Belgian Chocolate, Brussels
IT IS NOW 100 YEARS AGO THAT JEAN (II) NEUHAUS INVENTED THE PRALINE IN BRUSSELS.
The major production units of chocolates-pralines happen to be in or near Brussels. I was told that people who work there are allowed to eat as many pralines as they want on the workplace but are not allowed to take them out. It seems that new workers stop eating pralines after a few days or eat just a few at the coffee pause.
What is remarkable with Belgian pralines is the significant price increase as soon as they cross the Belgian border. Worst increase of price is when they are sold at luxury shops like Harrods in London. Multiplication by 2.5 of the Belgian price. I can understand that the poor Londoners buy Belgian pralines at Harrods by only one or two pieces at the time! Therefore, when you leave Belgium buy some kilos at the Brussels airport. There are good shops with a large variety of the best pralines.
A price idea in Belgium: 35 - 45 €/kg.
Are pralines good or bad for health? They are certainly good for the moral, they induce a euphoric feeling. Some addiction to pralines has been reported. I am one of these praline addicts
IT IS NOW 100 YEARS AGO THAT JEAN (II) NEUHAUS INVENTED THE PRALINE IN BRUSSELS.
First of all we don't use the term Belgian chocolates but "PRALINES". If you ask for chocolate you will get a bar of chocolate. The production of pralines in Belgium is now in hands of a number of companies who have industrialized the process what does, fortunately, not mean that quality has diminished. These larger companies have oriented their production to the export making of the Belgian pralines a luxury export product of world wide fame.
There are also a good number of artisanal workshops. Belgians consider that brands like Neuhaus, Godiva, Corné are the better ones at least among the big producers (40 - 45 €/kg). Leonidas is lower in rank but also in price (25 €/kg). When a Belgian offers pralines, he will buy the better rated ones, but for his own use he might take the Leonidas because the difference in price is wider than the difference in quality. When offering pralines we usually buy a ballotin (box) of 500 or 750 gr. mixed (assortiment). For our own use we select the types we like most. My favoured praline types, for example, are the "manons".
Don't get fooled by the shops around the Grand Place and Manneken Pis offering the "best" of Brussels' waffles, chocolates and frites. Those places aren't what made them famous. Instead find any stand just a few streets over.
The best fries are sold out of a trailer (not as creepy as it sounds) and the greasier the better. These stands also offer the a huge array of sauces from the traditional Belgian mayonnaise and curry ketchup to andalouse, tartar and more. These get sold in a cone with a little fork. If your stomach isn't a little queasy from the double fried grease then you're doing it wrong!
Buying chocolates in the tourist traps can get really expensive really fast. I walked into the Godiva in the Grand Place and saw a small candy bar for 18 euros and walked right out. If you're looking for chocolates to bring home, go to any Delhaize which sells their own brand truffles and pralines that are still very good. There's one right outside the Grand Place if you walk towards La Bourse and turn right onto the main boulevard. It's what I bring to all my family and what I even buy for myself.
Waffles have the same rule as the frites. If you get them anyplace near the Grand Place then you will be sorely disappointed. You can find good ones in stands all over the city for only a euro. I had a great one by the Palace of Justice, maybe he's still there!
You cannot travel to Belgium or indeed Brussels without sampling the local delicacies. Make sure you find a nice little shop that sells the chocolates individually so you can select which ones you want - they can be pricy but it is worth it - you can buy boxes in bulk but trust me they are not very nice!
The beer is amazing - so many different types - we found we preferred the blond beers but it is all about personal taste the fruit beers were also good.
Frites what can i say - a good grab on the hoof snack -served with lashings of mayonaise - you can't really go wrong!
Sampling some of the best chocolate in the world is an absolute must whilst in Belgium - unless you are allergic to the thing, of course!
There is a gorgeous chocolatier called Pierre Marcolini, which is the best chocolate shop in Brussels - both to see and to experience. It's located in the corner of the "Grand Sablon/Grote Zavelmarkt" square. I have tasted the chocolate myself, and it is absolutely gorgeous. I have also bought their chocolates as a present for loads of people. The chocolate is sold in a black square shaped box and it looks very fancy and sophisticated. What is surprising is that it's not even the most expensive chocolate shop in town when compared to many well known names such as Godiva and Neuhaus.
In addition, they have some pretty unusual flavours, such as 'Earl Grey with citron or thyme', 'orange and curry with dark chocolate (caraibe)'. They are definitely worth a try.
The shop is a bit of a show room at the same time, and it is on two floors. They also sell some very fancy looking desserts downstairs, although it's a pity you cannot sit down to eat the treats in situ.
Chocolate from Belgium is one of the finest in the world, and visiting its capital, we couldn't help but go to a tasting. I'm sure there's several to choose from, but ours took place at the chocolate shop called Planète Chocolat.
The demonstration is on Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm, with no need to pre-book and as of March 2010, it costs 7 euros per person (adult). They have a room for the demonstrations just behind their chocolate shop, so we sit in and our hostess started talking about how chocolate is made, where it comes from, and so on (in French and English). The story begins with the Aztecs and the Mayas all the way to present day.
To make it more interesting, our hostess did the talk in a Q&A quiz game, and those who got it right got chocolate drops to eat and the demonstration finishes with a film.
Included in the price there's a tasting, and we got a cup of hot cocoa (one of the best I've had so far) and some of their pralines. Excellent! My favorite was the one with a cinammon and sort of nutmeg flavor.
Apparently regarded as Brussels' best chocolate maker I went off in search of this shop - the woman behind the counter was most encouraging and helpful in agreeing that this was indeed the best place to get Belgian chocolates and helped greatly in choosing individual chocolates to take a little bag of them with me!
Everywhere you walk in Brussels, you will pass by a "chocolaterie" and you will feel the wonderful smell of chocolate .Chocolate is one of the things Belgium is famous for and there are so many good chocolate brands in Brussels!!!
Belgian chocolate has been the food of champions, a lure for lovers, the indulgence of the rich and later, the favorite of the masses.
Belgium produces 172,000 tons of chocolate per year with more than 2,000 chocolate shops throughout the country.
Pralines in Belgium are sublime chocolate confections. A beautifully sculpted chocolate shell conceals a center of filling which explodes with a surprising texture and flavor in your mouth. Many chocolatiers still make their pralines by hand. Every town and even small villages have chocolate stores with luxurious pralines.
ehhhhhh.... theres looking around shops with chocolate in them, buying chocolate, eating chocolate, watching chocolate being made, watching other people eat chocolate....... and a few lace shops! buying lace, watching other people buy lace.....
Belgium doesn't only has:beer, chocolates and fries !!We also have youg (allready reknown)fashon stylists ,designers for jewelry, people who create unique pieces from silk,cachemir,wool.....Where ? We have two hyper trendy,dynamic quarters crowde with tarrasses and hyper trendy people.
If you have money to spend go there if you have not keep your wallet in your packet.Go to the Rue Antoine Dansaert they are there in houses, courtyards and backhouses.Can't name them all but start on n°2,,27,29,44,50,64, 73,74,80.You find others in the Rue des chartreux and surroundings of les Halles de Saint Géry.
Another area is Rue Léon Lepage
Spoil yourself and bye one of that crazy but lovely hats or jewelry.
We came here for a coffee, but we then saw they had white hot chcolate!
The melted a bar of white chocolate into a cup and then topped it up with foamed up milk (as in a cappucino). It was fantastic! The chocolate was all still at the bottom and you could spoon it out!
They had a wide choice of coffees and such!
One thing, oddly, it tastes beter without whipped cream (unlike normal hot chocolate)
You have not had a cup of hot chocolate until you have gone to -
6-12/13 Place du Grand Sablon
It is incredible!!
You must taste Belgian chocolate, it is unlike the chocolate in the U.S.
Far more superior in taste and creamy.
Neuhaus is a good place to start your chocolate tasting, it was was once the Chocolatier to Prince Leopold.
Leonidas is also another good one. http://www.leonidas.com/
That's not entirely true. I'm sure Brussels has a lot to see and do but we were so tired after our BIG night in Dublin that we slept for 14 hours solid.
So what DID we do?
Well, we went for a stroll around the "old town" and found a wonderful chocolate fountain in a nice little chocolate shop - just in case you're thicker than a whale omlette - the shop was NOT made of chocolate, it just SOLD chocolate.
You love chocolate and are in Brussels around St. valentine's day ?? Here's something for you :
The Chocolate Passion Fair is held around Valentine's week-end on the Petit-Sablon- Caserne Prince Albert in Brussels. Chocolate lovers will surely enjoy the delicious pralines and famous chocolate. It's heaven for chocolate-lovers !!!!!!