Belgium for Foodies

Belgium may be famous for fries, waffles and chocolates, but there is so much more to this food-lover’s paradise. I’ve spent the past 8 years exploring this country through food and drink and I can’t think of a better way to discover Belgium. Bon appetit!

Rue au Beurre 31, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Maison Dandoy has been baking delicious treats in Brussels since 1829 and you’ll find their famous shops scattered around Brussels. Step inside, and you’ll be greeted by the sights and smells of crunchy biscuits (cookies) looking much as they have since the shop began. The beautiful packaging makes Dandoy cookies a great gift (even if it is for yourself). Be sure to try the traditional Speculaas (or Speculoos); a spicy, crunchy gingerbread cookie, popular throughout the lowlands. While the Dandoy shops can be found all over, only one is home to the Dandoy tearoom. In my opinion, it is well worth seeking out for arguably the best waffles in Belgium. There are two types of waffle here—Bruxelles (Brussels); rectangular and flaky and Liege; rounded and baked with sticky sugar. How best to eat a waffle in Belgium is hotly contested. Locals swear waffles should be topping-free. I however am a sucker for the stewed cherries and vanilla ice-cream. However you order yours, just don’t ask for a “Belgium Waffle.”
Place Poelaert
When Brussels Tourism announced the launch of the Tram Experience, the concept was met with some scepticism. Now, almost a year in, the tram is going strong, to great acclaim. The Tram Experience is a specially re-fitted classic tram that circles the outer ring of Brussels. Diners are served a four-course meal, with drinks, while making the circuit of the city. The menu changes every few weeks, and each one is created by a different Belgian celebrity chef (many of them Michelin star holders). Besides the excellent food, one of the highlights of dining on the tram, is watching the double-takes of people who see it pass by. The Tram Experience books up well in advance, so be sure to reserve your seat long before your visit to Brussels.
Rue de la Sablonnière 2, 5503 Dinant, Belgium
While fields of sheep, cattle and horses are common sights in rural Belgium, you may do a double-take while passing by L’Autrucherie du Pont d’Amour, near Dinant. Yes those giant birds are ostriches (and a few emus, rheas and cassowaries). The ostrich farm has been in operation since 1995 and sells many different products in its farm shop. You an purchase ostrich meat, which is extremely low in cholesterol, ostrich eggs, which can feed up to 8 people, feathers and even ostrich leather. The farm also sells home-made sausages and pates. The farm has open days and you can arrange a tour of the facilities. Even if you don’t stop by the shop, it’s worth driving by the farm just to see these majestic birds in such an unlikely place.
Saint-Gilles, Belgium
Britxos opened its doors in the summer of 2012 to great fanfare among Brussels expat foodie community. We were already familiar with the team, from catering company La Britannique, for their incredible food and warm, friendly service. Britxos is a cozy little bar in the St. Gilles neighbourhood of Brussels. It is filed with light from the huge windows and colour, from the chalkboard walls, filled with menu items and comments from past visitors. The name is a play on British (chef and owner Alex’s nationality) and Pintxos (the Basque word for tapas). Inspiration is taken from Alex’s love of food and travel and each dish is named for the city that inspired it. Every Monday night there is live jazz. Friday nights are the popular gourmet night,s with a 4 course fixed-price menu, and Sunday is the un-missable Britxos Brunch. You’ll hear every language found in Brussels being spoken here, while enjoying a fantastic and affordable meal.
Kammenstraat 81, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Imagine listening to classical music while surrounded by the art and architecture of a former Augustine monastery. At the AMUZ concert hall in Antwerp, Belgium, you can do just that. AMUZ is home to the Laus Polyphoniea concert series each summer. Throughout the festival, classical music lovers can enjoy concerts by composers and musicians from around the globe. The festival also includes a themed festival menu to enjoy before the show. Meals are served in the beautiful Winter Chapel, pictured here.
15 Place de la Chapelle
The Friterie Pitta de la Chapelle is located just outside the church and near the Chapelle train station, which is a short distance from the Sablon. This friterie is like most friteries but they did add “Pitta” to the name. If you’re alive today and living anywhere in the world, you will know what a pitta is. The pitta, the fries/frites and everything else sold here is pretty tasty and greasy, as its meant to be. Friteries are the Belgian answer to McDonalds and fast food. They’re not that fast though (but neither is a McDonalds in Belgium).
Brussels, Belgium
A new company based in Belgium is promoting exactly what I love about travel—good food, meeting interesting people, and gaining insights into the city’s culture through the people who live there. It’s called Bookalokal. Bookalokal started in Brussels but now has hosts all over Belgium and in some US cities as well. The concept is simple. A host signs up to offer a food experience, and guests sign up for a food experience of their choice (for a small fee). The experiences can be sit-down meals, beer or wine tastings, cooking classes, or anything at all. We even attended a Murder Mystery dinner. Guests get to interact with locals, ask questions about the city, and learn about where the locals go to eat, shop, and have fun. So far we’ve attended two Bookalokal events but hope to enjoy more in the future.
Rue Antoine Dansaert 20, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
If you get tired of French-Belgian food and would like to try something a little different in Brussels, head to La Kasbah. Just a few minutes walk from Grand Place, on the trendy Rue Antoine Dansaet, La Kasbah will transport you all the way to Morocco, without ever leaving Brussels. The tajine and couscous dishes are more than generous and there is plenty of choice for vegetarians and carnivores alike. My favourite thing, however, is the collection of over one hundred Moroccan lamps that decorate the ceilings. The atmosphere is festive and the service is always friendly.
Komedieplaats 18, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Even if you aren’t hungry, it’s worth stopping for a drink at the stunningly beautiful De Foyer cafe in Antwerp. You’ll feel like royalty under the magnificent dome of the the 19th century Bourla Theater . The stained-glass, rich velvet curtains and ceiling frescos all add to the atmosphere. Come watch Antwerp’s trendy fashionistas and tourists alike, while you enjoy a Belgian beer or a cappuccino, or fill-up at their extensive Sunday brunch.
Ixelles, Belgium
The food truck revolution is coming to Brussels and a great introduction is Keep On Toasting. Keep On Toasting travels around Brussels, serving up gourmet toasties, toasted sandwiches inspired by the traditional croque monsieur. These are far from your Mom’s grilled cheese sandwiches though. Owner and chef, Jean Baptiste Nyssen, creates four new sandwiches a week. He hand picks the best local and organic ingredients he can find. Pictured here is his Croq-British - A perfect breakfast sandwich, containing chopped up boiled egg, lardons (bacon), green beans and Stilton cheese. His veggie goat-cheese and lentil sandwich blew my mind and with inspirations from the Alps to India, there is sure to be a sandwich for you.
Oostduinkerke, 8670 Koksijde, Belgium
Visit any good seafood restaurant in Belgium, and you’ll see gray shrimp on the menu. In fact, you may even be offered a bowl of these small, sweet delicacies to nibble while you decide on your main course. These days, the majority of the gray shrimp are harvested by modern fishing techniques, but there is still one place, on the Belgian coast, where you can step back in time. In the town of Oostduinkerke, in Koksijde, a small group of souwester-clad fisherman take to the frigid sea on horseback. You can watch them bring in their catch and, if you’re lucky, you can even sample a few. The fishermen drag nets behind their heavy horses, normally sturdy Belgian breeds. This form of fishing doesn’t disturb the sea floor like modern day trawling, but it is much harder work. Make sure you see this magical spectacle before it’s gone forever. For more information and a photo essay of the Shrimp Fishermen of Oostduinkerke, follow the link:
Chaussée de Vleurgat 52, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium
Brussels is a city filled with fabulous dining experiences, but for brunch aficionados, the options are sparse. Enter Chef Alex Weston, who runs the popular catering company, La Britannique. Chef Alex has revamped the French table d’hote (or host’s table) concept, for Sunday Brunch lovers. Each week he welcomes a handful of lucky guests into his home, to dine on a multi-course menu of international goodies. The Sunday we attended the offerings included: pumpkin filled pastries (pictured), poached eggs with iberico-wrapped chicory, pistachio and pomegranate pilaf with shredded chicken, and a casserole of roasted Mediterranean vegetables. Oh, and dessert, and drinks, all for a reasonable suggested donation. A steal. It’s a great way to meet locals and travellers alike. And you get to watch a chef in action. Reservations are mandatory.
18 Place aux Foires
Belgium is a foodie paradise, but it can be difficult to find the best local artisanal products - unless you happen to visit the small town of Durbuy. There, nestled in the warren of cobbled pedestrian streets, you’ll find the shop of the Confituerie Saint Amour, a local jam and preserve producer. But the shop goes way beyond jams and jellies (although those are wonderful too) and includes the best local products the south of Belgium has to offer. You’ll find local tea, honey, spices, sweets, condiments, alcohols and, of course, Belgian beer. Many of these products aren’t available anywhere else, other than direct from the producer. You’re sure to find a unique gift to take home, even if you do decide to keep it for yourself. For more info on Durbuy:
Chemin du Meunier 26, 6941 Ozo, Belgium
I love cheese. I also love goats. So when I learned of a dairy goat farm just outside of Durbuy, Belgium, open to the public, I had to visit. The Ozo Goat Farm consists of around 200 happy Alpine goats. They produce delicious cheeses available to purchase in the on-site cheese shop. The farm produces about 20 types of cheeses, both fresh and aged. The varieties of the soft cheeses include: cracked peppercorn, rose, chives, nuts and dried fruit. Seeing these goats relaxed and happy, not to mention friendly and eager for head scratches, was the icing on the cake. This is Belgian local produce at its best! More information at:
Place Flagey
Every neighbourhood in Brussels has a street market at least once a week. They vary in size but most have a mix of local produce, baked goods, cheap clothing and household goods. Most have at least a couple of street food options, usually sausages, seafood and, of course, the inevitable Belgian French fry. For cheap dining options however, the Sunday market on Place Flagey is a local favourite. The foodie offerings at the Place Flagey market are better than most. There are beautiful homemade pastas, fresh honey, local cheeses and even tasty take-away Asian food. For on-site dining, favourite food-truck Keep on Toasting is often makes an appearance, with his upscale toasted sandwiches (see my dedicated Highlight). With the vibrant veggies, marvellous meats and delectable desserts it’s impossible to leave empty handed.
1000 Brussels, Belgium
Parc Leopold is a little hidden gem near the EU Commission buildings in Brussels. There are plenty of shady benches surrounding a duck pond and it’s generally a quiet, family-friendly green space. Recently, the best thing about Parc Leopold is the appearance of an old-school ice-cream cart, selling organic, artisanal gelato. Le Petit Nuage (the little cloud) serves around six different varieties of ice-cream and sorbet, all hand-made from organic ingredients, by owner Yoan. The mango sorbet was so flavourful and refreshing on a hot summer day, I had to go back for more. You can spot Le Petit Nuage’s blue and white cart parked in various spots around the Parc Leopold (just follow the long line of smiling customers) or listen for the jingle of the bells as Yoan slowly peddles around the pond and flag him down. You’ll be glad you did!
3 Place Georges Brugmann
Away from the busy city centre, on pretty Place Brugmann, in Brussels Ixelles neighbourhood, is local foodie favourite, Gaudron. Gaudron is many things: a catering company, a restaurant, a party venue, a deli, and a relaxing terrace to grab a drink after work. There’s one question however, in which the name Gaudron inevitably comes up – Where to get brunch in Brussels? Gaudron was one of the first of Brussels’ restaurants to catch on to the Sunday brunch concept and they haven’t looked back.You can choose from delicate, fresh pastries, egg dishes, or lunchtime favourites, like salads, croques and hamburgers. There are fresh squeezed juices and homemade smoothies and milkshakes. It’s a loud, bustling sort of place that’s filled with groups of all ages and is family friendly. With a huge selection of salads in the deli, it’s vegetarian and vegan friendly too. If you want an authentic Brussels neighbourhood feel, it’s worth escaping the centre for a trip to Gaudron.
Boulevard de Waterloo 44, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Tucked away in tiny Parc D’Egmont, just minutes from busy Avenue Louise, is L’Orangerie. Through the week, this restaurant is popular with the ‘ladies who lunch’ and the office tower executives. However, on Sunday the atmosphere changes, when it becomes one of Brussels best brunch spots. The champagne brunch at L’Orangerie definitely wouldn’t qualify as a ‘cheap eat,’ in Brussels. At close to 30 Euros a head, it’s a splurge, but well worth it for a rare treat. The buffet-style offerings include pastries and breads, cheeses, cured meats, smoked salmon and mackerel, a wide variety of salads and grilled vegetables, hot pasta, and an omelette and crepe bar. Juices are also included in the price but hot drinks are not. In the summer, you can sit in the shade of the park’s huge, leafy trees. It’s a great way to spend a decadent, sunny, Sunday afternoon in the heart of the city, and yet still feel like you are away from it all. More Information at:
Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blés 37, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
When visitors to Belgium ask me what to eat here (besides the inevitable chocolate, waffles and frites), my reply is always stoofvlees (unless they are vegetarians!). Stoofvlees, or carbonnade a la Flamande as it’s called in French, literally translates to ‘stew meat.’ Essentially, it is cubed beef, stewed in Belgian beer for so long it melts in your mouth. It’s typically served over mashed potatoes or Belgian fries and it is hearty, heavy and heavenly. In the city centre, not far from Grand Place, is a great place to try stoofvlees, called Cafe Novo. This colourfully quirky Belgian cafe always has an eclectic crowd. The menu is varied and caters well to vegetarians (the falafels are great!) as well as carnivores. Cafe Novo is open every day (a rarity in Brussels) and is great for a late Sunday brunch. They have a small but sunny back garden that books up quickly. Thursday evenings Novo hosts ‘cocktail concerts’ so you can enjoy a bit of live music as you dine.
Rue Berckmans 98, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium
We discovered this tiny Italian restaurant near Ave. Louise through a desperate, last-minute internet search. Like many of the hidden gems in Belgium, you could easily pass it by. In fact, when we found it we looked at each other with “is this it?” expressions on our faces. Inside the shabby-chic interior, delightful smells were emanating from the kitchen. Not long after we sat down, the small dining room began to fill. In addition to the rave reviews we read, these were two very good signs. Our pasta arrived looking almost as wonderful as it smelled; and the taste – velvety and delicious. This is authentic Italian, prepared with care and attention to detail - just the way Mama would make it.
19 Ons-Heerstraat
Nestled on the corner of Rue Blaes and Rue Notre-Seigneur, in the Marolles, is a cosy little secret of in-the-know foodies. It’s called L’Idiot du Village, but even the village idiot will tell you, it’s worth finding this little restaurant. While the décor is funky (with just a touch of odd) the food is just straight up delicious. Their duck and game dishes are heavenly and they have a way with scallops. If you are adventurous, order whatever the special of the day is, as it’s bound to be seasonal and wonderful. If you want a real taste of ‘quirky’ Belgium, L’Idiot du Village is not to be missed. L’Idiot isn’t open on weekends and it books up quickly so reservations are essential. For more information and photos:
Place Saint-Josse 9, 1210 Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium
The authentic Italian restaurant La Mamma is in my neighbourhood, although it took a while for me to notice it. In fact, I walked by its vine-covered facade for two years before I ever set foot in the restaurant. It wasn’t until I noticed it in a guide of where to enjoy good wines in Brussels, that I finally ventured inside. I’m certainly glad I did. In addition to a terrific Italian wine and grappa list, La Mamma features traditional Italian pasta and meat dishes. Many of their ingredients are imported from Italy and there are always seasonal menu selections. The portions are hearty too and I never quite make it to the scrumptious looking desserts. The atmosphere is so cosy, you almost forget you’re on the bustling Place St. Josse. With Italian being spoken in the kitchen and a heaping plate of Italy on the table before you, you are transported to la dolce vita. More Information at:
Place Sainte-Catherine 5/7, 1000 Brussel, Belgium
There are a few great options for dining on Place St. Catherine, in Brussels. However, when people ask me where to go for great seafood in Brussels, Jaloa, and their more casual Jaloa Brasserie, are first on the list. Jaloa itself is elegant fine dining and a wonderful experience if you are looking to splurge. (Don’t miss the fresh oyster bar.) The restaurant only seats 25 people and features tasting menus of four, six or nine courses. The Jaloa Brasserie is more cosy and affordable but with the same high level of quality. The menu is a la carte with the exception of a monthly tasting menu. Both the restaurant and brasserie feature seasonal, local ingredients and have hidden terraces you can enjoy, during the warmer months.
8400 Ostend, Belgium
First thing when we got out from the underground parking was to be hit by the smell and sight of street food, in the harbor area. They only take cash so I could not wait to find an ATM to get some of the delicious looking food. I have never had sea snails so they were the obvious choice for me and boy was I right to make that choice. They are delicious. Large and a bit chewy cooked like a soup with lots of vegetables. A bit salty and spicy, nothing crazy, just enough to give it a good kick, really yummy. I love trying new things and it looked like everybody was going for them too. There are two options of cooked snails, natur - in a clear soup - and in a tomato soup. The ingredients look the same and the spice is in both options. The only thing is, make sure the seagulls keep a safe distance, they are extremely bold and will come close enough to take it from your bowl, yes, from your bowl.
Rue du Fossé aux Loups 32, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
For an elegant yet trendy meal in Brussels, featuring great Belgian ingredients, a visit to Belga Queen is a must. This restaurant is in a stunning setting, inside a former bank. The period features of the bank remain, but are contrasted by modern elements, like the super-chic bathrooms and the after-hours dance club. There’s even a cigar bar inside the old vault. But the main attraction at Belga Queen is the food. Start your meal with a tower of seafood delights from the oyster and shellfish bar. Just be careful to save room for what’s next, as the portions are ample. Main courses range from more seafood (lobster anyone?), to the best Belgian beef, poultry and game, depending on the season. My husband, a pork fanatic, opted for his favourite dish, pork knuckle (pictured), and declared it one of the best he’s ever eaten. Meanwhile I savoured melting duck breast with red berries. Heaven. If you have someone to impress, or simply want to be impressed yourself, Belga Queen is a winning choice.
Rue Baron Horta 3, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Brussels’ BOZAR museum is well worth visiting for its excellent art exhibitions, concerts, and events, like TEDex Brussels. But it’s also worth visiting for its gastronomic restaurant, the BOZAR Brasserie, headed by chef David Martin. The menu changes each month and includes Belgian favourites with a fresh, modern twist. Ingredients are organic and sourced locally when possible, with dashes of international flavours like Basque pork and Anjou pigeon. The prices aren’t for the budget conscious, ranging from 20-40 Euro for a main dish. However, the set lunch menus from Tuesday to Friday make a more wallet-friendly option. Even if you don’t spring for a whole meal here, stop in for a coffee and dessert. Pictured here is the specialty of the chef: a dark chocolate ‘bomb’, filled with creamy, rich praline and accompanied with homemade passion fruit sorbet. The sweet/tart combination is heavenly. The BOZAR Brasserie doesn’t take reservations so go early and be prepared to wait. It’s worth it.
Place de Belgique 1, 1020 Bruxelles, Belgium
Every October, wine-lovers in Brussels rejoice because they know the MegaVino expo is coming. For one full weekend, the Brussels expo centre plays host to over 300 exhibitors presenting wines from around the world. Exhibitors are organised by region and at the 2012 edition, wines from 32 different countries were available to taste and purchase. For the cost of your 10-euro admission, you receive a tasting glass and a catalogue of available wines (so you can be sure to track your favourites). It’s the perfect environment to discover new wine regions and new domains from your old favourite regions. And, being Belgium, of course there is great food available, so you can enjoy a meal between tastings.
Sentier de l'Embarcadère 1, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
There are dozens of foodie festivals in Belgium throughout the year, but my favourite, by far, is the EAT! Brussels restaurant festival, in early autumn. Located in the vast Bois de la Cambre Park, you can sample your way around the Brussels restaurant scene, in one easy location. 25 Brussels restaurants have booths at the festival, where they offer a few small dishes (normally 3-5) in exchange for tokens. Each token = 1€ and can be bought individually or in packages, on-site or in advance on-line. Buying a package will give you a reduced rate and includes extra goodies like tickets for champagne, coffee, and ice cream. In addition to the restaurants, there are several bars, sponsor tents, and eight world regions, also offering food and drink tastings and sometimes products for sale. It’s the best way to discover new restaurants in the city, or sample some of the top offerings without a huge financial commitment. (Michelin-starred La Truffe Noir was on-site this year.) For More Information:
Rue de l'Eglise 112, 1150 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Belgium
If you still need a gift for that one person on your shopping list who doesn’t eat chocolate, head to one of the many Maison Dandoy cookie shops dotted around Brussels. Dandoy is a Belgian institution and they have been making cookies in Brussels since 1829. The cookies are from 100% natural ingredients and some of the recipes are 180 years old. Try the traditional Belgian speculoos, a spicy biscuit a bit like gingerbread, or Pain a la Greque, a Brussels favourite. There is even an Earl Grey cookie with tealeaves – delicious. Not only do Dandoy cookies taste wonderful, but their packaging is lovely, making them the perfect gift. Choose from the newly designed Maison Dandoy boxes or a variety of tin boxes, perfect for travelling.
Boulevard de la Woluwe 28, 1150 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Belgium
Brussels’ largest gourmet supermarket, Rob, is well worth the trip outside the city centre for dedicated foodies. This market is filled with all of the finest grocery items from around Europe. This is where locals go to buy hard-to-find ingredients and where expats go to find their favourite tastes of home. There are vast meat, seafood, cheese and deli counters and the bakery is a pastry-lover’s dream. Rob stocks chocolate from all of Brussels’ top chocolatiers for the ultimate in one-stop Belgian chocolate shopping. The wine selection here is beyond compare. Everyday wines and spirits can be found in the main shop but if you’re looking for something really special, descend into the basement. Here you will find a dedicated wine cellar with sommeliers on hand to help you choose the perfect bottle. If your tastes run to high-end whiskeys, vodkas, cognacs and the like, there is also a dedicated shop just for you. It’s kept under lock and key and if you have to ask the prices, it’s best to move along. Visit on a Saturday when the shop demonstrators are active and you can taste your way around Europe.
Dinant, Belgium
Maison Collard’s claim to fame is a cookie so hard they have to print a warning on it. Legend has it, during the great siege of 1466, the people of Dinant were starving and had only two things at their disposal: flour and honey. They made these into dough and baked it. Later, they began to stamp patterns into the hard dough, with brassware found in their kitchens. In reality, there is little historical evidence to support the existence of the couque before the 18th century. Throughout the period, couques were decorated with depictions of important historic events. Although the tough dough is no longer kneaded by hand, the cookies are still pressed into hand-carved pear wood moulds. Popular shapes include animals, fruits, and scenes of Dinant. Nowadays, sugar and spices are also frequently added to the mix. Couques sold these days must be labeled with a warning advising people not to bite into the hard cookie. Instead, you are advised to dunk it in a beverage, to soften it, or break off a small piece and suck it. In fact, couques are traditionally given to babies to suck on while they are teething. More Information:
108 Chaussée d'Alsemberg
I’ve had so many great dining experiences in Belgium, it’s hard to choose a favourite. I can say, without reservation, La Buvette is in my top five. La Buvette is warm and classy without feeling overly stuffy or formal. The concept is simple – one menu, 8 courses, drinks optional. The ingredients are local, organic, and seasonal. The food is, without a word of exaggeration, divine. The presentations are artistic and beautiful and the flavour profiles are complex without being confusing. Each and every ingredient shines through. The best part - the menu is €45. Are you making reservations yet? See photos of my entire menu here:
2440 Geel, Belgium
Dream of escaping to the countryside and a simpler home-grown style of life? Test-drive your dream on the Quinn’s smallholding in Geel, where you can learn a skill, meet some animals, and eat locally produced food. If you fancy learning how to do some work with your hands, Debbie holds workshops most weekends. You can choose from goat cheese, soap, sausage or preserve making or take one of Debbie’s ‘Edible Walks.’ She even teaches sewing classes. If you want a full-weekend getaway, Debbie also offers basic B&B rooms, with a shared bathroom, in her house. The weekend package we tested cost €135 and included all of our meals and the two workshops. Speaking of food you can enjoy a four course 100% organic local meal for 40 Euro. Ours started with a spicy pumpkin soup, followed by fresh pasta with an amazing ragu of the Quinn’s meats, and wrapped it all up with a pear, poached in wine, and topped with Debbie’s goat-milk ice-cream. Heaven! And don’t forget Debbie’s amazing goat cheeses! Read a full review of my weekend here:
86 Côte Marie-Thérèse
As a fan of all things artisanal, nothing excites me more than stepping into a place that looks the same as it did 100 years ago. When my eyes adjusted to the dim light, inside the Brasserie Caracole, I could see this Belgian brewery was just such a place. Dinant’s Brasserie Caracole brews artisanal and organic Belgian beer over an open fire, just as they have since the 18th century. In the centre of the front room stands one large vat for mixing the 850kg of malt with hot water. (Caracole is apparently the last beer to be brewed over an open fire in all of Europe.) Hops and spices are added to the mix as the beer gradually ferments. From there, the beer is piped into a holding tank, for 15 days, where it will become clearer as it cools. My favourite part of the Brasserie Caracole was tucked behind the brewing room. Here, the building opened into a large hall, filled with tables, and the prominent bar displaying Caracole’s Belgian beer varieties. The walls were decorated with posters of the colourful and quirky beer labels, each one sporting a ‘caracole’ or snail-shell. The Brasserie Caracole is well worth a visit. It’s open every day during July and August and Sunday afternoons the rest of the year. To organize a tour, be sure to contact them in advance. More Information:
18 Rue Emile Cuvelier
With a bakery on every other corner in even the tiniest villages in Belgium, what makes one stand out more than another? The answer is threefold: hand selected organic ingredients; skills built on tradition, passed from generation to generation and, most of all, the passion to create the perfect loaf of bread. All three of these are present at the Boulangerie Legrand in Namur. Baker, Dominique Legrand, has been baking bread since he was 18, but the history of the Legrand Bakery runs much deeper. Six generations ago, in 1831, Dominique’s ancestors founded Boulangerie Legrand and little has changed since those days. Dominique and his wife, Angela, had a mission when they took over the Boulangerie Legrand and moved it to its current location in Namur. Their goal was simply to create the finest breads from the best ingredients they could find. This is the reason people drive all the way from Brussels and even as far as Northern France, just to buy their breads. Some of the grains come from as far away as Egypt and their natural fermentations take anywhere from 18 to 24 hours. These are live breads and we could taste the difference, as the flavours danced on our tongues. From deceptively simple baguettes to sweet brioches to rich loaves made of chestnut spelt, it was impossible to choose a favourite. More Information:
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