It was nearly 8 weeks ago I was galavanting my way around Prague and Belgium with my friend Allison. It's fortunate that Allison and I shares a desire to eat and drink well. I plan to write about the trip in more detail, I think a food centric post takes precedence. I mean, obviously.
First stop- Prague. We welcomed our first evening with cool, crisp Czech beers in beer garden just outside of our host Josh's house and then had went to eat thai. The spicy curry with duck was just the warm, comforting meal I needed. We were in the same part of town as the oldest, continuously open brewery u Fleků. Waiters walk around with trays of beer and little glasses of sweet local liquors. The outside garden area was quieter than the bustling inside seating, and allowed us to take advantage of the nice evening.
Our second day consisted of LOTS of walking. From Josh's house to the far reaches of old town. We stopped for lunch on a boat turned restaurant on the Vltava river. I ordered pizza, it delicious. Better than non-boat pizza. That night we ate a new restaurant, that was a sister-restaurant to one of Josh's favorites. I had rabbit with potatoes and amazing sauce. We went out and meet up with other Americans, first to AnonymouS; a "V for Vendetta" themed bar with a hidden menu visible by black light. Then to a "true" Czech bar, Chapeau Rouge complete with three floors each with their own dj and some great people watching.
Allison and I ended our time in Prague walking through the old town square on our last evening and munching on Staroceske Trdlo, or a sweet dough rolled onto a wooden stick and grilled over coals.
Second, third and fourth stops were in Belgium. First up- Brussels. After checking into our hotel we had to get frites and waffles. Priorities. The second city in Belgium was Bruges. This little city was my favorite. Effortless to get around and easy to find nosh. Knowing we wanted to go to the Half Moon Brewery, we headed that way and ate lunch at a cafe just across the street. Alison got flemish stew and I had a salad and cheese croquettes. We then sampled a few local chocolates.
Funny thing about Belgium waffles, there are two different kinds- the Brussels and the Liege. Little did I know, I thought a waffle was a waffle. We first sampled the Liege, a chewy, doughy waffle. And then secondly had a Brussels waffle, an airy, almost crunchy waffle. My vote is firmly in the Liege camp. Hot, chewy and my preference- plain. Liege waffles have chunks of sugar in the dough so when waffles are cooked it caramelizes in the waffle iron.
Chocolates. Man, this country is swimming in the wealth of chocolates. Bruges had a several small shops, that looked, regular. In comparison to Brussels' fancy, artisanal shops that were undoubtedly more expensive. We took Rick Steves advice and went to visit Dumon. On our last day we were fortunate to be served by Madame Dumon herself- a real treat!
Our fourth stop was Ghent, where we found a bakery, Bakkerij Himschoot with over stuffed apple strudel and croissants; just to name a few of the goodies. A rainy sunday, when everything seemed closed we ate dinner at an American/burger themed restaurant, called Uncle Babes. There we ate fat, juicy hamburgers, washed down with Belgium beer. I found it a little hilarious that Uncle Babes had This American Life playing in the bathroom.
Our last Belgian dinner was in Brussels before checking into our airport hotel was at a little cafe just off the old city square. This was our last chance for flemish stew, croque monsieur and beers. We strolled around the Grand Place and center city, bought one last waffle before calling it night.
I know I mentioned the beer here and there, but I thought it deserved a mention all to itself. No one travels to Belgium without being wowed by the beer- the uniqueness, the variety, THE GLASSES! Each beer has a corresponding glass from the brewery. If the establishment doesn't have the specific glass, they will ask you if you'd like to order a different beer or if it alright to have the beer in a different glass. This never happened to us, so I'm thinking thats a rare occurrence.
We stopped at two breweries, one in Bruges and the other in Ghent. At the Half Moon Brewery in Bruges we went on a brewery tour. Gruut Brewery in Ghent was closed for a private event, but we sat outside on the patio/street/parking lot.
Final thoughts- food was amazing, buttttttt a little expected. WHICH IS FINE. I'm not complaining about really, really good fries, waffles, chocolates or bread/cheese/meat combos. And I most certainly will not complain about the beer. The company and adventure was excellent, the food and beer was a bonus.