Me and my monsieur spent last weekend in Brussels and, while I'll admit to being a bit of a lazy blogger and not doing much research, we managed to stumble upon some great organic addresses that I'd like to share.
Despite it's reputation as a moules frites paradise, Brussels seems to be trying to distance itself from its fried food reputation and embrace the slow food movement. Many restaurant fronts sported slow food stickers and organic, local ingredients. This was particularly obvious in the Ste. Catherine neighborhood of Brussels where we saw a vegetable market brussel's-sprouting up as we toured the quarter scouting out a restaurant for the evening.
Ste. Catherine is also the home of Boulangerie Charli (34 rue Ste. Catherine) which is owned by a former student of legendary French chef Paul Bucose and serves up a wide variety of organic bread, which is to be appreciated in Brussels, a city that seems to conclude that nothing is the greatest thing since sliced bread, other than sliced bread itself- which is the only thing you will be served at any other eating extablishment.
Charli also makes amazing seasonal pastries. Our favorite was the Gozette aux Pommes a lovely apple turnover tucked in a flakey golden pastry that was sprinkled with sparkly raw sugar patisserie dust.
The bakery was a popular morning spot, with families, couples, and friends crowding in to grab a seat and enjoy a jus d'orange with their croissant.
In a much less touristy area across town the Brasserie Cantillon (56 rue Gheude, Anderlecht) boasts beer-making that refuses to pandor to pasteurization or non-organic forms of production. If Brussels is warming up to the idea of slow food, Cantillon takes the idea to the extreme, espousing a motto that states "Time respects nothing that is made without it".
Cantillon's beer is both exceptional and unique due to the fact that it is produced through spontaneous fermentation, which involves a cooling process in a copper tank during which time micro-organisms are allowed to work their magic and set off the fermentation process. The beer is then stored in wooden barrels for anywhere from 1-3 years.
The brewers are proud of their beer-making tradition as well as respectful of the role that nature plays in the process. The guide that we were given while taking the self-guided tour explained the presence of several spider webs in the brewery, stating that the spiders are integral in the natural termination process, feeding on the other insects that are attracted to the fermenting beer and fresh fruit that is brought in to be mixed with their Kreik, or cherry flavored beer. Dame Nature is revered in this traditional beer haven where destroying a spider web is just as mal vu as pandoring to industrial means of beer production.
I highly recommend visiting the brewery if you happen to be in Brussels, and I have to give a shout out to Antonio for insisting that we stop in. The visit was an informative and eye-opening experience.
Tours are self-guided and cost 5 euro, which includes a tasting of two different beers at the end of your visit. The bar is also open to the public, with their most popular beers priced at 2-3 euro a glass.