Antwerp’s Lojola

Whenever I’m in Antwerp, a visit to Lojola is a must – even though it recently changed owners. I discovered this little teashop by sheer accident. While walking from one museum to the next, I headed to the Hendrik Conscience square and its Carolus Borromeus Church.

After visiting the church, I took a last look at its impressive façade and then headed towards the house – now museum – of mayor Rockox, by walking into the small alley on the left of the church. Logola is on the right side and looks like a small house. If their terrace is closed, there are just three tables on the ground floor. Don’t be put of: this cosy teashop has more seats on its 1st floor.

This time, I had been looking forward to Lojola’s dream of a dark chocolate cake. As I entered, I noticed my favourite table was free but: there was no dark chocolate cake. There were soup and a limited set of hot dishes on offer. There were also plenty quiches and a variety of muffins to choose from. There was a selection of cakes on show, but my eyes locked on a mysterious bunch of filled glasses hidden at the bottom of a cooled display case. I was lost.

Cake sorted, or rather Individual Speculoos and Red Fruit Triffle ordered, there was the usual pouring over lists of coffees and teas. But as the triffle arrived, I just ordered whatever drink popped into my head. Logola’s cookies and cakes are heavenly, but this time one spoon of their take on a triffle landed me in paradise!

Like any child, I made each spoonful last as long as possible. Belgian Speculoos (Dutch Speculaas) is a delight. But the combination of the spicy cookie crumbles and the fresh, slightly sour-sweet taste of the red fruit was delicious. No idea what their custard contained. It was not your ordinary version, nor the Dutch “vanilla vla”. Might it have contained a whiff of frangipani? No idea, but I was nearly in tears: I could not afford another glass, nor try a slice of pecan cake.

You will find Lojola on the right side of the small street to the left of the Carolus Borromeus church. Lojola is on Facebook. As for the triffle: like me, you can have a go at recreating it at home.

A seasonal version of Logola’s Individual Trifles, for 4 people:

4 glass mugs
8 Speculoos or Speculaas cookies (called “Dutch gingerbread cookies” in some supermarkets). You’ll need 2 per mug.
1 pot of cranberry “compote” or cranberry jam
0.5 l thick custard sauce or ready-made “vanille vla” from a carton
Fluffy whipped cream
Cinnamon or “Koek en Speculaas kruiden”

Per mug, crumble two of the Speculoos or Speculaas cookies.
Top with a few spoons of cranberry jam.
Laddle a generous helping of slightly cooled custard or cold “vanille vla” on top, till about 1 cm from the rim of each mug. Put into your fridge till just before serving.
Ready to serve? Get the glasses out of the fridge.
Top each with whipped cream, then sprinkle with cinnamon or “Koek en Speculaas Kruiden”.
Each mug should have 3 different layers, but nothing to stop you from having six if using long drink glasses, as in this picture.

“Koek en Speculaas kruiden” is a mix of spices added to the dough used to make Speculaas cookies. Most Dutch supermarkets and cookery shops sell ready-made mixtures. You can make your own version. Always use grounded, powdered spices.

Take one of the examples below and tinker with, till you’re satisfied. Please note these are European weights, so Australian or US or UK grams and tablespoons may differ.
Always be careful with pepper, cloves and other sharp spices. Allergic to nuts? Sorry: best to steer clear of the recipes in this post. Don’t like your mixture? Add a table-spoon to a mug of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

Dutch Cookies and Speculaas spices:

Ingredients
• 40 gr Cinnamon
• 10 gr Nutmeg
• 5 gr Clove (use grounded version)
• 5 gr Cardamom
• 5 gr White Pepper
• 5 gr Coriander seeds (use grounded version)
• 5 gr Ginger
• 5 gr Aniseed (use grounded version)
• 5 gr Mace
Mix ingredients very thoroughly

Alternative 1 (sharp)
• 30 gr Cinnamon
• 4 gr Nutmeg
• 4 gr Clove
• 1 gr Cardamom
• 2 gr White Pepper
• 2 gr Ginger

Alternative 2 (mild)
• 30 gr Cinnamon
• 8 gr Clove
• 2 gr Cardamom
• 3 gr Ginger
• 8 gr Mace

Alternative 3
• 30 gr Cinnamon
• 10gr Nutmeg
• 10 gr Clove
• 10gr Mace

Alternative 4
• 30 gr Cinnamon
• 15 gr Nutmeg
• 8 gr Clove
• 2 gr Cardamom

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