Antwerp trip: day 1

Antwerp! Yay! I was here about a year ago (for a comic con of sorts) and had fallen in love with the city! So, where else to go for a weekend off? Exactly. I decided to take my glutard on a gastronomic weekend trip to Antwerp.

Doing my research was probably the most fun. I loved looking through all the different sites and reviews by practically anyone: I read other casual bloggers’ posts about Antwerp and also some professional ones. So about a week before we got here I was prepared: the best coffee lounges, the best gluten free lunch and dinner locations and I was even pleasantly surprised to have found a specialty gluten free bakery!!

So, on Friday, January 30th our journey to the great gluten free oasis of Antwerp began. After a short trip of only 2,5 hours we arrived at the beautiful Antwerp Central Station. Wow! I’m an architecture freak and Antwerp is just the place for me! After a short walk through the station (or should I say ride? Escalators took us practically everywhere), we were on our way to find out hotel. Since we had some time to spare before we could check in, we decided to take our first stop on our gluten free weekend, and we headed out for Murni, a pop-up gluten free bistro. Murni is a mini gluten free deli, that has no specific menu: they just make what they feel like, set it out buffet-style and you can grab all you want to enjoy! At first we almost walked past, it wasn’t very clear where the entrance was.. but we found it anyway! The interior was what I had read Antwerp bistros and coffee lounges would be: simple and clean, following the Keep it simple, stupid! way to go. We decided to take a Matcha twist & shake to drink, a slice of chocolate cake and banana bread. The matcha twist was incredibly ingenious: the matcha powder was in a small container in the top of the bottle. To get it into the water, you had to – you guessed it – twist the cap and shake to mix. It was a great idea, and had a great taste. The chocolate cake was very rich, but tasty (and moist!). But the banana bread was my favorite! I’m not usually a banana person, but this one took the gold for me; great taste, moist (but not too moist) and all in all perfect. The only unfortunate thing about Murni was the price. For the drink and two (ok sized) slices, we paid €16,60. This, for me, is actually really unacceptable. The only reason I decided to stay, was that I had expected these kind of prices for a gluten free weekend abroad and had saved up in advance. For a random lunch I would’ve probably made a direct 180 back to the door.

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After feeling a bit of our souls fade away after paying the bill, we went on to find out hotel and get ready for our next big gluten free adventure: Burgers and Booze! Now, this joint was absolutely the thing I was looking forward to the most: burgers and booze are two of my favorite things! We arrived after a 20 minute walk from the hotel and were lucky we were on time: we hadn’t made any reservations and it seemed this was the place to be on a Friday night. Luckily enough we could get ourselves a booth and order. I had ordered the El Mariachi: a 100% Black Aberdeen burger with Chili, Jalapenos and Tequila Chipotle Ketchup (I like it hot). Albert ordered a Don Vito: a B&B Parmezaan burger with Taleggio cheese an Pancetta. This was €27,- for both since both burgers were made with gluten free bread and Albert added some extra bacon. We had asked ahead of time if only their buns were gluten free, or if everything is and they assured us everything on our burgers would be gluten free.. this most probably wasn’t the case. Although the bun and the burger and toppings probably were, the potato wedges (or the sauce) we got as a side probably weren’t. Or they hadn’t understood it in the kitchen and cross-contaminated with other orders. In any case, the symptoms were clear this morning: something hadn’t gone quite right. So as a gluten free restaurant as is, I couldn’t give B&B great reviews. As for the food itself, the burgers were tasty (until about 3/4 of mine, the amount of jalapenos took away any other taste of the burger which I thought was a real bummer), and the decor was AMAZING! As a bar, I couldn’t be more pleased with this place. As a huge pickle lover, I have before drank pickle juice, but never as a shooter.. until now! They had a bourbon and pickle juice shooter I had to try. The trick was: drink the bourbon shot first, the pickle juice immediately after. Surprisingly enough: the taste of the pickle juice dominated the taste of the Bourbon and they settled together in a harmonious soft taste. Amazing!

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After dinner we went to look for a gluten free/organic/ bio store in the neighborhood. The store, called TAN, was still open around this time and we got to look around a bit. After deciding to buy a few gluten free beers to try out, we saw a bottle with Quinoa Rejuvelac on it with ‘free sample’. The cashier said it was a perfect drink after a large meal to ease your stomach, like a digestive. We both got a shot glass full and.. we felt it immediately! The taste wasn’t great.. fermented quinoa is not a fantastic taste, at all. But it did do exactly what she said it would. We decided not to buy the bottle in the end, although it took walking a full block to actually come to terms with this decision.

That was it for day 1! See you tomorrow for 2 😉

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