What Souvenirs to Bring Back from Belgium

I will be the first person to admit to my embarrassingly meager knowledge of Belgium before I moved here. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t feel so bad. The Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme didn’t even know the Belgian national anthem and once memorably burst into La Marseillaise instead of La Brabançonne. But the more time I spend here, the more layers I discover to this tiny but complex country. It features three official languages (Dutch, French and German), has more cheese varieties than France, the world’s best beer (according to the international beer pundits) and the world’s best chocolate (according to me). The two latter points make up for the fiendishly convoluted bureaucratic system, lots of rain and plethora of EU officials.

speculoos spreadbrussels-autumn

There are many more reasons to visit Belgium than beer and chocolate. You have the Gothic treasures of Gent, edgy fashion of Antwerp, fairy tale ambiance of Bruges, quirky charm of Dinant, and surrealism of Brussels. The Flemish and Wallonian lands are so distinct culturally that a trip from Knokke to Namur will feel like a visit to two different countries. But while the politics often overemphasizes the rift, the truth is that north or south, Flemish or French speaking, Belgians know how to kick back and enjoy their glass of wine or beer. The best souvenir you will bring back is the memories of tucking into moules-frites after walking through the same rain streaked streets that inspired painter Rene Magritte.

As far as other more tangible mementos go, my favorites are the ones that satisfy the senses. Whenever I go back to the US, my suitcase is stuffed with chocolates, gingerbread, and perfumed soap. If you’re after the more traditional souvenirs, consider the local crafts such as woodcarvings from Spa, ceramics from Dinant or tapestries from Tournai. Belgium is also renowned for its exquisite lace, and you will find many shops in Brussels, Gent, Antwerp or Bruges offering traditional handmade designs. When Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956, her wedding gown was adorned with yards of Belgian rose point lace, and as you can gather, the price for these gauzy, lacy trinkets is quite luxurious.

Speculoos Spread

You gotta love a country where the favorite snack is a piece of buttered bread with crumbled cookies. A few years ago, some enterprising soul devised the ultimate addictive substance. It’s called Speculoos Spread (or Speculoos à tartiner). Speculoos are fragrant cookies made with brown sugar and spices; I shared a recipe last year. I found it hard to believe that Speculoos Spread could be that good, but within days of arriving to Belgium I got hooked. Imagine the texture of peanut butter with a decadent caramel, cinnamon and nutmeg aroma.

Lotus brand is famous locally, and I especially recommend the crunchy spread with little bits of cookies left intact.  You can find it at any supermarket. There are lots of other variations: flavored with different spices, chocolate and made with organic ingredients. Just make sure not to put the jar in your carry-on, because the airport authorities classify it as a “dangerous liquid item”. Since I have no control over myself within the vicinity of speculoos spread, I sort of see their point.

gingerbread1

Dandoy Gingerbread and Speculoos

Speculoos are the ubiquitous cookies in Belgium, and if you order a cup of coffee or tea, it will invariably be accompanied by a little spiced morsel. Unless I make them at home, I head over to Dandoy, a Brussels patisserie that has been baking speculoos and other sweet delights since 1829. Speculoos and gingerbread come in all shapes and sizes, and you can even custom design your selection and pick the box and paper for your gifts.

Besides crunchy speculoos and soft gingerbreads, Dandoy is famous for its pain à la grecque, a uniquely Bruxellois specialty of buttery pastry garnished with cinnamon and caramelized sugar. Another distinctly Belgian treat is cramique aux raisins, a sweet brioche like bread stuffed with raisins. Cramique can also include little nuggets of sugar which turn to fudgy caramel in the toaster. There are several Dandoy stores in Brussels, but the location at Rue au Beurre 31 (at the appropriately named Butter Street) is the most visited. It’s around the corner from the splendid Grand Place.

pierre marcolini

Chocolate

I could write a tome about Belgian chocolate, since in the name of research I have sampled tirelessly. Neuhaus, Lady Godiva, and Leonidas are among the popular Belgian brands that have standard quality across the board. Since they’re available the world over, I would seek smaller, uniquely Belgian outfits. The most famous is Pierre Marcolini, a chocolatier that’s renowned for controlling every aspect of his production. He selects cacao beans, travels to find the best spices, and blends flavors in a beautifully obsessive way that makes me think of great perfumers. I recommend everything without reservations, but especially his Grand Cru selections that feature single squares made from single origin beans. In this way you can have your own private chocolate tastings at home.

Laurent Gerbaud has a shop at Rue Ravenstein 2 D in Brussels, and a trip to his store/cafe is a memorable sensory experience. You can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and then create your mix of favorite bonbons. I love the chocolate dipped figs, apricots, candied ginger and almonds.  The 75%  Ecuadorian/Madagascan chocolate is also outstanding. The selection is seasonal and changes frequently.

If you want to taste the same chocolates eaten by the Belgian royal family, head over to Mary. This 94 year old maker has several stores in Brussels and Bruges (check the website for more details), but one of my favorites is located at 73 Rue Royale in Brussels. The store is decorated like Madame de Pompadour’s salon, and the assistants will helpfully guide you to select from their array of marzipan, hazelnut, caramel, and ganache-filled pralines. All chocolates are made at their small factory in the suburbs of Brussels and they are as fresh as can be.

Please note that Belgian pralines contain fresh cream inside a delicate chocolate shell, so they are highly perishable. It’s best to ask at the store which chocolates travel well without refrigeration.

orval posterbeer-orval

Trappist Beer

Beer is cheaper than water in Belgium, and you can select among 500 types currently in production (or out of 800, as some sources claim.) Either way, it’s a lot of beer. The best of the lot is considered the Trappist variety produced by the monastic orders. Strict rules regulate how the brewery can attain the Trappist title, and currently there are only six monasteries in Belgium (also, one in the Netherlands and one in Austria) that sell their beer as Authentic Trappist Product. I never considered myself a beer aficionado, but I must be, because I visited all six Belgian breweries: Orval, Chimay, Achel, Rochefort, Westmalle and Westvleteren.  A taste of Rochefort 8 with its distinctive chestnut honey flavor or the fruity-floral Orval will convince even those who prefer wine to beer.

Honey

While Belgium doesn’t produce as much honey as France or Italy, it has an impressive number of honey shops. In Brussels, Desmecht at Rue de l’Ecuyer, 38-40 is worth a visit. It’s a traditional apothecary crossed with a honey store, and if you’re after almond blossom, thyme, pine or cherry flower honey, you can find them on its shelves. Desmecht also offers a range of interesting soaps (including my favorite Marius Fabre), natural beauty products, spices and teas.

sugar

Interesting Sugars

I have never seen such a variety of sugar at the supermarket as I have discovered in Belgium. There are sugars of all sizes, colors and purposes. You can buy tiny caramelized bits that taste delicious baked into shortbread cookies. Or pearl sugar of all sizes to garnish cakes and desserts.

My favorite is Basterdsuiker. It’s a very dark raw sugar sold mostly on the Flemish side. It’s not at all bitter like some brown sugar varieties, but instead has a heady aroma of caramel, cinnamon, and honey. When I asked the shop assistant what she did with it, she mentioned that she likes it on yogurt. She then sighed and had such a dreamy look in her eyes that I bought two packages. Yes, it’s heavenly sprinkled over yogurt, rolled inside crepes, or baked with tart apples. It’s often called for in traditional speculoos recipes.

Pharmacy Products

Like France, Belgium has pharmacies on every corner. The prices are slightly higher than in France but nowhere near as elevated as in the US for brands like La Roche-Posay, Bioderma or Avène. I wrote a detailed post about my favorite pharmacy products: French Pharmacy Finds (the recommendations also apply to the Belgian pharmacies). Look for the soap brands that feature distinctive herbal scents and ingredients like egg white, red clay and chamomile.

If you’ve traveled in Belgium and have your favorite Belgian souvenirs, please share!

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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124 Comments

  • Ann: Brings back nice memories of my trip. If you’re in Brugges, try Dumon for tasty chocolates and orangettes. September 24, 2013 at 7:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I love Bruges, which is really an open air museum. I even visited it in the winter and it was just as charming misted in rain. Dumon is near the central square, so it’s not to be missed. September 24, 2013 at 9:30am Reply

  • BlinkyTheFish: Oh my gosh – I can buy that speculoos spread at my local Waitrose (I am in the UK) – and have done. That is dangerous stuff (they sell smooth AND crunchy variations!). My husband came in to the kitchen to see the cat and I hovering over the jar with a spoon and two guilty looks… September 24, 2013 at 8:25am Reply

    • BlinkyTheFish: And if you’re in Bruges, head straight to The Chocolate Line, and buy all the ‘green’ flavour ganaches they sell – Madam Butterfly (shiso), Bangkok (lemongrass), Julius (laurel), Marrakech (fresh mint). September 24, 2013 at 8:32am Reply

      • Victoria: I haven’t visited there, so on the next trip to Bruges I will have to rectify this omission. :) Thank you! September 24, 2013 at 9:36am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t blame either one of you! This stuff is addictive.

      I was at Lafayette Gourmet in Paris, a gourmet food section of Galeries Lafayette, selecting some honeys when a gentleman asked for my help in deciphering a label on a jar of speculoos spread. He was from Indonesia and wanted to buy an interesting spread to eat with bread, “something like Nutella but different”. The Lotus brand sat proudly next to the artisanal spreads and honeys. I directed him towards the crunchy kind and I hope that he liked it. :) September 24, 2013 at 9:35am Reply

    • Eastofeden: Speculoos is also available in the US in many grocery store chains. Trader Joes occasionally has it & will also occasionally sell chocolate bars that have speculoos as a filling. I have seen it in SaveMart and WinCo. Walmart also carries it and they are the only market that I have seen here in the US to carry the crunchy version. September 24, 2013 at 9:55am Reply

    • george: Time for a “posh” shop I think! So happy to hear this is available in Waitrose. September 24, 2013 at 11:24am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: I love how you call Waitrose a “posh” shop. I used to do most of my grocery shoppings in Sainsbury’s but time to time I went to Waitrose and it made me feel “posh”. ;-) September 24, 2013 at 11:39am Reply

      • TheSnailsPajamas/Blinky the Fish at home: I’ve had some interesting biscuits from Waitrose as well in a green-papered Dutch? tin that seem to be a variation on stroopwafels, really nice. The biscuits are big but very light but very buttery/crunchy and are sandwiched around that same type of syrup. Just pointing out more Waitrose goodies! They do seem to vary stock from store to store though. September 24, 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

        • Victoria: And Waitrose also carries tonka beans, which is the first time I’ve seen them at a supermarket. September 24, 2013 at 2:17pm Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: I’m drooling, Victoria!!! Thanks for brightening my afternoon up with your delightful post. I haven’t been to Belgium yet but it looks like I must visit – I love cinnamon, ginger, chocolate and beer (I never knew I liked beer until I moved to Munich).

    I’ve always loved these Lotus biscuits (until today I had no idea that they’re Belgian) for their slightly burnt caramel taste and I can’t imagine how tasty the speculoos spread must be. I would also be eating it out of the jar. :-) September 24, 2013 at 8:28am Reply

    • Victoria: There are also sorts of interesting bread sprinkles that you can find at stores both in Belgium and the Netherlands. I haven’t tried most of them, but the idea of eating toast with chocolate sprinkles seems exotic. :)

      Until I moved to Belgium I was convinced that I didn’t like beer. On the reflection, it’s because the stuff I based my opinion on wouldn’t qualify as beer here (and certainly not in Germany, where the regulations on how beer is made are even stricter). Not only have I visited all 6 Belgian trappist breweries, some of them I’ve visited multiple times! September 24, 2013 at 9:39am Reply

      • The Blue Squid: Lovely article, Victoria, and I agree with you Anne, about the tastiness of the Lotus biscuits. One of the best things about going to the hairdresser for hours on end to get my fake blonde hair done is getting a little Lotus biscuit with my complimentary tea or coffee. September 25, 2013 at 3:37am Reply

  • Andy: I’ve never been to Belgium, but this brings back memories of the souvenirs I was brought back as a child. I can remember getting a little box of chocolates from Del Rey (I’m not sure whether this shop is in Antwerp or Brussels), and they were delicious! Also, I must agree on the speculoos spread–dangerous territory whenever I’m anywhere near the jar (I realized a few weeks ago that I actually eat more right out of the jar than I do by using the spread as intended)! September 24, 2013 at 8:58am Reply

    • Jillie: I can do that with Nutella spread (chocolate and hazelnut), Andy, even though I end up feeling sick! September 24, 2013 at 9:28am Reply

    • Victoria: There is a Del Rey store in Brussels (just checked their website, it’s only in Antwerp, located at Appelmansstraat 5), and they even do tastings and workshops.
      Like you, I eat more speculoos spread just by dipping the spoon in the jar. I start out with good intentions of having it on my bread, but it rarely makes it there. :) September 24, 2013 at 9:42am Reply

    • BlinkyTheFish: It’s in Antwerp, and if you’re ever there, they also sell a selection of patisseries – you can choose and pay for them in the shop, and then go next door to their little restaurant, where you can order lovely teas and eat your purchases (they plate them up and bring them in for you). Their tea service is beautiful – they bring little biscuits and petit fours, and bowls of crystallized rose and violet petals as well. Their lunch dishes are rather gorgeous too. September 24, 2013 at 9:46am Reply

      • Victoria: I took my mom to their Antwerp store, and she was charmed by their tea service. The presentation is gorgeous! September 24, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

      • Andy: I’ve read about their tea service, which sounds delightful. I’ve decided that if I’m ever in Antwerp, I will have to go! September 24, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

  • Jillie: Lovely descriptions – and photos. I have friends who travel to Belgium frequently (it’s easy from the South East of England), and they bring back yummy chocolates and beers. Once they gave me a present of an exquisite panel of lace which featured cats playing with butterflies! The Basterdsuiker is really tempting, and I think it would elevate a bowl of porridge to something tasty; I am sure that sprinkled over an apple crumble before it goes into the oven would give the pudding a lovely toffee-apple flavour …. now I’ve got to find out where to get it from (or give my friends my shopping list). September 24, 2013 at 9:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Muscovado sugar would be close. Well, in the UK, you get the wonderful stuff like golden syrup or treacle, so you have your own sugary specialties. In fact, we drive to an English store in the suburbs to buy some of them. What I like about these dark, dark brown sugars is that they aren’t overly sweet. You get a nice flavor without turning yogurt or porridge into a dessert (although even that is not such a bad thing). September 24, 2013 at 9:45am Reply

  • Ajda: I want to go to Belgium now! September 24, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

    • Victoria: There is so much to discover here. Although winter seems like a bad time to visit, because the weather might be cold and damp, the beauty of Brussels on the rainy days is in the numerous cafes and restaurants. It’s fun to walk around huddled together under an umbrella and then duck someplace warm and cozy to share a bowl of waterzoi (creamy chicken stew) or mussels. Belgians certainly know how to eat well. September 24, 2013 at 9:48am Reply

      • BlinkyTheFish: I always recommend Brussels to people who want a laid back kind of weekend. You can walk everywhere, there are a lot of museums, shops (I don’t know the names of the sections of the city but I like to poke around the section where all the antiques and specialised decor shops are) and markets (that may mainly be Sundays) and it’s perfect if you are a foodie. All that walking will counteract everything you’re eating! There’s a restaurant called Bocconi in the Hotel Amigo that does (or certainly did) an amazing buckwheat pasta with grilled lobster! September 24, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

        • Victoria: I walk a lot here, and since I love walking, I can do my chocolate research without feeling guilty. :)

          Les Marolles in Brussels has lots of flea markets and second hand book shops. Place Sablon also has an antique book market every week. It’s so much fun to browse. When it comes to markets, you’re right, there are plenty of those on the weekend. But since every commune in Brussels (and there are 19) hosts its own weekly market, you can find something going on almost every day.

          Besides the center city, I also love some areas of Schaerbeek, a commune in the north-east area. It’s diverse, has great parks and lots of Art Nouveau architecture. September 24, 2013 at 2:00pm Reply

  • Aisha: The last time I was in Belgium was years and years ago. My parents took my sister and me when I was in high school. I remember watching women create beautiful lace creations, and yes, I remember that the chocolate we bought was divine! Never got to try that spread, but that was the trip during which I discovered the joys of Nutella when we visited France. I was ecstatic when I found the spread here in our small-town grocery store a couple of years ago. :-) September 24, 2013 at 9:42am Reply

    • Victoria: The spread was invented only recently, but it took off! It’s billed as an alternative to Nutella or peanut butter and since it’s nut free, it might work for those with nut allergies. I’ve even seen a speculoos flavored Nutella! Now, talk about decadence. :)

      There are some lace stores in Bruges and Brussels where you can see the ladies make designs. At one point my mom’s sister got into lace making, and she taught me a simple pattern. My mom still has a little napkin I crocheted when I was 12. My grandmothers and my great grandmother were great at knitting, embroidering, sewing, but once I left Ukraine, I haven’t done any of that. September 24, 2013 at 9:54am Reply

  • Marlen: Pierre Marcolini had a boutique in New York when I lived there, but when I returned, I couldn’t find it. They had my favorite rosemary flavored truffles. September 24, 2013 at 10:01am Reply

    • Victoria: It closed a few years ago. The first time I taste anything tonka bean flavored was a truffle I bought from that boutique. It was such a revelation. September 24, 2013 at 1:51pm Reply

  • rosarita: Such fun to plan a virtual visit, and your descriptions are literally mouth watering, Victoria :) Some day, somehow, I must try speculoos spread! September 24, 2013 at 10:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Now you can find it in the US too, even my favorite crunchy version.
      I’m glad that you liked the post. Belgium is a relatively underrated country, but I find that it has so much to offer, in terms of food, drink or culture. September 24, 2013 at 1:52pm Reply

  • Zazie: Like others above, I thank you for bringing back fond memories of a trip to belgium I made long ago: I was young, I was with my BFFs, and we had a blast! Too bad we didn’t really try out the food specialties: we always travelled on the tightest of budgets, but we didn’t mind. We did taste the beers though! :D

    Your comment abount your scientific exploration of the maitres chocolatiers reminded me of myself a few years back: I was living in switzerland and explored every single artisanal chocolate lab in my town (and in the towns near by). And I am not even fond of chocolate!!! ;) September 24, 2013 at 10:47am Reply

    • Victoria: The best memories of traveling for me is when I traveled as college student on a tight budget. We lived in dinky hostels, ate from the same restaurants as local cab drivers. But the sights, architecture, people watching were all free, so they made up for all other minor inconveniences.

      If I were in Switzerland, I would do the same thing as you! :) September 24, 2013 at 2:02pm Reply

  • Cath: Oh, you bring back so many memories. I was born and raised in Belgium, Leuven, and lived there until I came to Japan 20 years ago. I miss the food most of all I guess: the chocolate, the cheeses, the cookies, the fries, the bread, everything!
    Dandoy is indeed the best for pain à la grecque, but there’s also a great little shop in Antwerp called Paul’s Biscuits that is delicious. Their pain à la grecque and biscuit au beurre is delightful.
    And then there is all the “regular stuff” you can find in the supermarket: chocotoff, hmmm.
    I’d better stop or I won’t be able to sleep from the sugar high I’m on just from thinking about all of this.
    Enjoy it. Belgium is the land of the bons vivants :) September 24, 2013 at 10:50am Reply

    • Victoria: It must have been quite a change, Cath! Although I imagine that Japan would be a culture shock nomatter where you were from. I would love to ask you so many questions, but I’m afraid of coming across as nosy, so I won’t. :)
      Paul’s Biscuits is now on my Antwerp list of essential sights. I will be sure to stop by the next time we go there. Thank you very much. September 24, 2013 at 2:04pm Reply

      • Cath: Hi Victoria.
        You can ask me questions. I won’t think you’re nosy, only “leergierig”, which means you want to learn, as opposed to “la curiosité malsaine” which is just nosy :), and which I encounter a lot here in Japan.
        Feel free to mail me if you want to.
        Oh, and another address for artisanal chocolates: “L’Art de Praslin” in Wavre, en face de l’hôtel de ville. I haven’t been there in many years so I can’t say if they have changed, but they used to be considered the best in our family of chocolate lovers. September 25, 2013 at 9:15am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you, Cath! I studied Japanese at the university, so I’m fascinated by this country. In Brussels there are some Japanese grocery and book stores, so at least I can get a little dose of Japanese magazines, books and food time to time. :)
          L’Art de Praslin is added to my list, thank you very much! So much to explore. September 25, 2013 at 10:47am Reply

  • Daisy: Belgium sounds absolutely delicious. Oh, the idea of sugary lumps in bread that magically turn into caramel lumps in the toaster! Divine! Thank you, Victoria! This is a beautiful interlude to my afternoon. September 24, 2013 at 11:11am Reply

    • Victoria: It really is!
      Another delicious cramique I tried was in Ieper. We went to visit the museum dedicated to WWI, which was quite an emotional visit. We stepped outside, still feeling somewhat shaky and then we caught a scent of baking bread. It gave all three of us (my mom, my husband and I) a much needed boost. We bought a big, fat cramique full of sugar lumps and ate it in the car on the way home. September 24, 2013 at 2:06pm Reply

  • Illdone: I’m glowing with pride, born and raised in Belgium!!

    As far as beer is concerned one more lavish tip for the ladies ; do try Lindemans raspberry beer in 0,5 liter it’s bottled like wine with a cork . Easy though, it does make you drunk. You’ll never drink another fruitbeer again.

    About the speculoos, as a child I used to eat two slices of speculoos with some fresh farm butter spread between the 2 slices (deeelicious, but don’t start counting calories) Bon appetit!! September 24, 2013 at 11:15am Reply

    • Illdone: Sorry mixing up berries that should be Lindemans “Kriek” in 0,5l but do try” la framboise” variety too! September 24, 2013 at 11:22am Reply

      • Victoria: The cherry flavored beer, despite my worries that it would be too sweet, was not at all. It’s so refreshing in the summer. September 24, 2013 at 2:09pm Reply

    • Jillie: You are right – I love those fruit beers, and I don’t want to drink any others! September 24, 2013 at 12:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: My husband read these comments earlier and he mentioned yours over dinner by saying that you can’t top two cookies with a piece of butter in between as far as decadence goes. But you know, I can completely imagine how great it would taste. When I was little, my grandmother used to make this kind of cookie sandwich for me too. These days I don’t go for butter, but a slice of cheese on top of speculoos tastes wonderful. :) September 24, 2013 at 2:08pm Reply

    • Cath: Hi Illdone, a fellow Belgium born girl here.
      For beer I’d say try Duchesse de Bourgogne.

      Your comment about butter between speculoos takes me back in time: as kids we used to do that with regular cookies, Le Petit Beurre from LU, and sometimes my mother would make crème au beurre, coffee flavoured, and that was a special treat.
      Ah, this post brings back so many memories. I’m feeling quite nostalgic now. September 25, 2013 at 10:01am Reply

      • Illdone: Hi Cath,
        We should organise “nostalgic sundayafternoons”
        ;)) September 25, 2013 at 12:17pm Reply

  • Hannah: Is that an imitation Brandenburger Tor? September 24, 2013 at 11:20am Reply

    • george: The last time Victoria posted a pic of this triumphal arch I made a bit of an exploration of them, because I wanted to see if there was a relationship with Wellington arch at Hyde Park Corner: it seems they were all the rage in the 19th century in virtually every European country: it also seems ironic that every time a country wanted to erect a monument as a celebration of themselves as a nation, they all chose the same thing! September 24, 2013 at 11:30am Reply

      • Victoria: I love this arch, and I have far too many photos of it. It’s called Les Arcades du Cinquantenaire (Triomfboog van het Jubelpark in Dutch). There is also a great park around it.

        As a former political scientist, I find all of these trapping of nation state building fascinating. September 24, 2013 at 2:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m going to plead ignorance on the subject of Brandenburger Tor and google it now. September 24, 2013 at 2:08pm Reply

  • george: I love this article! September 24, 2013 at 11:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, George! September 24, 2013 at 2:09pm Reply

  • Leah: Oh Victoria, I know you have to put up with the contstant rain, but Belgium is such a lovely country!! I have enjoyed my time there immensely – it has all the magic of France in bite-sized morsels :) and I found the people to be so lovely. Aside from speculoos and speculoos spread (which I am happy to report Whole Foods now seems to be carrying, though what about speculoos is healthy I have no idea) I also loved the chocolate, lace, and needlework. While I am not a big drinker, I found Lambic to be a delicious national treasure. I also brought home lots of grey sea salt and coffee. I have to say that my favorite things in Belgium however were the flowers and parks as well as the architecture. Bruges truly is like a fantasy land (especially in winter) and I loved walking through neighborhoods and exploring. Given the country’s size, it was easy to do lots of short trips to chateaux, gardens and monasteries. In springtime, I loved pick-nicking in the parks around Brussels and just taking in the flowers. I dream of going there again soon and hopefully meeting my favorite blogger :) September 24, 2013 at 11:50am Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that you will visit, Leah! You’re definitely right, you can take short trips and visit so many different places. If you’re willing to drive for more than a couple of hours, you can go as far as Germany, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, France (although the French border is only 45 min away from where we live in Brussels). September 24, 2013 at 2:16pm Reply

    • NeenaJ: I was droolong reading about the speculoos spread yesterday and, lo and behold, there it sits on the shelf next to Justin’s nut butters at my Whole Foods! Thanks Leah and Victoria! September 25, 2013 at 3:45pm Reply

  • Annette Reynolds: The last time I was in Belgium (Brussels) it was 1969 and I was wearing a mini-dress. I was also only 16 years old, so I could do that. My mother and I were there to visit my mother’s cousins, who owned Daskalides Chocolate! And now, after all this time, I’m wondering: is Daskalides still around? And if it is, is the quality as amazing as it was 40 years ago? (I’m thinking probably not…) My mother told me tales of going there as a girl. She went in the summer to stay with her cousins, and she worked in the shop also. She said she gained so much weight no one recognized her when she got back to Athens. But she managed to slim right down (and stayed that way all her life), but she never stopped loving dark Belgian chocolates. Me, too. September 24, 2013 at 12:37pm Reply

    • Illdone: I believe Daskalides is sold. Early on Leonidas and Daskalides worked together, then they split. Leonidas is and was exceptionally good but Daskalides was top of the bill. I’m not sure about who took over. September 24, 2013 at 12:53pm Reply

      • Annette Reynolds: Thanks for the information! September 24, 2013 at 2:13pm Reply

      • Victoria: I didn’t see your comment when I replied to Annette. Now it’s clear why I haven’t encountered Daskalides. Only Leonidas seems to be around, and it’s everywhere. September 24, 2013 at 2:20pm Reply

        • Hannah: I was looking at what is in the big shopping center that will be by my house in Hamburg and Leonidas is there. I assumed it was German. Now I have an excuse to tell my sister when I don’t bring her back chocolate from Germany–”go to Belgium and get your own chocolate!!”. Last time I brought back a big box of Niederegger and no one wanted it because they didn’t understand that Niederegger is not like the marzipan sold here. When my mom finally did come around (thankfully after I ate all of the plum-armagnac filled ones) she was shocked that she liked it. September 24, 2013 at 9:59pm Reply

          • Victoria: Plums, armagnac and chocolate sounds like my idea of perfect pairing. :) September 25, 2013 at 10:08am Reply

          • rainboweyes: If you are looking for high-quality German chocolate to bring back home, I can recommend Coppeneur (available at gourmet stores and online) or Vivani (at health stores). September 25, 2013 at 3:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a great story, Annette! Now I definitely need to eat some dark chocolate. I’ve been craving it since we talked about chocolates, speculoos spread and other goodies in this thread. Unfortunately, I don’t recall seeing Daskalides anywhere in Belgium. September 24, 2013 at 2:19pm Reply

      • Annette Reynolds: It’s sad to know they’re completely gone. I know they were in Belgium (and one of the premier chocolatiers) for at least 75 years (maybe more). Mom’s cousins were identical twins, so that was always a fun story in itself. (I believe their names were Georgette and Jeannine.) I remember that for every special occasion they’d send us a box of chocolates (not the filled kind, since they couldn’t “travel” well through the post) – always dark. Their signature chocolate was in the shape of a daisy. Very pretty, and very delicious. Ask some “old-timers” in Brussels – see if anyone remembers Daskalides! I lost my mother 8 years ago. I miss her terribly and I miss traveling with her. And I hate that I have no one left in the family to ask about our history! Thanks for the lovely post, Victoria! September 24, 2013 at 6:27pm Reply

      • Annette Reynolds: Victoria, I just Googled Daskalides and found one store in Brussels: Hoogstraat 23 1861 Wolvertem. I also found many stores in Flanders and Wallonia. They’re also all over the world! So, they’re still out there, although I have NO idea if they’re even a part of our family anymore. And, of course, the quality would have to taste-tested! What a nice idea… IF you happen to find a shop and try it, I’d love to know what you think. September 24, 2013 at 6:36pm Reply

        • Victoria: Oh, I’m definitely going to explore it! Annette, what if you write to the new owners through the website and ask them for some information? Perhaps, they might have something in their archives like photos or some other interesting information. I think that it’s an amazing story, and I would certainly follow up on it. For my part, I will have to try their chocolates. :) September 25, 2013 at 9:59am Reply

      • Annette Reynolds: http://www.daskalides.com So much information! And lots of yummy photos. But it’s no longer part of the Daskalides family. It’s now owned by Bouchard! September 24, 2013 at 6:45pm Reply

    • Dimitri Daskalides: Im Dimitri Daskalides son of Gerogette Daskalides
      Annette are you my cousin?
      Im wrting a book of the past 200 years of the family.
      Georgette still leave in Brussels while Jeannine Leave in Athens. They are 86 yeas old
      Daskalides is owned now by Paul Seiloglou brother in law company ( Sea Invest)
      Paul is the son of Jeannine and he own Confidas, a sweet factory ( Pâte de fruits) in Ghent
      Leonidas chocolate belong today in 2013 to our cousins ( A Kestekides and J Kestekoglou heirs brother of my grand mother Efthalia Kestekides -Daskalides). Leonidas Chocolate was managed by Dr Jean Daskalides from 1969 to 1993.( brother of Georgette and Jeannine)
      Leonidas was the brother of my great grandfather Dimitrios Kestekidès who was married with Maria Aghnidès. the Aghnidès family was involved in the 19th century in the begining of the chocolate business in Belgium
      I prepare a book about the familly that I expect to be ready in few months
      People dont know that the first Leonidas shop was in fact open in 1901 in New York
      In 1907 Leonidas return to Europe and was sting by a Belgian girl
      that is the begining of Leonidas in 1921 Prodromos Daskalids my grand father and Basile Kestekides arrive in Belgium from Constantinople to work for their uncle and are in fact of the founder of the modern brands Daskalides and Leonidas.
      my e-mail is dimitri@ledimidas.com October 16, 2013 at 8:36pm Reply

      • Annette Reynolds: Dimitri! I am, in fact, your cousin!! I will be answering your message in an email in the next few days, but just in case you read this post I wanted to make sure you know I’ve seen your reply. Am so very happy to have “found” you! And Victoria, thanks for this wonderful blog. What an amazing coincidence to have discovered part of my family out there in the ether! October 20, 2013 at 1:01am Reply

      • Diane Goard: Hi Dimitri. I too, am your cousin. My mother is Lyda Rabbitt (Aghnides), Lia’s sister! Annette forwarded this to me. How exciting. I remember my mom talking about her cousins in Belgium. She is 83 now and going strong. She usually goes to Greece every 2 years to visit friends and relatives. She said last year would be her last trip, but, we’ll see. :-) My son will be in Belgium next month for 3 weeks. He is in a RockABilly band and they will be playing shows all over Belgium and Holland. We will have to see if he can visit one of your stores and bring Annette home some of your awesome chocolate! October 20, 2013 at 11:27pm Reply

        • Victoria: What a great story and a terrific chocolate connection! I love that all of you found each other. :) October 21, 2013 at 8:22am Reply

  • Eastofeden: Victoria…I have a sister who lives near Mons (hence the speculoos love & great joy when we started seeing it in the stores here). Are there any common easily available scents I should have her look for to send to me? September 24, 2013 at 3:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: Maybe Bien-Etre colognes (I have a review of their latest). They are inexpensive, available at most pharmacies and have great scents. I bring them back to my mom, since she loves putting them in her bath. September 24, 2013 at 4:46pm Reply

  • Maja: “She then sighed and had such a dreamy look in her eyes that I bought two packages.” hahhaha you’re a perfect customer :)

    I am planning my second trip to Belgium soon and I hope to have the time necessary for the brands of chocolate and beer I did not try in 2006. I sort of preferred Antwerp, at least the weather was nicer – if nice is to be applied to Belgian weather ;) I was there in October, it was cloudy and damp but I felt warm and cozy just by smelling waffles in the air. After a week I did miss the sun though…
    I think that all European countries (big or small) share the same amount of great things to see, smell, visit and experience. All one needs is curiosity and open mindedness. And you certainly have both. September 24, 2013 at 4:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: Antwerp has such a great ambiance, old yet avant-garde.
      I don’t mind the weather all that much. I just got used to it. You’re right, there is so much to discover that it doesn’t seem like an issue. If it rains, you can explore the castles or museums. If it’s a nice day, you can stroll through the park or one of the local markets. The lack of sun can get to me in the middle of winter, but even that is bearable. Amazing how much difference can a bright, sparkling orange scent make! I went through a bottle of Orange Sanguine by Atelier Cologne last winter. September 24, 2013 at 4:54pm Reply

  • Austenfan: A great post, and one that does this fascinating and indeed underappreciated country justice!
    I remember that we used to just put the speculaasjes between two slices of bread and used butter to “help them stay put”. We didn’t have the spread in the Netherlands.

    I don’t eat a lot of chocolate, but I have bought chocolates at Burie in Antwerp that were much appreciated by my more chocolate loving friends. They actually have two shops. One selling the “pralinen” and the other selling biscuits and lots of other sweet delights. They are both delightful shops.

    I clearly need to try some Orval. It sounds great. I adore Belgian beer, although for white beer there are some great German alternatives as well.

    One of my favourite winter desserts is an oven baked apple. I remove the core and fill that with rum soaked raisins and bruine basterdsuiker. Put in the oven. Once done, add custard or cream. September 24, 2013 at 4:51pm Reply

    • Austenfan: http://www.brouwerijhetij.nl/category/beers/

      Not a brewery of Trappist, just a small Dutch brewery. I drank some of their beers a couple of years ago and they were good. September 25, 2013 at 3:46am Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you! I’ll definitely going to look for it. September 25, 2013 at 10:09am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: That must be delicious! Do you peel the apple? And what kind of apple? Jonathan? Red Delicious? September 25, 2013 at 7:10am Reply

      • Austenfan: I use Goudreinetten ( Boskoop). They are not that great to eat on their own but they make the best cooking apples. September 25, 2013 at 10:18am Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: My grandfather had Goudreinetten in his backyard! Nobody ate them, but it were beautiful trees.
          Do you peel the apple? September 25, 2013 at 10:35am Reply

          • Austenfan: I tend to peel them. Goudreinetten have quite tough skin, and not everyone likes that.
            I actually eat them “au naturel” as well. September 25, 2013 at 3:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: This dessert sounds so good, I macerated some raisins in rum this morning so that I can try it tonight. Thank you for the idea. Anything booze soaked is already great, especially if we’re talking about rum. (But strangely enough, I don’t like drinking rum on its own).

      Orval is worth a visit too, because it’s a beautiful monastery with some impressive and well-preserved ruins on the property. If you’re in that region, then a tiny village of Torgny, right on the border with France, is another good stop. It’s famous for its flower beds and colorful houses. September 25, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

      • rainboweyes: My favourite baked apple is filled with marzipan or a hazelnut/cinnamon cream. I usually serve it with vanilla sauce. This is one of the wonderful things that make winter bearable for me :) September 25, 2013 at 1:11pm Reply

        • Victoria: How do you make the hazelnut cream? Do you use ready-made marzipan to stuff the apple? I have many questions, since this also sounds wonderful. September 25, 2013 at 4:06pm Reply

          • rainboweyes: I use ready-made hazelnut stuffing by an Austrian company available at supermarkets here and add some cinnamon and rum. For the marzipan filling I take the raw marzipan paste (53% almond content) and add either some rum macerated raisins or some orange peel/juice and chopped walnuts or finely chopped nougat. You can also put some crushed cantuccini or amarettini on top.

            I remember making poppyseed stuffing once, it was so delicious but I can’t find the recipe anymore :(.
            I was born and raised in Poland, so I share your love for poppyseeds :)

            By the way, baked apples also go well with vanilla or tonka bean ice cream or mascarpone-amaretto sauce. September 26, 2013 at 2:38pm Reply

            • Victoria: I have a notebook someplace full of nothing but poppyseed recipes. When I was working in Poland, I remember mostly trying different poppyseed pastries every day from various pastry shops in Warsaw. I get very nostalgic (and hungry) as I’m thinking of that Polish sojourn. :)

              Thank you very much! I will try your marzipan and hazelnut fillings. I imagine that they would be great in crepes too. September 26, 2013 at 6:29pm Reply

  • annemariec: This makes me sigh with frustration at the mall culture I live with most of the time in my small city in Australia. I do live in a wine growing region though, and have mail order access to wonderful honeys. The local farmers’ market is pretty good, especially for spices and olives and so on. It’s expensive though.

    A few weeks ago I did discover a wonderful shop in a small town about an hour’s drive from here which sells wonderful hand-made soap. The rose patchouli apparently includes Australian red clay, and it is indeed a very deep red colour and fine texture. Smells divine too, of course. So I must not complain, must I?

    Thanks for the great post! September 24, 2013 at 7:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Well, no place is immune to the mall culture and chains. An old bakery closed in my neighborhood and a Pizza Hut store opened up instead. What can you do…
      For this reason, I very much admire French for maintaining their traditional crafts and food preparations.

      In the US, we bought mostly the Australian wines. Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is still one of my top favorite whites. We don’t buy often, but every time we do, it’s a special treat. September 25, 2013 at 10:01am Reply

      • Hannah: I always found it bizarre when I’d see people with Dunkin Donut boxes in Berlin. I wanted to see if the store is different in Germany than in the US and I also wanted to see if their plum-filled donuts were different than the others around Berlin. I could believe that Dunkin Donuts ships their donuts to Germany. and then they sit some place for about a month before Dunkin Donuts in Berlin sells them. The plum filled donuts that are quite abundant are so good and they usually have a light dusting of sugar. I didn’t finish the Dunkin Donuts plum filled donut. And it had a purple icing on top, which kind of surprised me because every German I know thinks Farbstoff will result in instant death (yet they smoke. My friend won’t consume anything that isn’t branded Bio, but I’ve never seen a Bio sticker on his Lucky Strikes). A lot of the bakeries are chains and sometimes the bread is kind of stale, but there are more independent bakeries than in the US and the prices are so much cheaper.
        I was looking at icecream shops in Hamburg and a few of them make a big deal about where they get all of their materials. Including showing pictures of the dairy farm so we can see exactly what cute little cows are producing the icecream. German icecream shops that flavors that would be so fancy in the US–plum, poppyseed, cinnamon, Waldmeister, yogurt, black currant, Malaga, seabuckthorn, elderflower (seabuckthorn and elderflower are not that common but they’re not rare, either). Belgium is probably the same way. September 25, 2013 at 12:48pm Reply

        • rainboweyes: You’ve made my day, Hannah! It’s so true, I can recognise myself in your post (I’m a non-smoker, though :))
          But I think everyone has their pet obsessions. For us it’s the angst of food colours (oh, I remember how shocked I was about my son’s turquoise-coloured diaper contents, until I realised it must have been the blue muffing topping he ate at a birthday party when we lived in Maryland… By the way, I think the purple icing must be all-natural beetroot extract :)) for you it’s the fear of being undersupplied with vitamins (I really had problems to find non-enriched food back in the US).
          I’ve also read your comment about moving to Hamburg soon and your perfume wardrobe for cold and rainy weather. Make sure to bring a perfume selection for rainy days in the summer too ;)
          I’ve always found it quite challenging, scentwise, and haven’t found my Holy Grail yet. This year I had 28 La Pausa, Impossible Iris and Eau de Gentiane Blanche in my rotation and I think they worked quite well… September 25, 2013 at 3:54pm Reply

        • Victoria: Here you don’t see as many unusual flavors. The most exotic yogurt flavor I found was chestnut, although I have to say that it was a great discovery. I also love these squeezable tubes of creme de marrons that you can find at most grocery stores. In Ukraine, on the other hand, poppyseed or black currant flavored ice cream is common. The love for poppyseeds is definitely a Central and Eastern European thing.

          I have a friend who lives in Hamburg, and she also mentioned the obsession with everything bio. In fact, most bio brands at my local organic food store are German. September 25, 2013 at 4:04pm Reply

      • annemariec: Now I’m longing for wine and donuts (not at the same time). As a courtesy to any New Zealand readers I must point out that Cloudy Bay is a NZ company. New Zealanders rightly get very annoyed when Australia claims its achievements! :) September 25, 2013 at 7:14pm Reply

        • Victoria: Sorry, I meant Tasman Bay!
          New Zealanders should be miffed, since Cloudy Bay’s wines are considered as some of the best. September 26, 2013 at 2:20am Reply

  • Jennifer C: Man, I was already hungry before I read this…lol. Now I’m thinking about chocolate and speculoos butter! yuuuummmm.

    I love Belgian beers, and it would be pretty cool to go to the Trappist breweries. I’ve never had a chance to try anything from Westvleteren. I don’t think I’ve had anything from Achel either. Also, adding to the Lindemann’s Framboise love here! That stuff is addictive. September 24, 2013 at 7:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t know about Achel being available outside of Belgium, it should be. But Westvleteren is not sold outside of its brewery. Some years ago some pundits announced it as the world’s best beer, which led to the abbey being nearly mobbed by beer lovers. The monks refused to increase their production, saying that they make only as much as they need for their own needs and to support their abbey. They’re not interested in turning into a big enterprise. Even once at the abbey, it’s very difficult to buy beer (just take a look at their website and the rules, and you’ll see what I mean). But there is a cafe across the street, where you can drink all 3 kinds they make. Westvleteren is totally worth a visit for this beer, it tastes like bitter almonds, chocolate and has a hint of pear. A bonus for perfume lovers, the amazing perfume store called Place Vendome is only 20 min or so away. September 25, 2013 at 10:07am Reply

  • songeuse: Speculoos is delicious! I remember in France seeing Speculoos flavored gelato in a few places too. Although I think they are more fond of Nutella there. :) September 24, 2013 at 8:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Here you can also find speculoos flavored chocolates, caramels, etc. Gingerbread is even added to some traditional Flemish meat stews. September 25, 2013 at 10:08am Reply

  • Lucas: Now I want to go to Belgium and see all those beautiful places and eat all those delicious things that Belgium has to offer! September 25, 2013 at 6:58am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re not that far away! :) September 25, 2013 at 10:10am Reply

  • RenChick: A Belgian waffle shop I visited the other day had speculoos on the menu as a topping. I passed it over because I wasn’t sure what it was! Now I know…this sounds delicious! Along with all the other goodies you mentioned… And dark chocolate is my favorite type too. I might just have to add a visit to Belgium to my bucket list of trips. :D September 25, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re in for a sinful, decadent treat! I haven’t tried speculoos spread on waffles, but I imagine that it would be delicious. I mean, it’s good on its own, so a waffle certainly can’t ruin it. :)

      But one thing I’ve discovered recently is dipping speculoos cookies into hot chocolate….. September 25, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

  • Bela: Your article made me salivate like mad, V. I need to hop on the Eurostar and visit all those places. I’ve been to Brussels twice (in 1979 and 1992), but both times I was working from morning till night (at the Théâtre National) and didn’t have time to explore at all. All I’ve seen are the Art Nouveau buildings and the Grand Place (we were taken on a short tour one afternoon).

    I’m going to our local Waitrose on Friday: will hunt that spread down, and will complain *loudly* if they don’t stock it. September 25, 2013 at 9:58am Reply

    • Victoria: You should visit! You will also find Brussels very different. It has changed quite a bit over the past 20 years, and even more so, in the past decade. It’s a quirky city, or more like tiny villages within a city. Because it’s made up of 19 communes (each has its own tax law, police force, etc.), each area retains its own personality. On practical level, it can mean that it takes ages to get anything done on the municipal level.

      I even buy Waitrose brand products at the English store I mentioned earlier in the thread. When I was in London visiting family, I was stocking up on such random things that they laughed at me. It’s hard to find golden syrup and steel-cut oats at the regular Belgian supermarkets. :) September 25, 2013 at 10:57am Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Chockies, of course! rench fries and may don’t travel well!!!! September 25, 2013 at 6:17pm Reply

  • Emma M: Victoria, you have totally sold Belgium to me; I can’t believe I’ve never visited a place where chocolate and needlework (two of my biggest pastimes) feature so highly.

    Count me in amongst those heading to Waitrose to stock up on speculoos spread; you have no idea how very happy it makes me to know that such a snack exists.

    I’m sure I heard/read about a speculoos perfume, but I can’t remember the name of the perfume house. Have you heard of it? It’s entirely possible I just dreamed it… September 26, 2013 at 10:25am Reply

    • Hannah: L’Antichambre Le Speculoos, I saw it when browsing luckyscent yesterday September 26, 2013 at 11:51am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very happy to hear this! I think that out of all European countries, Belgium must one of the most underrated ones, but as I keep traveling around (it’s small, so it doesn’t take much effort to travel here), I discover so much that I really want to share with others.
      As Hannah said, it’s Le Speculoos by L’Antichambre. But I haven’t tried it yet. If anyone has, I would love to hear what it’s like.

      Oh, Frederic Malle’s Dries Van Noten perfume has a speculoos accent, a little nod to DVN’s Belgian roots. September 26, 2013 at 12:17pm Reply

  • Hannah: I was in Belgium just this summer. Only for a few days, and I spent them mostly in Brussels, Ghent, and for a short bit, in Genk. Belgium was fantastic. After spending over 3 weeks on the road backpacking around the UK and Europe, the laid back, easy charm of Brussels was refreshing. Some of my favorite memories of Belgium are neuhaus chocolate, rasberry beer, goldendraak beer (super strong and tastes of oranges almost), frittes in Ghent, the Art Noveau district of Brussels, honey waffles, biking everywhere, etc.

    I also went to Cinematek one evening during my stay. It’s an arty theatre in downtown Brussels. When I went, they played Hitchcock’s “Blackmail”, a silent movie, and they had live piano accompaniment, just like the movie would be showed when it first came out. It was a fantastic experience. September 26, 2013 at 11:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hannah, I’m impressed how much you’ve done! Sounds like a great, well-organized itinerary. I’ve been wanting to go to Cinematek for months. Your description makes me want to explore it as soon as possible. September 27, 2013 at 3:26am Reply

    • helli: Wow, I have been here (in Bxl) for 5 years and still cannot appreciate, I do not like the city (but I like Art Nouveau)- dogs’ cacas on the streets, waste waiting on the pavements for the cleaning service; areas where woman alone should not walk even during the day, specially young one in miniskirt, dirty/smelly metro, never-ending works in the metro- no escalator
      I like the nature around Brussels and the North Sea – but rather Zeelande in NL and the proximity of Paris, London, Amstedam etc. October 3, 2013 at 8:36am Reply

  • Jelena: Hi Victoria, may I ask where you buy (or have seen) Avene products in Brussels? I think I’ve only seen some stuff for babies in one or two pharmacies, but that’s all.

    PS: Love your blog :) October 5, 2013 at 5:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Jelena! Avene is sold at most pharmacies in Brussels, since it’s a pharmacy brand. If your local pharmacy doesn’t carry it, just ask them to order whatever products you like. Usually they will, free of charge. October 5, 2013 at 6:10pm Reply

      • Victoria: P.S. I don’t remember if the big pharmacy inside the Woluwe shopping center is still open, but they had pretty much all pharmacy brands in one place. Worth checking there. October 5, 2013 at 6:13pm Reply

  • Jelena: Thanks a lot, Victoria! Will check it out :) October 5, 2013 at 6:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Also, the pharmacy near Merode metro stop on Rue de Tongres (just a few doors from GB) definitely has Avene and much more. October 5, 2013 at 6:19pm Reply

      • Jelena: Thanks again, Merode is even more convenient for me! October 5, 2013 at 6:21pm Reply

  • helli: BTW:…chocolates eaten by the Belgian royal family”
    it’s Wittamer- official supplier to the Court
    http://wittamer.com October 9, 2013 at 8:50am Reply

    • Victoria: They have more than one supplier, and Mary likewise has a royal warrant (or whatever it’s called here). Wittamer is great too, but I usually go for their delicious pastries. October 9, 2013 at 8:56am Reply

  • Carla: So many restaurants in Brussels, and at pretty good prices. Pierre Marcolini chocolates are the very very best, nothing else compares. What is that Belgian fish stew, I can’t believe I forgot what it is called. I lived in Brussels three months in 2005, right near the Sablon. Loved the antiques market there. October 16, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, the food scene is fantastic here. Just the fact that there are 16 Michelin restaurants (as of last year) for a city the size of Brussels speaks for itself. In my early days when I was adjusting and felt terribly homesick, the wonderful food really made a difference. I would go to the market or a specialty store and immediately feel revived. :) October 16, 2013 at 9:40am Reply

  • Tarivc: Try Jacques Hagelslag / granulés dechocolate/ chocolate vermicelli January 30, 2014 at 1:31pm Reply

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