Antwerp and Brussels: A Tale of Two Bakeries

IMG_3122Just after I  had stopped in and chatted with the owner of the only biodynamic bakery I’d ever seen (De Biologisch Dynamische Bakkerijin in Antwerp) I walked down a quiet side street and saw the above door which I thought was just too adorable not to share.

The bakery is soon to change its sign and just become bio or organic as we would say on these shore.  The owner (sorry I didn’t get his name) was talking to me about how difficult it was to get flour that was biodynamic and that most of it came from Canada and that part of the mandate of biodynamically grown foods was that they should be local. It was a fascinating conversation and bakery couldn’t be more charming.  IMG_3101They have a wonderful outdoor sitting area for lunch/coffee/wine/sweets with more seating inside along with, of course a bakery counter.  These cookies below were actually more like hearty crackers as they were not so sweet but tasted great with cheese.IMG_3105 My attempted to capture the window display was not so successful.  IMG_3103What I most liked about this place, other than their politics and dedication to local sustainability was how even though the aesthetic bordered on granola bar hippy coffee house it actually has a very chill chic feeling.  I would have been very happy to have come in the afternoon and read a good book while I drank coffee and ate too many baked goods. pastryshopRenard is a world away from de biologisch dynamische bakkerij – it is a classic traditional French bakery on a lively shopping street in the Ixelles district of Brussels near the upscale shopping street Avenue Louise. Oddly Place Fernand Cocqplein where Renard is located is at the end of a very typical local shopping street.  I had come across it by chance, after looking with no initial success for the restaurant I wanted to dine out at that evening and have moules frites I ended up across the street from Renard having lunch.pastry2

pastry4The 1950’s facade only added to the charm and old fashion bakery feel of this place.  The window was large and packed filled with a vast array of tarts and pies.   Prune, Apricot, Gooseberry and Rhubarb, things you would never really see here – fruit driven and all of them with a sour side.  In part I loved it so much because these are some of my favorite fruits, and I’ve never seen just a rhubarb pie in NYC certainly not Gooseberry and fruit so rare here I’d doubt most people could even name it.pastry3Inside in the case with better refrigeration was an endless array of traditional french pastries.pastry

pastry1It’s moments like these where my mind wanders to what it would be like to live in this neighborhood and have a bakery like this  around the corner?  As much as I love the visual display and the awesome assortment I think it wouldn’t inspire me to want to shop there as it would to window shop for inspiration to take home and see what I could bake in my own oven – OK sure maybe every now and again a little something to just as a treat 😉

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note:
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2 Responses to Antwerp and Brussels: A Tale of Two Bakeries

  1. Frank Canino says:

    Tooo scrumptious…….how I envy you…………finished a new script…..but why>………hope to visit nyc soon but have to get to Toronto first.



  2. Pingback: A Family Tradition | Urbanfoodguy

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