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Support our local  “Marchés”

As Belgium experiences stricter covid restrictions, never has it been more important to support the small local businesses which not only give our neighborhoods character, but nourish our communities. For this edition of our series on the our Top 5 tips for residents at Morton Place, we focus on the outdoor food markets which are steps from Morton Place. A few minutes from Morton Place Chatelain is the the Wednesday afternoon market on the Place du Chatelain. Morton Place Louise and Parvis are steps from the market on the Parvis de Saint Gilles. This market is open almost daily as of 7.30 am until about lunch time with the exception of Mondays when it is closed, and Thursdays when it is open from 12-10pm. Not only do these markets feature farm to table ingredients but food stalls as well. Enjoy the Top 5 tips shared by our favorite foodie Chloé of Brussels Kitchen picking out the best food for you to enjoy at home, please support our friends and neighbors while staying safe.

– Tanya, founder @Morton Place

 

Our top 5 favorite neighborhood market stalls

Time is a bit suspended at present in Brussels and nothing is quite the way it used to be with many of the restaurants which give our neighborhoods life having been closed. Many restaurants and bars are implementing creative solutions with take away or special, limited sized events. But the best place to still enjoy a bit of the atmosphere of our community is at our local markets, Morton Place Parvis and Chatelain are among the more vibrant  fresh food markets of Brussels.

Markets are open

Despite covid and the darker autumn skies, our markets are open, thriving and they need us! Brussels has one of the coolest outdoor markets scenes in Europe, with street food stalls that would rival those of any indoor food market in London or Madrid. You’d think we’d have more covered markets but no – in Belgium it’s outside rain or shine. And now more than ever, our local markets of the Chatelain and Parvis need our support.

If our stall holders have to adapt, we will adapt too. So for now forget enjoying an aperitif while lingering in front of the food stalls with our friends. Instead, we visit the markets with our tote bag in hand, ready to fill it with fantastic food but this time as take away. The market on the Place du Chatelain is on Wednesdays from 1-7pm. The market on the Parvis de Saint Gilles is daily as of 7.30 am until about lunch time with the exception of Mondays (closed) and Thursday when it is open from 12-10pm. Not only do they feature farm to table ingredients but food stands as well.

We have selected our favorite stands – food, but not only – from the Châtelain and Parvis de Saint-Gilles markets. Because even your meal can no longer to be enjoyed on the spot, it’s nice to look your chef in the eye, exchange a few words and say thank you before enjoying your meal at home Let’s go.

Favorite market stalls at the Marché de Chatelain

Market Vendor and flowers

Neighborhood Gem: florist Ben van Hoo

Ben Van Hoo

Our first stop is for flowers. If you like pretty things, and as a resident of MP this is very likely, you will surely appreciate beautiful and affordable flowers. Ben’s stand is a golden nugget, no more and no less. Every week, the stand can be found on Wednesdays at the Châtelain market (but also on Saturdays and Sundays at the Flagey market). Ben selects the prettiest seasonal, organic and local flowers. It gives bouquets a rustic air, light as a breeze, colored as a summer’s day, or enchanting as a winter’s snow fall. Our most recent bouquet included Pampas grass, red holly berry flowers, and huge gladioli. A wonder.

The bonus? The bouquets, pre-made and soberly wrapped in craft paper cost only € 15.

Another bonus: you can also compose your bouquet yourself.

Thai food at stall

Neighborhood Gem: Thai food stall

Thai Food (the apple green tent can’t be missed)

While this Thai street food stand doesn’t really have a name it can be recognized from afar thanks to its apple green tent. Impossible to go wrong with tent or to choose a wrong dish as the food is good. Olivier tells us that with his wife Jeab, they’ve been working market stalls for 11 years. After living 6 years together on Koh Samet, a small island below Bangkok, where they ran a guesthouse, they came to settle in Belgium and made it their mission to introduce authentic Thai cuisineto Brussels. They can be found every Wednesday at Le Châtelain, and the rest of the week at the Boitsfort, Saint Job and Vieux Tilleul markets.

Their specialty, ideal for this season: Thai chicken noodle soup. A cousin to the classic Vietnamese Pho, the base is close but its broth differs with wonderful flavors very specific to Thailand. A treat for the modest sum of € 7.

Bonus: Olivier and Jeab have adapted the recipe to make it ideal for take-out. The noodles are pre-cooked and packaged separately from the broth, to prevent overcooking. Once back home, just heat them up for a minute in the broth, and it’s ready!

Borek

Neighborhood Gem: Aslan Borek

 

Aslan Borek

This is our latest crush no more and no less. Before being convinced by the taste, we had already fallen in love with the gestures. A ball of dough that is bounced between the fingers, then twirls in the flour, before being flattened, garnished, ending up cooking to a nice crisp on the plancha. We had our eyes on this stand for a while before having the patience to wait in the long lines for their Borek. The first good news, for us, is that there are no more lines. The second is, it’s not only mesmerizing to watch, but their food is also delicious.

Damla, whose maiden name is Aslan, works as a team with her husband Arnaud. It’s been two years since they gave up everything – they were respectively a sports coach and a sales engineer – to pursue their dream to work  “les marchés”. First in Lille, then in Knokke, and finally in Brussels, where they have been for just over a year. They can also be found on the Flagey market every Sunday.

Tip: Try the spicy beef borek, or the mushroom one, or both. These are our two favorites, but they are all amazing.

 

Favorite food stalls at the Marché du Parvis

El Taco Mobil

It is thanks to El Taco Mobil that we discovered the Parvis market. When their stand disappeared from the Flagey market, we went looking for them – that’s how good their food is. If there’s one thing that doesn’t take to the streets in Brussels, it’s a good Mexican taqueria. Not a frozen wheat tortilla Tex-Mex chain, no, a real Mexican, where the corn tortillas are made by hand. El Taco Mobil is exactly that, but mobile version. In addition to the authentic tortillas, Selene makes her homemade salsa verde, and garnishes her tacos with pulled pork, grilled beef and organic and seasonal vegetables. The dream. Our only regret: only being able to taste their incredible cuisine on Thursdays.

Our tip: Enjoy your tacos with a horchata, a traditional Mexican drink made from rice milk and cinnamon, homemade by Selene.

 

Ty Penty

Ty Penty is one of the great classics of Brussels food trucks, turning out the unmistakable sweet and savory Breton galettes. The line, usually endless, has been synonymous with their success for many years now. People come for their buckwheat pancakes of impeccable quality and for the kindness and smile of the owners. Our favorite, the ham, cheese and egg “complete” has never disappointed. They can also be found in Flagey on Saturdays and Sundays, on Mondays at Place Van Meenen and on Tuesdays at Square Meeus.

 

The must: accompany your pancake with a traditional bowl of cider – or a bottle – Breton of course.

The must of the must: finish off  with a traditional sweet pancake (this time with wheat flour). The pear and chocolate one is to die for.

 

Marché du Chatelain: Place du Chatelain 1050 Ixelles

Wednesday 12:00- 19:00

Marché du Parvis de St Gilles: Parvis de St Gilles 1060 Saint Gilles

Monday closed

Tuesday 07:45–14:45

Wednesday 07:30–13:00

Thursday 12:00–22:00

Friday  07:30–13:00

Saturday  07:30–14:00

Sunday 07:30–14:00

 

What to Expect when moving to Brussels today

Many of our future residents are considering when to schedule their move to Brussels after weeks of lockdown or as we call it here “confinement”. We have gathered some of the information we have found the most relevant to help you understand the current situation.  The next udpate is scheduled for 3 June. We will publish again at that time to keep you aware of the rules.

 

Travelling to Brussels from Abroad

Before travelling to Brussels we recommend contacting the local representative of the Belgian government for details on what may be required, especially if you do not have a Belgian residency card. As of now and most likely until 3 June’s update, anyone arriving from abroad needs to self isolate for 14 days when arriving in the country.  Feedback from our residents who have returned to Brussels from France and Italy and who have Belgian residency cards has been positive, they had no questions asked and were handed a flyer. At the airport a representative requested they self-isolate for 14 days but that trips to buy essentials and daily exercise was allowed. This is of course anecdotal and each person may get a different reception.

 

State of the pandemic

The number of new cases is going down with an “R” rate for the week of 14-20 May of 0.89. (source Sciensano weekly update) If you want to know more about the spread of the virus and how the Brussels region has been effected we recommend  reading the Belgian Health Ministry’s Public Health website which has all of the official figures.

 

Easing of restrictions or “deconfinement”

The peak of illness was the week ending on 12 April 2020 and the government announced easing of lockdown restrictions as of 4 May 2020 when Belgium entered Phase 1 of deconfinement. As of 25 May we are in Phase 2 with the following situation:

  • Face masks are obligatory in all public transportation but not in shops
  • There are no public gatherings of more than 3 people and there is a police presence to discourage groups
  • Shops are open including retail and markets
  • Hairdressers and nail salons are open
  • Doctors (GP’s) are allowed to practice normally
  • Sports are allowed with a cap of 20 team mates
  • Weddings and funerals not to exceed 30 people
  • Schools are partially reopened

 

Phase 3 is expected as of 8 June. We are expecting news on the opening of restaurants, cafés and places of worship.

 

Life In Brussels: Cycling paths and “slow” streets

Brussels has quickly pivoted to improve cycling and walking paths in the city. The historical inner city of Brussels (500m from Morton Place) has a blanket “slow street” designation with all traffic limited to 20km an hour with a priority for walkers and cyclists. Within weeks 40km of new cycling paths have opened up with an additional 40km in the works for September. We were particularly excited to see that a large, comfortable path will be reinforced along the inner ring linking Morton Place Parvis and Louise to the European Quarter. For an updated cycling map: New Cycling Paths

 

Life at Morton Place

 

Along with the rest of Belgian households the confinement at Morton Place has also eased  and our activities are almost back to normal. We have a sanitation station at the entrance of each house for the proper disposing of masks and gloves as well as hand sanitizer for anyone walking into the house. We will be welcoming new residents  as of 8 June when we expect most rules regarding the confinement to be lifted.  Although there is some relief at this return to some freedoms, there is also nostalgia for what has been a time of real bonding and friendship among housemates. From celebrating Easter by preparing dishes representing their countries of origin, to a traditional South African braai, pizza nights playing Settlers of Catan and endless deliveries of disinfecting spray and hand soap… what’s not to miss?

 

Home Office Morton Place Chatelain Coliving

Coliving means we are a Household

Morton Place coliving houses went into lockdown, or “confinement” as of the beginning of March. We follow the rules of Belgian Ministry of Health.  In Brussels, the rules are to limit social contact to one’s household, working from home if possible, with only one outing a day for shopping or exercise. The restrictions started mid-month. We quickly had to move in new residents to their rooms so they became part of the coliving household.  We then decided to suspend any new move ins until after the lifting of the confinement, to minimize the exposure.

Safety first

Our priority is ensuring our coliving communities stay safe. We have increased supplies of the essentials such as extra hand soap, disinfectants etc. In addition to following the official rules, our residents have elected to establish their own coliving house rules. Ideas include blocking the doors open of common areas to minimise contact points, and creating a disinfection rota to spray all frequently touched surfaces more frequently. We also have a protocol and medical supplies in case anyone falls ill, luckily we have not had to use them.

Wifi + Privacy = Community Happiness

Apart from the physical wellbeing of our residents we have also considered the general wellbeing of our coliving house members. With each of our residents having a private bathroom, one major source of cross contamination is eliminated. With 6-8 people in each house working from home, our investment in a corporate grade LAN ensures smooth wifi connections for all. The Netflix account is used for housewide movie and pizza nights. Our in-house copies of “Settlers of Catan” and “Cards against Humanity” are dusted off. You might expect international residents to quickly set off for “home” in such a situation. Almost all of our residents stayed in place, even the residents from Belgium, testifying to the strong community bonds in our coliving houses as well as the comfort. Our residents celebrated Easter together, with colivers sharing the traditions of their home countries. We celebrated a birthday with champagne and ice cream delivered via Deliveroo and have had countless bbq’s in our gardens.

 

Feedback from our coliving houses

We checked in with our coliving communities on a weekly basis. Our new residents who quickly moved in on the day of the lockdown told us “it was actually a good occasion to get to know everybody, in normal times we wouldn’t all be at the house so much.” Our coliving homes have fewer residents per house then your typical house share with a lot of space for hanging out while still allowing for some privacy. Our extra tv rooms with their soft carpets and large flat screen TV’s have been converted to exercise rooms. The home offices, libraries and gaming tables are providing a good space to hang out without being stuck in the bedroom. “We are having a lot of fun while leaving each other enough space.”

Next Steps for coliving at Morton Place

This has been an intense period for all of us, but the bonds of our coliving residents have never been stronger. We are now establishing what our protocols will be for the next phase of coliving life with Covid-19 and are happy we have the trust of our residents to ensure their safety and well being. We will be aiming for a phased move in of new residents, increased housekeeping and discontinuing the use of our guest rooms until we have a better understanding of the post lock down period. Meanwhile, it appears confinement in Belgium is set to be lifted in May and we look forward to welcoming new members of our coliving community at Morton Place. If you are coming to Brussels and would like to explore coliving,  check out our availability here.

Colocation coliving

La colocation version 1.0

La colocation c’est souvent une étape obligée entre la vie de famille et la vie d’adulte indépendant. On en garde un bon souvenir d’une maison remplie de jeunes, enivrés d’indépendance et pleins d’espoir, de soirées passées entre amis à refaire le monde, sa chambre meublée de bric à brac avec le matelas posé au sol… Mais la colocation c’est aussi la salle de bain au fond du couloir avec sa douche qui n’inspire pas trop confiance ou l’évier de la cuisine qui déborde d’assiettes sales.

Coliving: c’est la colocation version adulte

Quelques années plus tard avec sa vie professionnelle qui démarre, l’époque de la colocation est souvent dépassée mais l’envie de rentrer le soir et de retrouver des visages familiers est toujours d’actualité. C’est de ce désir qu’est le né le coliving Morton Place : une envie de vivre en communauté sans en avoir les inconvénients de la « coloc » d’entant. Nos maisons sont rénovées pour la colocation avec douches privatives, cuisines avec plusieurs frigos et lave vaisselles, les salons sont équipés de canapés qui invitent à y passer un peu de temps entre amis en fin de journée. Nos colocataires voyagent beaucoup ou viennent eux même de l’étranger et le concept « all inclusive » ou toutes les charges, maintenance et le nettoyage sont compris aide tout le monde à se focaliser sur l’aspect convivial sans devoir se soucier des petits détails qui peuvent vite empoisonner la vie communautaire.

Morton Place Coliving

A Morton Place notre objectif est la colocation sans compromis, donc salles de bain privées, home office pour ceux qui veulent travailler à partir de la maison sans être coincés dans leur chambre, et la chambre d’amis pour les visiteurs. Et, Belgique oblige, la déco est soignée et naturelle laissant place pour les éléments personnels qui donnent la vie a une maison.  Resultat, nos residents vivent en moyenne deux ans ou plus dans nos maisons et la fourchette d’age s’elargie. Il y a une place pour tout le monde dans la colocation version Morton Place.