October 18, 2004
Now, the chocolate we Belgians die for is Galler, Wittamer (which you cannot get in Bruges), and Neuhaus, who all just happen to have the right to carry the royal warrant as furnishers to the royal court. Always a guarantee for exquisite quality, even for the most republican among us. They are above all competitors, especially when it comes to freshness of the pralines. Just because Neuhaus, like Cartier or Rolex, has stores around the globe, it doesn’t mean that they are of less quality--no, no, no. They are, of course, well known. Godiva, I think, differs from city to city--you can have very fresh ones and then they are one of the best, but they are also sold as shop in shop or franchise, and if you buy them in a more provincial town, then you can buy some that have been there for a long long time. Godiva has been commercialized too much, in my opinion.
This said, there are many artisanal chocolatiers in Bruges, and many are good, but some cater especially for foreign tastes, and we Belgians do not buy from them.
Many tourists buy Leonidas. This is a tough one. You have to know their range very well to make a tasteful selection. Than it is really OK.
What I really recommend is to buy artisanal Belgian chocolate truffles, light, dark or white. They are always a hit with everyone and are very likely to be fresh because of the limited range.
Wittamer pralines and patisserie is probably something you cannot imagine; even many Belgians can only dream of it. It is the Haute Couture among chocolates. Ever tasted chocolate perfumed by rose leaves?
Unfortunately, they have only one store in Brussels. Well, luckily for my weight ...
If in doubt, take Neuhaus, or Galler if you have never tried it before. At Galler, if you are impatient to open the box, buy a chocolate bar as an extra in the shop. Eat it while looking at the beautiful facades in the city and embracing your partner.
From journal Bruges on a plate or Bruges off the (B)eaten Path