Saturday, July 9, 2011

Eating and Drinking in Bruges.

Going through my photos of Bruges, I realized that I would have to split the post up even further to go into any sort of detail. So in this post, I will focus on our gastronomic experiences in this gorgeous city and tomorrow I will share the sights of  Bruges, Antwerp and Oostende.

When people ask what my favorite part of this trip was, I automatically answer Belgium, especially Bruges. Everyone we met was incredibly friendly and helpful and the language barrier was not present whatsoever. For example, our bed and breakfast was run by a man that knew at LEAST 4 languages (Flemish, French, English and German) and he liked to push more food on us, despite the overflowing bread basket still sitting on our table next to the homemade jams and fruit bowls. Our very last night in Bruges was spent getting drunk with a local who Jeff bonded with over futbol. He bought us drinks, we bought him drinks, we exchanged emails and phone numbers and a jolly good time was had all around. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened in Paris.

Our first mission when we arrived in Bruges was to find dinner. I had made notes on vegan friendly places in most of the cities we were staying in and while Bruges wasn’t overflowing with options, there were a couple. Passion for Food was where we ended up. It was empty save for the employee’s family, which meant the man that helped us talked to us forever about what to see while we were here and his own visit to the states. It was a great experience and I encourage everyone that travels to talk to the people who live there, wherever you go! Generally they’re curious about where you’re from and willing to give you tips and recommendations. On to the goods!

My dinner was a tasty roasted veggie bowl with lentils, chickpeas, bulgur and apples. Being the most substantial thing I had eaten in days (and for days to come), it tasted amazing. Accompanying it was a beer that we would become familiar with during our stay in Belgium.
I don’t remember what Jeff had, but I doubt it was as good as mine, I tend to pick well in all walks of life. He did pick this tasty thirst quencher, though. The waiter told him, “you’re on vacation” when he pointed to the 9% alc. label. OH YES WE ARE.
 The next day, after some strenuous sight-seeing (which I will grace you with tomorrow) we set out to find a pub called Staminet de Garre, famous for their incredibly potent house beers. As in, limit 3 per visit potent. It was tucked away in an alley, but you know I found it. I don’t think my face shows just how excited I was.

As they didn’t open for another hour, we decided to take the brewery tour at Halve de Maan, an ancient brewery on the edge of the city. The tour lasted at least an hour and is so popular they do one every hour, in three different languages! At the end you’re rewarded with a glass of the Brugse Zot, the same beer I had the night before. I wasn’t complaining!


My absolute favorite part of the tour? This guy.
Sufficiently buzzed, we made our way back to Staminet de Garre. You know, for more beer. Potent beer. It was everything I had every dreamed of, and more.

We managed to hit this place one last time before we left. The second time, we sat upstairs with a family from Canada who had an old man dressed in lederhosen having a grand old time. Upon leaving, one of the family members told the Scottish server, “if you’re ever in Canada, you let me know!” After they left, the server looked at us and muttered, “who would want to go to CANADA?” To which we giggled. I mean, after years and years of having to claim Canadian citizenship to avoid answering for the Bush administration, it felt good not to be the scapegoat. I love you Canada!

On a final note, I must talk to you about Speculoos. My friends on the PPK have been fired up about it for months and I finally understand why. I’m assuming you’ve tried Biscoff cookies at least once during your life. Well, this is a spread made of those cookies. A COOKIE SPREAD. It is the most amazing food product ever made and we went through two jars during our trip. They’re starting to make it available in the States and I encourage you to search it out. If you are close to me in person, I have a jar of my very own and I MIGHT share with you.


Robert McKay said...

So, basically, what you're telling me is this stuff is windmill cookies that are made into a paste like peanut butter? Sign me UP!

Karla said...

ooo, we should have a picnic date where i bring a piece of bread on which you can spread the speculoos!