Food alert! - A Weekend in Belgium

WARNING: This is probably gonna be long! You might just want to look at the pictures. Haha.

First, a prelude:

A very good buddy of mine happened to be in Amsterdam this past Friday, so I got to meet up with her and do some non-touristey things there. She (is crazy, and) happens to be a rowing coxswain, who had been training in Amsterdam for about a month... a month ago. Then she went on a Europe adventure which essentially ended in Amsterdam (technically London, I suppose) which is where I joined her for a day. Because she was there for rowing before, she wanted to visit the lake that they had raced on, and I gladly joined her. It was a hot, sunny day, which is actually pretty nice when you consider that Holland is usually rainy. We got to spend some time just chatting and walking and having lunch with terrible European service (kind of typical, actually, I think) and it was cool. I bet little me, eight or so years ago, didn't think we would be hanging out in Amsterdam.

She wanted to go for sushi for dinner, which I had absolutely no complaint against since I have not had sushi in a while and I really like sushi. So we journeyed from the McDonald's that we were chilling at (I really wanted to try their stroopwafel McFlurry... and was again greeted with slow European service. But I ate it anyway. So good.) to the restaurant, which was supposed to be just down the road. As we were walking, we checked all the stores but we couldn't seem to find it. Finally, we reached a point where we stopped and she told me that we must have missed it, because it couldn't be any farther. We turned around and started walking, then I decided to ask someone, just in case. The person I asked said that there was a sushi place just a little farther (in the direction we were now walking, which was the direction we had come from) and it was nice to know that we were on the right track.

We were both quite sure that we had checked every store front on the street, until we came back and saw this:

I don't know if you can tell, but that's a grocery cart hanging there, on the fifth floor (North America style) or fourth floor, here. These places are equipped with pulleys at the top, and you can string up your stuff in order to get it to the higher floors. We had been so in awe of the ridiculousness (and dangerousness, for that matter) of the pulley'ed shopping cart, that the one store we missed was the ground floor restaurant of this building. (Note the Kyoto Cafe? Yeah...) I didn't feel too badly. I think most people would have been distracted by a shopping cart on a pulley.

I can't remember what I had... maybe salmon and avocado? Anyway, it was good. It was just delicious to have sushi again, really. I almost bought sushi from a grocery store today (but I didn't.)

Then it was off to Antwerpen Centraal, in Belgium. There was some kind of train mix-up or cancellation which led me to taking a train to Rotterdam first, and then catching the train I would have caught in Amsterdam to go down to Antwerp. Unfortunately, it's vacation season and tickets were cheap, so the train was full and I stood most of the way. But worse things have happened.


Antwerpen Centraal is one of the prettiest stations I have ever seen. I took pictures of it, but they all came out kind of ugly on my camera, perhaps because it was already sort of grey and rainy. Anyway, this is just a part of it:

So my trip to Belgium became somewhat of an eating fest, because Belgium is apparently known for very good cuisine and I love food (that's how this blog started, really). When you think of Belgian food, what is the first thing you think of?

French fries!

That's actually probably not what you thought of. You probably thought of either chocolate or waffles. I had all of it, so don't worry.

The waffle experience was quite neat, because I learned that there are two kinds of waffles. One is called a Liege waffle, and the other is a Brussels waffle. The Liege waffle is (in my opinion) a little more chewy/thick/doughey, which I personally like. It also has some sugar or syrup "built in", so you can eat it plain and it's sweet enough. I got too excited so I bit into it right away, but this is what it looks like:

The other type of waffle, the Brussels waffle, is more precisely shaped (the Liege waffle is not perfectly rectangular, even though it still has the squares) and is a little crispier on the outside, but very soft and moist on the inside. But there's a little less substance, and it has no sugar built in so they sprinkle it with powdered sugar (no complaints!):

Personally I would take the Liege waffle over the Brussels one, but both are very good and I would say they are a "must" if you visit Belgium.

Most people don't realize it, but French fries are not really French at all, they are Belgian. And let me tell you, Belgians know how to make fries. They make them in a precise way, where the fry isn't too skinny (soaks up too much oil) but isn't too fat either. They fry them twice, to make them properly crispy, but they don't feel overly greasy (even though they probably are). And they put the most amazing sauces. We tried their "Samurai" sauce, which was kind of like spicy mayo (but different...) and "Curry Ketchup" which is a flavour that I really like. It's kinda sweet... and I really can't describe it but it's amazing and anyone who is coming to Europe should try it. Or I really like it, anyway. Traditionally fries are served with mayo (and loads of it) but I much prefer their cool sauces:

So for dinner, we went to some fancy French restaurant that my friend had heard was good. And another tidbit you might not have known: Belgium is also really well known for their mussels!

Unfortunately, I don't like mussels.

But when in Belgium, do as the Belgians do... (even though most of the restaurant was probably tourists... haha). So the mussels were ordered, and I got to try some. Actually, as far as mussels go, these were the best mussels I've ever had in my life. Given that I've only had mussels once or twice before, that doesn't say that much, but I'm sure all the mussel-lovers out there would have liked it.

The other dish, which I ate most of, was some kind of Spanish pork (as recommended by the waitress). It was super duper good. I have no idea what else is on the plate (some kind of potatoes? vegetables? bacon?) but it was all amazing. Ah, this is making me hungry even though I ate not too long ago.

Just in case you were wondering, we didn't eat all day. Just most of it.

We also went shopping and I averaged less than 10 euros per item. Pretty happy! I had been holding off on shopping back in North America because I was waiting to come here, and it was nice to find some good deals (like a 3 euro skirt, and 5 euro shoes -- I bargained for them, my mommy should be proud. Hahaha.)

The next day, we went to Brussels! I was a little less camera happy, so you don't get as many pictures, sorry. We went up the Atomium, which was pretty neat. The Atomium is a building from the 1958 World Expo, which has become a major tourist attraction and also a convention centre.

As we went through it, we stumbled upon this one locked room that looked like so:

Can you tell? Those are little beds in those capsules. School groups (between ages 6-12, I think) can book a sleepover at the Atomium.

If only I were a few years younger. And a student. In Belgium. At a school that was going to the Atomium.

We also went to visit the EU buildings (many of which are in Brussels, although there are also many scattered amongst different cities in various countries) and the parlementarium, but I didn't take any nice pictures. I also fell asleep at the Parlementarium. Whoops. At least it was free. The building was kinda neat but they did this thing where they would overlap words in different languages, and it annoyed me because I couldn't read it properly and I felt like my vision was ultra-impaired.

And finally, we went to Brussels central and walked around the city centrum area. There was some kind of match being played in one of the squares where the city hall and a museum are. Pretty surreal seeing a bunch of orange-shirted guys playing against a bunch of yellow-shirted guys, with crowds of people cheering and respective bands blasting... surrounded by Gothic architecture.

Such is life in Europe.

Also, since you probably thinking of chocolate when you think of Belgium, I'll have you know that I definitely had chocolate. In fact, we went to several chocolate stores and asked for their best-selling chocolate and/or their personal recommendation in each, and had a different one each time. I didn't take pictures of all of them, nor do I remember all of their names, but it ranged from mint hazelnut (those were just samples, actually) to raspberry champagne, to white chocolate and coffee, to dark chocolate and vanilla, to speculaas (another Belgian thing which is delicious... similar to peanut butter but with digestive crackers instead of peanuts. I don't know how to explain it, but it's absolutely amazing.) and yeah, by the end, I felt like I was going to die. It was definitely a "death by chocolate" sort of mini-tour that my friend gave me.

I used to think that all chocolate is good, but now I'm starting to develop a taste for what is "good" chocolate and what is not. By the end of it, there were a couple that we tried that were definitely not as good.

Lavender macaron, recommended by someone exiting the store, and a raspberry champagne white chocolate.

Anyway, that pretty much sums up the majority of the food adventures in Belgium. There were a few things that I missed, like this amazing tart that we tried from a bakery, but I forgot to take a picture of it. All I can say was that it was amazing, and that Belgians certainly know how to prepare food.


To conclude my adventures, I left my friend and went to Zwolle to go to the IND. This is chapter 2.. or 3... of my get-a-visa adventure in Holland. The appointment was relatively fine, except for the part where they told me that they would review my application, send me a letter saying if it is approved or not, and then (assuming it is approved), send me ANOTHER letter telling me when my ID card is ready for pick-up... in Zwolle. Which is 1.5 hours away, by train, and since the IND is a government-operated thing, it'll only be open during office hours.

I'm not really complaining though; I think it is not considered as a "holiday" and the town of Zwolle is nice, so I can walk around it again.

Also, when I walked back from the Centrum to the station, I cut through a park and this is what I saw:

Yeah, they have parks with random goats just chilling and being cute. Not a farm or zoo or anything (as far as I know)... just a little pasture. It was super sunny, so the picture looks terrible; sorry.


You can probably tell that I sorta rushed through this since there was so much to cover. Sorry about that. (And yet it was still long! Haha).

Anyway, hopefully it  was enough to make you hungry, and you're now craving some fries or chocolate or waffles or sushi... or goat.


Mommy said...

you are right, mommy's happy you bargained on your shopping items!

JP said...

That, my dear sis, was quite the read =P but it was also awesome xD and i FINALLY remembered to do a check on your blog to read up on the things i've heard about from the parentals (which happened to coincide perfectly with where I left off the last time!)

on faith, food and flying
The thoughts and experiences of a college kid on faith, love and life in pursuit of Christ, the loveliest One, while enjoying misadventures and quests for food, which so happen to take her around the world.
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