This week was Brussels Chocolate Week! There is no discernible difference between this week and any other week in Brussels. This city is full of chocolatiers, both chain and artisan, with shops seemingly on every corner and no end to the inventiveness of the products.
It happened to coincide, last year, with one of my weekend visits, so this is the second year we've participated. The main event, as far as I can tell, is the 'chocolate pass'. You buy a little book (very well put together, with a map and info about the shops) for 6 Euros, which contains 10 tokens. You then visit the participating shops and are given tasters - what's not to like about that?!
They have tried to market the pass as a 'chocolate walk' this year, which worked on some levels but not on others. So, yes, you can absolutely walk round Sablon, enjoying the picturesque views and the chocolates, and from there wander down to the Grand Place, and get a fair few tasters along the way. But there are also participating shops outside of the centre, which we didn't get to. Although perhaps the idea is that if you walked to Scharbeek you'd have earned the chocolate at the end of it. I felt that this year there were fewer shops participating, and that perhaps they were a little less generous. At least, there was definitely a sense in some of the shops that you were annoying them, coming in with little strips of paper and expecting to get something for free. The assistant at Galler, next to the Grand Place, was particularly sour, and even refused to give us a little bag or napkin to put the chocolates in (chocolates which we did not choose, but were unceremoniously thrust at us as the standard tasting offer), as we wanted to take them home to enjoy later (and to gloat over the enormous pile accrued, natch.). Having said that, there were also shops which were very generous - Passion Du Chocolat, next to the NH hotel on Sablon, gave us two choices each, as did Belvas, and in another shop the assistant waved away the token, saying that they gave out free tasters anyway. In Pierre Marcolini - he is a god amongst men, a genius with salted caramel - they had little bags already made up with two chocolates each, which they also did last year.
It was a pleasant enough way to spend a Saturday morning, and we returned home with a nice haul of chocolates:
Look at that whopper from Cafe Tasse! Shame it's a coffee and speculoos flavoured bar. They probably have a surfeit of them they needed to shift. (Oooh, bitchy!) The little ones to the left of that bar are the three from Marcolini - 'quatre epices' truffles and mystery triangular-ish ones... Wittamer win the best decorated award, with their colourful squares. That one with the green lines on is jasmine tea flavoured! All of the white chocolate ones have been chosen by the Dutchman, which I was surprised by. I've never seen him interested in white chocolate before. Perhaps it is self-preservation, that I can't pretend I didn't know whose they were when I eat them! (Argh, the tense of that sentence...)
UPDATE: The best most favouritest deliciousest ones thus far have been the circular one with white chocolate decoration, top middle-ish, which was a very dark chocolate shell encasing a soft smooth blackcurrant ganache (from Passion Du Chocolat), and the weirdly shaped dark one, bottom middle-ish, which was filled with a very dark liquid caramel with a slight coffee note (from Planete Chocolat).