'll know that a fried chicken restaurant is almost a major character in the series. Part of us really, REALLY wanted to meet a Belgian Gus Fring and maybe uncover a major meth business. The other parts just wanted to sit in a warm place and indulge in some fried chicken.

Unfortunately, Gus didn't seem to be at work the day we were there. We relayed our orders to the two guys industriously frying up coated chicken pieces, then took a tray and slid it towards the cashier, stopping to help ourselves to drinks and sauces ('Samourai' and 'Andalouse'). The experience was reminiscent of school lunchtimes. 
No. 3 - Wings, chips and coleslaw
And the fried chicken? Not bad...but not up there with my current favourite fried chicken place - Chicken Inn on Rye Lane. The wings were juicy enough, although rather unevenly crispy. There certainly wasn't a pleasurable shattering of batter when I bit into it. Still, it's a stack of hot fried chicken and chips, so who am I to complain? Also a side of coleslaw and requisite limp lettuce leaf, for the, y'know, vitamins and that. No blue meth on the side. 

Hector (locations all around Brussels)
No. 4 - Chicken tenders, chips and coleslaw

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Folksy Front

It doesn't happen too often, but when it feels like a treat everytime I go on to Folksy or Etsy and see one of my items included in the front page.