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« Brownies, alla Nona | Main | Melons of Memory »
Friday
Jul202007

Chocolate, Waffles and Beer?

I know you've probably come here expecting a recipe, but fate has landed me in Belgium/Flanders for a week on a magazine assignment (!), and since I so rarely take advantage of your infinite expertise in these matters, dear readers, this time I've decided to ask before it's too late:

What should I eat???

Full report to follow, of course!

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Reader Comments (31)

The last time I was in Belgium I asked the waiter what I should have if I wanted traditional Belgian food. He suggested steak tartare (sans egg), belgian frites and red cabbage, followed by the most amazing plum or prune tart.

July 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterZoe

chocolates, waffles, beer :)
I'll write what comes to mind in no particular order: waterzooi (fish or chicken), americain (raw meat), mussles, stoemp (black and white pudding with mash), speculoos icecream, fites from a fritkot with a sauce of choice, garlic snails, croque madame, anything cooked in beer, tarte au riz, tarte au sucre, croquettes, anguille au vert (eel in green sauce - weird, but a Belgian must)
ohhh - I could go on for hours :)
I don't know if you assignment takes you to Brussels but then try the Museumbresserie. Very good, very Belgian.
let me know if you'll nee other food'ie) tips and i'll try to get my thinking hat on.
enjoy. salutjes :)

July 20, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterandreea

Melissa,

If you like stews at all, you definitely have to try carbonnades flamandes, a beef stew made with lots of onions and Belgian ale. Otherwise, as others have mentioned -- mussels and frites (moules-frites).

Enjoy your trip!

Dominic
www.thezenkitchen.com

July 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDominic

les frites...thin French fries that you eat with a tiny fork. Most people like them with mayonnaise. I think they're delicious plain!

Or...chocolate sandwiches: Thick hunks of fresh, crusty bread with a slab of dark chocolate sandwiched in between. Mmmm...

July 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterML

Fish or Chicken Waterzooi...Chocolate of course!!!

July 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMyrtille

Moules frites! At Leon's... if it's still around...

July 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commentershelly

I knew it was Belgium just by the headline.

Waffles and beer-- out of a vending machine. Beats Snickers and Coke hands down.

I could eat Moules et Frites forever.

July 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPhil

It definitely has to be frites! Aren't mussels out of season? I'm happy to eat them anytime, but I had a french flatmate who insisted that mussels should be consumed only between September and December.
Anyways, I would live a big cone of thin frites with 20 different types of mayonaise! yum!

B
www.handtomouthkitchen.wordpress.com
Hand to Mouth: A blog for the penniless gourmet

July 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterB

Re: mussel season

Having just had mussels recently, I wondered if that could be true...I did a little research and found that the BBC had a good article on their website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/mostof_mussels.shtml

According to them, no worries -- mussels are ok! :-)

Dominic
www.thezenkitchen.com

July 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDominic

Eat everything! Report back!

July 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKitt

I second the friet suggestions. And if you're going for chocolate: Leonidas and Cote d'Or may be famous, but I am sure there must be MUCH better brands out there. I just don't know them :) I'd try better bakeries.

Come to speak of which: a friend of mine used to date a Berlgian and was astounded that they had pastries and cakes for breakfast there. On Sundays and/or with guests, anyway. I am sure you could find great pastry in Belgium

Kriek is a cherr flavored beer you mioght be interested in. Or try a white beer if the weather should be hot. Very refreshing.

July 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJke

go do a "terraske". sitting outside a cafe with Duvel beer on a sunny day. its the best way to enjoy the best beer in the world.
and you should try eating smoutebollen.they're kind of like churros,they're fried dough balls topped with sugar,its super.u can get them at fairs or buy them in some waffle house.
for chocolate go to "pierre marcolini".
and real belgians have koffiekoeken for breakfast.
the chocolate square filled with pudding ,drool.

July 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteriloveduvel

I'll join the chorus of waterzooi enthusiasts and I'll also second the vote for kriek. One of my Flemish friends told me that kriek is something of a "grandmas' beer"--somehow that only made it more appealing to me. Plus, kriek drives a lot of German beer purists crazy, which is always fun to see. Enjoy yourself. I can't wait to read your piece.

July 22, 2007 | Unregistered Commentera.j. kinik

I'm still haunted by the glass of Faro Lindemans I had in Brussels three years ago. It's a sweetish lambic beer with an intense perfume along the elderflower lines, and would be especially perfect in warm weather... I'm all agog to hear more of your adventures!

July 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSylee

Hello,
During a recent trip to Bruges I discovered that one speciality of the region I'd not heard of was ribs - and I had the most amazing ribs I think I've ever eaten in my life - a life of much rib eating!

July 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKavey

wow, lucky thing! :) have fun in Belgium!

July 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterManinas: Food Matters

I was bought some Pierre Marcolini chocolates recently and they were delicious so get some of those.

Oh and moules frites obviously!

July 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGemma

I have no idea what to recommend, having never been to Belgium (though I reckon the wheat beer is lovely this time of year) but CONGRATS on the magazine assignment!

July 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLisa (Homesick Texan)

You can go for the typical stuff, chocolate, waffles, even Waterooi, they're all a good and definitely authentically Belgian. However, I'd recommend trying something a little off the typical tourist path, try the eels in green sauce - fantastic, or another favorite of mine, Lapin a la Kriek (rabbit stewed in cherry beer), really very nice. They are both very traditional and can be found at most good restaurants, especially and obviously those that serve old fashioned traditional Belgian food, of which there are a good number. Enjoy!

July 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

If you see a store called Belgaufra, get a sugar waffle (gaufre liege or something like that, I forget what it's called in flemish). Best thing ever...Imagine a waffle with pockets of sugar in it as well as caramelized on the outside. Waffles elsewhere are good, but Belgaufra is a small chain that is like nothing else I've ever had.

July 24, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteraaron

I have a mad passion for waffles that I've never been able to explain. I'm also unable to explain why I failed to sample them while in Bruges a few years back. I have to know what I missed, so do tell, Melissa: are Belgian waffles in BELGIUM *actually* at all different than Belgian waffles elsewhere, or is it just the cachet of knowing they're local?

July 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

If you are able to visit Brussels (French speaking but in Flanders) then you might want to visit the chocolate museum. It was just reviewed on Chocablog and sounds really good:

http://www.chocablog.com/misc/the-belgian-chocolate-museum/

I'm moving to Brussels for a year next week so I'll be sure to spend an afternoon there myself, one weekend.

July 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLeo

I have no idea what you should eat but that is so cool that you're on a magazine assignment!

July 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAri (Baking and Books)

Hi Melissa,

Having grown up in Brussels, I certainly agree with previous commenters. Regarding chocolates, I would also recommend trying Corne de la Toison d'Or. For biscuits and cakes, in Brussels there is a traditional-looking shop called "Dandoy" very close to the Grand Place. I like "Pains a la Grecque", "Lettres farcies", and "Massepain cuit".

If you are looking for a nice tea/brunch/lunch place, there is a chain of cafes you might already know, "Le Pain Quotidien". When I am back in Belgium I go there for bread and cakes.

Looking forward to reading your comments. Thank you for your beautiful blog!

July 26, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercamille

Frites at la baraque d'Antoine in Brussel,
Gaufres de Liège at Marie Siska in Knokke le Zoute,
Restaurant Belga Queen(in Brussel and Gent),
Mussels at Breydel-de Conync (Brugges)
So many things to try, so many things to eat
In case you didn't notice, I love Belgium
Florence

I'd also recommend Moules Frites as the quintessential Belgian dish, but there are many different sauces and variations...

Also, it really is only worth having when mussels are in season, and now is just that time.

July 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBenas

I just came back from Belgium. I was living in Blauberg for two months to focus on racing my bike. Definitely eat the bread - go to a local bakery and buy a nice loaf. You won't be disappointed. While at the bakery buy a riijstart - a delicious treat. For a sweet drink, buy a bottle of Cecemel - it is a twist on chocolate milk. The yogurt as it is in most of Europe is second-to-none in Belgium. Leonidas chocolates are very good. Cote d'Or chocolate is also very good. Definitely buy a jar of choco-melli to bring home. It is a combination of chocolate spread and honey. For an interesting cereal - All Bran Choco. Imagine fiber plus bitter and dark chocolate. It is expensive but worth it. If you are in Brussels, definitely check out the Hagen-Das cafe (there are a few in the city) - well worth it.
Beware of the waffles - some of the waffle stands simply reheat a pre-made waffle - so be careful before you buy.
Have fun.

July 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterVicki

French fries! I hear they have great fries over there. It's a carb-friendly country -- what with the waffles....

July 28, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterwendy

As a fan of mussels and fried potatoes, chocolate, and belgian endive, I think you have hit the jackpot with this destination. I have a cookbook called Everyone Eats Well in Belgium. Seems an exaggerated claim, but it is an excellent cookbook, and if everyone was cooking from it, it might be true.

July 28, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterlindy

Great blog! Don't forget to have some "moules frites" -that's another Belgian specialty you can have with beer.

July 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGourmet Traveller

OMG, I've been living in Brussels for more than 4 years now (ONLY bc of work), and I HATE local food... Can't think of a Belgian speciality that would not be loaded with sugar and/or fat and 100% vitamin-free (chocolate, waffles, fries... you name it - even the "chicons" come thoroughly cooked and submerged in bechamel), yuk! Unfortunately, all the Vietnamese restaurants I've tried so far (my favourite food elsewhere) have been such a disappointment that I'm reluctant to try more... Well, as a last resort there's always Italian, and you can sure find some decent ones here. Good luck!

July 31, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKarin

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