Friday 10 October | 2014
A lot of cities call themselves international, but few compare to the incredible cultural melting pot that is Antwerp. Spend ten minutes walking along the streets of this diamond capital and you will pass by a Jewish bakery, a Russian deli, the French supermarket Carrefour and a Turkish fruit stall. In the local playground African children play with Asian, Arabian and Belgian children, as their mothers and a pair of Indian women wearing Saris look on. It is a fascinating city.
This beautiful mess of cultures defines Antwerp as hub of creativity, with a very cool café scene. The locals love to drink, and in good weather the bar and café terraces are packed from as early as 10am. Tinsel, a hip little spot in the trendy Zuid suburb, is no exception.
Here piles of design magazines meet Moroccan style cushions, timber window benches, and vases of branches with interesting leaves. The style is original yet homely, and so is the menu, bursting with lots of beautiful homemade food.
The drinks list is impressive; a carefully curated collection of homemade coolers, ice teas, chocolate milks, exotic juices, luxe coffees and even aperitivos. How to begin: a homemade oranje iced tea (€2.70) that blends orange scented rooibos with fresh mint. Good company is the mocha (€3.00) and muscat koffie (€3.00) which borders on chai territory with its nutmeg sprinkle and drizzle of honey. Delicious!
The traditional blue and white print plates make a gorgeous frame for the granola (€5.00), served with fresh fruit and yoghurt. The Tinsel blend is heavy in cinnamon and generous in almonds, whole hazelnuts, and peanuts. The accompanying fruit is genuinely seasonal, and offsets the natural yoghurt along with honey and sesame. It is autumn in a bowl, and we love every spoonful.
Next come the Tinsel pancakes (€6.80) which are the best pancakes we have eaten in Europe. Likely pan fried in butter, they are crispy on the outside, perfectly fluffy inside and have a flavour that is best described as magical. More fresh fruit, thick cream and maple syrup complete this indulgent experience.
Purveyor of all things homemade, Tinsel even bakes their own bread. It is a country style loaf, here toasted and busy soaking up the balsamic of the Parmezaans Ei (€6.50), which also features tomato, rocket, fried eggs, cracked pepper and parmesan cheese. The bread is superb, and ignites a discussion about the renowned breads of Germany being corrupted by mass bakeries, freezing processes and use of additives.
Satisfied and ready to enjoy the sunny weekend, we discover the cake selection. Carrot cake, chocolate bread pudding, two cheesecakes and an apple tart compete with a rich chocolate brownie tempting us from a plate above.
In the interests of our devoted blog readers, we take the brownie. And eat all of it, to avoid any crumbles in my handbag of course. The brownie is authentic, very dense and heavy in chocolate – another star on Tinsel’s menu.
The unassuming brick façade suits the homely vibe and fresh baked goodies inside at Tinsel. On a nice day, you can enjoy the terrace area, or in bad weather curl up on the couch. Either way, you won’t want to leave.
It sure feels like Christmas here.
See the menu here:
Vlaamse Kaai 40