Bruges: delicious gluten-free chocolate truffles!
That day was very bad weather in Ghent. When we woke up, we had a little breakfast, we prepared our lunch and left for Bruges to arrive on time for the first Free Tour.
While I was driving, Isabel searched through the list of gluten-free restaurants in Bruges. We had found a lot of information, but with some differences depending on the source consulted: Tourist Office, Celiac Association of Belgium, 500.000 establecimientos sin gluten…
We filtered by area and by type of restaurant. We wanted to find one near the center and we discarded Italians and vegetarians. We wanted typical food! The result was three restaurants and, among these, we chose the restaurant “Le Mistique“. It is in the Heritage hotel, on Niklaas Desparsstraat 11. The restaurant did not open until 6 o’clock in the afternoon, so we went to the hotel reception to book a table “for two coeliacs”.
There was still half an hour left to start the free tour about the history of Brugge. As we were hungry, we went to the Kruidvat supermarket to buy something gluten free to eat.
Although tiny, there was a linear full of gluten-free products. We chose a couple of cookies with chocolate chips that we had not tried yet. The round ones were very good. The long ones… wel … the chocolate tasted good!
Before starting the tour, we took the opportunity to go to the information office to ask. Maybe they would give us a different listing than the ones we had found. So it was! That day he was not there, but we were told that one of the guys who works in the office is celiac, so all his colleagues know very well the subject.
We left there with a list of restaurants and some recommendations. At this tourist information point is where we have been better informed, and treated! Probably thanks to their coeliac colleague…
The tour started with two interesting anecdotes:
- Bruges is a mistranslation in Spanish. Brugge does not mean Witches, it means “Bridges”. This erroneous translation is not the first one we do in Spain: Canal de la Mancha instead of Canal de la Manga; Cabo de Hornos instead of Cape Hoorn, in honor of the Dutch town where the explorer was born who discovered it; etc!
- French fries are originally from Belgium, not France. Here are two variants of the story. The first is that it was a mistake of the American soldiers who came to Belgium during the Second World War. As they served fried potatoes and they spoke to them in French, they were called “french fries”. The Belgians are very patriotic with this and if you ask them “belgian fries” they will treat you better. The second story gives merit to a very cold winter that froze the canals. As they could not fish in, they cut the potatoes in an elongated form, and fried them just as they fried the fish they fished and… Bingo! A new recipe that has been successful all over the world.
Along the way through the city, between stories and anecdotes of the guide, I was looking at the chocolate shops. There were some crafts, other industrial and others that are known throughout the world.
I used to leave the group to go to ask. I wanted chocolate! In the second chocolate shop, Galler, they told me that their chocolates had traces… they also recommended me to make sure in other stores, since sometimes the desire to sell is ahead of ethics… great advice!
Halfway through the tour, they stopped us at Home Sweet Home, an “artisanal” chocolate shop with many industrial products… here we got to taste some chocolate. Neither Isa nor I ate it, because that had traces… I hate traces!
Then, while the group was buying, we took the opportunity to ask the saleswoman about the truffles and pralines, which are the most typical of Belgium … she told us that we can buy their products, since they are made in separate workplaces… we decided to return later!
We could not finish that tour… it was 12.45 and we needed to get back to the car, eat and go back to the Grote Markt square to start the second tour. What stress!
We swallowed the rice salad that we had prepared, finally, with the last sausages we had bought in Spain and went running for the next tour.
This was about the legends of Bruges. It was a bit repetitive, as they told us again about the name and the potatoes. While dodging the bicycles – terrorist bikes as the guide called them… just like the ones in Amsterdam! – and we discovered other places in the city, they told us another interesting story:
I loved this one! It was about the curse of Friday the 13th. It is seen that it is not a curse. It is the memory of a sad day, a Friday the 13th when the Templars ceased to exist. According to the guide, the Templars offered very expensive loans to the rich and loans without interest to the poor. According to the guide, they ceased to exist because a French king could not pay his loan and annihilated them.
After the tour, we returned to the chocolate shop “Home Sweet Home” where we met again with the saleswoman who had attended us the first time. Now the truffles did have gluten because they are industrial… Good! The guide had told us that it was an artisanal chocolate shop… and the shop assistant told us not to worry about their product… the attendant in “Galler” chocolate shop was right…
Evidently we left. But I still wanted Belgian chocolate! So, I looked again on the internet and went to the chocolate bar at The Chocolate Line on Simon Stevinplein Street 19. There is also one in Antwerp. There we asked about the truffles and, after reviewing the allergen tables, they told us that we could take them.
Although it does not mean anything, the fact of having taken out a table of allergens reassured us. And we came out with a bag of gluten free truffles!
As soon as we left the chocolate shop, we saw that the Aquarel restaurant was there, at number 2A of Simon Stevinplein Street. We went to see the menu and realized they had some dishes marked with the gluten-free symbol. What a joy! The man explained to us that they took it very seriously, since cross-contamination could harm us too. Wow!
The joy lasted until they told us it was already closed! What? At 5 pm? We run out of gluten-free restaurants in Bruges… we’ll have to go back to Bruges to be able to eat there!
Tired and sad for not being able to change the restaurant, we decided to cancel the reservation we had and go back to Ghent. At the end of the day, the restaurant Le Mistique had a very bare and expensive menu, a design kitchen, not really typical…
While we were returning to Ghent, we called the Belfort Stadscafe and booked a table for an hour later. This restaurant closes late and, although they did not have many people, they told us they would wait for us.
Having learned the lesson from the previous day, we only ordered the ribs with chips. When they asked for dessert, we said no. We had a plan… “Russian roulette” of the gluten free chocolates we had bought in Leonidas, a couple of truffles and a movie.
The next day, we returned to France.
You can see the pictures of the trip here.
Below, other gluten-free restaurants in Bruges that recommended us in tourist information:
- Aquarel in Simon Stevinplein 2 A.
- Nomad in ‘t Zand 12.
- Pro Deo in Langestraat 161.
- Rock Fort in Langestraat 15.
- Den Amand in Sint-Amandsstraat 4 (they adapt the menu upon request).
- Blackbird in Jan Van Eyckplein 7 (Reservations must be made).
- Frituur Royal at Langestraat 181 A (here you can have Belgian fries).
BY CLICKING ON THE MAP OF GLUTEN FREE RESTAURANTS YOU FILL SEE ALL RESTAURANTS WE DESCRIBED IN THIS POST LOCATED IN THE MAP OF GLUTEN-FREE PLACES:
AND HERE WE LEAVE THE CELIAC TRAVEL CARD IN DUTCH:
P.S.: Please keep in mind that in this blog I share my trips, anecdotes and experiences about gluten free travel around the world. It is possible that, in any of my trips, I go to some restaurant not trained by the associations where the risk of being contaminated with gluten exists. I kindly ask you to also take into account that the list of references can change. Please, always double check before eating in the restaurants we recommend. Thank you very much!
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