As the year winds down, and the clock is ticking down to Christmas, we thought it would be a great time to visit the famous Christmas markets in Brussels and Bruges for some foodie inspiration. As some of you may know, Belgian cuisine is best known for the moules, frites, chocolate and beer!
We started our eating tour in Brussels. We first sought out seafood, since Brussels is considered the Venice of the North and is known for some of the freshest seafood around! Based on a recommendation from our tour guide for reasonably priced seafood, we went straight to Noordzee - Mer de Nord, an informal eatery where all the locals crowd around outside to satiate their fish cravings. You can enjoy the world famous moules, oysters, calamari, fish soup and an array of other seafood all while crowding around with a tasty brew. We tried the fried calamari, and drank it with Volga, a local Belgian lager. Followed by moules in a white wine garlic sauce and a glass of Chardonnay.
Then, we made our way to the Christmas market where we sampled the smoked salmon, bratwurst sausage, mulled wine, Swiss raclette sandwiches all while rummaging the Christmas décor and ornaments. There are literally hundreds of booths so give yourself plenty of time to explore and make sure to go hungry!
Next to escape the cold wind we went to the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, one of the oldest shopping arcades in Europe. We were welcomed with shop after shop of indulgent sweets and chocolate. Most people are always quick to think of chocolate when they think of Belgium, but there is so much more to Belgian desserts. This is why Pierre Marcolini caught our eye with their stunning éclairs, colourful macaroons and distinctive chocolate crystals. The creativity was astounding and we loved the Mont Blanc éclair the best, which was complete with crème brulée cream, chestnuts, kumquat and citrus compote. Their vision is truly something to aspire too, and we were taking tons of notes to incorporate into our sweet canapés. We are coming for you 2017!
On our way to Bruges the next day (an hour train ride from Brussels), no Belgian breakfast would be complete without a freshly baked croissant from one of the most popular bakeries, Boulangerie Charli. Be sure to go early because there is always a queue! After we had fresh OJ, delicious cappuccinos and warm croissants we set off for Bruges. We weren’t able to try the variety of baguettes (they even have gluten-free options), but they all looked amazing and smelled fantastic.
In Bruges, we spent most of the day walking through the quaint streets. Bruges did feel like a bit of a tourist trap at times, but it’s something that you will quickly get over once you experience the beautiful architecture. After a long day of exploring, we headed to the 2be Beer Wall to imbibe in a plethora of Belgian beer choices straight from the draught. We started with the popular Chimay and Delirium, and worked our way towards the lesser-known brands like Paix Dieu, Carolus and Blanche de Namur. Ice-cold and delicious!
Overall, we found Belgium to be an easy weekend getaway from London. So if you are looking for a quick respite from hectic London make sure to add Brussels and Bruges to your travel list. In only 2 ½ hours you could be sipping on delicious Belgian beer and enjoying a massive pot of moules and frites. Bon Voyage!