The Best Waffles in Belgium (A Day in Bruges)

Monday, September 14, 2015

The night before our trip to Bruges, we went to bed at Christie's intending to take the first morning train out from Brussels!

We woke up intending to take "the one around, oh, like, 10:00 or 11:00?  Maybe?"  

We were very tired.

Mathieu had an early morning bike ride planned with his dad (as I understand, they do this every Saturday), so he opted out of our trip.  When I realized this, I said, "Oh, we can wait to leave until after you get back!  Should we wait until lunchtime and go?"  And then he told me his bike ride lasts, like, nine hours.

And that's how me, Joe, and Christie went to Bruges for the day, just the three of us!

During our train ride, Joe inadvertently won Christie over by patiently listening to the two of us catch up on Oklahoma gossip, and not getting a word in edgewise, all the way from Brussels to Ghent.  By the time we made it to Bruges, Joe had earned Christie's official stamp of approval, which felt especially nice since we are already married.  

Side note: I did worry, though, when we stopped in Ghent to change trains, that maybe Christie would revoke her pro-Joe endorsement; we were standing on the train platform and I said, "Did you know every time a train or subway approaches, I have this sudden sick feeling that somebody is going to push me onto the tracks?"  Christie's eyes widened.  "I have that same feeling!", she remarked.  That's when Joe chimed in,  "You know what's funny?  Every time a train or subway approaches, I have this sudden urge to shove someone onto the tracks...."

Important disclaimer: he was joking.

First stop in Bruges: lunch!  We walked around for about half an hour in search of a restaurant or cafe that was (1) outdoor and (2) not 25 euro per plate.  This was surprisingly hard to find, so we had to venture off the beaten path a little bit and away from the Markt.  We finally settled upon a Mexican restaurant, the name of which I can't remember, most likely because it was not good.  So I can't advise you "Steer clear of this Mexican restaurant in Bruges: ______" since I don't know the name, but based on the quality of this "Mexican" food, I think it would be a fair assessment to advise you to steer clear of all Mexican restaurants in Bruges.  Maybe all of Belgium, for that matter.  In fact, based on the Mexican restaurants I've visited in Germany, Poland, England, etc., I would feel more comfortable advising you to steer clear of all Mexican restaurants in Europe.  So just stick to the ones in the U.S., preferably in or around the state of Texas.  

To give you an idea of how 'authentic' this Mexican food really was: as I skimmed over the menu, I said to Christie, "Oh!  They have a 'Dallas burger' here!  Interesting!"  I pointed to the 'burger' section of the menu and she glanced at it, muttering to herself.  "Yes, well, they also have a 'Bollywood burger', so....."

See what I mean?  Authentic.

Also, as to why any Mexican restaurant's menu needs a 'burger' section at all is beyond me.

Lunch itself was relatively uneventful; we ordered a burrito (for Joe), quesadillas (for me), a taco salad (for Christie) and I got in trouble from the waitress for having my own water bottle at the table instead of spending 5 euro on one tiny bottle from the restaurant.  In other words, nothing too out of the ordinary happened.

After lunch, I was still pretty hungry so we set off to find the best Belgian waffle in all of Belgium.  The last time I was in Belgium, I tried a waffle or two and wasn't impressed.  But I knew if Belgium was known for its waffles, then I must have been missing something, so I decided to keep on sampling the waffles until I fully understood the phenomenon, no matter how long it took me -- a burden I was willing to bear. It was this firm resolve and determination that led us straight to Chez Albert, a small waffle shop that opens right up to Breidelstraat.

Maybe I'm crazy, but up until that moment at Chez Albert, I didn't understand that the Belgian waffles you order at brunch in the States are not actually Belgian waffles.  Traditional Belgian waffles are not fluffy, light, airy and covered in syrup.  On the contrary, they are crispy, baked (fried?) in sugar, crunchy, and topped with strawberries, fresh whipped cream, or your choice of other fruit-ish toppings.  Naturally, I ordered mine with strawberries and cream and almost collapsed into a state of sheer bliss as I finally got it: so this is why Belgium is known for its waffles.

A few other notable things happened that day.  First of all, Joe took a strong interest in a dead fish floating in the river.  He filmed a video of it (?) and then pointed at it, quite excitedly, as a boat of tourists rode past it down the river in a rented canoe.  Unsurprisingly, they did not seem as amused as he did.

A second item of note: around the time we spotted the dead fish, Christie climbed upon a soapbox of sorts, resuming our previous day's commentary on all major players of the Bachelor franchise; "I just want to write to Andi and tell her to go back to being an attorney.  I mean, the world has enough YouTube beauty bloggers as it is, you know?"

Her soapboxing continuing as she talked through her frustration over modern baby name trends, particularly cutesy names for baby girls; "You should name your daughter something that allows her to have a legitimate presence in the business world if she so desires.  Because, I'm sorry, but there's never going to be a CEO named Annabelle Louise."

Although, I should mention that I could kind of see someone named Annabelle Louise taking over the Honest Company in 50 years when Jessica Alba retires.  Just saying.

Later on, Christie said something to me -- something I've often heard from anyone who currently is or has been Facebook friends with me:  "Now, I've noticed that you seem to post a lot about Amanda Knox..... what is that all about?"  I gladly interpreted this question as an invitation to launch my hour-long presentation on the matter, and I can only imagine Joe's internal eye roll as he heard me summarize, for the umpteenth time, every book I've ever read about  the trial of Amanda Knox and all the events surrounding it.

After all that talk about murder and injustice, we were pretty tired, and had really seen all of Bruges there is to see (you can easily see Bruges in a day, just make sure you stop at Chez Albert for a waffle).  On our way back to the train station, though, we happened to pass by Zara, at which point Christie and I announced to Joe, "We will be right back -- we're just gonna take a quick look inside."

Three hours later, we were on the train to Brussels, shopping bags in hand.  I came home with 2 shirts, one pair of pants, and a sweater, all for under 50 euro!  

In related news, Joe tried on so many shoes but didn't buy a single pair, and if you know him but at all, this should shock you to your very core.

One more day in Brussels and then it's back to Oxford we go.  See you tomorrow!


Emily S (Em Busy Living) said...

Bruges looks lovely! I'm aching for a waffle now, thanks! ha!

Kim said...

Wish I had been there!!

Jenny Newcomb said...

Jenni, I am so happy you are blogging again! Really love reading about your adventures. Thanks. :)

Jan said...

I would have gotten the strawberry waffle too!!!

Alex said...

Excellent advice about only consuming Mexican food in Texas. There's a place here in Melbourne called "Taco Bill's" that I refuse to step foot in. However, they do advertise frozen margaritas, so I might have to bite the bullet and enter for this one reason only.

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