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5 chocolate shops in Brussels

By Laia Zieger from Gastronomistas

If you've visited to Brussels, you're sure to have noticed that chocolate is a serious matter here. It is one of the city's emblems that has also earned it world fame in the dessert sector. But, with so many choices, where should you go to try the best chocolate in Brussels? Around the Place du Grand Sablon and its surrounding areas is where there is the greatest concentration of really high-standard chocolate shops. They are all rivals in the exclusivity and quality of their raw materials, in speciality and creativity. One of the most visible signs of chocolate power in Brussels is that the establishments that make this confectionery close late at night and open every day of the year. There's no rest for the sweet-toothed.

• Patrick Roger (Place du Grand Sablon, 43). Ultra-luxurious, this shop is a real gallery of art dedicated to chocolate. The chocolate artist and flavour sculptor - as Roger introduces himself - expresses all of his mastery in impressive and enormous cocoa figures that are displayed at the premises and are only for aesthetic purposes. But let's not forget what's important: they are distinguished by delicious and very fine chocolates, that seem simple but hide extraordinary complexity: they combine up to 14 different products to obtain a unique flavour.
A special mention for the little plain chocolate squares with lime and basil ganache. Speechless.

•Wittamer(Place du Grand Sablon, 6, 12, 13). Four generations of the same family have devoted themselves to making delicious traditional chocolates and cakes, but also to innovating and adapting to new trends. They make their almost 100 different chocolates (some with seasonal ingredients or inspired by current events) with cocoa ‘grands crus’. El Pavé de Bruxelles (plain chocolate filled with Brazilian-style praline and caramel), registered as the firm's own recipe, is their most famous chocolate. But the most daring idea, without a doubt, is their bar covered in fried grasshoppers sprinkled with gold...

•Maison Pierre Marcolini. (Rue des Minimes, 1). Rather than a chocolate shop, it is a cocoa jeweller's shop. The hundreds of different chocolates they make are on display behind glass. To make his products, the Master Marcolini brings the most delicious raw materials from the five continents.
There are also limited editions for celebrating special events and current affairs.

•Neuhaus.(Rue Lebeau 79). The history of this brand is very curious. Jean Neuhaus settles in Brussels in 1857 and, with his brother, opens a chemist on the prestigious Galerie de la Reine. To disguise the taste of the medicines, he decides to cover them with a layer of chocolate. It's not known for sure how, but one day he substitutes the drugs with fresh cream and so creates the first filled chocolate, which he calls praline, and which is one century old this year. It is an immediate success and this recipe spreads as a chocolate classic in cake shops all over the world.

A little further from the Place du Grand Sablon, we find Zaabär (Chaussée de Charleroi, 125), which defines itself as a chocolate and spice shop. In fact, its name is inspired by the Arabic word bazaar - a market where you can find numerous condiments. The speciality of this firm are chocolate bars flavoured with spices (the plain chocolate ones with cinnamon, Guérande salt or Szechuan pepper are incredible). The point that differentiates Zaabär is that it organises chocolate-making workshops (there are ones for learning to make truffles, cakes…). Ideal for groups and families visiting Brussels, or simply foodies searching for new experiences.

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