Pierre Marcolini’s Brussels
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Pierre Marcolini’s Brussels
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No festive season is complete without the world’s favourite treat: chocolate. Man’s love affair with chocolat stretches back over three millennia, exchanged as royal gifts by the Mayan And Aztec civilisations and offered by priests to the deities during religious ceremonies. The first European contact with chocolate was through Emperor Montezuma who introduced Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes to “Xocolatl” in the form of a bitter beverage in the 16th century. Today, the new king who reigns over the chocolate realm is none other than Belgian chef Pierre Marcolini who has revolutionised the world’s approach to the precious bean.

With his Haute Chocolaterie boutiques in Brussels, Paris, New York, London, Nagoya and Kuwait City, Pierre has become chocolate’s global ambassador. He travels the world in search of rare, top quality “matière première” (raw materials), which he then blends in his workshops, using original aromas to create innovative and mouth-watering flavours. The chocolates are then assembled in chic black boxes stamped with Marcolini’s logo — you guessed it: two chocolate beans. “There is no such thing as a gift without a box,” he says. His impeccable sense of design and ability to connect with his consumers – he is always creating new events, such as the macaroon of the month – keeps him at the forefront of the industry. “Each day, my ‘raison d’être’ is to offer my customers a dream.” As the holidays approach, Esensual Living’s team thought Pierre Marcolini’s Brussels boutique would be the perfect place to begin a tour of a city that truly knows the meaning of the word celebration…

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Pierre Marcolini
Courtesy of Pierre Marcolini
 

Esensual Living: What distinguishes Brussels from any other city in the world?

Pierre Marcoloni: Brussels is undoubtedly Europe’s most international city with the presence of Commission, which gives a multicultural identity to the city. Wherever you are, you will always be able to make contact and make yourself understood. Brussels also warrants as a symbol of design and has a strong presence within the arts. Brussels is known for its laid back quality of life and a cheerful state of mind typical of the “bon vivant”. Belgium is also known for its warm hearted and welcoming people.

ES: Brussels is globally known for its lifestyle, good food, welcoming spirit. How do you explain this international aura?

PM: This is a question of state of mind. Brussels stands at the cross road of many diverse cultures, each bringing its own stone and building our identity as a people. Fashion, architecture, important art events blends in with the world of gastronomy in Brussels. All major ingredients of the city’s bustling creativity. The creative buzz helps us fight off the grayness…

ES: How does Brussels prepare for the Holiday celebrations? Which are the traditions to follow? What makes this a special time of the year?

PM: Like any major, Brussels is getting ready for the Holiday Season. Actually, the city of Brussels consists of several small villages, each of which has its own traditions. If you browse around Place Sainte Catherine, you will discover lots of winter events, such as the big Christmas Market. Towards the Place des Sablon, the Holiday Season kicks off end November with what we call the “Nocturnes”, special animations which take place in the evening. Around the Boulevard de Waterloo, shops windows glitter with wonderful decorations… each neighborhood is worth discovering one after the other!

ES: Do you prepare special treats for your chocolate fans?

PM: Yes, each year I compose many special treats for Christmas. Father Christmases, Christmas trees, boules… are all over our shops for a few weeks.

 

ES: Brussels in three words…

PM: Delicacies, multicultural, good mood.

ES: Describe life in Brussels. What makes the city so pleasurable?

PM: Above all, what makes Brussels so pleasant is its quality of life. I believe Brussels is a city, that still has out of the norm, life spaces. Another aspect, which sets Brussels apart from other cities, is its green spaces. The Soignes forest is near by and La Cambre parc, along with other parcs, makes Brussels a lovely liveable city. The combination of residential, commercial and green spots makes Brussels unique.

ES: What is your favourite view?

PM: I enjoy wandering down l’Esplanade de l’Albertine. It unfolds sort of like a carpet to the city. The staircase, the large library building and the view of the town hall along with the Grand Place. One literally has the feeling, that Brussels is at your feet…

ES: Your favourite neighbourhood and why?

PM: Without a doubt, the area around Sablon. I love the atmosphere, between antiquity dealers, bars, tourists, all mingling in. It breeds a particular energy.

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Courtesy of Pierre Marcolini
 
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Courtesy of Pierre Marcolini
 

ES: Describe Brussels’ food culture – which local dishes are a must-try?

PM: Brussels has always been on the forefront of gastronomy. We have lots of Michelin listed restaurants, all of which highlights local traditions and produce. It’s hard here not to select a typical dish from Brussels and I think I’d choose ‘chicons au gratin’ or a good country sausage with a carot stoemp.

ES: Describe your perfect night out in Brussels.

PM: A great evening out starts at Place Bruggman. Afterwards I’d go for dinner towards Place St Catherine and we’d most likely round off our evening at a nice cocktail bar in the Sablon area.

ES: What is your favourite festival or cultural event?

PM: I am a huge fan of Art Brussels. It’s a joy to witness the evolution of this yearly event. Another great event is the Contemporary Art Festival in Brussels is great. In only a few years, Brussels has become an important city, alongside Basel or Miami.

ES: Who are your favourite local designers/artists and why?

PM: I’m tempted to choose an artist here. François Schuiten is a native of Brussels, a city that is dear to him. He is an integral part of the city’s art scene. It takes only one glance at his delicate drawings and illustrations, to understand that those are the best ‘guide’ to understand the city of Brussels.

 

 

ES: What aspect of Brussels’ cultural scene most stands out to you?

PM: For the time being, I’m very marked by the local film scene. The city of Brussels is home to many talented actors, screenwriters and directors. They all have set out to highlight the understated art of self-irony – a very characteristic trait of the city.

ES: Do you have a favourite architect or building?

PM: I’m very taken by the Musée des Instruments de Musique in Brussels. The building is a great testament to the Art Nouveau period in Brussels.

ES: Which is your favourite food market?

PM: I enjoy going to the Boitsfort market on Sundays. These Sunday outings are rare occasions to actually go and connect live with people. I like just going with the flow, letting myself be guided by the green grocers there….

ES: What do you do to relax and unwind in Brussels?

PM: I like going to sit down at the outside space of a café. Perhaps I have a certain affinity with the Grand Place, but I also like wandering about the flea markets on Sundays, close to the Place du Jeu de Balle.

ES: Your favourite city escape?

PM: To escape, I like to simply head off to a bar, a restaurant or a bistro…….

ES: When in Brussels, what can you not live without?

PM: I couldn’t live without the atmosphere and the typical good humoured Brussels mood.

ES: Which are your home Esensuals for this gifting season?

PM: As a Belgian, I always love the refined feel of Libeco’s Monterey bedlinen, a must for all seasons.

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LIBECO
Caroline Menne
 
CITY GUIDE - BRUSSELS
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Le Pain Quotidien
 

BREAKFAST

Le Pain Quotidien

Conviviality, nice atmosphere and good products! I think Le Pain Quotidien is a fairly representative of Brussels’s way of living. I just love to sit there and enjoy the moment.

www.lepainquotidien.be

 

LUNCH

Place du Sablon

All the restaurants at the Place du Sablon I love to have lunch at the Sablon. There is a lot of restaurant, bars or pubs. It’s impossible for me to only pick one!

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Place du Sablon
 
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Le Chalet de la forêt
 

DINNER

Le Chalet de la forêt

Le Chalet de la Forêt, it’s above all a beautiful friendship story with Pascal Devalkeneer. It is a great chef! We share the same sensitivity and the same respect for the products. I simply love his way of cooking!

www.lechaletdelaforet.be

 

WINE BAR

Unico

Unico is a wonderful little wine bar with great products from all around the world. I like to go over there to meet friends and share a glass of wine.

www.jesuisunico.com

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Unico
 
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Chez Hortense
 

BAR

Chez Hortense

Chez Horthense is primarily a magical place: The cellars of the Nunciature in Sablon. Combining tradition and modernity, they try to make introduce us the wonderful world of mixology.

www.h-hortense.be

 

GALLERY

Xavier Hufkens

As I’m a contemporary art lover, Xavier Hufkens gallery is definitely one of my favorite places in Brussels. With a lot of exhibitions and new artists, this gallery is a must in Brussels.

www.xavierhufkens.com

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Xavier Hufkens
 
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Museum Van Buuren
 

MUSEUM

Museum Van Buuren

This beautiful house build in the beginning of the XX century is a true Art Deco house. What I love about this museum is that in one place I can find paintings and art pieces from 5 centuries of art.

www.museumvanbuuren.be

 

BOOKSHOP

Librairie Filigranes

Filigranes is a must for books lovers. Nothing like spending a Sunday morning, sipping a cup of coffee while reading the latest literary news.

www.filigranes.be

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Librairie Filigranes
 
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Smets Concept Store
 

BOUTIQUE

Smets Concept Store

This concept store is a unique mix as it combines under one roof beauty, design and gastronomy! And because fashion and design have an unbreakable bond with art, Smets also present a series of handpicked artists. I love it because I don’t know if I’m in a museum or in a shop…

www.smets.lu/en/stores/bruss[...]

 

FLOWER SHOP

Daniel Ost

Daniel Ost creates flower arrangements for lovers of simplicity as well as sophistication and quality; for people for whom flowers are even more than a wonderful product of nature.

http://www.danielost.be/

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Daniel Ost
 
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Antiques Market at the Place du Sablon
 

MARKET

Antiques Market at the Place du Sablon

This market is a must for antiques lovers. Every weekend, hundreds of exhibitors are offering their wonders to a public of knowers but also to curious.

 

HOTEL

Hôtel Amigo

What I like most about this hotel is its location, just behind the Grand Place. Their rooftop terrace, also offers one of the finest views of the city.

www.hotelamigobruxelles.be

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Hôtel Amigo
 

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