Saturday, June 4, 2016

CRU Wijnegem

I've always been a food-lover, but I only developed a real passion food when I moved to London. I guess this city does that to you, with its abundance of restaurants, food markets, health stores and delis. My heart jumped at every visit to Whole Foods, Borough Market, La Fromagerie or any one of the thousands of restaurants. When I returned home to Antwerp, I kind of missed this foodie-scene. However slowly but surely, the Antwerp food scene is winning my heart over, partly thanks to the opening of some great new places. Poilâne is one of them, but today I wanted to tell you about its new neighbour, CRU. 
CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

CRU is the newest member of the Colruyt family, and with one hugely successful shop in Overijse, it was time to branch out. They choose Axel Vervoordt's Kanaal as their second location, situated in a cool industrial site right at the water, only 15 minutes from the centre of Antwerp. If you've never heard of CRU before (I reckon my international readers haven't), I can best describe it as the Belgian answer to the Whole Foods, or Marqt in case you're a Dutch reader. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

CRU differentiates itself from other supermarkets in a few different aspects. Firstly, fresh products are all displayed and presented by knowledgeable and passionate people, much like a market rather than a supermarket. The fish isn't prepackaged but instead filleted and cut to your preference, right in front of you. 

Secondly, the products CRU prides itself on keeping its products as pure as possible, without additives or taste enhancers. Thirdly, there's a big focus on seasonal products, since these often have the best flavour and price-quality ratio. Last but not least, CRU is markets itself as a shopping destination where you not only buy food, but also experience and taste it. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

Last Friday was the official opening of CRU, so together with the Belgian press I got a tour of the shop while tasting fresh dates, watermelon, chocolates, coffee and what not. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

Their selection of fruits and vegetables isn't huge, because CRU only buys seasonal products from countries all over Europe. Of course at the moment Belgian asparagus and strawberries are there in abundance. You won't find 5 kinds of bananas here, but only the ones which are the best at this moment of the year. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

If you've read my monthly diary, you'll know that I'm a HUGE fan of the watermelons at CRU. They're seriously the best watermelons I've ever eaten (I'm on no. 3 right now). 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

There's also a range of freshly pressed juices: orange, pomegranate and a mix of the two. They make these using an orange press, but I also spotted an Angel juice press, which is like the Rolls Royce of juice presses, so I'm expecting them to expand their juice range with other juices such as carrot or beetroot. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

CRU's best sold product at Overijse are their Medjool dates. Surprising! They're pretty good though, but not the best I've tried. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

Moving on to the bakery/coffee/breakfast section, there's granola, freshly baked sourdough bread, chocolates and coffee. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

I received a loaf of sourdough in my goodie bag and it was really damn good. Crunchy on the outside but still a little sticky on the inside, with an unmistakable sourdough taste. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

There's also a range of patisserie products, which change on a weekly basis. The selection isn't huge like at most Belgian bakeries, but everything is fresh which I think is a much better system. Those chocolate tarts look like they're to die for...


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

The fun thing is that you can actually have a look into the bakery, where the bakers are preparing the bread and patisserie all day long. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

I had two coffees at the coffee bar, and they were SO good. Although I was a bit disappointed that they only had cows milk and no alternatives, the excellent flat white made up for it (it's not on the menu but just ask for it, Athena's special haha!) Even their filter coffee is really great, and I don't say that often about coffee in Belgium ;) How nice is it that you can have a coffee while shopping? There are a few seats here as well so you can sit down with coffee and a croissant in the morning. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

Giant. Chocolate. Slabs. (no words needed)


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem



CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

Something else which I thought was really smart is the little wine bar. Here, you can taste all the wines and just pay by the glass. This way you can find out which wine is your favourite without having to buy a whole bottle. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

There's also a small section with freshly prepared dishes, which you can combine together to make a meal. I spoke with the recipe-developer and asked him about vegetarian dishes or vegan dishes but unfortunately CRU doesn't focus on these, which surprised me since they're also about sustainability. They also don't do any dairy-free milk, yoghurt, soy products or any meat alternatives. Even if this isn't their focus, I think they should definitely incorporate this to attract an even wider audience (even if, let's be honest, the majority of Belgians isn't vegetarian or vegan. But still!) 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

The cheese section is a collaboration with Belgium's best cheese shop, Van Tricht. So without a doubt, you'll find some of the finest cheeses here. Although I don't eat much cheese, my favourite is Groenendaal, it's amazing. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

The sausages are from Brandt & Levie, an Amsterdam-based company which is kind of an institution there. I even remember people talking about these when I lived in Amsterdam.


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

Before you exit the market, there's a little flower shop, which focuses on a different flower every week. I like the idea! Last week, it was all about the peonies. 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

I'm really happy with a shop like CRU in the area. Although the prices are definitely steep, you can find special products here which you wouldn't find in other shops. My favourite products so far are the watermelons, juices, coffee, bread and cheeses. Because they don't stock everything you'd normally find at a supermarket, this is not the kind of shop where you do your regular groceries. But as an 'experience' shop where you can try new things and buy speciality products, it's great! 


CRU versmarkt Wijnegem

Have you been to CRU yet? I can definitely recommend a visit, it's unlike any other shop I know in Antwerp. Make sure to pop over to Poilâne while you're there!

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