A first-generation blogger who took her passion and channeled it into a successful business. They may be rare to come by, but you can certainly count Masoom Minawala as one. Starting her fashion blog back in 2010, today the lifestyle & fashion blogger is the CEO & Founder of Style Fiesta, Founder of Fashion Jobs India — a portal for jobs in fashion, and blogs as Miss Style Fiesta on social media. Living across India, London and Belgium, the globetrotting style icon pens her travelogue for the land of chocolate and beer. Here’s her go-to guide for everything fashion, food and culture in Belgium.
My first memory of Belgium was its breathtaking architecture and mouth-watering food. It had all the little nuances of every European city I have ever been to (and fallen in love with). I loved how the whole place was so serene and at the same time buzzing with energy.
Best cities for fashion, food, and culture
For food, without giving any second thoughts, it’s definitely Antwerp.
For some extravagant fashion inspiration, one must visit Brussels in Belgium.
The city that tops in representing the culture of this country is Brugge.
Hidden gems that are a must visit
An absolute hidden gem for is a little Italian Restaurant in Ekeren city named Santa Lucia. It was basically an old house which is now converted into a beautiful restaurant with a small backyard garden that gives a very homely vibe.
For fashion, it has to be Komono. A homegrown Belgian eyewear brand, it does the most eclectic styles!
Eat, drink, shop till you drop
For food, I have quite a long list to suggest. Depending upon your taste, you must visit Umami for fusion Asian food; Finjan, Napo’s and Little Beirut for Lebanese food; Tong Mein for Indian Chinese food; Yam Thai and River Kwai for Thai food; Puro 26, Il Carpaccio, Pazzo, Civilta del Berre, Ferrier 30, Bocca d’Oro and Trattoria Bazalia for Italian food; Bella Capri and Orso for Pizza lovers; Tropicos and Bon Bini for Mexican. And finally, for some gastronomic experiences you must visit Dessensi, Jerom, Hofke van Bazel, Kommilfoo, Nuance, L’epicurie de Cirque and Ardent.
Bear with my inherent love for food. I would suggest visiting the amazing Belgian bars too, like Lazy Jack, Bar BurBure, La Suite, Dogma and Sips. If you’re more of a cafe person, you must try Barchel, Humm, Charlie’s, Moss, Fossbury and Sons, and Tinsel. No meal is complete without dessert, so I would recommend Crème de la Crème for waffles, Desire de Lille, Chez Claire for eclairs and Donuttelo for doughnuts.
For fashionable clothing, Kure, Le Magasin, Stijl and Hunting & Collecting are three stops I recommend. For footwear, Hatshoe is my number one choice.
For art and culture, you just cannot miss Festival Couleur Café, La Foire du Midi and Brussels Summer Festival. They happen at different time of the year. You can visit them depending upon you date of arrival.
Belgian beer or Belgian chocolate
I will prefer Belgian chocolate any day. The hot chocolate in Brugge is something to die for. It is served in big stoop style cups where you can even make your own hot chocolate. It’s the most perfect setting to begin or end your day with. The best local maker for chocolate I absolutely swear by is Delrey.
Not to be missed experiences
Two out of these three experiences revolve around food. I really can’t help it as Belgium is all about love and chocolates, or should I call it chocolate love! So firstly, one must take a chocolate tour in Antwerp. The best tours are the ones run by locals. It will be the best thing that you could ever experience on weekends.
Next, one must indulge in waffles at each and every nook and corner of the Belgium, simply because they are absolutely splendid. Trust me, it’s not just about having something to eat but it’s about having an exquisite experience like nowhere.
Finally, one must visit Brugge. The UNESCO World Heritage City is like a painting come alive because of its unvarying beauty. The cobblestone streets, it’s innumerable canals and overwhelming architecture are some of its best features.
The best way to soak in the country’s culture
Use the best infrastructural feature of Belgium, i.e., it’s well connected transport system. You can simply hop in and hop off the train, visit different towns, walk around local markets, attend events happening there, eat at local places and really stock up yourself with chocolates on your way.
Most memorable moment
My most memorable moment in Belgium goes back to the last year’s Christmas. I along with my husband, Shailin, went to the Christmas market in the old town of Antwerp. I was awestruck with the magnificent festivities going on with different activities for everybody to enjoy. With all types of local delish desserts, there was also mulled wine that went perfectly with the chilly weather. Christmas without mistletoe is incomplete. So it had a huge mistletoe station for people to climb up and seek gifts within it. The whole market was so well decorated, I remember they also had an ice-skating ring. We obviously went for the ice-skating and it was one unforgettable evening with my better half.
That one reason why one should visit Belgium
It has the perfect balance of an old town charm with vibrant energy!