Friday, March 29, 2013

Eating... and Drinking My Way Through Brussels

Beer, fries and waffles are definitely the most well known foods of Belgium. All of those things are out of the world fabulous here, but there is so much more to try! I have always been a picky eater, but since I have arrived I have tried so many new things and I am finally realizing how much I have been missing out on my whole life.

Let's start with the waffles. There are typically two different types, Brussels waffles and Liege waffles. The main difference that I have noticed is the shape. The Liege waffles are round with uneven edges and the Brussels waffles are perfectly rectangular. I have heard that there are supposed to be a certain number of holes in each, but I always forget to count because once I smell them all I can think about is eating! Personally, I suggest the Liege waffles. Without a topping they are golden brown with a light sugar glaze. You can choose from tons of toppings, but my favorites are the Liege syrup and good old chocolate. If you can't go to Liege to get the waffles with the bars of chocolate stuffed inside instead of having chocolate syrup poured on top, you can get them at the W shopping center in Woluwe Saint Lambert, metro line one stop Roodebeek (my neighborhood)! I also like the waffles right off of the Grand Place. There are waffles for one euro near Mannekin Pis!

Next are the fries. Yummmmm the fries are so wonderful. Definitely stop by a street stand selling fries or by any of the snack shops around the city. There are hundreds of sauces to choose from to go on top. My absolute favorite it andalouse, but the mayonnaise is fabulous too! I have always been super freaked out by white sauces. Sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, mayonnaise... all of them freak me out and I refuse to eat them! However, the mayonnaise in Belgium is a completely different story. It is so creamy and fluffy and is slightly yellow. It looks more like buttercream frosting than the globby hellmans in a jar. It is a must try--even if you don't like white sauces! My favorite part about getting frites is the tiny little fork that they give you to eat them with! I just love it!
Frites with mayonnaise from Frit Flagey
Beer. I'm not even sure where to start when it comes to Belgian beer. I am by no means an expert, but I can tell you that Belgian beer is better than any other beer I have ever tasted. My favorite is Chimay Bleu... it's amaaaazing. Others that are fabulous are Leffe, Duvel, St. Feuillen, Westmalle, La Guillotine, Cuvee des Trolls, Geuze, Kriek, and I could go on. I have been doing my best to try a new kind every time I go out. I take pictures of all the new kinds so that I can remember the names. I haven't tasted a bad beer yet!

If you haven't already heard... the other drink I am absolutely obsessed with is the Moroccan tea. It is just Lipton tea, but it is so so good! I have been drinking three or four cups a day! It is caffeine free and my roommate Philippe likes it too, so often times when we are watching movies together we share a pot of tea! It is definitely my favorite down time activity!

Thanks to Delirium and my friends here in Belgium, I have also been sampling absinthe. Across from Delirium Cafe, which holds the world record for the most beers on the menu, there is the Floris Bar (opened by Delirium) they are known for their selections of absinthe, whiskey and tequilla. I had never tried absinthe before coming to Belgium, but it is quite fun and I have enjoyed sharing the experience with my friends and family! It is green and is served in a shot glass with a little tool and a sugar cube. You take the sugar cube and put it in the alcohol, then use the tool to pull it out. You light the sugar cube on fire, then once the flame is out, place it back inside the alcohol. Next, you take the little tool and mash up the sugar and stir it up so that it is mixed in with the shot. Then down it goes! It tastes like licorice, it's not my favorite, but it isn't the worse thing ever either. I think the flaming sugar cube is where the fun really lies, but I think it is worth it! 

Other things that are absolutely fabulous are the crêpes. The moroccan crêpes at Flagey Market on Saturdays and Sundays are so unique and crazy good. They are thick crêpes, more like a type of bread filled with so many flavors from the sun dried tomatoes, olives, ricotta cheese, honey, and meat if you want it. You always leave covered in honey that has dripped out the bottom--but it's so worth it! My friends Fatema and Allison took me to a tiny little tea room in their neighborhood, Schaerbeek. Their crêpes are out of this world too! I had a four cheese crêpe, and ate it within seconds! I can't wait to go back and try more. My favorite dessert crêpe is the crêpe dame blanche. It is a crêpe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream inside. It is served with hot melted chocolate to pour on top! The heat from the chocolate melts the ice cream and it becomes a perfectly messy and fabulous dessert! 
Moroccan crêpe
Four cheese crêpe
Crêpe dame blanche
The typically Belgian dishes that I have tried are Carbonnade Flammand, Lapin a la Geuze and crevettes. Carbonnade Flammand is a flemmish beef stew. There are huge chunks of tender beef cooked in a beer sauce served with frites! I love dipping my fries in the sauce. It is a rich and heavy meal, but it is out of this world. Lapin a la Geuze is BUNNY cooked in a beer sauce. I can't believe I actually ate it... I am still super freaked out, but it was so good. Again it was so tender and delicious, but at the same time it is a cute little baby bunny and I can't stand the thought! Crevettes are cheese or often times shrimp in a thick creamy sauce that is breaded and fried. They aren't my favorite things in the world, but they are Belgian so a must try!
Carbonnade Flammand
Foods they don't have here are macaroni and cheese and ranch dressing! As much as I miss those two favorites, I don't think I am going to starve while I'm here. :)

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