Yes, I too was surprised as I peered into the window of a charming little story-book chocolate shop in Bruges, Belgium. Belgians sure get creative with their chocolate!
But now that I have your attention, lets talk chocolate!
Belgium equals chocolate and chocolate equals Belgium. Every city in Belgium hosts dozens of chocolate shops featuring the most lavish, unique and delicious chocolates you can find anywhere in the world. Chocolate was originally introduced to Belgium back in the 17th century when the country was ruled by Spain. Spanish explorers brought back the the unknown cacao seed to Europe after explorations of South America, and soon after chocolate spread across Europe. In the early 20th century, Belgium colonized a part of Africa, the Belgian Congo which enabled them to have access to import large quantities of cocoa to their country thus making their chocolate production a boom.
The Cocao seed was originally used to make a hot chocolate drink and only royals, nobles and artists were fortunate enough to get their hands on it. Eventually new forms of the cocoa seed were created in the form of hard chocolate and soon chocolate was available to everyone.
Chocolate production is a major part of the Belgium economy. There are over 2,000 chocolatiers in Belgium, and about 172,000 tons produced each year. Godiva Chocolate is probably the most well know Belgium made chocolate in the United States. The praline and chocolate bar were both inventions of the Belgian chocolate industry.
I personally prefer Hershey’s and Cadbury chocolate over Belgian made chocolate. I did not try a huge variety of Belgian chocolate when I was there, but it seemed to be a harder of a chocolate than a creamy milky texture.
In my pre-trip research, I discovered a famous chocolate shop called “The chocolate line” that features a product called the chocolate shooter which is a method of snorting a specific type of powder chocolate made with a mint and ginger mixture. Only in Belgium would there be a chocolate shop with such a thing! Apparently this little gem was created for a birthday party of the Rolling Stones– go figure! I was fascinated with this idea and wanted to be able to come home and tell everyone I snorted chocolate in Belgium, so I knew I had to hunt this shop down while I was there. I found that there was a shop in Bruges and Antwerp, but when we arrived at the shop in Bruges, there was no sign of the chocolate shooter. I was pretty disappointed as it seemed to be a pretty big deal online. Maybe I overlooked it somehow, but I decided not to ask because I didn’t want the shop owner to think I was crazy! The chocolate line chocolate is made right there in the store (you can watch them through a glass window) and is known for featuring creative flavors and types of chocolate. From the cigar flavored chocolate to chocolate paint, this shop has it all!
A few examples of the Chocolate Line Chocolates …
2) squeeze the tequila into your mouth
3) eat the chocolate (plain chocolate ganache with lime)
The Chocolate Line Website:
Here is a video from the shops website which shows a demonstration of the chocolate shooter: