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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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Product spotlight: passport cover

The summer holidays are here so it’s time to jet off somewhere fabulous.

Swimming costume? Check. Plane tickets? Check. Passport? Check. But have you got a fantastic cover for your passport? If not, read on…

Panda passport cover

Passport covers not only look super pretty, they are also really handy. If you’re carrying your whole family’s passports, it’s so much easier to work out who’s is who’s at a quick glance. If everyone has a different passport case, it makes passport control a much simpler ordeal.

Lovebird passport cover

Even if you’ve just got your own passport to look after, having a snazzy holder makes it so much easier to find in your bag. No more “oh my goodness where is my passport” panic.

Ladybird passport cover

As well as making them look pretty and easy to spot, passport cases help to protect your passport. The passport covers are reinforced with interfacing to give them strength. This gives an extra layer of protection and helps to stop your passport getting crumpled.

Sheep travel wallet

If nothing else, buying a passport wallet will get you thinking about your next holiday! Where will your new passport cover take you?

Elephant travel case

Don’t forget to take a photo of your new passport cover while you’re on holiday. Upload it to social media and tag @drawnbyrhiannon and you could win a £10 gift voucher!

Drawn by Rhiannon social media share

Take a look at the full range of passport holders here.

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Belgium: Last stop, Bruges then Ghent

After three days in Antwerp we hopped on the train again.

If you haven’t seen the first two instalments of our Belgium adventure, take a look at them here.

The last stops on our Belgium trip were Bruges and Ghent. We decided to just stop in Bruges for the day as it’s only small, then head back to Ghent for the night. Unfortunately we chose to visit Bruges on a day when it rained. All day. Luckily Bruges is so super pretty that it still looked fabulous on a dreary day.

The main square was full of horses ready to take you around Bruges

Every street was lined with beautiful buildings full of intricate details.

Literally every street is full of stunning buildings

As well as the classic Dutch style buildings, there’s a fabulous cathedral. The inside was lovely and light and had the most wonderful stained glass windows.

The whole town is surrounded by a maze of canals which gives the buildings a stunning backdrop. Even on a gloomy day the canals were looking lovely.

After spending six hours strolling around Bruges, we were completely sodden through but well and truly wowed by the beautiful town.

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to the Belgium trains company. We used several trains and they were all super nice, so reasonably priced and on time! (If you’re reading this outside the UK and you’re wondering why I was excited by that, trains in the UK are pretty rubbish.)

The final stop

Our next and final stop of our Belgium adventure was Ghent. I didn’t know much about the city before visiting but a quick google search before going revealed it was going to be a stunner.

We were really lucky to be staying in a hotel right in the centre by the cathedral so we could walk straight out of the door and start sightseeing. It’s the perfect size for walking around but there’s also a small electric minibus that takes you around the city for free. Similar to Bruges, Ghent has gorgeous canals running through the streets. The weather was much kinder to us here so the reflection of the buildings on the water was stunning.

About every two minutes I had to stop to take a photo because everywhere is so photogenic!

Sorry to keep repeating myself here, but honestly the buildings everywhere were just so beautiful!

A happy place to be

What I loved most about Ghent was the atmosphere. Bruges was lovely but it very much felt like a touristy place, whereas Ghent felt like a real city. It’s got such history to it and has overcome so much in the past and you can somehow feel that in the air.

If you’re interested in medieval history, the castle has lots of stories to tell.

The inside of the buildings are just as stunning. The cathedral interior is designed in the classic Flemish style which can be seen all over Belgium.

They had some lovely old shops in some of the buildings too. This cute building housed a fabulous sweet shop selling traditional Belgian treats. Sadly it was closed when we visited but the window display was great.

As well as all the historic architecture, there’s a contemporary edge to the city. The university city has some brilliant independent artist shops and this famous graffiti alley which will be different every time you visit.

Ghent really is such a wonderful place. If you visit anywhere in Belgium, make it Ghent! It has a slight hidden gem vibe about it so it’s not completely overrun with tourists yet.

After two days in Ghent it was back to the UK for us. If you’re thinking “But wait, what about the food you had when you were away?”, don’t worry! The food was so fabulous in Belgium I’ve decided to dedicate a whole blog post to the subject. Stay tuned for the final Belgium post all about food coming soon…