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.
Makes you want to go, right? Do it! Check out our prices here!more info
Moscow' Eleven panenka
Panenka, the football magazine you can read, leads us through its passion for the soccer to other countries, this time to the Russia's capital, Moscow. They show us their ideal eleven for places related to sport king as for the most touristis ones.
1 PFC CSKA Moscow: The new stadium for PFC CSKA was due to open in 2010. It still hasn’t, nor does it have an official name.
2 CSKA Ice Palace: Home base of the CSKA Ice Hockey team and a sports venue with lots on offer.
3 Megasport Arena Pavilion: With capacity for 14,500 spectators, this is where CSKA basketball games are thrashed out.
4 Dynamo Park: A statue of Lev Yashin, the only Russian goalkeeper to win a Ballon d' Or, is next to the future Dynamo Stadium.
5 Krylatskoe: This is where Dynamo's five a side team plays their matches. The team is trained by the Spaniard Tino Pérez.
6 Monument to the 'stadium deaths': Homage to victims of the tragedy that occurred in the Luzniki Stadium during a UEFA Spartak-Haarlem game.
7 Luzhniki Stadium: Home of Spartak and Torpedo. This was the main stage for the 1980 Olympic Games and has hosted a UEFA final and Champions League matches.
8 The House of the Unions: This is where Kaspárov and Kárpov played out he mythical World Chess Championships in the 1980s.
9 Olimpiysky: This venue hosted basketball and boxing events during the 1980 Olympic Games, as well as numerous finals of the Davis Cup.
10 Otkrytie Arena: This is the stadium of Spartek and one of the venues where the World Cup will be played in 2018.
11 Eduard Streltsov Stadium: Torpedo's home ground. It bares the name of one of the team's greatest players, also known as the 'Russian Pelé.
A Cosmonauts Memorial Museum: The ‘Monument to the Conquerors of Space’ – dedicated to launch of the Sputnik – sits outside.
B Museum of Vodka: Moscow is a very cold city, and at any given moment you are going to want to warm up. With a lack of beer, vodka will do.
C Bolshoi Theatre/National Theatre of Russia: One of the largest and most significant opera and ballet theatres in the world.
D Kazan Cathedral: An orthodox church reconstructed in 1993 after being destroyed in 1936 and substituted with public baths.
E State History Museum: The museum has 39 galleries spread over two floors, together telling the history of Russia.
F Red Square: The true heart of Moscow. From here, all the city's main streets depart.
G Saint Basil's Cathedral: Ivan 'the Terrible' ordered the construction of this cathedral in the 16th century. It is UNESCO classified.
H The Kremlin: Seat of the Russian government. It has been recently walled and includes four cathedrals, four palaces and a military museum.
I Cathedral of Christ the Savoir: Built in the 19th century, this is the highest Orthodox Church in the world.
J Novodevichy Convent: This architecturally significant monument has been a World Heritage site since 2004.
K Kiyevskaya Metro Station: This station forms part of the circular line and is one of the most famous in the world for its spectacular architecture.
We’ll be there. If you want to come too, check out our flights here.more info
The 3 Best Crêperies» in Rennes
We travelled to Rennes but, before embarking on this delectable tour, just a word of clarification – a crêperie does not only serve crêpes, but two, distinct variations. First, there are the galettes, in which the dough is made of water, butter, eggs and buckwheat. They are usually filled with savoury ingredients and accompanied with a glass of cider or a buttermilk known as lait ribot. Then of course, there are the crêpes proper, which are sweet. You have been warned!
Traditional and… Organic Galettes – Crêperie Paysanne
Make sure you stop over at this restaurant in the place Sainte-Anne pedestrian precinct, in the heart of the city. Their crêpes and galettes are really exceptional and the helpings plentiful, spilling out of the dish. The peculiarity of Crêperie Paysanne is that all the dishes are made with organic, regional ingredients. We can recommend traditional Brittany galette, with ham, cheese and an egg garnish. With such tasty, fresh ingredients, this basic galette gives off all its potential in flavour and aroma, particularly if washed down with cider or apple juice, which here are especially potent on account of their organic, homemade character. As if that were not enough, the galettes can be accompanied with a glass of lait ribot, which is currently made only in Brittany. The taste? Something like natural buttermilk, but with a sour, yoghurt aftertaste. Average price: galette + drink - €13 per head.
33 Savoury Specialities, & 33 Sweet Ones – Crêperie Saint-Georges
This is the crêperie which locals recommend and that is always a reliable sign. Here they offer more than 33 galettes and the same number of crêpes. The menu’s originality lies in the fact that each dish pays homage to some illustrious “George”. Special mentions go to George Clooney, featuring fresh goatsmilk cheese, spinach, tomato, cucumber sorbet and basil, and Giogio Armani, with a filling of pan-cooked foie gras, sautéed potatoes, duck magret, fleur de sel and balsamic reduction. Among the most original crêpe dishes are assorted sweets, and Milka or Smarties chocolate, but only for the really sweet-toothed. Modern, elegant interior design which exudes serenity. Average price: galette + drink - €12 per head.
Peace & Food – La Rozell
In downtown Rennes, La Rozell is another prominent venue. While their menu is as worthy of any other crêperie, what singles this one out is its priceless interior patio, where you can dine amid lush vegetation – a genuinely peaceful backwater, secluded from noise and the city bustle. Of the galettes, we especially liked l’armorique (sautéed scallop, bacon, cream and mushrooms). For dessert, try the fouesnantaise,made of apple flambéed with Lambig (a local, cider-based spirit), or the tatin caramel, a delicacy filled with salted butter – one of the region’s treasures – sautéed apple, homemade caramel and vanilla ice-cream. A taste of heaven! Average price: galette + drink - €12 per head.
You’re getting hungry, right? Come to Rennes and try their crêpes and galettes. Check out our flights here.
Text and images by Laia Zieger (Gastronomistas)more info
Mulhouse la gran desconocida de Alsacia
In this part of France two cities hog most of the visitors – Strasbourg, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in France, and Colmar, capital of the wine-producing region. However, the little known jewel in the newly created region of the Great East is Mulhouse, once an independent republic, located where three counties meet – France, Germany and Switzerland. Possibly on account of that privileged position, Mulhouse is now one of France’s most active cities in terms of creativity and culture, also partly driven by its importance in the 19th century as a textile centre, which has endowed the city with an interesting industrial heritage.
Mulhouse is the City of Art and History, the first city in the Alsace to be awarded this distinction. One of its major reference points is the Place de la Réunion, the heart of its historic centre, where the easily recognisable standout feature is the pink-coloured old Town Hall. Another landmark in the square is the Protestant Church of Saint-Étienne, with a campanile affording stunning views of the city. Permission is required to go up it.
Mulhouse was one of the first major centres of the textile industry in France. This is attested in the Museum of Printed Textiles, which each year hosts a thematic exhibition linked to some well-known designer. Likewise, the Wesserling Park - Textile Ecomuseum which offers dramatized tours and fashion shows. Other major draws include the examples of industrial architecture (reconditioned former brickwork factories), and the street art and contemporary art to be had in the city centre.
Another venue worth visiting is the Cité de l’Automobile (featuring the Schlumpf Collection), situated just five minutes from downtown Mulhouse. Considered one of the leading automobile museums in the world, it showcases over 400 vehicles, prominent among which is a large collection of Bugattis. The Automobile City, divided into five distinct areas, is a truly interactive museum. Interesting audiovisuals about the automobile industry are screened, while a number of simulators enable visitors to experience what it feels like to drive a racing car.
On the outskirts of Mulhouse, the town of Ungersheim is home to the Alsace Ecomuseum, the largest of its kind in France. Here you can learn about the traditional divisions of the Alsace, what their schools used to be like and what the leading trades were. The most important craftsmen were blacksmiths, cartwrights and potters. It is also amazing to see how they used to cook in earlier times, and how they distilled local spirits. Additionally, you can taste some authentic, traditional dishes like celery gelatine, potatoes with nettles and basil sorbet.
Lastly, if you want to try Alsatian cuisine, we recommend you head for a winstub, the equivalent of a pub in the Alsace – the Restaurant Le Cellier is an ideal example. There you can taste such local specialities as fleischschnakas, an exquisite dish of noodle dough stuffed with meat, flammkuchen or tarte flambée, thinly rolled out bread dough with a topping of raw onion, bacon and single cream, and sauerkraut, accompanied by delicious Alsace wines. And, the best place to go for a drink at night is Le Gambrinus where the atmosphere is welcoming and the craft beer is excellent (bière du Bollwerk).
Mulhouse lends itself to a weekend tour. The EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, shared by France, Germany and Switzerland, is just 30 minutes away from the city centre. More information on the flights here.
Text by Tusdestinos.netmore info