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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: First stop, Brussels

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit Belgium.

It’s a country I’d never been to before but I had wanted to visit for a long time. We flew out from Manchester to Charleroi airport and our first stop on the tour was Brussels.

The first thing that struck me about Brussels was how beautiful the architecture was! I had always thought of Brussels as a business city but of course there is an old town with incredible buildings. The main square is a great place to start; you could even do a tour in a horse and carriage.

One of the main icons of the city is this peeing statue. There seem to be many stories as to how it became such a famous landmark, but whatever the reason is, he’s a very popular guy. You’ll see the crowd of people as you walk up the street so you can’t miss him. We were lucky to catch him in a special outfit which was really fun to see.
There’s even a huge street art shrine to him just around the corner…

Speaking of street art, this fab Tintin mural is hidden in plain sight on the main route through the old town.

Step in to a museum

Just up from the statue is the fashion and lace museum. This is well worth a visit if you’re at all interested in fashion. While we were there they had an exhibition on about the back of garments which was an interesting take on fashion that I hadn’t seen before. It was great that you could get up so close to the designer clothes and see the progression through history.

This exhibition is a temporary collection but the main lace exhibition is also fascinating. You would not believe how many different types of lace there are! Most of the exhibits have an English explanation if you’re French isn’t up to much and there are loads of examples to see.

Moving on from the museum, there’s so much to explore in the older part of town. Belgium has some amazing churches and cathedrals with stunning stained glass windows. The colours are so bold and bright.

Another place that I would recommend visiting is the museum of musical instruments. This is a fascinating place if you’re in to your music, or even if you only have a vague interest in music. The place is chockablock full of instruments from all over the world, going back years. Just resist the urge to play any of them!

If nothing else, it’s worth visiting for the view over Brussels. Even on a cloudy day it was great!

After two days of walking our feet off, it was on to Antwerp next. Stay tuned for the Antwerp blog post coming soon!