The Treasures of Brussels

If you're in Paris for the first time, or even the second or third, you probably won't want to go anywhere else.  But after that, you start to get adventurous, especially if you grew up admiring Hercule Poirot. And then you realize that Brussels is only a 90-minute train ride away.  And that Brussels looks like this:

And to sustain you through the miles of walking between Italianate Flemish, Brabant Gothic and the rest, just think of all the things to eat for which Belgium is famous.  We came up with ten:

1. Beer. It does SO qualify as a food if you were raised in my family.  Our bishop recently confirmed that fact.  (I'm not joking.  Would I joke about beer?)

2. Endives. Best enjoyed wrapped in ham and under a blanket of au gratin goodness, comme ca:

3. Stoemp, a mashed-potato dish with flecks of root vegetables, herbs and / or bacon.  The above was a very simple version.

4. Chocolate. It was on every corner, made into every shape and color and size.  Its fame is well-deserved.

5. Butter biscuits. Dandoy is the most famous of the biscuiteries, and we went a little crazy in there, buying varieties flavored with ginger, spices, orange zest, almonds and even Earl Grey tea.

6. Mussels. I actually had better mussels in Paris, but these were still quite good, especially the broth flavored with herbs and wine:

7. Frites. These are not just French fries; they are hand-cut, double-fried, crunchy-delicious works of art.  Local custom dictates dipping them in mayonnaise (shudder) but I think just a sprinkle of salt is best.

8. Beer. (We like beer.)  Did I mention that every variety has a special type of glass?  Well, it does.

9. Waffles. Although Rob pointed out that he's never had a bad Belgian waffle, this was the best I'd ever had by far.  It was made from wheat flour, cooked until delightfully crispy on the outside, and topped with creme chantilly and kriek, a smoky-sweet sour cherry confit.

10. Petits Choux, the sprouts for which the city is famous.  Unfortunately, we didn't see many places that featured them, so we left Brussels without having eaten Brussels spouts.  Quel dommage! I suppose we'll just have to go back someday.