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".
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.
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 !!!!!!
Chocolate! Who doesn’t like chocolate? And Belgium is famous for its chocolate, which you can find all around Brussels. Basically, if the shop doesn’t sell waffles, frites, or souvenirs, you can be sure they are selling chocolate!
We were there about a month before Easter and the window decorations of these shops were stunning! So creative! You can spend a small fortune on chocolate for gifts for your loved ones, or simply pick up a small piece for an indulgent treat for yourself. Either way, be sure to enjoy some chocolate while in Brussels.
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!
If you leave belgium without having a belgian waffle I will be very disappointed in you. There are 2 kinds: the liege and the brussels. I prefer the liege (it has chunks of sugar. mmm) The brussels is good too if you get icecream on it. Or strawberries with whipped cream. sooo good.
Don't forget belgian chocolates! My favorite being leonitas (sp?!) Godiva is good too though. Just be sure to avoid getting marsipan (sp?) in them cuz that stuff is just nasty. Also some have alcohol.. just so you know.
Chocolate Quest! There are some fantastic chocolate shops throughout Brussels. Buy some at each, and choose your favorite! For starters: Neuhaus, Godiva and Leonidas. (Leonidas is my personal favorite.)
If you are from the US: European chocolate makers call all filled chocolates 'pralines'. This is not the Southern US version of a praline, which is made with caramel and nuts (no chocolate).
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