"It's not much but it's ours"

Sunday, August 13, 2006



As we headed back to the hotel, we made another couple of stops.

MARY’S is by all accounts, by far the finest choclatier in Brussels. The store itself is stunning and the service charming. How could we just walk by without sampling some of their offerings? We could not. Well, they are every bit as good as their press. We bought a selection of about 20 and managed to polish most of them off on the way back to the hotel. We did managed to keep a few which were scoffed the moment we arrived back home, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Before we headed back for a well earned nap, we stopped of for one more beer at LE TRAPPISTE another survivor from the early part of the 20th Century. The beer was fine though paled in comparison to some of those we had tried before. It was enough, however, to push us over the edge and into the point where a sleep was not just welcome but positively necessary.

A few hours later, though, we were refreshed enough to head out for our last meal of the trip.

AUX ARMES DE BRUXELLES is another Brussels institution. It sits on the horrible Rue De Boucher with its rip off tourist restaurants fronted by people trying to bark in the unwary to eat their overpriced seafood. Aux Armes, however, was here before all of those and booking is essential. It is a definingly bustling brasserie and the food is as hearty as that implies. We began with more Pied de Porc and some stunningly good calf’s brains which were poached in acidulated water. HP did not find them to his liking so I polished them off. The pig’s feet were better prepared than the night before and we spend a good time gnawing the bones to get off all the jelly goodness. Main courses were equally challenging. For HP a baked cod dish with a seafood sauce and for me a classic Belgian dish of Waterzoi, a stew of chicken cooked in a cream sauce. My first experience of this dish and worth trying. HP was fading a little by now, so I helped him out cleaning his plate ( cue the mystic sounds of “two little boys”) while he concentrated on finishing the bottle of white Burgundy which complimented the whole meal well.

We were too stuffed for pudding and got our bill and left wanting to get away from that grim street as quickly as possible. We also wanted to try one more beer place. Another bar with an enormous list from which to choose, BIER CIRCUS. HP was beered out so went of some Esprit De Achouffe, a spirit akin to Eau De vie. I paid homage to Mr Cantillon again with yet another geuze.

But, that was it for us. We were finally beaten and headed home at the relatively early hour of 11.30pm to hit the hay.

There is little to report about Day Three. We got up, had far to big a brekkie which put the dampeners on our thoughts about having a nice big lunch. We wandered around the Ixelles district to see the Art Nouveau buildings of Victor Horta, we had a couple of beers and then we headed back to the Eurostar.

Three hours later, we were home, a cup of builder’s tea in hand and finishing off the last of the Mary’s chocolates. A nice reminder of a great trip

This was only my second visit to Brussels and the first in which I had been able to get to see it in any depth at all. HP’s research, of course, added to the enjoyment as we knew where all the worthwhile bars were and, boy did we try to hit them all?

I always judge a place by whether I would go back and I would go back to Brussels in a heartbeat. The people are friendly and decidedly un up themselves. The food is damn tasty and I find myself developing an alarming taste for the beer.

Talking of which, I wont say how HP described the city, but it did make me spray a very decent beer out of my nostrils. What a waste.
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