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Planning a Belgium trip around food and beer. Need some help!!

atomeyes Feb 20, 2011 02:34 PM

Hey,
My wife and I are considering a May or June trip to Belgium. We're planning the trip around food and drink (and culture). I'm thinking that we're going to be staying in the northwestern part of Belgium unless swayed otherwise.

If you had any suggestions as to towns we should hit for great food and drink, it would be appreciated. I'm thinking that we'll be staying a week. I'm guessing/assuming we're landing in Brussels and, aside from Brugges and having to buy a case of Wesvleteren, everything else is open.

Also, suggestions on which is a better time to go and why would be appreciated.

  1. j
    joshekg Mar 8, 2011 02:19 PM

    A comment on the Westvleteren; you cannot just show up at the abbey and purchase a case. One must call in advance to make a reservation. The beer is then available for pickup on designated pickup dates. The beer is best when aged for at least 6 months, so if you do manage to snag a case, try and age some of it.

    Here is the brewery schedule:
    http://www.sintsixtus.be/eng/brouweri...

    10 Replies
    1. re: joshekg
      t
      Tom from Raleigh Mar 8, 2011 02:27 PM

      Pick up Tim Webb's book on Belgian beer. It's one of the best there is. In Brussels, the Cantillion brewery is a must, especially if you have a taste for sour beer. Bruges is like a postcard. Ghent is supposed to be as well. We found a good deal by flying into Paris and taking the high speed train to Brussels. It was cheaper than flying into Brussels and the train station is at the DeGaulle airport. I could live on frites with sauce for a week, along with a healthy serving of beer.

      1. re: Tom from Raleigh
        j
        joshekg Mar 9, 2011 08:58 AM

        I second the Cantillon brewery. Seeing the coolship up in the attic is pretty cool - open to the Brussels air. Have a drink of the faro while there.

        1. re: Tom from Raleigh
          atomeyes Mar 9, 2011 01:36 PM

          i bought it from Amazon last week. Waiting for it to come in.
          As of now, I'm thinking of Spending 1-2 days in Bruges, 1-2 days in/around Ghent and maybe 1 day in Antwerp. The rest is open.

        2. re: joshekg
          atomeyes Mar 9, 2011 01:42 PM

          Thanks for the tip. I'm well aware of the issues. Since I'm likely limited to the amount of beer I can bring back to Canada and I won't have a cell phone to call to arrange a pick-up, I may be stuck buying it at the store nearby. I am definitely aging the bottles for months to years.

          1. re: atomeyes
            t
            ThomasvD Mar 10, 2011 12:11 AM

            I am not sure what you mean "the store nearby". Across the road from the abbey entrance there is a café called In de Vrede. You can buy beer there to drink in the café or to take with you. The prices are, of course, higher than at the abbey itself, but still not expensive.

            1. re: ThomasvD
              atomeyes Mar 11, 2011 03:36 AM

              I apologize. I'm not at home. I saw both in a guidebook and on a website that there's a store that's in one of the towns near the brewery. you can buy a 6-pack "sampler" of 3 types of W's beer from there.

              1. re: atomeyes
                t
                ThomasvD Mar 11, 2011 11:54 AM

                The abbey is located in the midst of open fields. It is actually several kilometers from Westvleteren, the town. I would be very surprised if any stores in the area sold the beer as the monks have stopped permitting that. The café I wrote about is connected with the abbey and is therefore permitted to sell it. If you want to be sure of buying some, that is really your only choice.

                1. re: ThomasvD
                  atomeyes Mar 11, 2011 06:15 PM

                  just wondering if you know the logistics. i only speak english and i won't have a cell phone. would a hotel likely call on my behalf?

                  1. re: atomeyes
                    t
                    ThomasvD Mar 12, 2011 12:54 AM

                    Yes, I know the logistics and, as I said in my previous message, your only real choice is the café. To pick up from the monastery (it is a monastery, not a brewery), you can only make a reservation for several days to a week in the future. You cannot call up and then go over and get it. You can only do that at the café.

                    1. re: ThomasvD
                      atomeyes Apr 15, 2011 11:39 AM

                      i thought about it and the logical answer is: buying 1-2 cases of a beer is kind of ridiculous.
                      we're going to rent bikes and g to Westv. and to De Struisse.

        3. c
          currycue Mar 6, 2011 03:25 PM

          Check out the thread below on Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, etc. Just came back from a week in Ghent (the absolute BEST place in Belgium IMO to stay if you're not a fan of touristy centres) Had some great meals at 't Vosken, De Avonden and amazing waffles at Max (www.etablissementmax.be

          )

          Consider also making a trip to Lille, France. Very cool little city, great shopping. Loved the moules frites at Au Moules, as well as the amazing cafe at Patisserie Meert (www.meert.fr)

          2 Replies
          1. re: currycue
            w
            Wayward biker Mar 22, 2011 03:21 AM

            currycue,

            Can we a get more of a review of what you liked and didn't and for that matter maybe briefly even where you stayed in Gent? Current reviews help focus the suggestions aside from our own personal favs.

            1. re: Wayward biker
              c
              currycue Mar 22, 2011 07:49 AM

              Liked 't vosken for it's Gentse Stoverij, Loved Max for it's gigantic Brussels Waffles, absolutely love Gent just because it's a gorgeous, medieval city that hasn't been turned into a theme park like Bruges. I went by myself, so I stayed in a hostel, but when I went with my wife, we had a great stay at Atlas B&B a few years back. Can't say there was anything I didn't like as I very carefully chose where I went.

          2. w
            Wayward biker Feb 24, 2011 10:08 AM

            OK. Good so far let's see what can be done. How about a bit more about likes/dislikes so you get ideas that are closer to what you want.

            Also, have you checked out the other big posts on Brussels? What do you see there that you like and either want current info on.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Wayward biker
              atomeyes Mar 1, 2011 11:08 AM

              i haven't bothered to look at posts about Brussels or Brugges because a) i'm assuming my flight will land in Brussels and b) I'm positive I'll spend a few days in Brugges.

              Its the filling in the blanks for the other 5 days that's the issue.

              So more info: we hate touristy things. we like to do as the locals. we love walking and hiking and we're quite fit.
              but we also love our food and LOVE our beer. I'm drooling over the prospects of drinking La Chouffe all day. food-wise, we like simple and we like high end. to not break the bank, i'd prefer a mix of low-key but tasty lunches and the occasional splurge for dinner.

              i personally don't eat seafood, even though i swear i am a foodie (fear from my childhood), but I recently tried (raw) oysters, so i'm hoping that i can attempt mussels as well. my wife will eat anything.

              we will be renting a car. for now, i assumed we'd be staying in the north/west part of belgium in Flanders

              1. re: atomeyes
                n
                Nancy S. Mar 1, 2011 04:21 PM

                I would suggest having dinner at spending the night at In de Wulf in Dranouter. It's an amazing experience. Dinner will be fabulous, and so will the next morning's breakfast.

                1. re: atomeyes
                  t
                  ThomasvD Mar 3, 2011 09:50 AM

                  If you "like to do as the locals" why are you renting a car? There is a very good national rail service in Belgium and that is what "the locals" use.

                  For beer, try "Waterhuis aan de Bierkant" in Gent. Or Trappistenhuis in the same city.

                  1. re: ThomasvD
                    atomeyes Mar 5, 2011 12:22 PM

                    there may be 4 of us traveling, so $$wise, a car may make more sense

                    1. re: atomeyes
                      t
                      ThomasvD Mar 6, 2011 01:34 AM

                      Yes, in the US this may be true, but in much of Europe the opposite is true. That is why most people here use the trains - to save money and have extra convenience.

                      1. re: atomeyes
                        n
                        Nancy S. Mar 6, 2011 05:23 AM

                        If you want to go to In de Wulf (which I highly recommend), you will need a car -- otherwise it requires an expensive taxi ride.

                        1. re: Nancy S.
                          t
                          ThomasvD Mar 6, 2011 06:49 AM

                          Well, if you are willing to pay $168 for one dinner (without wine), I guess an expensive taxi ride should be no problem.

                          1. re: ThomasvD
                            atomeyes Mar 8, 2011 02:13 PM

                            um, no thanks....
                            that's slightly above budget

                            1. re: atomeyes
                              t
                              ThomasvD Mar 9, 2011 12:02 AM

                              Mine too. It seems not everyone is as thrilled with the place as Nancy S.: http://bit.ly/feIpD4

                              1. re: ThomasvD
                                n
                                Nancy S. Mar 12, 2011 04:00 AM

                                compare the reports by foodsnob.com, andyhayler.com, felixhirsch.worldpress.com and verygoodfood.com. They have all eaten extensively over the world and laud In de Wulf.

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