Monthly Archives: February 2011

Brussels and Bruges

Noordzee – MUST GO

After arriving in Brussels from a 4 hour bus ride WITHOUT accommodations, me and a friend wandered the downtown streets and miraculously stumbled upon the last 2 beds at 2go4 Hostel. Unfortunately they were booked solid for the weekend so we moved to Hotel the Moon, a cheap 2 star in the heart of Brussels near Grand Place.

Being located inside the city center made it easy to check out many must eats, including:

Noordzee – Some of the best food I’ve had in Europe. A Poissonerie that makes fresh seafood on the spot. We had the joy of a Montreal’er serving us and hooking up a list of places to go and beers to try.
Roskam – A bar recommended by the lady at Noordzee. Local feel with cheap beers.
Delirium Cafe – So many great Belgian beers on tap. Busy atmosphere, tons of internationals.
Floris Bar – An absinthe bar across the alley from Delirium. Absinthe tastes minty if you burn a sugar cube over it.
Au Suisse – The local hood spot for sandwiches. Great for breakfast, generous delicious portions at great prices.

Brussels seemed like European downtown Vancouver in size and feel; laid back and relaxed sans greenery and good Chinese food. The European parliament was a major letdown; it was a big, cold building that you couldn’t go inside. Stopping off in Brussels made me realize how much I missed good beer. While I’ve been getting used to the great French wines in Paris, nothing hits the spot like a great beer. To have something like Chimay Blue or Delirium Tremens, with a 7 – 10% ABV on tap and be silky smooth is primo!

Waffles. Yes, they are good. But then again, there are no really “bad” waffles here per se. They have to try really hard to not make it good.

Chocolate. Unfortunately I cannot comment on this. While I’m not a fan of chains like Godivas or Léonida, I wasn’t able to make it out to Pierre Marcolinis, L’art de la praline, or Marys.

Day 2: We took a train to Bruges, where the architecture, cobblestone roads led to its charming small town feel. Bruges felt docile at times, perhaps because we were there on a Sunday.

Bruges - Belfry Tower

Bruges – Belfry Tower

Of the places I’ve been to so far, it seems like 80% of the major tourist attractions are under renovations. The view from the Belfry Tower above is normally a panoramic view of the city, BUT, its under renovation and is a 170° view instead. That’s how you know its not tourist season yet. Looking past this, I can see the allure in Bruges. It’s definitely a place where you would feel safe letting your kids trek 1km solo to school.

Additional Brussels/Bruges Pictures


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Chinese Cuisine in Paris

While I had not heard the best things about Chinese food in Paris, I had to at least try some Chinese cuisine here given that it was Chinese New Year.

The diagram above is the result. Pick 2 out of the 3 qualities – all 3 together do not exist. I’m sensing an under served market here..

Full disclosure: I’ve only been to one restaurant here – Li Ka Fo.

However, given my observations of walking through Chinatown (only 3-4 blocks) on the Saturday night of Chinese New Years and reading reviews, I don’t think I’ll be opting for Chinese again in Paris, unless its at home. There really is no need to, I am in Paris after all!

Onto the meal: The flavours were underwhelming and the portions were considerably smaller than what I was used to coming from Vancouver/Richmond. Presumably toned down for the Parisienne palette. Nothing to write home about.

Key Metrics: Ratio, Pictures on menu/FR-Chinese fusion

Disregard: Chowhound/Yelp/Google user reviews

Danger: Thai/Japanese/Chinese/Vietnamese restaurants, Chinese Buffets

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