Years ago, before we were married or even living in the same country, we decided to meet in Brussels for a vacation. Our friends were skeptical. “You’re going to Brussels?” they asked with incredulity. “Isn’t that going to be boring? What are you going to do for 10 whole days?”
Before we went we did a lot of research. We knew, and wanted to prove to these doubting Thomases, that Brussels was more than just a place for Eurocrats. They’ve got great beer, fantastic food, and …. What more you need?
We weren’t disappointed. We went to pretty much every bar on our list, went for a tour of the Cantillon brewery and even managed to find the normally elusive Westvleteren at a pretty central place – we’re gonna have to let you find out where; after all, that’s part of the fun! We skipped visits to EU locales and instead took the train to Bruges for a night at a romantic hotel.
And we ate so well. One time we found a restaurant in Place Catherine where the waiter spoke no English and another patron had to translate the specials for us. The gaufres au chocolate, especially the ones from Gare Louise, were divine. And the moules-frites at Chez Leon mouthwatering good.
But there are a few meals that we recall with affection. A couple of times we just went to the boulangerie and the fromagerie next to the hotel and stocked up on cheese, salami, and bread and then went back to our room and ate there. A simple meal of absolutely delicious ingredients. It helped that we had to go to different stores to get our wares. Somehow it made it feel like we were supporting the local stores, the ones that might not see as many tourists, and the effort required made the whole meal taste better.
We’re not ones to shy away from shopping small. That’s why we love Borough Market. But sometimes we want to find something else, and the fact that Borough Market is closed on Sundays (sigh!) escalates the need to find alternatives.
Yesterday we headed to Marylebone. As the weather gets colder we’ve been getting a hankering for cassoulet and want to source the right beans for it. We heard of a French place in Marylebone and thought about trying our luck. While we’re there, we thought we could get some nibbles and a glass of wine.
We got to La Fromagerie in the middle of brunch hour and there were no seats. Neither did they have the specific beans were looking for. But we couldn’t resist getting some cheese. La Fomagerie keeps its cheese in a special room kept at the right level of humidity. That in itself is admirable! We love people who love and take care of cheese. Our eyes quickly fell on a gooey piece that looked like it would melt in our mouths. Vacherin.
We grabbed some Emmental Francais to have a contrast between soft and harder cheese that we could thinly slice with our mandolin. Of course, the meal wouldn’t be complete without some bread, so we picked up a baguette and a sliced pumpernickel loaf.
As we were walking out, we saw a tray of pastries so we added some pain au chocolat to our basket.
As we were heading back home, we realized we should have gotten some salami. Thankfully Lina Stores, in Soho, was en route so we stopped and got some salami calabrese
And that was our lunch. No fork needed! Just like in Brussels.