A coffee with… Enza Fuzio

When I discussed with Corie next interview to publish on the blog, the one you are about to read today, I was initially perplexed. Corie in fact proposed me to meet Enza Fuzio, the owner of Ottika Enza. I was told that even if she is neither a chef nor a restaurateur, she is still a very central figure in Luxembourg lifestyle (and nightlife). Enza was born here in Luxembourg, by Italian parents, Corie added, she might have many things to tell you, “I am sure you will enjoy meeting her!”

I trusted her and went straight to Rue Aldringen. Finding my way around Royal-Hamilius construction site, that is evolving visibly every single day and totally changing the skyline of the city. Arrived at Ottika Enza, the first question that comes to my mind is “how did I manage never noticing this shop?” – indeed I pass here in front a thousand times per day.

Ottika Enza is a small but cozy space where the original mood of the glasses blends with the passion that its owner, Enza Fuzio, has for pop art – and you definitely cannot miss it. It is also the only eyewear store in Luxembourg to sell the Italian Independent brand. And Enza, around it, has created a community or, as she loves to say, a fan club, built up around the passion for glasses that are a bit special. Just like her.

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Angela: – Enza, good morning and many thanks for having accepted our invitation. Do you prefer to speak in Italian or in French?
From this question we move straight forward talking about orecchiette for a moment, as Enza, like me, is from Apulia.

Angela: How was your interest in glasses born?
Enza: It was my vocation since I was a child. When I was 10, I had to put the first glasses. I went to buy them from Ackermann, in Place de Paris, that does not exist anymore. I was so fascinated by those white coats and their know-how that at the age of 12 I told my parents “I want to be an optician when I grow up.” At the age of 19, after completing my studies and internship, I came to Optique Berg, where I worked for 28 years as if it was my own shop. Until 2 years ago, when it closed.

A: A year ago you opened this store, Ottika Enza, which is your own, this time for real. And which has a very strong personality. It is colorful, effervescent, and modern. What is your philosophy behind?
E: My shop must be like I am, I told myself before having clear ideas about how I would personalize it. I looked inside and I realized that I wanted to propose something different that would reflect me, which would bring out my passion for creativity and art. A passion dormant during the years when I was married. My then-husband did not believe in art and this curbed me in expressing myself to the maximum. Thank God he left…

A: Do you want to keep this part or do you prefer I cut it out?
E: Oh, you must include it for sure. Everyone tells me “you’ve become another person” (after he left). This is totally incorrect: it just came out who I really was. All the path through the difficulties I’ve had to face in recent years has led to what I am today. A rebirth.

A: Tell me more about all these street art works displayed here in at the shop, in “your home”. Especially that giant mural!
E: I love photography. When the demolition of the old Hamilius area begun, I started taking pictures, I documented all the demolition, I had a huge archive at home and many people asked for it. So I was printing these pictures and putting them on display on the window of the other shop. The owner of the LTL, the company that made the demolition, passed casually in front and complimented me.
When they finally dug and they went more than 33 meters below ground, I was able to go down 2 times with them. They gave me a helmet and a vest and I was taking pictures. When down there, I saw all the graffiti that were there and they were going to be destroyed. At that point, I had a heartache. Center Aldringen has always been a meeting place for young people for ages; after school, we were meeting with friends to spend there our spare time. So it has been a crossroads for many generations who have left them the signs of their passage. So I asked if I could keep a small fragment of the wall to preserve a piece of art and to remember the past years…

A: Very brave! But I suppose it was impracticable, wasn’t it?
E: This is not over yet, listen! One day a guy who was working on the excavations sent me a picture of a fragment 2 meters long asking me if I wanted it. I wondered how he could take off the graffiti. End of the story, a few days later I got in the shop the whole marble plate with the amazing graffiti on it and that’s the original that you see on that wall. It is the only piece that has been saved from that underground gallery. It is also signed because I contacted the artist Alëxone Dizac, who now lives in Paris, and when he came to Luxembourg at the opening of an art gallery he passed by to sign it.


A:
This is a beautiful story! Thanks to your sensitivity you have given new life to this work of art that would have been destroyed! What about all the other works you have here?
E: Here in the shop there are works by Daniel Mac Lloyde who last year received the first prize Young Street Artist in Rotterdam. A work by Thomas Iser, realized a few days ago: it is a window with clouds, behind the window everyone sees his future, the one that he / she dreams, his / her dreams. Madeleine Putz realized my portrait. And then there is also a work by Jacques Schneider.

A: And from street art to design, tell me about Lapo Elkann, who brought you so much luck.
E: I met Lapo Elkann at a fair in Milan and I was the first to export his brand (Italian Independent) outside Italy. Now they tell me that I was their brand ambassador. I believed in this design, I wanted it and I promoted and still promote it. Now there is a wonderful relationship with all of them.

A: I know that there is such an interest in your choices that you even manage a community on social media.
E: Yes, when people are interested in a brand then they follow you, and for Lapo brand I created a small fan club and I often organize events in store. I love to invite my clients in a festive situation, allow them to see glasses without the obligation to buy them, drink some bubbles together. On those occasions, I choose a complete collection, I display it, then there is a DJ, prosecco, photographer … people come to drink a glass, look at the collection dancing at the rhythm of music.

A: I know that in December you celebrated the first year of this eyewear boutique. Too bad not to have attended, but thanks for the invitation. How did it go?
E: It was Saturday and it was beautiful. I had the opportunity to show the glasses of Italian Independent collection made especially for me: a Unique Edition, 50 glasses with the skyline of the city of Luxembourg, as per their tradition when they open a single-brand store in other major cities of the world. On the frame there is written Unique Edition Ottika Enza Luxembourg. A hit. I have 25 pieces left.

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A: These glasses are beautiful. They really suits me as well J Let’s go out for a moment here. Royal Hamilius Project. How do you see it? What do you expect? Will Les Galeries Lafayette be a positive or negative news for the commercial activities around here?
E: Absolutely positive! The whole area will become a point of attraction, will be made totally pedestrian, other shops will move or come here; I do think it will be the most beautiful area in the city. They will open at the end of the year, November, and I cannot wait.

A: Not afraid of competition?
E: No, because my shop is not like the others. I have my clients who have been following me for years. Moreover, the spaces inside the Galeries Lafayette will not be easily accessible from an economic point of view and therefore I do not think that my small and independent competitors can afford those costs. And then I believe that healthy competition is only good.

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A: I agree with you. (We move back inside). From what I can see on social networks you are very involved in the nightlife of this city, you were born here and you have certainly seen its evolution. They tell me that Luxembourg was quite off before. Is that true? What has changed?
E: When we were young, we said that Luxembourg was dead. The places for “going out” were very few. Then, over time, there was a mega revolution. When I was a teenager, there were only 3 or 4 bars, Clausen was not there like we see it now. We had to travel out of Luxembourg most of the time for having fun. All the bars you see now have perhaps opened in the last 10 years.

A: What do you expect then between 2 or 5 years? Will it become a more attractive city?
E: Yes, thanks to the arrival of the University center. This has allowed the birth of many activities related to leisure, nightlife and catering. First the city center was dead because the youth was missing. Now it’s different. Too bad that the university center has developed in Belval and for me it was a huge mistake, but still an improvement that will bring so much more movement. Luxembourg is reborn!

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A: And now a ritual question for us: what are your favorite places in the city? And in what genres, styles and tastes do you recognize yourself?
E: If I go out to the restaurants, I eat essentially Italian or French, I do not like exotic tastes.

A: So you’re not a sushi lover like me?
E: No no no!… (laughing) I love going to the Essenza restaurant, the owner is very special, I like him as a character, I like his restaurant, I like his cooking. He’s a bit crazy, like I am!

A: Coffee, ops, pardon, espresso, where you drink your favorite one?
E: At Caffè Torino. No doubt. We support Juventus in my family and in Turin we visited the original Caffè Torino, we became friends with everyone in Turin. When they opened here for me it became a little bit like home. Every morning I take the cappuccino there, the only one for me.

A: Enza thank you for this nice chat. Before going to drink our cappuccino at Caffè Torino which is nearby, tell me, when will your next event be?
E: Follow my Facebook page Ottika Enza and you will discover it.

Brilliant!

Here with this wonderful woman, sparkling, avant-garde, I go to warm up with a good cappuccino. I remained to chat with her twice as much time as was used for the interview. About restaurants, family, the courage of women, the power of awakening!
I know that this new friendship will bring me much more than this interview!

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A coffee with… Remy Manso

Sitting in a quiet restaurant off the station for a dinner-briefing, Corie asked me:  – What about Remy Manso for next interview?
– Who? -, I replied – clear signal I have moved to Luxembourg only very recently.
– He is the owner of numerous and interesting restaurants in Luxembourg. It manages at least a dozen, mostly Latin, including El Barrio.
– I love El Barrio. – I suddenly replied, after that name caught my attention  – So, of course I’m in -.
I followed up Corie’s contact with Remy and took an appointment with him – guess where? – at El Barrio, which, at 11 am, had a surreal calm atmosphere – if you have been there in the night, you will definitely understand what I mean.
After few minutes into our talk, I’ve found out that there could not have been a better chance to meet Remy, since he just opened his thirteenth place. Yes, you read that correctly. Piri Piri is number 13 restaurant of Manso Group. And it is a Portuguese restaurant, that aims to become the top of its genre in the city – but we will get there later.

Angela: I am so pleased to meet you, Remy, I cannot hide that I imagined you to be older. How can you be so young and have all this responsibilities? And managing so many restaurants and being so relaxed?
Remy: I work in a structured way, starting at 8.30 am with reservations and finishing at midnight after going around all the premises, or almost. I try to be present here and there every day, except one: Sunday, that for me means football… (laughing) …And then I surrounded myself with trusted collaborators, without them I would never have arrived here. You need to invest in reliable people, the best ones and I have chosen them among my old friends. We grew up and evolved together. It’s not only me to succeed in the business, but the whole team.
A: Do you give me a few names of your children?
RDäiwelskichen, Batucada, Chimi Churri, Manso, JFK, The Game Utopolis, The Game Downtown, Toro Toro, El Barrio, El Gato, Boca Loca in Echternach, Gringo’s and Piri Piri, the latest born.

A: Wow! So many! So we can talk about the plans for the future in a while. Now I’m curious to know how you started. Can you tell me more about your takeoff?
R: After school, I went to work with my father, who is no longer there. I learned a lot from him because he was a self-made man, really starting from nothing. He arrived in Luxembourg from Portugal in 1982 and in the evening, after work, he slept in the car. I owe him everything. I started out as a dishwasher, then as a cook and then, together, we managed Daiwelskichen and Batucada, both of which still exist. Growing up without skipping steps is very important. Only in this way can you learn to know how to really manager your business. There are many people who come from a completely different background and want to open a restaurant. They believe that it is enough to put their banner outside the door to make millions. It does not work like this. I have the notion of reality. I study the market and try to understand it, without ever believing I have fully understood it.

A: On the other hand, how do you choose what and where to open?
R: Here we are neither in Paris nor in Milan or New York. The population is limited and you have to study the territory and the public well before opening a gastronomic point of any kind. The people of Luxembourg invest a lot of their free time in the gastronomic circuits or in the cocktail bars, but, even if it is high-handed, they do not like to be fooled. The Luxemburgish do not give a second chance. So I open a new place only after doing an X-ray to the market. At that point, if I decide to start a new adventure I choose the best, point to quality, adequate and valuable interior design and I pay attention to the quality / price ratio. I do not mean to be a perfect owner, but I always work very honestly and this allowed me to get to the number 13 🙂

A: Yes! Quite right! You mentioned that with the new entry you are at a peak of 13. Tell me about the newborn!
R: It’s called Piri Piri and it’s a bomb. The kitchen, for the first time for my group, is Portuguese, like my homeland, but far from the one already proposed here in the city. Our culture is melancholic and evokes calm and sadness. This is why I have always preferred to open local Brazilian, Argentinian, Mexican and Spanish. I like to dance and also mojitos 🙂 But it was time to do something to pay homage to my father, who would have wished to open a restaurant with the flavors of his land. I also wanted to do something for the Portuguese community that is very large here. With my partners we had a lot of fun choosing the pottery and furniture, and I tested all the dishes. It is a restaurant completely different from what is already there in Luxembourg. Beautiful inside, with attention to the smallest details, with a traditional touch, but with a modern, refined and very rich design. Even the cuisine has its roots in Portugal, the flavors are authentic, but pervaded by a new twist. Some hints? The cod ceviche for example.

A: What does Piri Piri mean?
R: (Laughing). It’s a curious name, isn’t it? It is a spicy pepper typical of Portuguese cuisine. I chose it because it is very evocative.

A: Good luck then! So now we got a bit on the personal side. How can you be sure you differentiate one place to the other and you just don’t “copy paste”? I want to say: out of 14 restaurants, it takes imagination to avoid the same concept from happening again, doesn’t it?
R: Since working with my father, we have always chosen to address to an audience that loves the “Latin fiesta“. And so from the local Brazilian, to Argentine meat, passing through Mexican cuisine, without forgetting the Mediterranean area, one thing is certain, in my restaurants there is always a common factor that is the caliente style and typical of the Latin culture, but with an always different menu. I choose some detail that differentiates them, so that each place has its own identity. And where the food proposal looks similar, it is the location to be different – in the city and out-of-town for example. Said that, I believe that El Barrio is the strongest of all, is the “maison mère” because here everything has been done to perfection, just thinking about the fact that we have chairs for 400 Euro each, we have 20 people only in the kitchen and we have a kind of meat that is the top: the wagyu beef. Maybe I will seem arrogant, but I think there is nothing better in the city for quality / price ratio. I must also add that a great job had been done before I arrived, when it was still La Boqueria. I’ve always been fascinated by this place, in fact I wanted to direct it many years ago, but I was too young and they did not take me seriously. Better like this! Now I’m more mature and able to manage it.

A: Tell me the truth Remy, do you have a place in your heart among all?
R: Yes, Manso Restaurant occupies a special place. That’s where I put more about myself! The concept and the menu talk about me. Before and during the opening, in every place of the Mediterranean in which I went on holiday, I identified dishes that excite me most and put them in paper. Some dishes are Spanish, some Italian, some still Greek, and Portuguese and French are not lacking. But this choice was a mixed blessing! Do you know why? The “Mediterranean Cuisine” category is too vast and does not allow the Manso to have a well-defined identity. Usually the identity makes it the nationality of origin of the gastronomic proposal or the main ingredient of the menu. This is missing at the Manso. In the eyes of the public you can eat anything and everything, which is equivalent to nothing precise. So if at lunch I have a good customer basis mainly due to the offices nearby, in the evening we are penalized because people choose to go there they know exactly what to expect.

A: Oh, I’m sorry. Do you have a plan B?
R: Of course! Despite being in my heart, I will soon say goodbye to it!

A: Ah no, it was your favorite! And then will they become 12 again?
R: Noooo! Not at all! They will always be 13 because Manso Restaurant will turn into something else. And here’s the news for the year 2019 😉

A: Are you telling me that you have another opening in mind when you just opened Piri Piri?
R: Yes, yes. And yes, this will be an absolute novelty because for the first time I will be completely different from my kind to open a restaurant serving Greek cuisine. On the other hand, half of my members are Greeks. And we want to do it well! In the best way. We will also go to Greece to get ideas, so we will gain in authenticity and ideas.

A: Fantastic Remy. And when do you intend to open it?
R: We will start work in January.
A: Wow. I’m afraid that if we stay here to talk a little bit, you can make me a program of openings until 2030 …
R: Hahah no. I do not intend to reach 20, but creativity and the desire to do are certainly not lacking.

A: Thank you for your time Remy. It was a true pleasure meeting you.

I greet my interlocutor, but before going he shows me something that I adore. A nice piece of wagyu beef comes out of the kitchen to finish immortalized straight in my hands. Ok, I do not know what to put on my 2019 to try list first: Piri Piri or wagyu here at El Barrio. What would you say?

Pictures: Giacomo Salvemini (instagram.com/slv)

A coffee with… Alessio Zappala

He is the one in charge of “feeding” the Italian Ambassador in Luxembourg. He knows her tastes and works hardly to delight the palate of the renowned personalities from Luxemburg and European political scene who frequent her table.

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His name is Alessio Zappala, known as Chef Alessio, he was born in Sicily, Italy, and he is a volcano of gastronomic knowledge, stubbornness and happiness. This might have been probably what impressed the Ambassador Mrs. Rossella Franchini, before choosing him for her kitchen. We met Alessio for a coffee at Caffé Torino in a sunny morning and ask him some questions, for the readers of Barefoot in Luxembourg to get know him better.


Angela
– Chef, what does it mean for a young chef to play such an institutional role?
Alessio – Working for the Italian Ambassador in Luxembourg is a mission. And not just for what you represent, but for the commitment it takes to promote Italian culinary culture in this country. Since I have been working for her, I had the opportunity to work toward my philosophy.

AN – And what is your philosophy?
AL – Here in Luxembourg, Italian restaurants do not lack, indeed, we can say that there are a lot. Despite this, finding who really respects the tradition and the high quality of our products is very difficult. And I understand it, because it is often more effective to meet local tastes and to choose products easily available rather than making efforts to keep up the pure, authentic Italian gastronomic proposal. So I commit myself and I fight for not coming down to these compromises. Each Italian recipe is made of typical ingredients, most of which are excellent. Let us use them, let people know, we don’t have to add elements that have nothing to do with our culture.

AN – You’re right. I am on your side. And tell me how the ambassador caught you?
AL – In 2014 I won the Bronze Medal at the World Cooking Championship at ExpoGast, an international haute cuisine event, in which I obviously represented Italy. That was followed by the silver medal during the period when I was in the Federation of Italian chefs in Belgium. These occasions are unique, you know, to make yourself known. Not to mention my commitment in Luxembourg to grow the Italian Chefs Federation.
So, coming back to your question, it was that one evening a few months ago, I received a proposal that I could not refuse 😉

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AN – And now you cannot get away from the one question: what does the Ambassador fancy to eat?
AL – The ambassador has refined tastes and is respectful of every single ingredient. It is for this reason that she does not like the excess of spices and sauces, to taste the most authentic flavor of the dish. She decides the main and the sides. And as she decides, there are no further questions.
As for her preferences, she especially loves game prepared with the typical Italian aromatic herbs and the sauce that is naturally released during cooking. Then she often makes herself the bread with which she delights family and guests.

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AN – Thanks Alessio, it’s always nice to meet people through their tastes. And tell us, where will we find you soon?
AL – This year, from 24 to 28 November, the Expogast is back, returning to Luxembourg every 4 years and featuring international culinary art. With a lot of competitions, between 46 teams of different nationalities for the “Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup”. Well, I will coordinate the Italian team.
So dear Italian readers (and not only!), come to cheer for us!

AN – We, at Barefoot in Luxembourg, will certainly be there. So now last question: What have you got up your sleeve?
AL – There is something in preparation on the menu, but I cannot announce anything yet. Readers will have to wait a few month, they have to stay tuned until next interview 😉

AN – Thanks for this pleasant coffee together, Alessio
AL – Thanks to you Angela for having given me the possibility to talk about my projects on the blog.

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If you want to follow Chef Alessio Zappala check his Facebook Page here.

Pictures are courtesy of Laura Iberti. Follow her Instagram account here.

Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People: Cecilie

A new week starts with a new interview for our Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People column. Today Jenni is introducing us Cecilie, a dynamic, smiling lady who is reminding us, among all, how important is to believe in your dreams.

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Good Morning and Welcome Cecilie! Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about who are you and what are you doing here?

Sure! My name is Cecilie Rigneus, I am originally from Norway, and I’m a nurse (former one!), a mom and a personal trainer. I arrived in Luxembourg 17 years ago with my husband, basically because of his job. At that time, my children were very small and the prospect of working was stressful balancing child care and long working hours. So I decided I was going to look another way and began to look at options of starting my own business. This would then give me a more flexible working schedule and allow me to work from anywhere at any time and around my family. Being able to share my business opportunity with people is something I am truly passionate about as I am able to change their lifestyle with reduced stress and added freedom. I also wanted to inspire people to pursue a healthier lifestyle in the long run.

My friends and family would describe me as a happy, positive and including person who love living life to the fully.

Can you tell Barefoot in Luxembourg readers a bit more about your business?

It was 8 years ago, whilst I was looking for a flexible business that I was introduced to this opportunity and I just knew it was for me. I call myself a “Lifestyle Optimizer”. My business is divided into two categories: clients and partners. With regards to my clients, I aim to inspire them to look and feel younger in the long term by encouraging them to make the best choices with health, fitness and wellbeing. Partners are typically people who want to get away from regular office jobs, want more flexibility in their working hours or have moved here and have a hard time finding a permanent job due to the language barriers, education or skills.

My motivation of helping people is to offer them a possibility to earn money with the option of working from any location and country with totally flexible working hours.

Why should people in Luxembourg be attracted to your business?

It’s a great way to make money on your own terms. As a business owner you set your own goals and get the necessary coaching and support to help make it happen. There are also no special requirements for success, just the right attitude! To get a better idea how to be more involved is to come to our next event, which is on Saturday the 3rd February at 11.00. To receive more information people can send an email to info@lifestyleoptimiser.com.

What are your future plans?

To continue living life the way I do! My business allows me to travel and to meet so many inspiring and interesting people.

My motto is that I don’t live to work but work to live.

Coming back to your Luxembourg background, you told us you have been living here for 17 years.

Yes, and in this 17 years I have seen a lot of change in Luxembourg and I love to be a part of that change. Luxembourg is such a diverse community with so many nationalities and cultures.

What is your favorite place in the city?

I like Come a la Maison because of its unique concept. It’s truly a lifestyle kind of place with stylish decoration, healthy choices, food and the best coffee.

What is your preferred night-life spot in Luxembourg?

I don’t have the same desire to hit the nightlife anymore. I tend to go out for drinks with friends and if I have to choose some places then I’d say Boos Café in Bridel or Mansfeld in Clausen.

What do you like about Luxembourg life?

I love the diversity. You can just be yourself and people will accept you for who you are. Luxembourg is also very family friendly and I’m happy to have my children growing up here. It is also very green and the healthcare system is excellent.

What do you miss here and what would you like to change or improve?

I would love to see more of the cheaper health stores. I have to say I have seen a big change when it comes to people getting more health conscious and availability in healthy options. There is definitely room for more. I love both fashion and home deco, but have to admit I don’t find much of my Scandinavian style here.

What is the best place you visited in a range of 200 km from the city and that you would suggest for a day trip?

Champagne region is my personal recommendation. I love the rustique French countryside, I love bubbles so I can’t really ask for more.

How would you describe Luxembourg with three adjectives?

Safe, international and open minded.

Thank you for being with us today Cecilie.

To discover more about Cecilie you can follow her Facebook page here.

 

Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people: Andrea

2018 is starting with a new chapter of the Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people column. If you follow my IG stories, you have already realized probably that one of my favourite place during winter has been La Briscola, this cozy Italian wine bar and restaurant off the station where I can relax after some very long days at work, in front of a lovely glass of Italian red wine. As it helped me so much taking the stress away in these last weeks that have been, for a reason or another, so tough, I decided starting the 2018 of our series from here, having a chat with the guys behind this concept.

I met Andrea, one of the owners, at my usual table, in front, ca va sans dire, of a glass of red wine.

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Good evening Andrea and welcome to Barefoot in Luxembourg. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about how you and your partners met?

Good evening! As you already unveiled, we are four Italian guys who met through a common passion, the one for wine and Italian authentic food. We come from different experiences – three of us are working in a bank, while I am the manager of the restaurant and I have a hospitality background – and come from different places – two of us are from Lombardia, while the other two are from Friuli region. We had all since long time this dream about opening an Italian restaurant, while enjoying it, and with “La Briscola” we finally managed to do it and we are very excited to celebrate our first year of activity this Saturday (ED: more information here).

What are you enjoying about La Briscola and why people should come here?

“Briscola”, in Italy, is a famous card game. The name indeed is not random: we wanted to have a place where to enjoy ourselves, like during a card game, and to put ourselves in action, not just as owners or managers, but as active players. Our La Briscola is not only a restaurant, the place where you eat and leave, but, also and above all, a place where you feel home, that welcomes you when you have an argument with your partner and needs a glass of wine, when you want to relax with your friends or celebrate a great day at work, when you want to discover more about wines and take a bottle home for your sweet half or your parents.

Why La Briscola should be different from tons of Italian restaurant we have already in town?

La Briscola is different, firstly, because it is not only a restaurant, it is a place to meet. That means that our customers are welcome for lunch or dinner, but as well for after-work, a night-cap drink, to discuss about wines and to discover our products.

Under the pure “food” point of view, then, we are proud to say that we have an offer that is completely different from the other Italian restaurants in Luxembourg: we have a seasonal, very short menu that changes every two months, including some forte that you can always find – for example: tartares. We do not propose the usual classic you might find elsewhere – the infamous carbonara or similar,  – but unique, designed dishes, with a strong regional orientation. In particular, while we try to cover the cuisine from North to South of Italy, we are very keen of being almost the first in Luxembourg to present as well several dishes from Northern Italy – while the major part of our “competitors” have speciality from Apulia or Sicily. We are glad to say that probabily 90% of the products and wines you are having at La Briscola cannot be found elsewhere in Luxembourg as well as offering them at very fair prices.

So La Briscola is organizing also getting together. What are the upcoming events of La Briscola?

As said in the beginning, this Saturday La Briscola will celebrate its first birthday. An occasion for us to thank our customers. We are having a special dinner menu and an all-night-long after-party with DJ set.

Moreover, we started already from some time the concept of Briscolino, an after-work evening once per month where our clients enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine, taste for free our dishes at the appetizers buffet and dance with a DJ – set. Briscolino is different from the other after-works in town because we are not changing our style for the event, but we are proud to present our same, usual products we import from Italy, from Gorgonzola on the spoon to Breasola to home-made pasta dishes. Briscolino is not an evento to fill up the restaurant for one night, but for having more people trying our cuisine and come back as regular clients.

Another great event we repeat on a regular basis are the Wine Talks: again, it is not just an occasion to taste and learn more about some great Italian wines, from a professional perspective, but above all an occasion to meet other wine lovers and discuss also with them about wine – a monthly “wine club”, if we want to define it so, that make clearer our idea about being not only a restaurant, but as well a reference for people passionate about wines. In fact, for example, during our Wine Talks, you have a chance to buy our wines – that are on sale normally at the restaurant anyway – for a discounted price.

So one year passed already, where do you see La Briscola in 1 year?

Our first year was basically to get known, that might not be easy considering that we are not in a fashionable area of the city. We want to continue to propose our Briscolino and Wine Talks and we have great surprises coming – for example the Italian Sunday Brunch and the kitchen open all Sunday afternoon for Italian football matches – or, if you don’t like football, just if you are too lazy to wake up on time for the brunch on Sundays.

Coming back to your Luxembourg background, how long have you been in Luxembourg?

I came to Luxembourg one year and a half ago for opening La Briscola. I was convinced by my other three partners in crime, who have been here for more than three years and know I was getting myself into real trouble moving here (laughing).

What is the place that has the most special memory in the city for you?

The bridge on the Alzette in Grund…one of the first places I saw in Luxembourg and still my favourite one.

Out of interest, and taken La Briscola out of the candidates :), what is your favorite restaurant in town?

I recently went to Tomo, a sushi place in Merl and tried their special menu with marinated sushi at the bar in front of the chef. In my opinion the best sushi in town!

What about your favourite night-life spot?

Being a pub-lover, Steiler is definitely the place I go on the weekends to enjoy a good atmosphere and good music.

What do you like about living in Luxembourg?

What I enjoy the most about Luxembourg is its international environment, which is something you can experience in very few cities in Europe. Lots of people are moving here from all over the world and are very open to make friendship. Going from bar to bar at night, you can easily spend the entire time with people you met on the spot, which is something that rarely happened to me in other cities I lived in before.

What do you miss most about living in Luxembourg and would change about the life in Luxembourg?

As Italian, the only thing I really miss is a better, sunny weather! Seriously, I hope the city will continue to grow and to increase the offer for entertainment, which is definitely needed, considering the relatively young age in average of people that have been moving to the city in the last years.

And finally, to conclude, what are the best three adjectives that describe better Luxembourg for you

International, cosy and forward looking!

Thank you very much Andrea and See you at La Briscola!

 

Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People: Jalo

It is time for a new interview on the blog: today Corie talk with Jacopo, aka Jalo Sounds, a talented musician – and much more as you will discover –  who you can meet often on the Luxembourg nightlife scene.

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Good Evening and welcome at Barefoot in Luxembourg for a new episode of our series “Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people”, thank you for joining. So, let’s introduce yourself first!

Jalo: It’s me who thank you for your time and the opportunity. I’m a 3-in-1 restless Italian having the time of his life (of his 3 lives) in this little known amazing country. My 3 lives are: making music, teaching music, creating music events. My mission is to make more of all 3 for more people to know, enjoy & share. Not necessarily for all the people. But for the right people. That’s why Luxembourg is fantastic for me.

3 LIVES? CAN YOU TELL OUR READERS MORE, AND WHY?

1. making music: I play guitar since over 28 years ago (I love making my one guitar versions of timeless classic tunes – I sometime add vocals, or play with selected duo partners). Luxembourg has lots of great locations perfect sized for single / duo performers.
I am having lots more chances here than those I would have had in Italy, like playing live on Luxembourg Radios.
2. teaching music: since I left classic training (over 22 years ago) I have developed what I believe the fastest, easiest and most personalized system to learn guitar. 22 years ago I discovered that practically all people regardless of age, tastes and nationality they all love music but no one really wants to study an instrument, to be schooled, or to be constrained in time & space. So I took action. I know it sounds like a big claim, that’s why even after over 80 people trying my method, I still let people try me risk free.
3. creating music events: based on a great examples like the one in Konrad, I started an Open Mic Group for people to share listening / playing music on small scenes to friendly audiences all around the city. It is slowly growing and the right people are making it better every time. There is lots of musical talent and loving to share music in Luxembourg. Both for locals and for expats that may have just arrived in Luxembourg.

WHICH OF THESE LIVES DO YOU BELIEVE TO BE MOST INTERESTING?

Oh well, I find them equally interesting to work on, but the most transformational for me and others is probably the teaching music. I have seen what great change can occur in people of all age / nationalities / when enabled to play music they like.

WHY TEACHING? WHAT’S IN IT, FOR YOU? AND FOR OTHERS?

I believe there is something special with teaching that it makes it close to a divine thing, not really in the sense of some teaching-god with some sort of infinite god-like knowledge pushing information some passive-mortal-being that is just to execute repeatedly. Teaching means most to me in the sense of finding the most effective, understandable, enabling & energizing way to share mutually interesting information between human beings so that this information can build up in form of knowledge, action & sense of purpose in the mind of more humans than before it happened. This is what I see in it, for me and for all others I have the privilege to meet.

HEY, SO MUCH? A SOMEWHAT RELIGIOUS THING?

Things do not change themselves, nor anything else. People can change themselves, and can change things. Teaching can change people. Both the teaching people, and the people who are taught. And we are the people. It’s just so endlessly fascinating. It also take great effort and genuine will to help. When teaching means oppression, or manipulation of the unaware, it’s not teaching. We all know what that is, instead.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

I would say the most tragic consequence of bad teaching is when the wrong-minded teacher becomes a representation of the subject taught, in the eye of the unaware, so people end up quitting to learn that skill, thinking they anyway cannot make it so why trying in the first place, whereas instead people should be thinking of quitting to learn that skill they love with that bad teacher. This I believe is the tragic heritage, vocational wasteland and countless body count left by bad teaching and bad teachers. I try not to sound too theatrical and rhetorical, but I do see it as a genuine tragic loss of human capital through history. And a perfect mass murder with well paid responsible still at large. With good teachers in every school we might have flying cars running on water, for what I know….

YOU SHOULD BE THE PERFECT TEACHER, THEN?

Perfect teacher? Me? Not at all, but after 28 years of playing guitar, I surely have things to say to anyone wishing to play on guitar songs in a very simple and accurate way. It’s the same method I wish it was offered to me when I started. Thanks to modern technology I have a way to make my physical presence as minimal as possible, so I can reach in different ways with my guitar training into even the busiest agendas. I had also very interesting experiences helping songwriters with new ideas and music, and arranging for guitar some great songs that have no guitar in their original versions. Sure, any of these things I say can and should be tested! Just send me an email ( to : contact@simply-songs.com ) and schedule your 1h risk free trial.

Yes! Promotion, here! But how else and how best to check about what I can really do?

AND THE OTHERS? ALL BAD TEACHERS? SURE?

I am not accusing anyone. But I can surely share what I think about 2 categories of my – so to say – teaching competitors. Let me say some about Long Established Music School & Independent Teachers.

DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE MUSIC SCHOOLS CAN DO WRONG? WHY?

About Schools, those with the “maison fondèe en 18..” ….. I believe in lots of non-musical subjects, and for classical music too, conventional teaching might still be the best. But about guitar all I want is to provide another method to people that are in the most vulnerable position of being passionate of music and unaware of alternative methods, especially as they say “you don’t know what you don’t know”. And I am not in a position (nor I want to be) where I tell people that I am The School, I have The Method, therefore I want them to Join My School on My Terms, applying My Program, adapt to My Schedule, buying My Books, paying in advance My Fees for a Full Trimester / Semester / Year… and if people dare not finding it such a Good Deal and end up dropping out, they are the failures, surely not My School. I believe most of these terms are unacceptable to anyone older than, say, 8 years old!

AND INDEPENDENT TEACHERS? WRONG TOO?

About Independent Teachers, I believe these are those who apply the above teaching methods to people, as a sort of karma circle of Oppressive Teaching that never asks what interests the students. Never asking is practical. Asking the students is much less practical. Asking the students, requires acknowledging their Musical Rights, their Musical Ideas, their Needs, and requires probably working harder on finding new, relevant and meaningful answers. But some Teachers use oppression and a false authority to unilaterally impose their one-size-fits-all approach to all people they come in contact with. But learning guitar, like music, means very different things to different people. Having the willingness to ask students, and the knowledge to provide relevant and motivating answers to very different people, is for me a better way of teaching. And I do not mean that I have something meaningful for every guitar player every time! That’s why I offer risk free trial time. As if I can’t provide musical value and motivation, I can’t accept wasting anyone’s time & money.

Some other Independent Teachers are for me mainly performers (sometimes very high level performers) who try their best to take care of students that in reality do not want to take care of, or do not know how to listen to, how to motivate them, how to awaken the musician in them. Teaching is way way beyond getting people listening to their Teachers’ level performances, that can be nice to listen to, but of very little educational value.

SO THERE IS NO BETTER WAY THAN YOU FOR GUITAR SONGS LOVERS?

Oh, if the arguments I made are still so controversial and unacceptable?

Sure there are still other ways! That at this point might still be better, way better than me! If you are up to 5 years old, you should go for a big plastic thing with fun shaped buttons, called Guitar Hero video-game.

BUT AREN’T GUITAR EXPENSIVE?

Nowadays, you can get a fair quality acoustic or a classical guitar mailed to your doorstep for 100€ or less. Never been a better time to invest in music and in guitar.

Or if you don’t want to invest a cent in your guitar, but still play in front of lots of people, go & learn to play the invisible Air Guitar! There is even a Festival for that!

WHY YOU ALSO PLAY LIVE MUSIC? ISN’T TEACHING ENOUGH?

I am such an incredible player that I absolutely want the world to listen to my live greatness!!! Jokes aside, I believe teaching cannot be “full time”. Every teacher should test its value and relevance vs what the outside audience likes (or not!). In other words, good teachers should perform (as much as good performers should teach too!) even if it’s very true that being a good performer does not make you a good teacher automatically. I was taught by a good performer, who was not a good teacher to me. But this pushed me to go beyond his method and classical guitar so I do still thank him a lot, as here I am!

WHY YOU ALSO ORGANIZE LIVE EVENTS? ON TOP OF TEACHING & PLAYING LIVE?

I also create monthly events where all sort of amateur players (not only my students) can play some music to small audiences so they can get some live results & feedback from their hard work practicing. Or they can even end up winning a live paid gig. Sure, anyone can come to listen only! The reasons I do this is because I see this as a better monthly alternative of what some music schools offer only once a year, a closed doors End Of Course Performance. Hence, missing the contact and the feedback of a real audience. Here’s my Live Events Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/openmicgroup.lu

WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING, FROM YOUR 3 LIVES?

From playing live? I learned the need to constantly question my music knowledge, to get better and to be more respectful to listeners’ Fundamental Right to Good Music.

From teaching guitar? How big of a change can make to offer the possibility to make music. We humans are not only social animals, but very, very, very musical animals.

From organizing music events? I learned how much interesting music hides inside many people with very ordinary life that for too many reason are rarely offered occasions to participate and make something very ordinary, very human and very of their own like making live music and/or listening to live music together. And most importantly, what is mostly valued in participants is not the fact of sounding like a professional level musician, but instead being authentic and showing respect to the ears of the audience.

WAS THERE A LIFE OF YOURS BEFORE THESE 3 LIVES CAME ABOUT?

Ah, there was. I came here, like many expats, called in by the financial sector. Yes, suit, ties and stuff.

HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF LUXEMBOURG?

Very good! Natural landscape is smaller than, say, France or Brazil, but the human landscape is enormous, interesting and never ending! And being from the industrial North of Italy, I value mostly the human landscape over the natural landscape. But I do understand those who come from, say, Barcelona and miss the seaside.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING IN LUXEMBOURG?

13 years, of which the last four particularly interesting and unexpected!

WHAT IS YOUR MOST BELOVED PLACE IN THE CITY?

Something non musical here! Any of the many beach volley courts in the city, on a sunny day. This country has incredible sport facilities all around.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN THE CITY?

I love the great position, the kind service, and the reliable quality of a good tartare in the super central La Boucherie. I love the passion and the hard work of people around the simply great food of a few more places like Matelots, Brooklyn Bar & Bay of Bengal. I sure know I am missing lots more nice places.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE NIGHTLIFE SPOT?

No real favorite one. I like, depending on occasions, places like The Tube Bar, Rocas, Oscar’s, UpDown, Urban, Konrad, and Brasserie Neumunster.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADJECTIVE TO DESCRIBE LUXEMBOURG?

Unexpected, and great in spite of size!

WHAT ARE YOUR PROJECTS FOR THIS YEAR?

Live better my 3 lives, make more and better music, and something secret I cannot tell you right now, but I will someday!

HOW TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?

Message me on Facebook! I always respond.
Here’s my FB Pages where you can write to me.

My live music FB Page: www.facebook.com/jalo.sounds
My teaching method FB Page: www.facebook.com/contact.simplysongs
My music events FB Page: www.facebook.com/openmicgroup.lu

LET’S FINISH WITH A FEW OF YOUR FAVORITE QUOTES

The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; The motions of his spirit are dull as night, And his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music
(William Shakespeare)

The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple
(Albert Einstein)

Studying without desire spoils the memory and retains nothing that it takes in […] Learning is the only thing the mind never fears, never exhausts and never regrets […] Knowing is not enough, we must apply!
(Leonardo da Vinci)

Without music, life would be a mistake
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

Music mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel
(Louise Veronica Ciccone)

I SAID “FINISH”! AND I ASKED FOR JUST “A FEW” QUOTES!

As you’ve just seen, I tend to talk a lot, write a lot, play a lot… 🙂
Thanks again for your patience & understanding 😉

A FINAL WORD FROM YOU?

Thanks so much! To you, and to Luxembourg

 

Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People: Angela

Today, as every Wednesday, we welcome a new protagonist for our column Barefoot in Luxembourg meets People. After make-up artists, djs, bloggers, today is the turn of Angela PICCOLOMINI, who is involved in a very special charity project.

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Good Morning and welcome at Barefoot in Luxembourg for a new episode of our series “Barefoot in Luxembourg meets people”, thank you for joining.

Hi, my name is Angela, I’m a half Luxembourgish and a half Italian, I like pizza and ice cream. When I laugh you can hear me for miles away. I’m a biologist with a master in sustainable development and now I’m project manager for the NGO Padem. I’m in charge of awareness and education but also of the fundraising.

Can you tell Barefoot in Luxembourg readers a bit more about your Black Tea Ceylan project at Padem?
The tsunami devastated Sri Lanka coasts in December 2004, after the civil war that has anguished the country for over 30 years. Beyond the human tragedy, it was a real social disaster that deepened even more inequality between the populations.
The plantation workers represents 9.8% of the Sri Lanka population. They live in “on line” huts that have a dozen square meters size called “Laima”, separated by simple wooden partitions. This creates unsafe living conditions for children, particularly for girls who have no privacy. The breakdown of these huts is very bad, very weak and inadequate lighting, overcrowded neighborhood make them particularly vulnerable to contagious diseases.
Humidity and standing water because a rapid spread of diseases and epidemics. Water and sanitation are placed in public areas for all residents of “Laima”, but are largely insufficient. Generally, one or two latrines rows cabins are shared by 150 people.
That’s why in 2007, Padem decided to act in Sri Lanka and has already lead projects to improve the living conditions of the plantation workers by acting an innovative approach. Among others, 131 houses and retirement homes were built, children were back in school, the water supply and electricity were introduced, micro credit and training were create , cooperatives have been established and large-scale awareness campaigns were conducted.
This black tea is the result of this project…it’s our beneficiary tea! It’a Fairtrade tea!

Why people in Luxembourg should be interested by this tea project?
Cause what we do here in the “North” have a consequence on the “South”! We have to change our consumption…we have to change our way of thinking. We must take care of the products that we buy because only doing thing we can change the things, we can change lives.

What are the best three things about working from Padem?
I like the feeling to do something good, something helpful…at the end of the day I feel useful cause maybe only one child will have clean drinking water or food…and it’s a good feeling!
I enjoy the fact that I can meet a lot of different people and I love the possibility to discover new culture and new way of thinking.

Coming back to your Luxembourg background, how long have you been living in Luxembourg?
I was born here and when I was 3, my parents decided to move in the south of Italy and then, when I was 13 when they decided to come back but at the age of 19 I moved in Rome for my studies and then I came back. After all this departure and coming back, I’ve decided that my home is here.In Luxembourg.

What is your most beloved place in the city?
I like the town, I really love Place de la Constitution where the Gaelle Fra is, because you’re in the middle of the town… a lot of shops, a lot of cars, a lots of noise…but if you go near the balcony you can see trees everywhere. Maybe it’s because I’m a biologist, but all those trees give me a great feeling.

What is your favorite restaurant in Luxembourg?
I really like sushi so I will say Wayoxi in Merl and also La Feluca for the pizza cause I really love pizza…like everyone in the world… I think.

What is your preferred night-life spot in Luxembourg?
Before my favorite place to go was “SulPalco” …it was like home…but it’s closed now 😦 ! Now it’s “Urban” or “Go Ten”!

What do you like about Luxembourg life?
I like the melting pot but also the fact that Luxembourg gives you the opportunity to be what you want to be…

What do you miss here and you would like to change or improve?
I hate traffic but normally I sing alone in the car…let take the positive side of the things. I think that they are doing enough to improve this.

What is the best place you visited in a range of 200 km from the city and that you would suggest for a daily trip?
We don’t have to go so far away…I think the North of Luxembourg is really beautiful! Like Mullerthal or Vianden…I find those places charming and really beautiful!

What is the best adjective to describe Luxembourg?
OPEN