While I am sure you know where Belgium is, you also need to know, if you don’t by now, what Speculoos is. First of all, the critical aspect to remember is that it is in the category of “forbidden fruits” if you are a vegan or at least a healthy lifestyle oriented person. But if you have your cheat days of the month or week, I can assure you Speculoos is all worth it.
So the internet defines it like this: Speculaas or speculoos is a type of spiced shortcrustbiscuit, traditionally baked for consumption on or just before St Nicholas’ day in the Netherlands (5 December), Belgium (6 December), and around Christmas in Germany. Speculaas are thin, very crunchy, caramelized, slightly browned and, most significantly, have some image or figure (often from the traditional stories about St. Nicholas) stamped on the front side before baking; the back is flat. And I define it like this: little pieces of Heaven that come from Belgium:))). So now that you know one of my weaknesses, we can move on to the real reason I am actually writing this, which is not to define Speculoos, but more to tell you where it is worth paying a visit from my perspective if you happen to pass by Brussels or Leuven (yes, this is a cool city too).
Architecturally, Belgium is picturesque and impressive. The cute streets and buildings, the beautiful cathedrals and square, lot of green all around. On the other side, weather wise, I have the same struggle as with London – just a little bit too grey and too rainy. Food and restaurants wise, these guys do pretty well, and this is what led me to write this.
I started my day after I landed in the morning in Brussels, at this cute café in Place Brugmann, Gaudron, where I had an amazing breakfast. Probably the best salmon and avocado pouched eggs I ever ate… the second best actually – the best are made by my boyfriend and he is reading this :).
Then for lunch, as I am a big lover of brasseries anywhere I go, we went to Brasseries Georges Uccle. Here you can even pick your own oysters you want to eat, they have incredible fresh fish specialties and also very tasty meat (if you are a meat eater). Ask for the daily specials. They never disappoint. Also, the setting is really beautiful inside, traditional brasserie, artsy looking design.
Let’s say you did not buy into my Speculoos story and you are a chocolate lover. Well, in that case, Brussels is the Disneyland of Chocolate (sorry, Switzerland, but it is true, especially on how they package the experience!). There are two particular places that I would recommend: Wittamer and Pierre Marcolini. In these places you can experience chocolate at its finest. And then you should also see their Christmas decorations – pure festive art.
Touristic wise, there is also so much to see: Grand Place, the Mannequin piece (little boy and the girl in case you did not know – search for both), the Royal Galleries St. Hubert and the shopping that comes with them and so on. If you are looking for art, there is plenty, check this link and I am sure you will not miss out on anything important: https://cheeseweb.eu/2016/06/things-to-do-in-brussels-top-12-galleries-museums-and-art-events/
And as for dinner, oh well, I loved this place, L’Amousoir in Waterloo which is more or less the residential part of Brussels. The food is amazing, and after dinner you can move to the lounge part, enjoy drinks and a cool setting for dancing. It’s commercial music, but it’s pretty cool and fun.
And then… it was Leuven that just surprised me. I had no idea it is so lively and beautiful. It is a young people’s town and a university center. Leuven is well known for its countless enjoyable bars and cafés, ranging from student drinking holes and boisterous dance cafés to trendy cocktail lounges. The Oude Markt is Leuven’s meeting place par excellence, where the numerous terraces quickly fill up. You can also sample the very tastiest local beers in unique, atmospheric surroundings (if you are into that). I tried my first beer our of red fruits and, yes, guilty, I loved it :).
But one of my favorite places in Leuven remains the place where I had breakfast, a cosy bagelshop called Nosh. I went there two mornings in a row. Last time I had this tasty bagels was in NYC. It is really worth a visit. Also the coffee is amazing, the place is really artsy like and always lively and full of cool people. A great way to start the day really.
And surprisingly for dinner, I had one of the most amazing sushi, in Wabi Sabi Sushi Bar. Besides delicious sushi, we got an even bigger surprise when the bill came… which was just really cheap for the quality of food, the place and everything!
So even though maybe Belgium is not on your top list when you think of a weekend escape, I encourage you to put it. It’s something else and it’s actually worth it! And, yes, I left with as much Speculoos as EasyJet let me fit in my carry-on :))).
The next stop in Belgium for me will be Brugge pretty soon! 🙂 I heard it’s pretty picturesque, so let’s see! In the meantime, enjoy St Nicholas eve and day! :)))