Chocolate, one of Brussel’s most precious jewels
f Brussels had a perfume, it would definitely be chocolate!
When you arrive in Brussels, close your eyes… and breathe in the magical scents permeating the neighbourhood of its master chocolatiers. Melt before the manons, truffles, mendiants and other chocolate delights that are bought and sold in the innumerable shops all around you. Try your hand at one of the many workshops just waiting to teach you the art of making chocolate delicacies. Have a party with your colleagues or friends in the chocolate shops that open their doors and their hearts to you… there’s even something for the very youngest among us. Discover chocolate’s most intimate secrets in the city’s museums. Relax and wrap yourself in masks and massage creams and you will feel beautiful and wonderfully content. Give yourself a head-to-toe chocolate experience. Pure bliss…
WALKS TO RELISH
The Sablon district alone has an enormous range of chocolatiers to visit. Pierre Marcolini is one of the leaders, reinventing the industry with his intensely flavoured, exciting chocolate creations. Wittamer is still the master of chocolate art and the Frenchman Patrick Roger works with the raw material, transforming chocolate into giant edible works of art. Close by, don’t forget to visit these chocolate boutiques: Belvas and its 100% organic and fair trade pralines, the mythical manons of the historic house of Léonidas and Passion Chocolat, which aims to rediscover lost flavours.
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
The Centre neighbourhood is the historic cradle of the Brussels chocolatier’s art. It was in the Galeries Royales that the praline was born, thanks to the ingenuity of Jean Neuhaus. Here too you will find Corné 1932 and Corné Port-Royal in a magnificent Art Nouveau style boutique and Mary, a historic establishment that offers over 70 different types of chocolate ranging from mousse to the justly famous manon.
In the Grand-Place area
This neighbourhood teems with big names from the chocolate world. Jean-Philippe Darcis suggests that his chocolate should be accompanied by a (very) good wine, champagne or whisky. Pierre Ledent‘s amazing creations bear the delicious names of Rosa, Gigi and Pamela. La Maison Bruyerre sells delightful handmade pralines famous for their centres; and Godiva, which is sold in over 80 countries, will charm you with its exquisite classic chocolates with that special, elusive taste that you can’t quite pin down. Jean Galler manages to combine the renowned Brussels chocolate with the cartoon world with its fun langues de chat biscuits designed by Philippe Geluck.
Mont des Arts & Sainte Catherine
In the extremely trendy Sainte-Catherine district, an irresistible aroma will guide your path to Frederic Blondeel‘s shop. He is passionate about chocolate-making and a roaster extraordinaire and while you are there, give in to temptation and order an ice cream or an exceptional hot chocolate in his café. Are you fond of orangettes and other fruit sweets? Then head for the Mont des Arts, to Laurent Gerbaud‘s boutique-atelier and try to resist his kumquats, ginger and pears hidden beneath a coating of the darkest grand cru… Quite irresistible.
Other treasures you can find in Brussels
In the Bailli-Bascule neighbourhood, everyone is talking about the newcomer, Benoit Nihant. He is a true craftsman who travels to the farthest corners of the world to select the very best cocoa beans. He roasts them himself with the utmost dedication to detail and then proceeds to turn them into haute-couture chocolates, one of whose biggest fans is Lionel Rigolet, the chef of the multi-starred restaurant “Comme chez Soi”, for whom he has produced two unique creations.
Between Flagey and the la Chasse district, the Vandenhende boutique offers sweet treats made from local produce: pralines with honey from the Parc du Cinquantenaire and raspberry-flavoured ganaches au Cuberdon. Jérôme Grimonpon, who was voted best Artisan Chocolatier in Belgium in 2012, creates a different praline every month made from seasonal products in his unique shop in Uccle.
WORKSHOPS AND OTHER DISCOVERIES
Do it yourself and experience the tastiest fun in Brussels. It’s your choice: tasting grands crus and making truffles or mini mendiants at Laurent Gerbaud. Take part in an interactive demonstration and discover the extraordinary history of cocoa and create a praline at Planète Chocolat. And try Zaabär, for its chocolate workshops and birthday parties for kids and its cocktail and private parties for grown-ups held right in the chocolaterie. At the Mary workshops, you can experience the conquest of the new world projected on a giant screen. And for enlightened amateurs, Concept Chocolate will get your taste buds tingling with their “Vin & chocolat” workshop. In fact you are spoilt for choice… so check your diaries and make a date!
TRY THESE MUSEUMS
Two museums will teach you everything you need to know about the famous cocoa bean: the Belgian Chocolate Village – located in the delicious former biscuiterie-chocolaterie Victoria, just a stone’s throw from the Koekelberg basilica – is Belgium’s largest museum dedicated to chocolate. Near the Grand-Place, stop by Choco-Story Brussels, a must for anyone who loves Belgian chocolate.