Monday, October 26, 2015

Comme Ci Comme Ça

After the chic elegance of Paris, it wouldn't have surprised me that any other city would have looked just a trifle shabby.

Quite unhappily for Brussels which turned out to be our very next stop for the tour. After the grand boulevards of Haussman's Paris that was displayed to great advantage by the bright sunny week that we had, the dreary, graffiti-riddled environs of Brussels certainly made the disparity even more stark. Added to the gloomy clouds ponderously hanging above the Belgian city, Brussels could be compared to the bedraggled housemaid shuffling lackadaisically onto the stage - such a vast difference in relation to the dazzlingly stylish ma belle called Paris.

Even the haggard cityfolk trudging around in Brussels seemed to be missing the unmistakably French chic that characterized the Parisiennes.

Had Brussels changed that much from what I remembered from my last Grand Tour?

Well, that's what we all thought at first.

Never fully trust first impressions though. Sure the threatening rainclouds remained, as did the dilapidated storefronts - but we managed to see past all that ramshackle urban decay for what it had to offer.

Which is glorious food. Remember my earlier disdain for fine, dainty French dining? Flaunt all the Michelin stars you want but all I really need is something hearty, home-cooked soul food - which is why I felt right at home eating in Brussels. Large portions of steaming hot mussels. Trays of fresh oysters and fried calamari. Heaving plates of sizeable sausages and mashed potatoes.

And the awesome Trappist beer.

That's all in one meal.

Who could forget the chocolates!

If that wasn't enough to whet your appetite, well I haven't even mentioned the chocolates yet. There are some who claim that Brussels came up with chocolates to counter their horribly inclement weather - and if that's the reason, then it can rain gloom all day long since Belgian chocolates, from Neuhaus to Wittamer are all simply to-die-for.

In fact I gobbled up so much chocolates in a day I almost expired from a sugar-coma. Surprisingly I learned painfully that it isn't all that hard to get an overdose of rich, delicious chocolate!

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