I am not sure if I've mentioned it before but I am one lucky chick!!! I'm headed to one of my life must-dos: a premier Chocolate Festival....
This adventure starts Monday, November 7th and will take place in Belgium. I am flying into Brussels, then going to check out Ghent then onto Bruges for the Choco-Late Festival (November 11 - 13). I figured I needed to do a bit of homework on each city so why not share it with you? So I start with Brussels whose origin lies on an island in the river Senne around 580...
10 Things I Probably Want to Know About Brussels Before I Get There
1. How far north is it exactly? And yes, it will be chilly... so I get to wear my wonderful winter gear that barely gets used here in South Florida!
2. What's the primary language? French 80% and Dutch (Flemish) 20%. But English is widely spoken because of the many international institutions based there such as NATO, European Commission and the European Parliament. Some consider Brussels something of a capital for the European Union - of course I just consider it the capital of the chocolate world...
3. Is there a Metro? Yes, duh!!
4. What is a must-see landmark? The Menneken Pis (literally Little Pee Man) dating back to about 1618. A few interesting facts about this little guy... he is dressed in costume several times a week. On occasion he is hooked up to a keg and people can fill their cups with beer as they pass by. He has been repeatedly stolen; the current statue is a copy from 1965. The original is at the Grand Place. This tells me that this country has one heck of a sense of humor!!
5. What's the beverage of choice? BEER - ummm, I don't really like beer. BUT when in Rome... and Belgium's brewing methods date back to the Middle Ages!!!! I can start with the Trappist beer (it was originally made exclusively for monks and Westmalle is dark and sweet)... and they do have over 800 kinds of beer so I have to like at least one or two of them.
|The seven Trappist beers (2009, Wikipedia)|
6. What must I eat? Before we get to the chocolate.... Belgium food is described as French quality with German quantities - I'm thinking creamy and hearty so I am going to have to seriously run hard because there is no way I am not going to try these foods!!! Aside from some interesting local dishes - that I can't pronounce - I'm glad to see that waffles, speculaas (cookies from Dandoy's) and french fries (from Fritland's or Haute Frituur) are also very popular throughout... OMG, I'm already gaining weight and haven't even gotten to the chocolate!!!
7. Which are the must-try chocolates? Hard to say... "they" say that the best pralines and truffles are hand-made in small rural villages. I will have to try to find hand-made places and try several - of course so I can report back to you all :-) But when in doubt, Belgium is the home of Godiva, Neuhaus, Leonides and Guylian so I will never be at a loss for great chocolate...
8. A must-do for chocolate addicts - the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate and a stop at Pierre Marcolini - tres tres bon!!
|I'm hearing a choir of angels!!!!|
9. Grand Place/Grote Markt - a UNESCO site - is the central square of Brussels - was voted the most beautiful square in Europe in 2010.