Belgium: Hidden Gems and Not-So-Hidden Calories

Brussels was a charming, little town. I, along with three other companions, decided to tackle the destination with only twenty-two hours to explore. The city center of Brussels was full of small, dated shops selling everything from couture children’s clothing to books and almost everything in between. The city was also home to several interesting museums. We found the Museum of Costume and Lace (only three euro for students). The several-story building had amazing dresses and outfits through the centuries. We even got to try on the under-layer of a skirt, to see what it was like back in the day. We planned to follow that museum with a tour of the Patrick Roger Chocolatier. Sadly, we arrived after closing. What else was there to do in Belgium now, other than indulging in a Self-Guided Chocolate Tour? Participating in this chocolate tour was a big step for me, since I am not a huge chocolate fan. “When in Belgium,” am I right?

To begin our quest for Belgium’s best chocolate, we went to Mary’s. I am a classic milk chocolate fan so I got the milk chocolate and caramel and a solid milk chocolate square. Both chocolates were good. The caramel was not as thick as I was expecting, so my first bite resulted in a caramel goatee, which is not a look I recommend. Overall, the experience was pretty good. The boxes and décor of the store are very pleasing. The prices, however, were not. Angelina’s Chocolatier in Paris was better, but what is better than Paris?

The next stop was to Belgium Chocoholic. I should have known by the name this place would be a (milk) dud. I felt gutsy anyways and got three pieces. Milk chocolate with some sort of milk chocolate filling, milk chocolate with salted caramel, and milk chocolate with cinnamon cookie. I was not a fan of this round. To begin, I asked for solid milk chocolate, and was surprised when chocolate nastiness came out the middle. Two bites of this were two, too many. I had never tasted salted caramel before, and I realized why. I imagine that the earwax jellybean Professor Dumbledore ate was just salted caramel. I was actually excited about my milk chocolate covered cinnamon cookie. Unfortunately, it just tasted like dark chocolate, which tastes like chalk to me. So, this chocolatier is definitely not crowned Belgium’s best chocolate.

We next happened upon Elizabeth’s. This chocolatier offered something the others had not: Belgium Crunch Bars. You would have thought I had stumbled upon the Holy Grail. I was so excited! I purchased a chunk of the crunchy deliciousness and already had it in my mouth before we had even left. Yet again, I was disappointed. What was wrong with me? Chocolate from Belgium should have tasted better than Nestle’s chocolate. At this point, I felt like I was just wasting my money on crummy chocolate. Was tasty Belgium chocolate just an illusion I had generated in the States?

We called it a night after Elizabeth’s. I needed time to process the Grand Defeat. The next morning after we finished our Belgium waffles, which did not disappoint, we came across Neuhaus Chocolate. This was it, the Final Frontier. Chocolate in Belgium had one more shot to win me over before I called it quits. I bought one milk chocolate filled with caramel (I was not expecting much). I paid up and took a bite. “God, is that you?” I thought to myself. Next thing I knew, I was leaving the store for the second time, only now I had seven more caramel chocolates in my hands. By a landslide, Neuhaus, the first chocolatier in Belgium, was the best chocolatier in Belgium. I have one of the seven pieces left, serving as a reminder of the best ten seconds of my life. Thankfully, Neuhaus is also located in the Fumicino airport in Rome. I plan to make a quick visit to the store and possibly buy all of the chocolate caramels in sight.

Anna-Laura Luttrell

Here I am before I tried my first Neuhaus chocolate. Little did I know, I was about to dream of rolling around in all of those beautifully crafted chocolates.

Here I am before I tried my first Neuhaus chocolate. Little did I know, I was about to dream of rolling around in all of those beautifully crafted chocolates.