Belgium is famous for beer and chocolates. Since the developments to the Eurostar service back in 2007, the journey times between St Pancras and Brussels have been squeezed to an impressive 1 hour, 51 minutes. I made the journey myself earlier this month, and it really is a very smooth, stress-free way to travel.
While in Brussels I had the most amazing chocolates from Neuhaus. They were by far my favourites. And I’m not the only one! After the Royal Festival in 2000, King Albert II gave Neuhaus the title of Accredited Supplier to the Belgian Crown.
But if you don’t want to take the train, you can still get a taste of that famous Belgian chocolate here in London.
There are Neuhaus stores in London in St Pancras Station, Heathrow Airport, and in Harrods. They also have a gorgeous boutique on South Molton Street, full of wonderful chocolatey treats, and a café in Putney. All Neuhaus products are still made in Vlezenbeek, near Brussels, and exported to the UK.
My favourite is the St Pancras Station branch. It’s perfect if you want to pick up a last-minute present for someone before you catch a train. And it smells amazing!
“Neuhaus have been making chocolates in Belgium for 153 years. They even invented the Belgian praline. Most people don’t know that. It was Jean Neuhaus, the grandson of the original Jean Neuhaus, who created the world’s first filled chocolate, which he named ‘Praline’.
“At the time, the pralines were served in paper cones, like you eat chips from, and the pralines got squashed together. Jean’s wife, Louise, invented a new box to keep them from getting spoiled: and that’s the ballotin (which you can see in the picture above). They’re still used today.
“For Belgians, the most popular chocolates are the old ‘Caprice’ and ‘Tentations’ – these are chocolates with a rich history. They were created for the World Expo in Brussels in 1958. And they are named after a famous quote by Brigitte Bardot.
“But my favourite is the Manon Sucre Vanille. It’s made with vanilla cream or butter cream, and it’s quite milky. Inside, there’s some pecan nuts, a little, little piece of waffle, and cream of vanilla sugar. It’s quite heavy; most people don’t like it, because it’s too rich. But it’s good for eating once a week or so, I think!
Do you have any other recommendations on where to find a taste of Belgium in London (beer, chocolate or anything else?!) Let us know in the comments below.