Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bruxelles: Chocolat, Café Tricot, Chocolat, Bière et Chocolat...

Chocolate at the Chocopolis

Before shoving off for my recent trip to Belgium and France, I made darn sure to arrange a little knitting get-together with a blogger I have long adored: Sophie of More Itchy Knits. If you haven't read her blog (it's in French and English), you really need to because a. she is devilishly funny and b. she throws down some cables that mere mortals like me will only ever dream of.

Of course my non-knitting friends (a group that will be soon dwindling unless they cool it with the negative comments. Phil, I am talking to you) had to deride me/give me shit about this. "Oh Gawd, I knew you had some secret knitting agenda with this trip!". Umm, secret? Moving on.

After our presentation at the conference in Liège, Kenric (yes, the guy that now kicks my knitting ass with his entrelac skills) and I had a café liégeois (i.e. you get the whipped cream on your coffee without the humiliation of actually having to ask for it) and hopped on a train for Brussels with the aim of horning in on the Friday night café-tricot at Arthur's, a lovely little café conveniently located right across from the Luxembourg train station. As Kenric cast-on for the Koolhaas hat on the train we had a gas with our usual mix of shop talk, knitting chit-chat and general tom foolery. We made excellent time and arrived at the event without a hitch, despite a fit of nervous lip balm application just before entering (does anyone else do this?).


The group of knitters were so friendly and gave us a warm, warm welcome. Sophie and I traded little gifts--I brought her a yarn that is obviously unavailable in Europe, Brooks Farm Solo, and she gave both Kenric and I the most lovely packages of baking chocolate ever as well as a recipe, written by her with her usual sense of humor, for Belgian Truffles. How did she know that this would be so up my alley?
Café-Tricot at Arthur's in Brussels
We stayed for several hours and had a great time knitting and chatting about the current Belgian constitutional crisis (Umm hello! They don't have a government now), the tension between the Flemish and Walloon population, the intricacies of language policy in Belgium as well as knitting techniques in both countries. All in all, a really nice event that Kenric and I felt lucky to be a part of.
Beer at Delirium
We topped off our jaunt with a visit to a chocolate shop (see first picture above) and
Delerium, a world-renowned beer drinking joint that will bring out the inner frat guy like nobody's business...

Musée de Tchantchès

Once back in Liège, Kenric and I parted ways, but not for long as much to my delight he's moving to Philly later this month. I spent my final day wandering around the city, checking out the beautiful gardens and parks and doing something that I could only ever do alone as the ridicule and scorn I would face from my family would be too great for me to endure. I am of course talking about visiting a museum dedicated to marionnettes, le musée Tchantchès. I enjoyed this place so much that now even I am weirded out by myself. In any case, Liège's most famous resident is a naughty medieval fellow named Tchantchès and if you go to Liège, well you can visit his museum, too.

26 comments:

SJ said...

Of course you had to show me Belgian chocolate first thing in the morning!

Looks like a wonderful time. That nature shot is stunning!

Jennifer said...

Looks like a fabulous trip. How lucky to hit on such a great knitting group (then again, is there any other kind?)

And those marionettes...wow. Reminds me a little of when my mother made me go to the Annalee doll museum {{shudder}}. It's an acquired taste, fer sure ;)

Jodi said...

Sounds heavenly! The Belgian political situation is really weird right now (we have to be sensitive about it at work right now), but it doesn't seem to have hampered production of all those lovely chocolates and beers.

kim said...

Oh, wow! That sounds like a fantastic trip, and I'm guessing this is just the beginning. Sounds like you had a great time. I can't wait to hear more.

Cynthia said...

Chocolate, yarn, chocolate, yarn, chocolate, yarn.

kim said...

Um, I hurt my hand trying to grab that chocolate. What a fun trip!

Janet said...

So very jealous -- of everything!

Most notably the Delerium (is that a bad sign since it is 9:45am?) -- I adore Tremens, and I had no idea there was a cafe (my interest in beer obviously does not extend beyond the drinking of it). Thanks for sharing!

ali said...

Oh, the chocolate... My pregnant self is salivating, Pavlov was onto something...

Your trip looks like a blast- I'd love to get back to Europe someday. Maybe my husband's business could find a reason to go international, hmmm, maybe...

Now are you ready for a little Ravelympics?

Happy knitting-
ali

Veronique said...

Mm, chocolate! And how great is it to meet a cyber friend?

Sophie said...

That was really wonderful to have you there! Can you imagine I didn't manage to write a single post since then? Have been too busy petting the incredibly soft Brooks Farm (yummy yummy) ;-)

And please, do come back. Government or not, we'll always have a fresh beer (more likely, hundreds of them) handy.

Now, Paris, Paris ! Can't wait to hear it all. Bises !

weezalana said...

Beer in a wine glass, nice!

Well, what else did you think I would zero in on?

Jessica said...

Sounds and looks like a fabulous time.

My god. The chocolate. *swoon*

Krista said...

love Belgium, love chocolate, love yarn..... what a great start to the day!
glad to see you're back... i missed the posts!

Kim said...

Yeah for international knitting! That whipped cream topped coffee is makingme drool while the thought of a museum filled with marionettes is scaring the shit out of me. I fear large puppets. I can't help but think of Dr. Evil when I think of Belgium. "This ones for my homies in Bruges."

juicyknits said...

I also want to go on a knitting trip to France and Belgium!

Karen said...

Wow, sounds like a perfect trip to me!!!!

tiennie said...

I am so jealous! The closest I've come to Belgium is to paint my kitchen/family room Belgium Sweet.

Yarnhog said...

I'm just sitting here going, "Oh, oh, oh, oh...!" looking at the pictures and reading your descriptions. I love to travel (sort of accounts for that "used to be a diplomat" thing), and I rarely get to anymore. I've never been to Belgium, but now it's at the top of my list. Just as soon as the U.S. economy is out of the toilet and the dollar is worth more that the Mexican peso.

TLCknits said...

OMGosh, you think they would mind if I made that my bed? LOL...Love the pics and reading about your journey.. Fun fun!

nicole said...

Mais comme de raison! When in Belgium, one must consume large quantities of beer and chocolate. International knitting just brings the whole thing up several notches. But the puppet museum? Scaaary!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to furiously slap on some lip balm and head off to Pain Quotidien. Do you think they'd make me a Liégeois?

Specs said...

Knitting, chocolate, and beer? I knew there was a reason I instinctively liked you.

Also, loved the history around the puppet guy. Who knew marionettes could be so interesting? (Ok, I didn't know.)

a friend to knit with said...

i want to go to belgium. sounds like a long airplane ride. :)
love hearing about your trip!

peaknits said...

Another awesome trip! Thanks for the tip on Sophie's blog - she indeed seems saucy:) And yes, mark me down for being a nervous lip-gloss applier:)

knithound brooklyn said...

Knitting, beer, chocolate. Does it get any better?

Esoteric Knitter said...

ohhh yummy chocolates. Looks like a great get together. :)

Sonya said...

What a fantastic trip! That first picture is making my mouth water.