Belgium’s culinary treats are a few of the highlights of visiting the country.
Some food and drink you automatically associate with it, such as beer, waffles, and chocolate, but some of their local dishes may be a new experience for visitors.
Most Belgian food is comforting, including hearty bowls of cooked stews. I’ve heard amazing things about the local soups as well, although it was much too warm to enjoy these during my recent trips.
Whatever your tastes, here are five you should try when in Belgium:
There’s a reason Belgian chocolate has such a reputation. This country’s version is synonymous with luxury, masterfully crafted in every shape and flavour imaginable.
In Bruges, the history of chocolate is told at the museum Choco Story, from its use as a bitter drink by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs, to its evolution in Europe to a luxury good, to its popularisation in modern day. Oh, and of course, there are samples along the way!
In Ghent, I took a chocolate making workshop as part of a hen do I was on at Galerie Ganache. The third generation master chocolatier knew his stuff, and while we didn’t master his skills, we had a lot of fun creating (and later eating) some pieces.
Both cities are full of couture chocolate shops with windows filled with lines of glossy multicoloured pieces in every flavour imaginable. You’ll see a few brands, such as Godiva, that you are likely to recognise, but the real beauty of visiting Belgium is the independent shops with unique flavours you’ll find no where else. In Bruges, our favourite we sampled was The Chocolate Line, I loved the dark chocolate skull one.
Flemish Beef Stew
This rich, slow-cooked stew is widely served throughout Belgium and was on the menu at almost all the Bruges restaurants we passed. We tried it just off the Markt at Vlaminck ’14 and it just melted in the mouth.
Mussels and Fries (Moules Frites)
Ok, so this one isn’t for me, I’m not a fan of mussels, but my mom loves them and had some great things to say about the dish she had. The Belgian take is cooked in a pot with garlic, onions, chilli, thyme, and white wine, served with another national food: fries.
Waffles are synonymous with Belgium, and I’ve had some amazing ones during my travels in this country. Most are classically served with cream, although many places offer up fruit and chocolate sauce options.
I loved House of Waffles in Bruges, the lovely cafe served up the treat with almost any topping imaginable, and I’d highly recommend the banana with chocolate sauce option.
It’s not just the quality; it’s the variety. I’m convinced that even beer-haters can find something that meets their tastes. A few bars in Bruges boost housing over 100 different kinds, ranging from bitter, citrusy IPAs to dark, creamy stouts and everything in between.
More of a cocktail fan? Try one of the flavoured beers. You can find ales infused with mango, coconut, and more, or go for one of the cherry beers, which taste quite similar to a summery fruity cider.