I’ve been to Belgium a few times, but my most memorable trip was for a friends 40th a few years back and 20 of us went to Burgee. A beautiful city of medieval architecture encased in a city wall and canals. I remember just how cold it was for that January trip. Perhaps that’s why I wore so many layers today when actually it was warm enough in London to just wear a shirt and pullover. I had lunch with an 80-year-old friend yesterday, the sort who is very correct in his terminology who informed me that ladies wear jumpers and gentlemen wear pullovers. Ironically today’s multi coloured effort was purchased in Burgee.
What do I know of Belgian food? Well, the stereotypical bits really, moules and frites with mayonnaise, beer blonde with many fruity assortments and waffles. Hergé – the author of TinTin was Belgian. I don’t have a dog called Snowy, but let my adventure begin.
Wafflemeister; who I visited today outside South Kensington Underground Station to find out about Belgium food is one of those success stories of British business I love to hear about. With four stores in central London and branches in Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur, they must be doing something right. I meet Alex the owner and we chat about Belgian food, I see pictures of waffles with lots of toppings including mini-Oreos on the wall and I’m drooling. We spend time talking about how the waffle recipe which is a family secret developed in Belgium in the 1950’s and that the waffle dough is handmade in Belgium and frozen before being transported to the UK to be baked and served. True Belgium food, from Belgium in London. I’m watching as customers come to buy waffles and I hear stories from Alex about just how popular they are. He’s an easy going chap, not one to boast, but by the number of people wanting his product I can see just how popular they really are. I’m told one Indian businessman sends his driver to Wafflemeister to buy a few boxes of waffles before he fly’s home from Biggin Hill airport on his private jet. How another customer who was a patient in a hospital purchased 40 ‘sharing’ boxes – that’s 160 waffles, one can only assume nill-by-mouth was over, or is BUPA discovering a new dessert trolley? I’m hungry and my camera crew arrives, just at the point where Alex is telling me that the waffles are about 320Kcal per 100g. Not bad. Halal friendly waffles too. Alex is really excited about his business, he shows me the gelato he sells, you know the ice cream that is no just ice cream, it’s thicker and he calls the flavor ‘Speculoos’. A sort of gingerbread and cinnamon flavor unique to Belgium and the surrounding countries that’s made into animal shaped biscuits for Christmas time. All I need is the waffle.