Practically dancing as I left Stop #5: Pierre Marcolini, thanks to the disco ball and the “wink,” I twisted and twirled my way right across the street and into the Grand Sablon. It was beautiful – from the statuary, to the perfectly coiffed gardens, to the enormous old church – the Église Notre Dame du Sablon.
I decided to take a short break from the tour, and explore the grounds. The light dusting of snow really made it all the more magical.
It didn’t hurt that I appeared to be the only person walking the grounds. I guess I get up earlier than most tourists. I crossed over to take a few shots of the front of the church, and while doing so, I was stopped by a woman and asked for directions – in French. I guess I didn’t look like a tourist after all.
At this point, I realized I had no idea where I was going myself, so I broke out the map and tried to find my next destination:
Stop #6: Passion Chocolat.
I totally could not find this place. I thought at first I must have passed it and didn’t realize, so I back tracked down the road I had just come from. Nothing. I started wondering if in fact it was located on the other side of the Sablon, so I walked around the church, and headed back down the other side, but not before capturing my favorite picture from the entire trip – the picture I felt captured the classy and whimsical vibe of the city of Brussels – a red plastic tree “growing” in the small side yard of the old the Église.
The universe must have meant for me to see that image, because immediately after I snapped the photo, I turned around and there was Passion Chocolat, right behind me. I swear it wasn’t there before. How could I have missed it, with its giant red and gold pyramid at the entrance!
I walked in, and it was small. And bright. But warm. I liked it. The woman behind the counter was unpacking boxes (I think I may have been the first customer – I swear it was not THAT early). She stood up and came over when I walked in and said “Bonjour” and asked if I she could help me (in French). I said “Bonjour” back, trying to be polite, and she then launched into something fast and French that I couldn’t understand. I then said, “Je ne parle pas francais,” to which she replied, in English, “you should have said that up front! How was I to know you did not speak French!” She wasn’t necessarily angry or rude, but she did seem to be in a bit of huff, as if this happens often. It took everything in my power not to giggle. I decided to focus intently on the task at hand, which was to select some chocolates for my taste-testing journey.
The very first chocolate that caught my eye was a white chocolate pyramid – a small, edible version of the one outside the entrance. I definitely had to get that. I came to find out later there was a hazelnut ganache on the inside. Mmm hmmm. I selected a few others – one that looked like a chocolate covered orange slice, one dark chocolate with small coconut flakes on top, and a couple more that appealed to me. She packed them in a dainty little bag (similar to the ones I saw in some of the shops the day before – these must be the prime packaging for chocolates in Brussels), and I grabbed a business card, paid and was on my way. I have to say, their logo was definitely my favorite – it fit the name perfectly.
I ate the pyramid first, and it was perfect. As a lover of white chocolate, it actually wound up being my singular favorite piece on the tour. The others were delicious too, but the pyramid really made the grade. If I were to create my perfect piece of chocolate, that pyramid would be it.
Hang in there and keep on keepin’ on to the next stop on the tour, which, was literally a hop skip and a jump away - Stop #7, Wittamer: where chocolate fantasies come true…