The Grand Place
Architecture, culture, chocolate, waffles, beer, french fries.. you can find all this and more in Belgium! Aside from exploring a new place and adventuring, another part of travel that I love the most is visiting loved ones around the world! Although my hungry, food loving self looked so forward to all of these things, it was something else that I was most excited for. My favorite Belgian in the entire world, Eme! Our paths crossed senior year of high school, nearly 10 years ago, when she was studying abroad as an exchange student. She is the funniest, craziest, sweetest friend, and I am so happy that we have stayed connected over the years, and even more excited that the stars aligned and I payed her a visit in Belgium! This was my second trip to visit Eme in the lovely city of Bruxelles! She knows how to have a good time, and a good time we had!
Royal Palace of Bruxelles
Reunited and it feels so good! Myself, Eme, Andrea
We spent 5 days in Belgium, but consumed enough food for over a month! Eme was kind enough to host us at her apartment in Brussels, and after reuniting, we took a trip to the central square, called the Grand Place. The Grand Place is remarkable! As a UNESCO world heritage site, it is a gorgeous area to walk around and breath in the unique variety of architecture that boarders the square. Most buildings date back to the 17th century.
Belgians Drinking In A Beer Garden
When we arrived, we found a lively square filled with a BEER GARDEN! My first ever true beer garden! It was such great fun, and we were able to sip on many different Belgian brews while in the middle of this architectural jewel! The day could not have been more beautiful! The only thing missing was.. yes.. a waffle!
In all of its glory.. The Belgian Waffle
Our mantra in Belgium was.. “a waffle a day …. is necessary!” and we followed this very strictly! Our favorite warm, crispy, chocolate covered gift from the heavens can be found at Maison Dandoy, a tea house located just outside of the Grand Place central square. For just a few Euros you can participate in the magic that is a Belgium waffle. They are honestly supernatural! Most Belgians will recommend the waffle plain, without chocolate.. but I could never resist a coating of pure, melted Belgian chocolate from the mecca itself!
Belgian Frites Topped With Ketchup, Samarai Sauce & Mayo
Belgium is great, the country has this sense of humor that I have not encountered before. From its legends to its icons to what makes the gastronomical experience complete, there is something for everyone. While in Belgium, it is impossible to avoid the Belgian frites. Interestingly, all toppings cost money, even ketchup! We enjoyed the famous samurai sauce, ketchup, and we can thank the language barrier for the mayo, although it was delicious!
Whether its the claim that Belgians eat fries, chocolate and beer at every meal, the country has a true sense of humor. Just visit one of Brussels most photographed statues; Manneken-Pis, or “the peeing boy”. Manneken-Pis is a famous landmark, and has cultural significance to the Belgium people. He has hundreds of outfits that are changed for various occasions! We happened to catch him in his natural nude state! Some folklore surrounds Manneken-Pis. Eme told us the legend that tells the story of a time when Belgium was under siege by a foreign power, but held its own, the foreign power decided to place explosives around the city walls. A little boy peed on the burning fuse and saved the city.. Hooray Manneken-Pis! Way to save Brussels and all of the wonders that I was able to experience today.
Naturally, we ate our way through Brussels, and this place did not disappoint! We stopped by Pierre Ledant to snag a few macaroons, which were out of this world, before moving on to the main course!
Top Chocolate takeaways:
- Belgian Chocolate; the creamy, rich, sweet chocolate filled with everything yummy under the sun, made this trip something sweet. Chocolate shops line the streets of Belgium. Most all of these shops offer free samples.. YES! Free samples! So go, eat, indulge, and enjoy!
- Pralines are not what you may imagine. A Belgian praline is a chocolate with an outer shell and a softer, liquidy filling from a variety of nut and chocolate blends! I thought I was eating praline pecans for the first few days until a nice chocolatier cleared this up for me!
- Godiva is the preferred chocolate brand of Belgians. The stores claim to use a different recipe than the one used anywhere else in the world. After our chocolate tour, we too determined that Godiva knows how to make the best chocolate!
- Belgian vs Belgium: Belgian is the adjective of Belgium. Something from Belgium is Belgian.. Confusing? For example chocolate from Belgium is Belgian chocolate, and my friend Eme from Belgium is my Belgian friend!
After days of maximum chocolate consumption, we cooked up a tasty healthy meal to remind us of home. 🙂
Apart from the edible wonders that we encountered, the best part about visiting Belgium was frolicking around the city with two of my favorite humans on the planet!
Beer Tasting At Delirium, Serving Over 2000 Beers!
Smoked Salmon Sandwich
Very sad we were when our adventure in Bruxelles came to an end. When would I have a waffle again with my favorite Belgian, my heart wondered?! Onward and upward to the adventure!