Every year when I head home to the US I’m always sure to take some good Belgian treats with me. This of course includes the obligatory box of chocolates, but there are a few other things I like to share with family and friends. Here are my picks for some of the best.
Let’s start with the most indulgent – foie gras. My preferred place in Brussels to find foie gras and its accompaniments, like onion confit, is Upignac. I know some people may have moral objections to how foie gras is made, but I can’t think of a more special and delicious treat to share during the holidays. When I lived near Flagey, it was a little too convenient to stop by their shop (47 Rue Antoine Labarre). They have two other locations in Brussels in the EU district (17 Rue du Commerce) and in Woluwe (57 Avenue L.Gribaumont).
Since I first moved to Brussels, I have taken a box of Neuhaus pralines with me every time I have gone back to the US. People always love the little booklet describing each of the flavors and have fun exploring what’s in the box. There are loads of other options like truffles and bars, in all sorts of sizes and special gift boxes. I find that the best, and easiest, place to buy Neuhaus is at the airport. The husband is partial to Marcolini (so some compromise is required), which you have to buy in town or the at Midi train station. Another good option if you don’t need anything too fancy is to buy Côte d’Or bars at the supermarket. These make good stocking stuffers and gifts for kids.
If you’re looking for more sweet delicacies, cookies (biscuits), especially speculoos, are always a safe bet. And one of the best places in Brussels to find speculoos cookies is Maison Dandoy. Set up in 1829 by Jean-Baptiste Dandoy, the original shop is still located near the Grand Place (31 Rue au Beurre) and filled to the brim with different flavor speculoos and other types of cookies. There are six other locations around the city, including Brugmann, Sablon and Uccle. Another good biscuit brand is Jules Destrooper, which you can also find at the airport.
Finally, you can’t leave Belgium without taking some beer with you to share. I’m definitely no beer expert, so I asked the husband for his recommendation and he suggested Westmalle Tripel. A trappist beer made in the Abbey of Westmalle, it has a complex, fruity aroma and is relatively strong (9.5% alcohol). It’s known as the “mother of all tripels” and was first brewed in 1934, making it a unique gift to take home. You can find it at numerous stores and supermarkets around town.
What do you like to take with from Belgium when visiting home or friends?
For more foodie gifts, check out my previous post on kitchenware shops in Brussels which includes some of my favorite places to shop for kitchen items and gourmet products.
Images via Pleasure Blog, Alternavox, New York Serious Eats and BelgianBeerCafe.