bar

Blue Bar

There are places you want everyone to know about. A great restaurant, a good show, an interesting exhibition. But there are also places you want to keep to yourself.

Risico2cropped               Last night, with Vera and the kids, we went  to our homey brown bar a few streets away from  our house. We ordered the usual, spaghetti’s and a  nice glass of wine for Vera, a Dubble Westmalle for  myself.  The food is good, not grand cuisine, but just good. One doesn’t  come here for a  culinary experience. We are here to relax, alone, with ourselves as company.

This bar is perfect. It is dark enough yet with sufficient spots of light and with candles to  throw off the right amount of shadows too.  Also the noise level is just loud enough, a comfy rustle of syllables with the occasional cling of glasses and clang of laughter. And even the smell is right, especially in wintertime when the stove is sizzling and waves of smoky wood chips play through our nostrils. The owner is my age, so the music is a mix of my favorite classics, with Pink Floyd never far away.

The owner has seen our kids grow up in his pub. He must remember how they used to  climb on the high stools when they were just ten and twelve years old, and I can see his smile as he watches them now at the table, taller than their parents beside them.  I see him smile, and so do I.

I smile and  remember. My memory is like a Dutch Gouda, I have holes where my recollections should be. What day of the week are we? What  happened just the other week?  That is why I started writing this blog, after all, to remember.

risico4croppedBut,  looking at the three persons around me, laughing and chatting away, snickering like little girls, word smiting  jokes in three different languages, giggling and even singing to each other, so loud that I have to ask them to quiet down while I look apologetic to the other guests, who never really seem to mind, I do remember and remind myself that it is good to spend some time, from time to time, with the ones you love, in a Brown bar with Blue music and Amber beer or Burgundy wine, winding down.

risico3cropped Here is a place to breath, a moment to bury the  hatchets and drink the peace. Just outside of the  door, the rats race on. And soon enough we will  join them again. But now, just for an hour or so,  we take refuge, These are the times  to repair the  sails, to map the new course, to agree on the  game plan. Because when we get out, and the gale  rises, we better be ready, lest we drift off in  different directions.

So, drink your rum mateys, it’s all hands on deck again soon, and I want to see you all aboard when we sail that ship in.

‘t Risico
Address: Jeruzalemstraat 53, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Phone:+32 50 49 11 69
Advertisements

Valencia

Cafe Burlesque.

Red velvet tapestries draped over tacky pastel plastered columns. Crystal chandeliers, maybe ten in number, glistening as ice sculptures against a purple rain background, under one hundred pulsating stars peeking down on us like one hundred piercing eyes. The walls drowned in burgundy reds and smoky violets, heavy with mirrors in  baroque gilded frames and guarded by stucco Romanesque statuettes in soapy whites and shady grey. End on end hang shoddy portraits collected from a flea market’s unsalable leftover corner. Alternatively, they come from the owner’s hand, an artist, I’ve been told. Either way, they fit right in, in this ballroom of immaculate imperfections.
And then,and there, prominent centerpiece on the long marble counter fencing the display of faceted bottles on the shelves, from an amphora grows an extravagant bouquet of semi wilted flowers, the stems over bending , the chalices like open mouths with petals lush as fleshy lips, a grand bouquet, slowly dying yet alive, slowly fading yet splashing colors to all sides. More flowers on the walls and more in black and in yellow specked China in every corner filling space.

They are plastic, I then figure.

And they should be, I start to understand.
Because nothing here is quite what it seems, nothing here quite normal, thank God, from the star studded ceiling to the glossy mosaic floor, everything in “Cafe De Las Horas, thank God, is an invitation to the fantastic, a incantation to a dream.

And Billy Holiday sings as she cries about ‘Her man’, while we weep about our battles lost and celebrate our battles won. And we sip Agua de Valencia and nibble on olives in virgin oil, while our stories sail the seven seas and grow wilder with every new cup down.

And behind the counter, a young handsome twin brother of Prince  prepares us another pitcher while his friend shows him his party gadgets for a much later night tonight. From his bag he flashes shocks of black raven hair and a silver tiara and a belly dancer’s belt and tapered leather strings and little black hat with knitted lace veil.

And new guests step in, by twos and threes and they find their tables in unseen corners, and the lights dim low and free the music and the evening darkness yields to a midnight haze.

And nothing is what it seems in Cafe de las horas, and Ernest Hemingway was never here.

But we were, my dearest, and I will remember.

Image