Andrew and I are opposites in many ways.
Fortunately though, we have a few loves in common. A few weeks ago, we discovered a new way to share two of our passions.
First of all, although our choice in subject matter differs greatly, we are both passionate readers. One of our first furniture purchases in Belgium was a bookcase and of the few meager possessions we brought with us to start our life in Belgium six of our ten boxes were filled with books.
Our other common passion is food (as evidenced by our ever expanding waistlines). I love to cook (and Andrew loves to sample the experiments) and we both love to dine out. Tracking down new spots to eat in Belgium and sampling all of the international dining delights that Brussels has to offer has been one of our greatest pleasures since arriving in Europe.
So imagine our joy when a few weeks ago we discovered a place that we could indulge in both of these passions. This magical place is called Cook & Book and you can find it in the Wolubilis complex in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert.
Andrew and I had driven by Cook & Book many times before actually stepping inside. I was curious what it was all about; A store full of cookbooks perhaps While I would enjoy that, Andrew would have been bored within minutes. Besides, we just never seemed to have the time to check it out.
Months after I first noticed Cook & Book, I stumbled upon it in a book I purchased on cool places to eat in Belgium. I was instantly intrigued… a restaurant AND bookstore… all in one?! It sounded too good to be true.
To be honest, it was even better than I imagined. Cook & Book is not only one restaurant and bookshop. It is in fact, nine bookshops and restaurants under two roofs.
Each bookshop has a theme: travel, graphic novels, lifestyle, art, music, fiction, cookery, and there is even an English shop (although there is a good selection of English books available in the other sections as well).
Within each themed room there is a different dining experience. For example, in the lifestyle section you can browse the gardening books and then dine on pasta inside a greenhouse. Or, sip coffee in a converted Airstream trailer in the travel section.
The décor and attention to detail is unusual and inspired, from the paperbacks hanging from the ceiling in the fiction shop, to the beautifully chic cocktail bar in the music shop.
To top it all off, the food is actually really good and between each of the shops, there is a wide selection: from sandwiches and salads, to pasta and wood-oven pizza. There is even a Sunday Brunch Buffet which seems to be a real hit with the locals.
On a sunny day, you can enjoy your food on the terrace, while the kids play in the central courtyard. Or grab a cool drink and browse your purchases on one of the lounge chairs while catching some rays.
If I was to design my perfect bookshop, Cook & Book would be it.