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IN SEARCH OF GOOD FOOD
My secret food delivery :: Cirkle
Three bags full
Food delivery with a conscience
It's fun to follow recipes in cookbooks, but who has not spent the best part of Saturday morning wandering hopelessly around Brussels in search of udon noodles. Or wondered how you ask for lemongrass in French.
Now you can put aside Ottolenghi and Nigella and that big fat cookbook your mother gave you last Christmas. A young and dynamic Brussels company called Cirkle will deliver a complete meal to your doorstep. All you have to do is cook it.
Brilliant, I thought. Just back from holiday, the last thing I wanted to do was to set foot inside a supermarket. So I ordered a food kit with ingredients for three meals for two, which neatly wrapped up the weekend shopping in two minutes.
The food boxes arrived in the agreed time slot on a Friday afternoon, which seemed something of a miracle given the traffic situation in our neighbourhood can sometimes leave the pizza delivery man gridlocked for days. So that was a good start.
I lugged the three big cardboard boxes into the kitchen and started poking around inside. It was fun to find the little paper bags containing a single bay leaf or a few carefully-labelled walnuts.
The veggies are all organic while the meat comes from local Irish butcher Jack O'Shea. And there were even a couple of freshly-baked bread rolls from Le Bon Pain down in Schaerbeek.
We started off on Friday evening with the recipe for warm mackerel and beetroot salad. Half an hour later, we were sitting down to a big bowl filled with tasty fish and crunchy vegetables.
The next day, we spent 20 minutes in the kitchen preparing beef stew with cinnamon and prunes, followed by about one hour simmering. The meat from Jack O'Shea was much more tender than anything sold in our local Belgian supermarket.
We finished off the weekend with a tasty Asian beef broth with udon noodles and more Jack O'Shea meat. By Sunday night, we had used up every last carrot and lemon to make the three meals, so there was no waste. And no shopping.
This could be the shape of weekends to come.
Delicious warm mackerel and beetroot salad in 30 minutes
You might have met Cirkle already. Founded in 2008 by Ben Bramich, the company used to be called reason2.be. It has gradually evolved from one man and a battered white van into a serious food delivery firm with eight employees and a smart website.
As well as delivering food boxes across Brussels, Cirkle's drivers will bring you fruit and vegetable boxes, meat and fish, snack packets and even organic wines and beers. The prices might be a bit higher than the supermarkets, but it's a fun way to shop.
And it helps the environment.
From the beginning, Bramich wanted to combine the organic food delivery service with a recycling operation. The van drivers collect all the old packaging when they make a new delivery, as well as taking away other waste items like cooking oil, baby clothes and even used books.
So you can discover new dishes while cutting down on the stuff you chuck away.
This seems like a recipe for success.
Asian beef broth
How it works
1 You sign onto the website and select your food box
2 Then you pick a time slot for the delivery to your home or office, either daytime from 11.00 to 18.00 or evening from 18.00 to 22.00.
3 The van arrives with your food packed in boxes, including ice bags to keep the meat and fish fresh
4 The driver takes away material to be recycled. Any money raised is donated to good causes.
Cirkle is offering free daytime home delivery in September, while evening deliveries cost €3 instead of €6.
They also offer €10 off your first online order.