Thursday, February 28, 2013

Belgium #3

Ah, Bruges.  A beautiful, old city:

just smell that beauty.  it smells like concrete.


On the way to visit Chocolatier Stephan Dumon's flagship store -- probably the most famous chocolate shop in Bruges -- I found a small outpost and stopped in.  I asked for things with a pure chocolate ganache, and they told me no such thing existed.  Quite rudely.  I sorted it all out and ordered a "butter truffle," a dark chocolate bonbon, and a chocolate bar.  The butter truffle was way too creamy and a bit gross.  I could see why they wouldn't call it "pure chocolate."  Even the dark chocolate bonbon was way too creamy.  Liane liked it, but it tasted like candy even to her.  I was so disappointed!  "What a fraud!" I thought to myself.  And I continued on.

Depla Pol:

I stopped by Depla Pol, which was a fairly adorable shop.  I bought a chocolate bar, and from it you can see what I mean:

i imagine those footprints were made by a very tiny person.  then i get SUPER creeped out and stop imagining that.

It was an excellent low-percentage bar, not trying too hard.  It tasted like high quality chocolate trying to imitate a candy bar.  And though Leila would never approve, I appreciated the little white chocolate footprints.  It made the bar look as playful as it tasted. 

The truffle was better than Dumon's, but still too creamy.  I just don't like Bruges' style, I guess.  But the Sao Tome bonbon was excellent and the Venezuela bonbon was even better.  It wasn't Bruges after all -- Dumon had been a real disaster, and Depla Pol was rescuing the town's reputation.


Then I got to the main square and Dumon's flagship.  I immediately realized the previous store had been a complete imposter.  The branding was totally different and a look at the chocolate immediately showed obvious differences.  All it took was one taste to verify.  I wound up purchasing a big box of bonbons, because I felt so guilty about my rash and unfounded original judgment.  They were all excellent.

I saved the bar I purchased for later, and I compared it with the imposter:

the lineup.  i must admit that the fake sustained some travel-related damage.
Just based on appearances, the real one actually looks less authentic than the fake

The "real thing" tasted much more serious than the fake.  It was very good, but it was not the best.  The other bar was actually not bad either.  It was sweeter and more candy-like, so I could tell the two apart just from taste, but some of those I shared the bars with preferred the fake.

I actually encountered a different fake Dumon later in the day.  I was not duped into buying anything, but I asked them for directions, and they were rude to me as well!  Plus they gave me bad directions!

Chocolate Line:

Next stop was The Chocolate Line.  The dark chocolate horse-shaped bonbon with ganache was ok.  I ordered a pumpkin bonbon, but they gave me the wrong thing.  It tasted peanut-y and not great.  Finally, the bar (80%, Uganda-origin) was good but not memorable.

nothing wrong with this.  but what did it taste like again?

Van Oost:

I was basically just machining through at this point.  I got to Van Oost basically just stuffing stuff down.  The truffle made me pause though.  It was just okay by other city's standards, but it was definitely the best among Bruges' creamy crop.  The bar was very good and chocolatey, but it was also very Bruges in that it was sweet and low percentage.  Another candy-like gem.

this may win the award for most massive bar i purchased all trip.


Next was Stef's.  There was a hazelnut-filled shell, which was candy-like in the best sort of way.  There was a chunk of dark chocolate that tasted Ghanaian, standard, and good.  There was a mousse bonbon which was basically what all the creamy truffles wished they were, and arguably the best mousse product of the trip.  The dark truffle was good, and the dark bonbon was great.  Overall, a nice performance.

Choco-Story Museum:

This is a choco-story about how chocolate was brought to your and my town.
It took about six-hundred-and-twenty years, in plenty of time for us, so have no fear.

where there are stories, there are books.  and where there are books and chocolate, leila gets jealous.

In Central America, born-and-raised, with the chieftans is where it spent most of its days.
Heated up, packed in, mixed in with spices, and to add some sweetness, they had  no devices.

a chocolate alchemy kit?

Then a couple of Spaniards, who were up to no good, started committing genocide in the neighborhood.
They took one little sip and *boom* went their brain, and they said, "You are coming with me right back to Spain." 

these will be reviewed later.

It hopped on some ships, and in no time flat, it was mixed up with sugar, and tasted so phat.
If anything, Europeans thought, "This is where it's at!" so it took centuries before they made it solid and flat.

It pulled up to the US around 1765, and it seemed to threaten, "DRINK ME OR DIE."
It moved to New York soon thereafter and sat on its throne as the dessert master.

this is how you make chocolate.  you know.  in the past.

Also, they gave us some chocolate here, and it was pretty good.

Bottom Line: Bruges' chocolate, like Bruges itself, is pretty much for tourists.  It's not bad, but it's very sweet.  Also, we've been in Belgium for three posts, and we still have a whole city left to go.

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