Wednesday, 17 November 2010


The excitement was palatable as we hit the eurostar for our impromptu 36 hour flying visit to Brussels. We had two of our favourite gourmet travelling companions in tow and a wad full of Euros to splash on all the Belgian cliches we could lay our hands on: Mussels, Chocolate, Waffles, Frites and Beer. Lots and lots of Beer.

And boy did we go for it. We had a cracking first day and night - joking along the way that we were building a somewhat shaky food pyramid in our belly which can be illustrated with following diagram.

No woozy times happily - just ensured we had a rough start to Sunday :)

The most impressive feature I think for all of us were the chocolatiers. We had some wise advice on who to hit from Mostly About Chocolate earlier that week - in particular the world famous Witamar and Pierre Marcolini. They were un-f*cking-belivable. They seem to operate on a whole other plane of existence in the chocolate world where chocolate meets art in the most wonderful way.

Wittamar has a great cafe' upstairs which we went to not once but twice - firstly for a late afternoon tea and chocolate indulgence and secondly for a well earned hangover brunch of quiche, omelette, croque monsieur and the like.

But to the pictures - heres a blow by blow...

Firstly we ventured up to the seafood district around the Place Saint-Catherine. Full of great seafood restaurants. Ate some good mussels*, Steak tartar and meat loaf from Jaloa brasserie which had a very appealing stand up seafood bar outside rammed with locals - always a good sign.

Then after an extended afternoon of touring in the rain sodden sights we sought refuge in some afternoon tea of cakes, confectionaries, hot chocolate at the wonderful Wittamer Cafe' . 

A few hours more walking around then we went back to the mind blowing Pierre Marcolini (across the square from Wittamer) and admired the chocolate artwork and bought a few bits and bobs. Unfortunately this particular pristine piece of art was nicked in transit. Still damn fine to look at and eat.

Then went back to the hotel (the amusingly hipster Pantone Hotel no less) , checked in and headed out for a good old fashioned pub crawl around the city centre and beers beers beers.

Next day we went to the Magritte museum and enjoyed the surreal wonderments of Rene Magritte and enjoyed a street waffle outside (bit average really - you get what you pay for). Word of warning - the Magritte is paired with a separate and more traditional museum who try to operate seamlessly with Magritte but very much do not. They are confusing as hell with ticketing, audio guides, special areas, timed entry rules, and bizarre floor arrangements, layout and lighting. Surreal indeed. Still worth it though... 

And for our final evening we strolled around the Tin Tin trail seeking out street art of the famous character or which there were several large sites. 

And the final cliche' we may have answered: Boring Brussels? You may indeed encounter rain sodden, empty streets, a disproportionate amount of (closed) antique and furniture shops and a relative lack of night life. But believe me for the well heeled gourmet traveller there is more than enough to keep you entertained for a cheeky weekend away.

Jaloa Brasserie
Schuitenkaii 4
100 Brussels, Belgium
+32 2 513 19 92

Wittamer Cafe
Place du Grand Sablon 6
1000 Brussels, Belgium
+32 2 512 37 42

Pierre Marcolini
Avenue Louise 75
1050 Brussels, Belgium

Pantone Hotel 
Place Loix 1
1060 Brussels, Belgium
+32 2 541 48 98

*If you happened to be searching for that other great export of Belgium - the one and only Jean Claude Van Damme - the original "Muscles from Brussels" well we have a treat. Banned by youtube but rediscovered on Vimeo here is the most excellent Van Damme loves chromeo video... enjoy 

Van Damme loves Chromeo from Esteban Algiers on Vimeo.


Julie said...

Wow all that chocolate looks amazing!

MaryMoh said...

Wow....awesome desserts! I love all of them. The macaroon is so special with raspberries. Thanks very much for sharing.

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