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A blog about Belgian culture in London. A blog about the arts in London, Brussels and Milan, from a Belgian point of view.

Posts from the Gastronomy Category

In life, there’s not only art. There is also food, hence this post. In a previous “Belgian Chocolate” episode, I was telling you about two of my favourite Belgian chocolate brands, New Tree and Neuhaus. I will continue my tale of “sweet Belgian magnificence” (yes) with additional recommendations.

Another very good Belgian chocolatier is the über-posh Pierre Marcolini. In the UK, you can buy his creations online; apparently they used to be sold at Selfridges, but sadly they are no more. His pralines are very refined, not exactly rich in cream – think tea, think rose, think thyme. His “Carrés2 de chocolat” make for very nice cocoa-presents.

Carré2 chocolat, Pierre Marcolini

Carré2 chocolat, Pierre Marcolini

In Belgium we like to celebrate with chocolate (and beer). Seasonal feasts like Easter and Saint Nicolas can always be celebrated with a creation from one of my favourite brands, Galler, which is also “Belgian Royal Warrant Holder”.

Galler chocolate, "Snowman" range

Galler chocolate, “Snowman” range (picture © Galler)

The big guy below is called Saint Nicolas, our version of Father Christmas, whom we celebrate on 6th December. As a child I would never get presents at Christmas, I would always get them at Saint Nicolas.

Galler chocolate, "Saint Nicolas" range

Galler chocolate, “Saint Nicolas” range

When I first left home for Milan, my parents very nicely started sending me package full of Galler chocolate. They stopped after one of the lovingly packed boxes ‘disappeared’ somewhere in the post between Belgium and Italy. Fortunately I now live in the UK, where so far the post has proved somewhat more reliable.

Galler chocolate used to be sold at Harrod’s but sadly isn’t anymore, so I have suggest a trip to my homeland, where it is widely available.

I recently was on the brink of a “chocolate crisis”, having eaten all my provisions. I was awaiting visitors from the homeland were to come with some fresh stuff, but in the meantime I had to find something to help me stay awake after my lunch break. Fortunately for me, up until recently I worked close to the London boutique of Daskalidès. To be honest, I had never heard of this brand until a Latvian colleague of mine pointed out to me that they were Belgian. Having tested their pralines, I must admit they’re not bad (try out the ones with caramel and salt).

Now that you have read this short, two-part “guide to good Belgian” chocolate, you must promise me one thing: never, ever, again buy Guylian chocolate (you know, the horrible shell-shaped chocolates) thinking they are typically Belgian. Note how open-minded I am being: I could have said: never, ever, again buy Guylian chocolate full stop.

PS: the lovely team at Galler has pointed to me that their chocolate is also available at Sainsbury’s. I haven’t seen any myself yet, perhaps because I don’t go the larger stores. Let me know if you can spot any in London!

 

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.

New Tree Chocolate

New Tree Chocolate

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).

Neuhaus - Caprice praline

Neuhaus – Caprice

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.

Atomium - (c) PixGraphix - Sabam

Atomium – (© http://www.atomium.be – photo PixGraphix )

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.