The Savvy Globe Trotter, Tatyana Leonov, stops by the spiritual home of all chocaholics, Brussels
Gooey, melt-in-your-mouth delicacies, smooth, velvety pralines, hard nutty concoctions. Brussels is the home of chocolate and the place to try them all if you can. If you’re stopping over for a short while skip breakfast and head straight to the chocolate mecca that is Grand Sablon (Grote Zavel) where you’ll be spoilt for choice – Wittamer, Marcolini, Neuhaus… it’s all there and more.
But if you’re staying a while then seeking out the best of the best has to be done. Here are my top three – and I recommend you spend a decent amount of time discovering each one at a leisurely pace (oh, and wear stretchy pants).
It could be said that Pierre Marcolini modernised the chocolate art form (though he started off as a patissier). His chocolate ‘brand’ is like the Mercedes in chocolate making, and today he is the only Belgian chocolatier who still controls every step of the chocolate-making process – from choosing the beans and roasting them, to finally selecting the beautiful presentation boxes.
His shop is super swish and looks more like a snazzy minimalist bar – you almost expect the immaculately dressed clerks to offer to take your coat. They don’t, but what they do offer you is much, much better.The Finer Details:
Rue des Minimes 1
Laurent Gerbaud has been meshing chocolate with fruit and spices for over 11 years (after a prolonged stay in China where he was inspired by richness and tanginess of the Asian palette). He soon began developing his products, and it was Marcolini who inspired Gerbaud to create his own 75 percent Ecuadorian/Madagascan chocolate-flavoured with fresh fruits, nuts and spices – Turkish figs in summer, Piedmont hazelnuts in autumn – and offer them one at a time with wine or coffee.
Gerbaud approaches chocolate tasting like tasting wine – his chocolates are designed to be eaten slowly and savoured – like all good things in life.The Finer Details:
Rue Ravenstein 2D
Henri Wittamer founded the company in 1910 when he set up his bakery at the Place du Grand Sablon in Brussels, where it remains to this day. He is the classic chocolate maker, the Godfather of chocolate making and the official chocolate supplier to the Court of Belgium and Member of the Relais Desserts Association. Wittamer is still a family business and the famous patissiers chocolatiers are run by Paul and Miriam Wittamer, Henri’s grandchildren.The Finer Details:
Place du Grand Sablon
About the Savvy Globe Trotter
Tatyana Leonov is a writer, editor, avid traveller and determined dreamer. She's mastered (beginners') yoga in Goa, partied with Russia's elite in a Moscow club, sampled local delicacies all around the world (including a camel burger in Morocco and guinea pig in Peru), trekked to Nepal's Annapurna Base Camp in Havaianas and had a short-lived career as a Bollywood star.