Thursday, April 12, 2007

b is for brussels

From Paris, Jun and I took the high speed Thalys train to the Belgian city of Brussels. This short (and sweet) side trip was just enough for us to discover what this city was about! Here is our list; all starting with the letter 'B':

B is for Belgian chocolates – from the supermarket staple Cote d'Or to specialty chocolatiers like Godiva, Leonidas, Neuhaus, & Marcolini. Switzerland may be famous for producing the most chocolate worldwide but, according to some enthuasiasts, it was Belgium that introduced the most preferred chocolate concoctions known today, the pralines. But why is the Belgian variety more highly rated? I learned they use pure cocoa butter instead of adding vegetable fat, a small difference that seems to matter greatly to the chocolate connoisseur.

To pay tribute to these Belgian delicacies, I took a pic of Series 12's Basic 'B' Be@rbrick among luscious Godiva goodies (above, right). Brown and yummy-looking, this bear is one of a set of nine that spells B-E-@-R-B-R-I-C-K.

B is for Beer. There are over 500 varieties of Belgian beer, around half of which is available at the store on the left. The biggest brewery in the world by volume is Inbev, a Belgian company previously known as Interbrew (makers of such beers as Stella Artois and Leffe, which merged with the Brazilian brewery Ambev to become the world's biggest).

At a bar, I was surprised to find out that Stella Artois, a well-advertised beer with a premium image in other parts of the world, was the cheapest beer on the menu! Can you imagine the quality of the rest?

B is for Blooms. The Tapis de Fleurs (Flower Carpet), a celebration of Belgium's flower industry, happens every two years around August. During that time, Brussels' main tourist destination, the Grand Place, is carpeted with millions of fresh flowers in patterns echoing historical scenes. However, during ordinary days, blooms still line up the famous square as part of the morning flower market (right).

B is for Beatles songs as sung by Belgian musicians Margriet Knip and Philippe La Grappe (left) who we caught at a corner off Grand Place, performing in front of a small but very delighted street crowd. Their version of the classic "Let It Be' was raw and light – effortlessly nostalgic. For the first time during this European trip, I was moved, not visually via spectacular art or scenery, but audially, by way of a beautiful song. Let's hear it for Brussels!

(Research from Wikipedia, Dorling Kindersley &


Socky said...

I didn't know that about stella artois. Well, same thing with Absolut...

It's called marketing, right? said...

Yes, kaya pala the waiter gave me a 'look' when I ordered it... I didn't know it was 'el cheapo' here till I looked at the menu. And I thought I was being a tasteful already! Hehe...