Belgium is “famous” for a few things; one of them is chocolate. Some people use coffee or tea but I am proudly powered by chocolate. So when it comes to this most delicious substance, I must admit to being extremely narrow-minded: I try to eat Belgian dark chocolate only.
Belgian chocolate is, of course, the best in the world (I am assuming there are no Swiss reading this blog).
So being a “Belgian abroad”, I often have to rely on import. One such import is New Tree chocolate, which I invariably favour for my daily post-lunch treat, especially in the office (Where would I be without it? “Asleep, curled up under my desk” is probably the answer). I love any of their dark chocolate varieties, to the exception perhaps of the one with chili.
In Belgium you can find New Tree in most supermarkets. Apparently it used to be sold in the UK at Waitrose, but sadly it isn’t anymore. So I often find myself blessing the fact that Eurostar does not enforce weigh restrictions on luggage…
Fortunately, a few of my favourite brands of Belgian chocolate are available in London, such as Neuhaus – pronounced “nerorse” by French-speakers, “noyhouse” by Dutch-speakers. Neuhaus was founded in 1857, and is credited with being the inventor of both the praline and the “ballotin” (the box which contains pralines).
My favourite praline is the Caprice: the contrast between the crème fraiche, the caramel inside and the dark chocolate outside is… orgasmic (yes, it is). Plus I think the history of this praline, which informed its design, is great: it was created for the “Expo 58”, the World Exhibition held in Brussels in 1958 for which the iconic Atomium was built.
In London you can find Neuhaus at Saint Pancras station. I confess to having recently developed a new ritual: every time I am accompanying a visiting friend or relative back to the Eurostar terminal, I am offering myself two Caprices. Only two of them, because I wish to keep this luxury ritual relatively low-cost.