We are passionate about food and travel, so when we discovered the website Tasting and Living, we were immediately hooked. Not only does the site discuss the always exciting food scene in Brussels, but it takes you on a food journey around the world, without ever leaving your computer.
When we had the opportunity to ask Tasting and Living’s Editor-in-Chief a few questions, we jumped at the chance. Eric Sohl, is a Dutch/Belgian graphic designer, photographer, traveller and foodie, (sounds like our kind of guy right?) and the man behind Tasting and Living.
How would you describe Tasting and Living to someone who has not yet visited the website?
Tasting and Living reflects a broad view on food. It’s not just about recipes, it’s more about food and culture, travel, books, seasons, ingredients and even design. We’ve built it up around several sections, just like a magazine. There’s something for anybody interested in food, from foodies who want to know more about Umami for instance or even design freaks who are looking for a funky design tea trolley.
Your contributors are an eclectic mix of backgrounds and nationalities. Was this a conscious choice and what benefits does this offer our expat readers?
Our contributors are a mix of various types of people, just like Brussels, we represent a melting pot of origins, backgrounds, languages and interests. We have some Italian, Danish and English expats on the team so they have their specific angle on Brussels and the food scene, which every newcomer to Brussels can relate to. The combination with other non expats, makes it even more interesting because we try to stay away from the known and uninteresting foodie issues/places/restaurants because it’s easy to stay on the beaten track but more difficult to find the exceptional and worthwhile foodie place around town. So we also try and help the visitors to Brussels to really find the authentic taste of Brussels, which is something that would otherwise take you ages to find!
You write about two things we’re passionate about here on CheeseWeb, food and travel. How did these passions develop for you?
A large part of what I do for the blog is Travel and Food. I love the combination of being abroad and trying to get to grips with the local food scene. It could be finding the best ‘bashimi’ dish in Kyushu, Japan (raw horse meat) or the best capers in Pantelleria or sampling the best Chenin Blanc of the year in Cape Town. I think that once you have understood the food scene, then you are well under way in understanding how the local ‘society’ works, because most of the time food brings people together, not just to still your hunger, but for a social, personal reason and that’s when it gets really interesting. Many of our readers or followers on twitter talk about more things than just the best recipe for a sauce, for instance René Redzepi of Noma talks to me about his seaweed that has been ‘fermenting’ for the last three months or FM Brussels talks to me about having spotted Martha Stewart in La Quincaillerie in Brussels. So you can see it’s more than just the ‘making’ of the food that we try and highlight.
Many of the foodie websites in Brussels are in French or Dutch; Why did you decide to make Tasting and Living primarily English?
Yes, it’s true, I found a lot of sites or blogs are in French or Dutch, so I decided we would do a mix: about 80% is English and about 20% is Dutch. I think English could be a bridge between all the linguistic problems we have here in Brussels and also I want readers from all over the world to be able to read what we write about. However since September of last year, I have started to write more in Dutch too because I am the ‘culinary expert’ of FM Brussel, which is a Flemish radio station, so the listeners like to find the written texts of what I have been talking about, on the blog in their own language. We’re also participating in ‘Honest Cooking’ which is a great platform for about 200 food writers, journalists, chefs, mixologists etc from all over the planet combing some of the best articles. It has a massive following and has some top talent, ie the Guardian food supplement writers etc. So Tasting and Living can participate with them if we keep things in English.
For you, what is the best thing about the food scene in Brussels?
The best thing about the Brussels food scene is the variety and quality. You can just find anything! The only condition is that you need to know where to go to find it 🙂
What one thing would you like to change about the Brussels food scene?
The only thing that I sometimes get irritate by is the service level. When you travel abroad a lot, you can immediately see that for instance the States have a much higher level of service and respect for the customer. It doesn’t hurt to smile a bit more, maybe that sums it up?
If you could choose your last meal, what would it be and where would you eat it?
My last meal would have to be tomates crevettes for a starter, then a thai red curry and then a Dame Blanche! Although they don’t work together as a menu at all, it’s what I need at least once a month. And I would eat it in the best place in the world: at home.
Do you have a special food or restaurant our readers ‘must’ try?
For the moment one of my favourite places in Brussels is still Neptune near Flagey. However they change all the time. In Tokyo it’s Ryu Gin. In Cape Town it’s La Colombe. In Nova Scotia it’s Fleur de Sel (Lunenburg). In Denmark it’s Gitte Kik’s Smorrebrod and the list goes on …
What’s next for Tasting and Living?
I’m very excited to start Tasty Dinners soon. We have had many brainstorming sessions about this and soon it will all become real! The idea is to have a theme and around this we will organise an event that involves food, art, design, travel … everything that we try to feature on Tasting and Living, by bringing all the people together that I have had the privilege to meet during my foodie hunts around Brussels and beyond. It’ll be a series of evenings that people will talk about because we will source the best of the best. Unique people, ingredients, wines, restaurants and food that together become an event that people can attend and enjoy.
We can’t wait to check out the Tasty Dinners and see what else Tasting and Living has in store.