Mmm, Hot Chocolate…

I’ve just returned from spending a few days in Belgium, based in the beautiful city of Bruges, famous for its canals and historic bell tower, and of course, for being the setting of the brilliant black comedy In Bruges, but the friend I travelled with and I also found time to visit Ghent and Brussels. I chose Brussels as the setting for my Tirgearr novella, One Night in Brussels, because it’s a fascinating place, mixing old and new. It’s only a short journey from the modern political hub of the European Union headquarters to the historic Grote Markt, with its incredible fairytale buildings that stand as a tribute to the city’s past.

img_1142Belgium is also well known for its chocolate, and if you want to sample the very best cup of hot chocolate the city has to offer (a must on a cold and windy day like the one I just spent there) you need to take a ten-minute walk from the Grote Markt to the Quai aux Briques, in the shadow of St Catherine’s church. There you’ll find the shop cum cafe of Frederic Blondeel, where you can drink what I can only describe as liquid heaven. You can have your chocolate straight up, if you like it dark and intense, or with additions including honey, vanilla, and even a hint of chili. (And the little piece of pistachio cake – scoffed by both of us before the photo was taken – and gianduja praline were a perfect accompaniment.) Blondeel also produces a range of truffles and chocolates in just about every flavour you can think of and some more unusual ones, such as Earl Grey, cardamom and pink pepper. You can find these in our favourite chocolate shop in the city, Elisabeth on the Rue au Beurre, who also stock gorgeous treats like Bakker Danny’s Zwevezeelse florentines, topped with butter cream and white chocolate, and their own mello-cakes – a luxury version of the chocolate teacake.

Chocolate shops may not feature in One Night in Brussels, but the couple at the heart of the story, SaOne_Night_in_Brussels_by_Elizabeth_Coldwell-500skia and Dominic, certainly get to discover many of the city’s other attractions, as well as having a run-in with a robber who threatens to make their night together memorable for all the wrong reasons. Of course, if Dominic hadn’t made off with a necklace from a jeweller’s close to the Grote Markt, he and Saskia might not have found themselves in quite so much trouble. But if you want to learn how they get out of their predicament, and what comes of their growing attraction to one another, One Night in Brussels is available until March 8th for the special price of 99p from Amazon UK as part of Tirgearr Publishing’s fifth birthday bash. It’s best read with a cup of something nice…

 

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