One of the awesome things about living in London is that you can just “pop over” to another country for a weekend. And not even like a Friday to Monday type of thing. Last weekend, three of my favourite girls and I jumped on the Eurostar bright and early Saturday morning, ate our way through Brussels and Brugge and arrived back home in London by 10pm Sunday night. A tight little (weekend) package, and I’m definitely not talking about my butt.
Sigh. Maybe I will miss London afterall.
And in case you’re wondering, that’s Melissa, myself, Loreen and Mags, a photo taken by Mag’s ridiculously long arms.
So. Much to the ghastly horror of true foodies, we arrived in Brussels at midday and zoned in on the tourist magnet that is The Grand Place and plomped ourselves down for some lunch. Our target, La Chaloupe d’Or. Our victims, a couple of cheesy (a little too cheesy) quiches, a steak frites, and some cappuccinos sprinkled with actual chocolate, because hey we’re in Belgium afterall.
Given that we only had a day to Buy Everything We Want To Eat (because our Sunday activity was a day trip to Brugge), lunch was scoffed in record time and the food shopping began. Let loose in Belgium. Me in my element.
First stop: Biscuiterie Dandoy for Belgium’s finest hand made biscuits. I don’t remember the names of the biscuits but there are thin crispy ones and thick crumbly ones all of which are equally mouth watering. My favourite? The earl grey “thin crispy one” and the lemon “thick crumbly one” which I believe was the sable cookie.
Next, a spot of chocolate. We went into SO MANY chocolatiers that I seriously don’t have the brain capacity to remember them all, but I do remember Mel having a hard time picking truffles at Neuhaus…
… and us going completely CRAZY over the truffles at Le Belgique Gourmande!
We’d been in Brussels about two hours at this point and we were already lugging around bags upon bags of chocolates. The outlook was not pleasant. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop us from wandering around town taking in the sights (such as that little boy with his willy out) and enjoying some Tintin culture which aside from chocolate, I’m pretty darn sure is the best thing to have come out of Belgium (well, after good ol’ Jean-Claude van Damme, the original muscles from Brussels)…
Next up… Pierre Marcolini. Ok, I bet you also just felt a deliriously good shudder when you read that name. I certainly did. Sharing the namesake of equally amazing Pierre Herme, this got me wondering if I should be on the hunt to marry a guy called Pierre. I mean, how they can both be so AMAZING? It can’t be a coincidence… or can it??
Pierre Marcolini is a chocolate genius but these days, the store is adorned with a few more macarons than usual and he’s even tinkering with strange confections like the “cornetto” bars. I didn’t actually try one and now, right now, is one of those times I am totally kicking myself for even considering the size of my ass in the decision. WHO CARES? It’s a freaking Pierre Marcolini cornetto!!!
Anyway, mildly exhausted from all that chocolate shopping, we found refuge in Wittamer, managed to avoid chocolate and instead indulged in two scrumptious desserts ~ the rose macaron and merveilleux (chocolate meringue cream). Ok ok, so we also had some chocolate but shhhh…
By this stage we were well and truly gorged beyond belief and given that we’d gotten up at some ungodly hour that morning (what? It’s only been a half day in Brussels?!) a nap was prescribed. By me. Two hours of down time at the Marriott (awesome location, surprisingly cheap rates!) and we’re ready to go!
Right. Dinner. Ok, I want to preface this section by saying that I tried to go to highly recommended Belgium restaurants. I tried booking Viva M’Boma. I tried booking Restaurant Vincent but all these places were closed for holidays! I know, totally unacceptable. And so it was because of this (and because, right when we were walking down Beenhouwersstraat, the craziest tourist street that ever was, it began to bucket) that we ended up at La Terrasse, a touristy but not overly bad seafood restaurant.
In terms of food, it’s kind of a long story, but believe me when I say I would have given my right arm for a pot of mussels provençal. But. Two years ago right here in Brussels, said pot of mussels provençal landed me in hospital in near anaphylactic shock with not one but two bags of adrenaline stuck into my arm. So, no. No more Belgium mussels for me.
We were determined to have a seafood feast though (y’know, to wash down all that chocolate we’d had) and shared a fresh seafood platter, followed by half a grilled lobster for myself and Loreen, and mussels for Mags and Melissa. Bitches.
And the night ain’t even over yet. After dinner, we wandered down to the Grand Place to mingle with the gazillion other tourists and as we watched that gorgeous building (yes, I’ve forgotten what it’s called) change colours more than I change undies, we managed to get all silly and eat some ice cream.
And the night still isn’t over! We headed back to the hotel to have a pillow fight in our bunny outfits (what, isn’t that what girls do??) – ok, truthfully? We headed back to the hotel and drank some tea and ate some spéculoos and talked about cellulite and stuff. That’s what girls do (sorry boys).
OFFICIAL END OF DAY 1 IN BRUSSELS. Feck I’m tired.
Sunday! Rise and shine and… I’m sharing rooms with Loreen and I know that even though she’s gorgeous, there’s a monster lurking deep within, especially when someone wakes her before midday on a Sunday. Luckily, having lived with her for a number of years I know how to handle the monster. Just don’t look it in the eye and tell it to shut the f*** up and get ready already. This method usually works.
After a quick pastry breakfast at Panos, we caught the train an hour into Brugge, which if you’ve seen In Bruges (possibly the only movie I’ve liked Colin Farrell in), you’ll know that Brugge is stunning and tranquil and historical and also absolutely “fucking boring”. You only need a half day in Brugge tops but on the flip side, the half day will be the most awesome half day you’ll have in Belgium 🙂
We arrive in Brugge around lunch time and head straight for food. Given that we’d been in town for 24 hours and still hadn’t had any waffles, someone (maybe me, maybe Mags, maybe we all did) made the executive decision that it would be ok to have waffles for lunch. And so we did…
… with a side of frites. Because we can.
I totally didn’t take note of the name of this place – sorry! – but anyway, it’s not like you can’t get waffles and frites anywhere else in Belgium!
With lunch done, we wandered through the streets of Brugge, determined to find the Main Square, where we could sit and eat some of the chocolate we’d bought because yes, yes we bought some more. After what seemed like an eternity, we fumbled our way into the Main Square, plopped our butts down and cheers’d our chocolates.
And then we realised we weren’t in the Main Square at all. We were actually in the Market Square but people, forget the Main Square, the Market Square is where it’s happening!
After a lazy afternoon in Brugge (eating, shopping, eating, sitting) we hopped on the train back to Brussels for an early dinner before heading back to Londontown on the 8pm Eurostar. Picking the restaurant completely randomly, we stumbled upon a gem (albeit still very touristy) just outside the Grand Place, close to Central Station.
Le Char d’Or was our pick based on their ample menu of meats, so we grabbed a table outside and watched the other tourists while they watched us watching them. Mel and Mags ordered the filet mignon with tomato or celery cream sauce and I had the entrecôte angus beef, all of which were fantastic but the show stopper was Loreen’s carbonnades flamandes (beef Flemish style), a ridiculously tasty beef stewed in red wine and dark beer.
Determined not to leave Brussels without one last dessert, I coerced everyone into sharing some profiteroles with me (like I really needed to bend their arm), and I’m glad I did because seriously, I wasn’t sure if the custard was frozen or they were filled with ice cream, but damn, the profiteroles were good!
8pm. Back on the train to London and we’re all fuller and fatter and definitely happier. I love my girls, thank you guys for an awesome weekend… and yes, we do like us a bit of crust and clop.
The cast of this post… in order of appearance…
La Chaloupe d’Or
Grote Markt 24
+32 2511 4161
31 rue au Beurre
+32 2511 0326
check out their website for other locations
Galerie de la Reine, 25-27
Please see their website for other locations
Le Belgique Gourmand
Galerie de la Reine, 17
Please see their website for other locations
La Boutique Tintin
+32 2514 5152
+32 2514 1206
6-12-13 Place du Grand Sablon
+32 2512 3742
The Brussels Marriott
Rue Auguste Orts 3-7
+32 2516 9090
+ 32 2513 0229
Le Char d’Or
+32 2511 1530