Save your appetite for Brussels. The gothically designed city center, with baroque steeples and cobblestone streets, is exploding with some of the world’s most coveted gourmet treats; waffles, chocolate, hot chocolate, mussels, chips, and endless varieties of beer to name a few.
Must know – chocolate
Do the Brussels Chocolate Tour through the city to learn about the history and art of the chocolate making process. A few fun facts we learned along the way-
- A Swiss pharmacist and known traitor, named Jean Neuhaus, brought the blueprints for a machine to solidify chocolate across the boarder from Switzerland to Brussels. Up to this point, chocolate was only available in liquid form as the technology hadn’t yet been invented to solidify it. This made Neuhaus a very wealthy man, and his shop, Neuhaus Belgian Chocolate, still exists to this day in the Galerie du Roi.
- As a second business venture, Neuhaus, being the pharmacist he was by trade, began coating medicine in chocolate. The wealthy wives of the time began increasing their dosage, and word of his “medicine” spread far and wide. Women would sneak across the boarder to buy his medicine.
- A boulton is a box of chocolate meant to be gifted. A sash is a bag of chocolate you can keep for yourself. You wouldn’t buy a boulton box of chocolates for yourself as it’s deemed improper.
- When buying chocolate, you want to first ask the price per kilo. Then you want to hand select your own chocolates from the counter, to make your own assortment, as the boxes on the shelf are premixed, not as fresh, and are often leftovers of what didn’t sell.
- A woman named Mary was the first woman to be knighted by the King, and the first royal chocolatier in Belgium. Her chocolate shop is still a thriving business today.
- Chocolate has classifications similar to wine such as terroir and Cru.
- Chocolate has more than one string of DNA which varies based on region.
- The top chocolatiers of the world are considered master pastry chefs. It is a delicate art, and as such, an aspiring chocolatier will begin by mastering a loaf of bread, then grow to become a baker, and finally a pastry chef, before an apprenticeship with a chocolatier. Only the greatest pastry chefs achieve success as chocolatiers.
Must know waffles
Not many people realize this, but there are two types of Belgian Waffles. One originated in Brussels, in the North of Belgium, and has been properly named, The Brussels Waffle. The other type is from a town called Leige in the south of Belgium, and has been rightfully named, The Leige Waffle. While the Brussels Waffle is less sweet and crispy, the Leige Waffle is sweet and more fluffy, often nicknamed “the street waffle” as you usually buy them from vendors on the street. For more fun facts on the Belgian Waffle, check out this page.
- Maison Dandoy. The Brussels Waffle was invented here. Get the proper Brussels Waffle with vanilla ice cream and lime juice, sprinkled with powdered sugar for an unusually sweet and sour treat.
- Mokafe. This restaurant specializes in Brussels Waffles. Keep your order simple as these aren’t meant to be served sweet.
- Drug Opera. Go for the mussels and chips. Their beer selection is also extensive, so you’ll have your pick to pair your mussels and chips with.
Delirium Village. Endless beers are on tap here, both upstairs and downstairs. You can see the lines running from the kegs to the taps, and pieces of the brewery have been repurposed into creative seating throughout the “campus”.
- The Belgian Brewers Museum. Beer started being brewed in Belgium as far back as the 7th century. Small breweries didn’t start making variations until the 17th century, which was when the monks started brewing Trappist beers, and other small breweries started experimenting. This museum offers you the chance to learn more about these facts and others, and is free to tour. You’ll have the option to buy a beer from their bar for 5 Euro afterwards if you choose. Fun fact: Belgians also used to encourage children and adults alike to drink beer instead of water because beer didn’t have the germs that water did.
- Royal Palace of Brussels. Go to see the gardens.
- The Grand Place. This is the city center of Brussels, and has been said to be the most beautiful square in the world. The gothic architecture and ornate aesthetics are well worth the visit alone. Insider tip: The Belgian Brewers Museum is located in this square.
- Royals Saint Hubert. The King of Belgium paid from personal funds (derived as he was the owner of the. Congo on the side) for many projects to improve Brussels- one in particular was the first mall, Galerie Royals Saint Hubert, which was later copied by France, Germany and Milan.
- Galleries. There are art galleries throughout the city center, often with interesting exhibits. They are often free to enter, and worth checking out.
Must know – other strange facts
- Smurfs were a communist cartoon, made to make kids fall in love with communism- the smurf with the red beard was meant to resemble Karl Marx.
- In Brussels, there is a church at the top of a very steep hill. It is at the top where the wealthy also lived as it was seen as highly desirable to the live as close as possible to the church where it was believed a statue of Mary delivered miracles.