Weekend in Brussels

grand placeA couple of weekends ago, my husband and I crossed the border and ventured over to the land of chocolate and moules frites (mussels and fries). I had only briefly visited Brussels once years ago when I had flown to Paris and driven to the most south eastern corner of Belgium to get my dog, Elroy. During that trip, I was only in Brussels for a few hours, and the only thing I really remember about the city was the rather unremarkable meal that I had that night. From what I’ve gathered, the French don’t hold the Belgians in particularly high esteem and think of themselves and their culture/cuisine as being far superior to that of the Belgians. Given that mediocre meal and their reputation among the French, I didn’t exactly have any sort of expectations, but nevertheless, I still looked forward to leaving the hustle and bustle of Paris for a long weekend to explore the home of the European Commission.
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Weekend in Brussels

Fleur de sel chocolate chocolate cookies

chocolate cookies

Though it’s been three and half years since I’ve made France my home, I’m still very attached to my American roots. France has introduced me to a whole new world of pâtisseries and has brought out the sweet tooth in me, yet I still have a fondness for making American baked goods, such as cookies, muffins, cupcakes, etc. Cookies are probably one of the easiest things to make, but the Frenchies haven’t quite mastered this goodie of ours. I find that their interpretation of our cookies is a bit too dry and crunchy for my liking. I myself prefer soft and chewy cookies. Ahhh, nothing like the nostalgia of my days back in the states brought on by biting into a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie!

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Fleur de sel chocolate chocolate cookies

sablés au chocolat

sablé au chocolat

Last week marked the official la rentrée, the start of the academic school year and when all of the Frenchies return to work from their long summer vacations. Everyone is tanner, refreshed and ready to work again. Although the office was pretty calm and pleasant during the month of August and all projects were put on hold until September, I was more than thrilled to see all of my coworkers again. Being essentially the only person at the office became too monotonous and quiet after just a couple of days. Without anyone at work, I was like a mute for a couple of weeks. And, if I’m not speaking French at work, the only other language I’m speaking these days is Vietnamese. So, I was starting to fear that what little French I had acquired was beginning to escape me, since I had gone for weeks without any sort of meaningful exchanges in French. I think I can breathe easily for now though, as my French words seem to still be intact!

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sablés au chocolat

chocolate gelato

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Ice cream maker, where have you been all my life? I had no idea that making ice cream at home was so simple. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even think that homemade ice cream was in the realm of possibility for the home cook. I thought that turning milk and sugar into that creamy goodness required a little magic. Little did I know that with a few simple ingredients and an ice cream maker, deliciousness can be had at home in a few short hours (that is, if overnight refrigeration not required).

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chocolate gelato