Word has it spring arrived a little more than a week ago, but I have yet to see any evidence of it. The cherry blossom trees are exploding with pink and white petals along the sidewalks, and the once crisp bite of winter wind has warmed to a balmy rain that seems to dampen the spirits as well as the pavement.
That said, I wanted a pick-me-up that reminded me patience was all I needed before the sun replaced the grey sky. Light fare is always the ticket when I’m feeling gloomy or bored with finding meal solutions, and the meals my sister and I shared at Le Pain Quotidien in Brussels last summer was beckoning for a redux.
Nestled on a busy side street in downtown Bruxelles, the Dansaert Le Pain Quotidien was a welcome discovery at the end of a punishing day of sightseeing. My sister–who was living in Brussels for the year–brought me here during my visit and I was hooked. The atmosphere is quaint, rustic and not the least bit fussy; the same of which can be said for the food. We ordered lattes (made with Fair Trade beans) and tartines: thin, flat bread topped with fresh, often organic ingredients–all made to order and presented by possibly the most precious staff I have ever met. When I exclaimed that our tartines were impossibly delicious and looked like little works of art, the Tartine Master who made our food turned beet red, smiled from ear-to-ear and thanked me profusely. Can someone please have him make me lunch every day?
She had: Buffalo Mozzarella, roasted red peppers, black olive tapenade, fresh basil.
I had: Tuna, hummus, green onion, radish, capers (they were out)
A little drizzle of balsamic made my tartine out of this world, something I am eager to recreate often this spring season. While they have not yet made locations in Western Canada (the only Canadian bistros, in Ontario, closed this year), I will have to make do with memories and pale comparisons. Light, healthy and with punches of all the right flavours, Le Pain Quotidien’s tartines should be next on your list of must-eats. That is, if you are lucky enough to be around one.