Culinaria - Heaven for foodies in Brussels

Culinaria – Heaven for foodies in Brussels

What do you get when you take two Canadians, an American and a Frenchman, add a couple dozen of Belgium’s best chefs, and mix it all with generous amounts of food and wine? Culinaria2 – or a really great way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Brussels.

When Andrew first read about Culinaria2 and passed the website along to me, it sounded a bit too good to be true. For 39 euro (a discount received through Andrew’s Thalys card) we would get access to the event and a four course meal, including drink pairings. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we decided to drag some friends along to check it out.

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Grapes for Wine

Andrew and I love wine – Red, white, pink, bubbles or none. Like many North American expats in Europe, a whole new tasty world was revealed, when we discovered how affordable good wines are in Belgium.

While it’s easy to pick up a decent tipple at the local grocery store, sometimes it’s nice to pop the cork on a bottle of something extra special. There are a few wine shops in Brussels where we’ve received great service and bought some very, very nice wines. I thought I’d share my favourites with you.

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Palace Royal, Brussels, Belgium

The current Palace Royal, Brussels, and entrance to the Coudenberg

Beneath one of its busiest squares, Brussels has a secret. As tourists dodge traffic and trams on Place Royal, darting between the Magritte Museum and the Bozar, most of them are unaware that right beneath their feet is a hidden palace – Coudenberg, the former palace of Brussels.

Once upon a time, in the middle ages, a grand palace overlooked the city of Brussels, from Coudenberg hill. These days, a new palace (and a handful of museums) sits in its place. However, the remains of Coudenberg Palace and Rue Isabelle, an ancient thoroughfare , still exist – underground.

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Dod Fashion

I’ve never been one of those girls who lives to shop, but I must confess, the sight of an amazing bargain makes my eyes light up like the Las Vegas Strip. So when I discovered a bargain-hunter’s mecca, not 4 blocks from my house, I got a little bit giddy. If you like brand name fashion and don’t like spending a lot of money, you’re going to love Dod.

You’d be forgiven for passing right by the original Dod store on chaussée de Louvain. It looks a bit run-down and cluttered like the other shops near-by, selling low-quality goods. But if you watch the doors for a moment, you’ll see a steady stream of smiling women emerging, loaded down by bulging carrier bags filled with their bargain finds.

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A beautiful pink box of Wittamer Chocolates

Every good chocoholic knows Belgian chocolate is the best in the world. But while tourists flock to the shops selling chocolate Manneken Pis statues around Grand Place, locals and in-the-know travelers head to Brussels’ chocolate Mecca – Grand Sablon.

Grand Sablon (Grote Zavel in Dutch) is a small square (a triangle actually) with the beautiful Notre Dame de Sablon church at its head. Lining the streets are cafes, bars, restaurants and shops – most notably the best selection of chocolate shops in Brussels.

Here’s my rundown of the chocolate shops of Sablon.

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Empire des Lumieres (Empire of Lights) The first Magritte I saw in person in Brussels.

Almost a year since its grand opening, I finally managed to visit the Musée Magritte Museum in Brussels, this past weekend.

For those of you unfamiliar with René Magritte, he was a surrealist painter and probably the world’s most famous Belgian artist. His paintings depict everyday objects such as apples, men in bowler hats, umbrellas, stones and pipes in odd arrangements and juxtapositions.

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One of the things that really surprised me when I started to explore Brussels was how many beautiful green spaces exist in the city. In typical Belgian fashion, English information about many of these parks is scarce, so I thought I would start a series of my favourite green spaces here on CheeseWeb.

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Despite Brussels’ reputation for having excellent seafood, one thing I miss most from my Canadian home is lobster. Say what you will about Maine, Irish or Caribbean lobster, but for me, the best of the best has to be Atlantic Canadian Lobster.

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