Brussels 2: Electric Sproutaloo

My time in Brussels was brief but enjoyable. I managed to hit a few of the tourist spots and try some delicacies before making the long journey home again. The tenses are a little weird in this one as it was pieced together during a variety of Belgian experiences.

Beer and an Omelette?

Yes, you heard correctly. I’m taking a break at Café Mort Subite, a traditional beer hall close to les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. A glass of Affligem blond trappist beer is sitting in front of me, and I’m awaiting an omelette, after spending a frankly absurd amount of money on chocolate. Is this the most stereotypical Belgian experience you can have? I’ll be following up with some waffle hunting. All that’s left is to find a few sprouts.

Affligem blond is very drinkable despite a high ABV (and that’s coming from a cider drinker). I couldn’t come to Brussels and not try the beer, and next up was a Mort Subite lambic cherry beer which was delicious. Other than a little after taste, you’d hardly even know it was a beer, with a sweet and sour flavour.

Daylight (Contactless) Robbery

I may be the only person who can’t work contactless payment travel in Brussels, but my card appears to be working intermittently and it has cost me far in excess of normal fares on the subway. I abandoned the way of the future, and regressed to using printed paper tickets. More expensive but at least they’re reliable.

Absolute Waffle

Another Belgian must try, the humble waffle. This time I opted for a not so humble Nutella-Raffaello-white chocolate combination. It was pretty good, although the sugary waffle did solidify into an almost impenetrable layer that destroyed the wooden cutlery. I just about made it through, but in an emotional twist the spork didn’t make it. It will forever be remembered for its noble sacrifice.

Liège waffles are the crispy sugary type we’re more accustomed to in the UK, but a competing style exists. The Brussels waffle is much lighter and fluffier, and after sampling both I think I’m more of a fan of the simple Brussels waffle. Having said that, if you’re looking for waffles then Plymouth has a couple of great choices that could give Brussels a run for its money. (Kawaffle in the market and Bubbles Bar at the Barbican)

(Financial) Death by Chocolate

Belgium is known for a few things and while they may be militarily neutral, they are aggressive on the chocolate front. Chocolate shops seem to be on almost every corner. Not just one shop either, but clusters of four, five, six different high end chocolatiers. I bought a few boxes from Piere Marcolini and from Leonidas, then I didn’t have any money left. Although I knew of the chocolatey reputation before visiting the city, I didn’t realise quite how high the prices would be. I expected at least one more affordable producer, but in all fairness my time was concentrated in and around touristy spots. I wasn’t even shopping at the most expensive stores. The presentation is beautiful though, and the chocolates are hard to beat.

Typical Belgian Food

In true form, we stuck to traditional Belgian food on the whole trip. Brussels staples like pulled beef brisket bao burgers and Korean fried chicken wings (Baogo, Brussels). I kid, but the food was delicious and being able to sit out and eat al fresco was a treat when I knew it was a washout at home in Plymouth. The weather was beautiful for most of the trip, with temperatures around the 20 degree celcius mark.

Bao burger and Korean fried chicken wings at Baogo, Brussels

High End Desserts

There were also some chocolate ice cream bonbon things. They were…fine. I wasn’t as blown away as the experience as many of the reviewers. I did enjoy the setting though, as the dessert place was one of many vendors in Wolf Sharing Market where I had another beer and a big plate of fried seafood.

These cost too much

Random Thoughts

As I walked to my studio apartment close to the course venue, I was struck by the Stanley Parable-esque decor with plain white walls and doors, and bold room numbers. Functional, and completely devoid of personality which is a choice in itself.

Stanley walked to his apartment in the Roxi Residence Brussels


There were some nice buildings, too.

Bookcase Update

On a non-Belgian (but still “B” themed) note, I fitted the handles to the bookcase doors and they look excellent. All that’s left is to stencil the panels.

Back to normal UK service, although next time I’m writing will probably be in Paris. Things never stop here.

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