Yes, you read that right. When in Belgium, you eat chocolate. And waffles. And fries. But our main priority was chocolate, which is why we did the Sandeman's Chocolate Tasting Tour with our superb Irish tour guide, James.
Now I'm not much of a guided tour traveler, but when the tour includes 4 pieces of handcrafted chocolate and a Belgian waffle, I'll make an exception. We began our tour with a classic dark chocolate ganache from Galler. It was good, but things just kept getting better.
Our next stop was Corné Port-Royal, where I enjoyed an insanely sweet turtle truffle. One of the obnoxious, self-proclaimed chocolate connoisseurs on the tour actually complained about how sweet it was, proclaiming that she couldn't even finish the minuscule truffle, to which I almost responded by grabbing it out of her hand (see lady in red shirt with short grey hair below).
We then headed to the Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert, where our next stop was Neuhaus, the inventor if the Belgian praline. Of course I had to try this famous praline, which was deliciously smooth and filled with Madagascar vanilla cream.
Mary, our next location, was perhaps my favourite chocolatier because of the background story behind the business. According to James, in 1919 women were not allowed to become chocolatiers (look how far we've come in 100 years ladies), so Mary disguised her shop as a tea room.
One day, when the royal family stopped in for tea, she offered them some of her chocolates. They were so impressed that they eventually named her the Belgian Royal Warrant Holder, whatever that means. I was also very impressed with the champagne truffle that I tried.
En route to our final chocolatier, we were treated to a Belgian waffle, specifically a Liege waffle. I learned that Brussels waffles are crispier on the outside and fluffier on the inside, while Liege waffles are much sweeter and denser. Who knew.
Last, but certainly not least, we made our way to Atelier in the Sainte Catherine neighbourhood. Located a little farther out of the center, this shop is large enough that they can make all of their chocolates in house, and it shows. My favorite chocolate of the day, I enjoyed a dark chocolate ganache with chilli, offering just enough kick to let you know it's there. This chocolatier can track all of their cacao back to the very tree that it came from, which is pretty amazing when you consider the massification of the modern chocolate industry.
If you find yourself in Brussels, you know what to do! Chocolate coma!