Spotlight Saturday – Belgium Chocolate

I saw the most amazing article today!  It made me drool, it made me pine, it made me WISH MY HONEYMOON WOULD HURRY UP!!!!  It was an article all about chocolate in Brussels.  I’m going to put my favorite excerpts here for you.

“CHOCOLATE — like fashion, wine and finance — has become a complex cultural phenomenon. There is basic chocolate for the masses, artisanal chocolate for purists and avant-garde creations for connoisseurs. In Brussels, a polyglot city at the geographic and cultural crossroads of Europe, you get it all.

The capital of Belgium may be known as the Capital of Europe, but it is also, at least as far as most chocolate aficionados are concerned, the World Capital of Chocolate. Ever since the Brussels chocolatier Jean Neuhaus invented the praline 100 years ago, the city has been at the forefront of the chocolate business. There are a million residents and some 500 chocolatiers, about one chocolatier for every 2,000 people. The average Belgian consumes over 15 pounds of chocolate each year, one of the highest rates in the world.  (personal note… I wish I could eat 15 pounds of chocolate and stay as skinny as the people in the picture above!)

[Alex and Alex] Though its chocolates, made by Frederic Blondeel, aren’t made on-site, they’re acknowledged in some circles as some of the best in the city.

The bar is tucked away on one of the antiques store- and art gallery-filled streets that shoot off the Grand Sablon, Brussels’ central square. Its dark, cozy interior, along with the glass of Drappier rosé and array of square bonbons before me, was a lovely respite from the trolling chocolate tourists outside. I found the herbaceous notes of Blondeel’s basil ganache too reminiscent of pesto, but the “Alex’Perience” chocolates were another story. The first velvety impression of high-quality chocolate was followed by a flood of sweet, fruity cassis.”

IF YOU GO

CHOCOLATIERS

Prices are for a kilogram (about 2.2 pounds)

of pralines unless otherwise noted.

Alex & Alex, Rue de la Paille 32; (32-2) 476-612-345, alex-alex.eu. 57 euros, about $73 at $1.28 to the euro. Alex’Perience boxes, containing 12 pralines each, 6.30 to 8.50 euros.

Frederic Blondeel Chocolatier, Quai aux Brix 24; (32-2) 502-21-31; frederic-blondeel.com. 500 grams, 29.50 euros.

Godiva, Grand Sablon-Grote Savel 47/48; (32-2) 502-99-06; godiva.be. 57 euros.

Laurent Gerbaud Chocolatier, Rue Ravenstein 2 D; (32-2) 511-16-02; chocolatsgerbaud.be. 70 euros.

Leonidas, 41 Place du Grand Sablon; (32-2) 513-14-66; leonidas.com. 21.80 euros.

Le St.-Aulaye, Rue Jean Chapelié 4; (32-2) 345-77-85; saintaulaye.be. 85 euros.

Mary, Galerie de la Reine 36; (32-2) 511-39-59; mary.be. 62 euros.

Neuhaus, Rue Lebeau 79; (32-2) 502-38-13; neuhaus.be. 55 euros.

Passion, Grand Sablon; (32-2) 514-77-14 ; passionchocolat.be. 56 euros.

Pure, Rue de Rollebeek 48; (32-2) 502-16-34. 44 euros.

Pierre Marcolini, Rue des Minimes 1; (32-2) 514-12-06; marcolini.be. 79 euros.

Wittamer, Place du Grand Sablon 6; (32-2) 546 11 10; wittamer.com. 74 euros.

Zaabär, Chaussée de Charleroi 125; (32-2) 533-95-80; zaabar.be. Truffles, 7.50 euros for 125 grams.

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