Oh my god, did I need this weekend away! It's been fabulous - the perfect antidote to the real life to which I must now return.
On Friday night we had seriously delicious food at the incomparable Le Brassin, which was just round the corner from my friend's flat - it looks like a tiny, homely neighbourhood brasserie from the outside, but is a hidden gem of amazing Belgian cuisine, with slightly surly waitstaff and aromas to die for as you walk in. I sampled the Carbonade with Stoemp - basically a bowl full of beef and beer stew where the meat flakes apart under your fork and the gravy is rich and iridescent under the lights, and a dish of mashed potato plus extras, redolent of Colcannon and a great foil for the richness of the stew. All washed down with a nice rioja. Dessert was shared (not too much room left by then) and was Moelleux de Chocolat, or simply "The Softness" as my friend have nicknamed it, which is something akin to a chocolate lava cake - a shell of the softest chocolate sponge with a melting fondue in the middle - served with a chilled Creme de Vanille on the side. Yum-my!!!!
Lots of chit-chat and laughing over dinner and catching up with my host's friends Suzie and James, who I met on my last visit and are adorable. If you're ever looking for this place, it's tucked on a backstreet about 2 doors down from the house where Audrey Hepburn was born in the Port de Namur region of Brussels. I definitely recommend it!
On Saturday we caught the train down to Spa, in the Ardennes, to visit its namesake, which is tucked in the woods on the hill overlooking the town. Now reached by a modern funicular railway, the spa is a haven of modern relaxation and we whiled away the hours floating in the outdoor pool, and rotating round the sauna, steam rooms and sun-beds under infra-red lights. Pure, unadulterated bliss.
In the evening we hit a birthday party at Potemkin, a too-cool-for-school bar in the Porte des Halles area - a fun night with lovely people, chatting to those I've already met and making the acquaintance of lots of new and interesting folks.
Since we didn't get in til about half 2 this morning, we've had a leisurely day of Sunday breakfast (croissants all the way!) and then a wander around town, including a visit to Wittamer. Forget Godiva, if you want chocolate and confectionary delights, my friends swears this is by far and away the pinnacle of sugary excellence. In my bestest French I ordered some praline hearts and my first ever box of macaroons to take home to to sample. I'm excited about the macaroons as I've always wanted to try the real thing!!
Speaking of eating, this weekend hasn't actually been too terrible. We've not eaten an indecent amount, and we've not drunk ridiculously. Whilst I will have used a big chunk of my flex points I don't feel like it's been a free-for-all binge by any means.
Can't wait to come back for the next installment in December - I've been promised Xmas markets and Antwerp or Bruges next time!!
Time to head home for a (very) short while.
- Posted from my iPhone