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Belgium: food glorious food

Our Belgium holiday was fantastic!

If you’ve not seen the previous posts about our trip, check them out here. Every place we visited was full of stunning buildings and tonnes of history. But one thing that stood out for me was the food. Oh my goodness. The Belgians know how to eat!

Belgium is most well known for their chips and beer but seeing as I can’t eat chips and I don’t like beer, I wasn’t expecting much to excite me. I was so wrong. First of all, there is chocolate. EVERYWHERE. Of course I knew all about Belgian chocolate but I had no idea how popular it would be. It seemed that every other shop in Brussels was filled with the beautiful rich smell of chocolate. Many were beautifully laid out and even offered free samples – what’s not to love!

With all that solid chocolate floating around, it makes sense that their hot chocolate would be fantastic. Well it was incredible. On our very soggy day trip to Bruges, we found the most amazing little hot chocolate house to warm our bones. The hot chocolate menu was several pages long, featuring all kinds of different percent and origin chocolate. We were each presented with a giant bowl of steaming milk and a chocolate cup of chocolate chips to melt in to it. Best hot chocolate ever.

Waffle time

Other than chocolate, what food is Belgium known for? Waffles. Being a huge waffle fan, I was super excited about this. I wasn’t prepared for quite how many waffle stands and shops there would be but I loved it! The list of toppings, both sweet and savoury, was endless. And the waffles themselves were works of art! Great care is taken to create a delicious and beautiful waffle which I thought was brilliant. It even inspired me to create a waffle print design which I can’t wait to get started on later this year.

Food in Belgium - waffles

After chocolate and waffles, my food knowledge of Belgium was done. I didn’t know what else to expect but I was in for such a good surprise. One sweet treat that kept popping up was the Merveilleux. This incredible Belgian creation is a cake made of soft meringue, whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Literally all my favourite things in one dessert!

I went for the most chocolate laden one I could find and let me tell you it was pure heaven. They seemed to come in two sizes, one about 10cm tall, and miniature ones at about half that size.

Food in Belgium - Merveilleux

There were full shops dedicated to this sweet delight, as well as many bakeries having huge sections of them in varying flavours. Some had nuts in, a few had fruit in, and all were coated in either white, milk, or dark chocolate.

Like a kid in a candy store

As well as chocolatey goodness, we also discovered the interesting array of Belgian sweets on offer.

Food in Belgium - Cuberdons

Cuberdons (named after little noses because of their shape) could be found everywhere. There were carts selling stacks of the jelly sweets in every colour of the rainbow. The sweet shops were also stunning, with all kinds of interesting looking candies in various shapes and colours to choose from.

Cakes, tarts and pastries

It was interesting seeing the French influence on the food. We spotted many patisseries that would have looked right at home in any French town. The cakes, tarts and pastries are so beautifully and meticulously decorated with stunning flavours to match. As I was admiring yet another bakery window, I was inspired by the glorious treats to create a print design. Stay tuned for that coming soon!

Food in Belgium - Patisserie

But it wasn’t just fancy bakeries that provided these incredible sweet treats. We visited a food market in Antwerp which was absolutely fabulous – definitely worth a visit for any foodie. There was a bakery stall selling all kinds of traditional Belgian desserts. We went for a flan bresilienne which was a truly delicious tart made of sweet pastry, creme patissiere, whipped cream and topped with sugared chopped nuts.

Savoury delights

As well as all the wonderful sweet treats we found, we encountered many delicious savoury bites too. The food market had some great stalls, such as a cheese stall with every type of cheese you could possibly imagine.

We quickly discovered that meatballs are a popular meal in Belgium so we tested them out. We found a small meatball bar just off the main square in Brussels that offered a very reasonable lunchtime menu which was absolutely delicious.

Food in Belgium - ballekes

Another Belgium food favourite is croquetten. This dutch bread-crumbed snack is available in a variety of fillings and we found a cafe in Antwerp that had a whole menu of them. They were packed full of flavour and surprisingly filling which was just what we needed after a day of sightseeing.

Food in Belgium - Croquetten

After not expecting much I was blown away by the amazing food we discovered on our tour around Belgium. I hope you enjoyed reliving my food memories with me!

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Belgium: Next stop, Antwerp

The next stop on our Belgium adventure was Antwerp.

After a couple of days in Brussels (if you haven’t read my Brussels blog post yet, take a look here) we hopped on the train and headed to Antwerp. The first thing to say about Antwerp is that the train station is stunning. As we came off the train there was a huge traffic jam of people as we all stopped to take a photo.

Antwerp train station
The architecture of Antwerp train station is amazing

While studying fashion design at university we were told about the magical Antwerp Six. These were six super influential fashion designers that graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the 80s who had a huge impact on the avant-garde fashion world. Since hearing about them, I’ve wanted to go to Antwerp to soak up all the fashion-y goodness.

Unfortunately when we went the fashion museum was having a complete remodel and there were no fashion exhibitions on anywhere. However it was still fun to walk around all the fancy designer shops and peek through the windows.

I love a good stroll around the fashion district

Museum time

Although we found no fashion exhibitions, we did visit the brilliant Plantin-Moretus museum. It’s a museum all about printing and it was totally fascinating! The museum is based in the building where the Plantin Press made all their works and it talks through the history of printing.

Plantin-Moretus museum in Antwerp
It was really interesting to see the old printing machines

As well as being able to walk through the old printing studios, there were thousands of examples of their printed works. They made everything from maps, to bibles, to scientific textbooks. They also had a section about the history of different fonts which was super interesting to me having studied typography as part of my degree.

Plantin-Moretus museum in Antwerp
I was completely nerding out in the printing museum

We spent so much longer there than we expected so if you ever visit Antwerp I would 100% recommend visiting the Plantin-Moretus museum (even if you’re not a printing nerd like me).

Another museum we visited was the MAS museum. I’m not going to lie to you, we went here more for the building than for the exhibitions.

MAS museum Antwerp
The MAS museum is a really interesting building

The building itself is this crazy mix of styles. Plus if you can face a whole heap of escalators, the view from the top is one of the best in Antwerp.

Bird's eye view of Antwerp
You can see the whole of Antwerp from the top

Even better, it’s free to get to the viewing platform at the top! It’s super windy up there so hold on to your hat.

I don’t know who felt the need to attach these huge climbers to the side of this building but I love them.

You also get a great view of these fab fellas climbing a building opposite the museum.

The old town

Speaking of architecture, the buildings in the old town are stunning. The whole main square is edged with beautiful buildings like this. Each one has different little features that represent what used to be made in them when they were first built.

Antwerp old town main square
The main square in the old town had the most wonderful buildings

The main square is also home to the famous Brabo fountain statue. The figure is throwing a giant’s hand which is the basis story of how Antwerp got its name. Don’t you just love folklore.

Brabo fountain statue and cathedral
The brabo fountain statue and cathedral in the background

Mixed in with all this super old historic architecture there are little splashes of fun modern sculptures. My personal favourite was this guy. No explanation as to why it’s there but I love it.

How cute is this sculpture?!

After walking almost every single street over the three days we were there, we moved on to our next stop. Stay tuned for the next instalment of our Belgium adventure coming soon!