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Brussels: Dille & Kamille

Sometimes I take on the most dangerous of assignments. Like when my editor at Virtuoso Life magazine asked me to go to Brussels and write about the boutiques in the chic Antoine Dansaert-Ste. Catherine neighborhood, and I unknowingly timed it to coincide with the end of the January sales.

OK, the truth is, the story was my idea, but as many of you know, I’m weak when it comes to shopping. (I’m from Dallas, remember? That’s what we do.) And I tried, I tell you, I tried to not be there when the winter things were marked down as much as 70 percent (who, I ask you, can resist such folly?!), but alas, luck was not (or was, depending on how you look at it) on my side, and I arrived smack dab at the end, and there was lots still available in my size. Thank goodness there was enough room for a new pair of boots in my little overnight wheely bag.

And that there’s a new espresso bar on rue August Ortsstraat called OR (gold, indeed), which kept me fueled during the day and a half of subzero, snowy weather that Brussels and I enjoyed during my brief, yet packed two-day visit.

The double lattes along with the double layers (I was wearing my very un-chic long undies) kept me warm as I stomped through the snow and carried on with my very tough job of going into stores and chatting with salespeople and if need be, trying things on, because as a serious journalist, it’s important to be thorough.

Once the hard work was done, I figured it was time to treat myself, so the next day, I took a taxi (the snow had turned into a rather slippery mess) to my favorite cookware store, Dille & Kamille.

Dille & Kamille is a Netherlands-based chain that specializes in basics for the kitchen and table, along with some gardening things, too. The aesthetic is simple and the prices are incredible. I bought a bunch of wooden spoons for 1.40 euros apiece.

I was looking at all of the different tools to grate cheese with and meant to buy two really cool-looking zesters, but somehow ended up leaving without them. I may just order these online.

I’ve never found anything like this in the States or in Paris, either. I picked up some pretty pink linen napkins for 2 euros each, and found some green ones that were on sale for just 1 euro. I grabbed a couple of pastry brushes and a scrubby brush for the juicer that I plan to buy this week at Darty, because if there’s one thing that I learned about juicers it’s that they require a bit of work on the back end. No one tells you that. I love juicing, but I’m not a fan of the clean-up. I’m hoping to get a system down where it’s a bit easier and streamlined. I’ll get back to you on that.

I nearly bought one of these fish-shaped cookie/dough cutters because they reminded me of those goldfish crackers. But I couldn’t figure out right then what I’d do with them, so I passed. This is the sort of thing that I’ll regret later. I’ll come up with something fun and I’ll think…oh, that fish cutter would just be perfect!

I love all of these cleaning brushes. Some are long and skinny and I’m not sure what they’re for — very narrow bottles, maybe? —  but I’ll bet that when you need one, nothing but this sort of brush will do.

And look at this, y’all — my friend Alisa Morov’s book, “Happy Gâteaux!” It’s in French of course, but her book on meringues, “Meringue Magic,” just came out in English. Whoo-hoo, Alisa!

Besides these hyacinthes and some other bulbs in pots, I saw lots of fresh, already potted herbs that were ready to be taken home and put in the kitchen window. Which is what I like about this store, besides the great prices and products — they think through the details and make things easy to buy.

And to take home. I love their reusable sacks. Now that I think about it, I may need to do another story in Brussels soon…after the sales are over, of course.