Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Posts Tagged ‘tea’

Fancy a cuppa?

Posted by rachelinbxl on July 29, 2013

Finding a good brew in Brussels when one means tea rather than beer is a challenge. Once a year, tea amateurs Eric and Adeline de Vrij set up a Tea Garage in Brussels where one can go and taste fantastic Japanese and Taiwanese tea made really well.
Eric worked previously at Tea Smith in London Spitalfields – a great place to try when you are travelling. Their collection is built up from many sources, and I tried a Japanese Puerh called Rosecha that he found in Budapest!

Other than that, it’s make it yourself… but where can you buy it?

L’Heure Bleu. Avenue des Arts 12, 1210 Brussels (Metro Madou)
Nong Cha. Dansaertstr 4, 1000 Brussels (Bourse)
Eden, rue du Page 27, 1050 Brussels
Tea and Eat, place Stephanie, 1000 Brussels (Betjeman and Barton teas)
Septieme Tasse, rue Bailli
Maison du The, Rue du Postillon, 1180 Uccle
Do you have any other good tea recommendations in Brussels? Let me know!

Tea Garage
Drinks: A (they do offer homemade biscuits, but I won’t pay that for shortbread!)
Atmosphere: B (well, its a garage, but all customers are into tea and easy to chat to!)
Service: A
Price: B+
Languages: French, English

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Best Hot Chocolate Competition part 1

Posted by rachelinbxl on October 15, 2012

Of course, one of the things we are spoiled for choice on in Belgium is all things cocoa related!

I have my favourite chocolatiers – Zaabar and Blondeel are on the list. Zaabar for their chocolate bars of different cocoa origins, and Blondeel for their hot chocolates. There are others I must try – Wittamer is one I have often heard recommended. But I stick to St Catherine for this post.

The tea house has varied the selection in the past, but recently stuck to tried and tested – Venezuela – lower cocoa content but with chili powder and lemongrass flavour, Ghana (85% coca) with vanilla, cinnamon and aniseed (not strong), Madagascar (63% simple cocoa and milk), Safraan – more expensive 63% topped with frothed milk and real safran, and the 100% cocoa with mountain honey – that I love but that shouldn’t be considered as a drinking chocolate 😉

Madagascar Ghana – velvety smooth, vanilla undertones
Ghana Venezuela – more milky, with chili powder and lemongrass
The tea room The decor – Mayan?

If you go with  few people, try each! I’m also told their coffees are excellent. Their tea suffers from the typical Belgian problem of not being served hot enough in my British opinion. The Ghana is stronger on the cocoa content, and velvety smooth. The Venezuela was very hot on the chili to start with, with the lemongrass coming through more towards the bottom of the cup. This one is harder to taste the cocoa, it’s somewhat overpowered. The safran one was the biggest disappointment to me. It’s more expensive and much milkier. Maybe my palate is not refined enough, but I couldn’t taste the safran in this. My favourite remains the 100% – but I eat it with a spoon. It is not sweet, nor milky, despite being based on milk and chocolate. The honey adds a delightful wild flavour to the cocoa, but this is not a refreshing drink. It’s a medicinal pick me up filled with endorphins and feel-good factor!

They always put 2 chocolates beside your hot chocolate, as well as a glass of water that is much appreciated. One is their most famous praline based on florentine pieces – caramelised sugar with small nuts in it. You can ask to select chocolates from the counter for a small extra cost to enjoy with your drinks  (the price varies with who is serving!). They offer great flavours – including chili, wasabi, sea salt, earl grey, jasmine and rosemary. At 10 euros per 100g, you will only take away a few chocolates in a plastic bag unless you are on a splurge.

This place is often busy for the sit-down, but worth a visit! if it’s too packed, pop round the corner to Charli to test their pain au chocolat. I’ve since tested their beer and pumpkin seed bread and it is worth the trip!

Frederic Blondeel

Quai aux Briques 241000 Bruxelles
Drinks: A
Atmosphere: B
Service: A
Price: B+
Languages: French, Dutch, English

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Charli’s Chocolate Croissant

Posted by rachelinbxl on April 21, 2012

I enjoy reading the Eurostar magazine on my train rides to and from London. They have interesting short reviews on London, Paris and Brussels ‘places to be’. New restaurants and cafes are highlighted, as well as an interview with a local person on their average saturday wander, including a few favourite shops and a cafe. That was how I came to read a review of Charli’s Boulangerie. I’ve seen this bakery a hundred times. It’s on the street down from the Asian supermarket, next to the shop dedicated to all things mushroom /fungi and opposite the Noordzee, just before Place St Catherine. I had never noticed the queue, however. Once I heard that it did ‘the best pain au chocolat’ in Brussels, I had to try. So, having made my Sunday pilgrimage to South station market, and then the less frequent shop at Kam Yuen for Thai curry ingredients, I dragged my heavy shopping bags to Charli in search of a quick sugar and butter rush. Well, with that queue, in the drizzle, it had better be the BEST pain au chocolat EVER.

I am not a pain au chocolat fan. I don’t like the shape, I think. Croissants have this beautiful, promising crescent moon shape (hence their name), and the middle tip that is folded over is often delightfully crunchy for its extra exposure to the heat of the oven. Pain aux raisins (sometimes called escargots) have a delightful snail shell shape, and are stuffed with raisins, which I adore. They come in crunchy, or soggy with the sort of custard cream they envelope in the spirals. I love both. But pain au chocolat is like a long fat sausage roll. It is unappealing. Also, whilst I adore chocolate, I am not a fan of it IN my bread products. So luckily the review had spoken highly of a pumpkin seed coated loaf of bread made with beer. This encouraged me to stay in the queue. I could at least watch through the tall windows as the staff feverishly emptied fresh products from the ovens and stocked the shelves. The 2 servers were also working very efficiently (most un-Belgian), so I felt sure that the queue down the street wouldn’t take long. Indeed I was served in less than 10 minutes. Not even the time I had had to wait for a tram to get into town. Not bad.

There was no pumpkin beer bread. I opted instead for a loaf with figs and walnuts (3 eur). I resisted (with difficulty) the fresh almond croissants being unloaded into the display and took a pain au chocolat (1.3 eur). I started eating the ‘slug’ on the way to the tram stop. Charli opts for the double chocolate tram tracks in their pain au chocolat. A good start, because if you’re going to put chocolate in pastry, it should be very present. The top was a crunchy shell, but the interior was very bread like (white fluffy bread – not the sourdough type that I had just bought too, but not fine layers of patisserie). I was rather unimpressed, but felt it would really benefit from being warm, so managed to hold myself in until I could get home and wack it in a hot oven for 3 mins.

Pain aux figues et noix... et un pain au chocolat

This is the loaf and the half eaten pain au chocolat before they went in the oven. Since I was warming things, I also put in a slice of the bread and enjoyed that with butter and marmalade. The bread is excellent – the fig and nut add a little something without being too overpowering. The texture is fantastic. The pain au chocolat was improved by the warmth. The chocolate that had escaped on the underside was runny and hot, but inside the roll was still solid. The top was definitely crunchy, but the inside still a little bread-like. Almost brioche. I have to say I might have been better with a croissant.

Charli’s has a sit down area, but it was packed on a Sunday at 11:30. Maybe a place to try mid-week! Next time I’m in the area I’ll see if I can test that beer and pumpkin loaf… and maybe give in to an almond croissant.

Charli Bakery

34 rue Saint Catherine
Brussels

Food: A
Atmosphere: C
Service: A
Price: B
Languages: French, English, probably Dutch

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Japanese supermarket near Flagey

Posted by rachelinbxl on February 26, 2012

** Update April 2012 ** Due to overwhelming requests the supermarket has changed its name back to Tagawa and put the old sign back up outside.. so don’t look for Nagomi anymore! I went back today to test Black Sesame as well as Green Tea ice creams (both chilling in the freezer). I explored upstairs -which is far roomier than downstairs and found yuzu marmelade! Also tried the yuzu and green tea financier selection – EXCELLENT!

In a post from 2009, Pieguybxl gave you an overview of the Kam Yuen supermarket near the Bourse, which for a long time has been my go-to location for all things for my Thai curry, Japanese sushi attempts and also indian curries. I love browsing the selection of utensils nd china at the back, the unknown products in the freezers, the tea, the spices, the fresh vegetables. I love the fact that it is open on Sundays!

But, for the Japanese side of things, I have finally found a competitor! On google maps it shows up as Tagawa, but when you are on Chaussee de Vleurgat, you find Nagomi. It looks like the entrance to a garage, or interior hall, but just keep going towards the back and you will find this tiny, often busy, supermarket. Nearer the street entrance there is also a small tea/china shop with beautiful Japanese imports also.

But Nagomi is a Japanese store, with an in-house sushi slicer! You can order your fish by phone, saying whether you want it for nigiri or maki, and he will prepare the fish. They also have pre-made sushi on site, as well as seaweed salads, sake, and the amazing Belgo-Japanese collaboration OWA beer. Try it! It’s a very good beer! They stock ingredients for far more than just sushi though. I was just passing through, to see what they had so didn’t have time to explore all the freezers and the recipe section upstairs. I will be back for a tub of the black sesame ice cream however!!! Our visiting Japanese researcher swears by this shop, and I think I may become a fan too!

Chaussée de Vleurgat 119
1000 Bruxelles

02 648 59 11

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Weighing anchor

Posted by rachelinbxl on November 15, 2011

Anyone following this blog will have gathered that I am a beer fan. So, when I discovered that you can eat (and drink) in the Anker brewery in Mechelen (where they make the very decent Gouden Carolus series of beers as well as specials like the Maneblusser – named after the nickname for the inhabitants of Mechelen), well, I was determined to test it. We booked for an evening meal on a saturday. By email worked well – I had a confirmation within half an hour. However, it was not overly busy and it may have been possible for 2 people to go without a booking (I wouldn’t recommend that for larger groups, however, as the room is not that big). There is a gift shop, where they stock all the beers (cheap!) as well as merchandise such as T-shirts, beer mats, chocolate with beer in (not tested.. !), and there is a hotel. The restaurant is on the ring of Mechelen, quite a walk from the station, but we visited the town first, so this wasn’t an issue. The Begijnhof isn’t as pretty as some Flemish begijnhof’s, but worth a wander, obviously.
The restaurant is on two floors and overlooks the brewery – so out the window you can see lots of bottles. I was disappointed that they didn’t have the full selection on tap (you may have more choice of beer on tap at the Ankertje in central Mechelen!).

Mechelse koekoek met witloof en kroketten
We ordered the Mechelse koekoek (a small bird stewed in the Maneblusser beer) and the beef carbonnade (stoofvlees), a flemish specialty, this time with the Gouden Carolus Classic – a dark brown beer. We tested the Maneblusser (a nice fresh pils-like beer, but with more taste), the Classic (dark, malty) and the Christmas (a more spicy, clove and nut version of the classic). The food was good, but not outstanding. The beef stew wasn’t as good as some I’ve eaten, and the fries were certainly a disappointment. The Mechelse koekoek was better. The sauce had the fresh tang of the Maneblusser beer, and the croquet potatoes were herb flavoured and really delicious. I don’t eat endive, but my friend said they were good.
Stoofvlees, sla, frietjes
None of the desserts inspired us (the Sabayon flavoured with beer sounded intriguing, but had to be ordered for 2 people, and was 9 euros a serving!). This was almost as much as our main dish! In the end we opted for a cheese selection, which was in the menu of ‘snacks with beer’, but is a selection of Belgian cheeses by the hotel’s fromager… so we thought it would be nice. The Achelse blue mouldy cheese was a good blue. The mechelse was strong and had a bitter aftertaste that I found rather overpowering. There was also a local ‘brie’ and ‘camembert’ that were creamy and pleasant, but nothing special and then a harder cheese that I have forgotten the name of. This was served with excellent bread – a choice of dark brown bread that clearly contained rye flour, or a paler multi-grain bread. We couldn’t finish all the cheese and we shared the dish of 5 small slices between us. It is rich after beer-flavoured stews and potatoes! But it was tasty for 12 euros and a good match for the local beers, so I’d recommend it. I didn’t take a photo as we demolished the plate quite fast! Overall, I like this restaurant. I realise it’s a long way to go, but should you be visiting Mechelen (and you should), I can think of worse places to eat than this brewery!
Het Anker
Guido Gezellelaan 49
Mechelen (in the Begijnhof)

Food: B
Atmosphere: B
Service: B
Price: B
Languages: Flemish, English

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