Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Christmas Market

The Christmas light decorations are up around the streets of Brussels. Late in the season by my North American standards, they take the bah out of the Bah, Humbug! I've nixed the white Christmas. This year's will be in dashing tones of grey and beige.

The (tourist) heart of Brussels holds a Christmas market around this time of year. It is something of a big crafts fair extending from the Grand Place to Place Ste-Catherine. Tugging very hard on the winter wonderland nostalgia strings, some marketing dude decided to call the month long market Les Plaisirs d'Hiver (Winter Pleasures). Very daring for a country not reknowned for its snowbound winter tradition. Dotting the grounds were little wooden chalets offering hot spicy wine, comfort food and hand-made wares. There was a ferris wheel, 2 lovely antique carrousels - Edouard rode the dinosaur with his sister - and an ice rink. Fifteen plus temperatures and intermittent rain turned the rink to slush with a semi-hard base. Some skating - if you call teetering while holding on to the rail, skating. (Well, what? I'm not used to seeing adults who cannot skate. Or swim.) Some skating, or rather a few on skates; not too many Gretzkys or Stoikos. A lot of "Chouinards" though. Patine, patine, tombe.

We made our way to the Grand Place late afternoon. A giant decorated pine tree à la Rockefeller center stands in the middle of the square. There is a giant disco ball, huge speakers and cannon lights. Various artists of different musical genres are on the month's musical program. The diva set to perform that night was serving a sampler of her repertoire: a coitus interruptus medley of songs, all awkwardly stopped mid-phrase which made me wonder if she knew the complete song. I must have been getting edgy because Hubby suggested that we stop for drinks on a terrasse. The sound and light show began at the same time as the rain. We watched the display from under an umbrella; my edges comfortably whittled away by a few ounces of liquor. We were the last to leave the waterlogged tables.

We ended the evening with supper Chez Patrick, a cozy family-run restaurant. The service was warm and friendly. The waiter kept hitting on Charlotte. She was more interested by the family dog. My 4 year old epicurean shared my rognons. His sister shared in her father's filet américain (steak tartar). Enjoying the distraction, the lone Swiss business man dining next to us, asked if Charlotte wanted more tabasco sauce.

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