Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If you didn't have a waffle, you didn't go to Belgium



...which is exactly what my friend Claire and I kept repeating to ourselves on our three-day trip to Antwerp, a fashion-forward city in the Flemish part of Belgium.

The only issue was that we were already eating and drinking so many delicious things, that we didn't even have time for a "gaufre de Liège" until we were on our way down to the train station. But we did, in the end, have our waffle: crispy with caramelized sugar on the outside, dense yet airy on the inside. The Belgian waffle isn't your typical waffle--it's much better.
But let's take things from the start. Setting: a Northern European city in November, therefore meaning rain, wind, and low temperatures. The perfect excuse for multiple stops to cafés.


Our first day in Antwerp was a strange one: it was a national holiday, and the streets were eerily empty. We were on our own on the main street, walking against the wind, wondering where everyone had disappeared. We even started to wonder whether Antwerp really existed, or if we were caught in some kind of Truman Show-esque situation where everything was designed around us. It turns out, everyone was hiding out in restaurants. And who wouldn't? The food all around Antwerp was good (homemade soups, dark multigrain bread) and cheap: the aforementioned soup was priced between 3.50 and 5 euros where we went. The restaurants and cafés were cozy and unpretentious, and best of all, they weren't packed like they would be in Paris.

Antwerp is a cultural city: the famed designers collectively called the "Antwerp Six" are representative of the importance the city seems to attach to fashion and design. The museums are diverse and all have something different to offer, and if you're under 26, they're only one euro. If I still haven't managed to convince you, let me add that you can get delicious hot chocolate everywhere. Cheap, delicious hot chocolate.

And like every good tourist, never leave without a souvenir. In my case, it was Belgian chocolate bars from the supermarket. Chocolate...and chocolate sprinkles for toast. And 55% almond paste. And chocolate-covered toffee. I think you get the point.

Antwerp is pretty cool. And definitely cold.

Wet and cold, but always hungry.
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12 comments:

Paris Pastry said...

I love Antwerp! I go a few times a year, it's such a great city. You HAVE to eat the Belgium waffles - they are beyond! That Cote D'or chocolate is one of my favorites :)

Eleni said...

Oh no! I've never *really* been to Belgium! I guess I need to go back and eat some waffles! :)

claudia said...

that drink looks really good and so does the chocolate! I am a big fan of Belgium chocolate, especially the Galler chocolate bar...When i went to Belgium a few years ago, i made sure to bring back tons of chocolate bars and speculoos. Sorry the weather was not that great for you, but hot weather would not have gone as well with those fantastic hot drinks you and your friend seemed to have!

Reeni said...

It sounds so mysterious! All that chocolate looks heavenly!

Dmarie said...

green envy monster rears its ugly head!

Juliana said...

Oh Belgium...would love to one day have the opportunity to visit :-)

grace said...

glad you squeezed in the waffle, both literally and figuratively. :)

Barbara said...

I can pass on the Belgian waffles, but the chocolate? No way!

Kerstin said...

How cool, glad you had such a great time :)

Beth said...

Belgian chocolate -- what a treat! It's been a long time since I traveled to Belgium. Lukcy you!

Mary said...

Their waffles are a thing of beauty. I hope you enjoyed your holiday. Travel is always made more fun when we travel with friends. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

Looks like a lovely trip. Love your souvenirs :)