Category: Belgium


I met Jean Galler, The King’s Chocolatier, at his office in Liège, Belgium and was immediately enamored with his charm and style. And that was before I’d tasted the chocolate of Galler Chocolatier!

Jean Galler proudly introduces us to his finest chocolates

Galler emits passion and excitement in his every word, movement and action. He is without question the most elegant and sophisticated chocolatier on the planet and there was no doubt that he would deliver that passion and elegance in his chocolate creations. We were not disappointed. Galler’s chocolate is complex and multi-faceted. He has something to please everyone with a discerning taste for fine chocolate. He is all about freedom to choose. So from Galler, you can expect a wide variety of chocolates to please virtually any palate.

Galler has been making chocolate since 1976 and in 1993, was the first of Belgium’s chocolatiers to launch a 70% cocoa chocolate in which he found the perfect blend between bitterness and sweetness. In 2008, he launched a series of four blended chocolates. “It is a very similar technique to blending grape varietals for wine such as Bordeaux,” says Galler, whose passion for chocolate focuses on the finest quality.

“Today’s reality is that the consumer wants excellent quality but a small quantity.” So Galler launched a series of mini gourmet chocolate bars that have become extremely popular. He also has a series of products for children.

Jean Galler's playful side shows us his children's line of fine chocolate products

What does chocolate symbolize to the man who makes chocolate for the King of Belgium? “For me, chocolate is freedom. So in the box, I put freedom to choose and to change.” Galler Pure Cocoa has more than 40 chocolate shops around the world, including the Grand Place in Brussels and eight shops in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In 2008, Galler launched Chocolat-passion, a wine-matching concept in which he employs a sommelier at each of his second-generation shops to help customers purchase just the right wine to enjoy with their chocolate purchases. You will find 32 wines from 22 different countries at Galler’s Chocolat-passion locations, in addition to multi media all about chocolate. What could be sweeter?

Galler also had a tea matching service for his chocolate creations at his Chocolat-Thé locations, at which you can enjoy any of 30 different teas in the traditional way with your Galler chocolates. And a new, third concept for chocolate appreciation can be found at his signature, Liège location. Visit the Chocolat Bar for a chocolate experience you will never forget.

Liège is a short drive from Brussels and is also accessible by train. They have an impressive new train station that I’m told took 13 years to build! The city itself is an industrial hub and more of a place to visit rather than stay.

When you are in Belgium, be sure to visit more than one of Galler’s locations and experience the extent of his creativity and ingenuity. And enjoy the elegant and exotic nature of his chocolates. You will never forget them, just as I will never forget meeting Monsieur Galler.

For those of us on this side of the pond here in North America, Happy National Chocolate Day on October 28th! I’m sure we’ll all be celebrating with a great piece (or two!) of fine chocolate. And as it’s also Champagne Day, you might like to enjoy some champagne with your chocolate!

Please join us back here the week of Nov 7th for our next post.

I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing I could hop the pond and be in London this week for the celebrations of Chocolate Week. As I’ve previously written on this blog, you will definitely find some of the best chocolate on the planet in the UK.

But as it’s not in the cards for me to make another epic chocolate journey at this particular moment in time, I’ll just reminisce about some of the best chocolate I’ve had the privilege of tasting and introduce you to several of the charming men who are making it in Belgium.

some of the amazing chocolate I brought home from Belgium

A chocolate expedition to Belgium should begin at La Maison des Maitres Chocolatiers, a wonderful shop located right in the Grand Place of Brussels which features the chocolate products of 10 of Belgium’s best.  The idea behind this inspirational place of chocolate is to introduce you to selected offerings from a variety of Belgian chocolatiers, saving you time and effort. If you’ve only got a short amount of time to make your chocolate discoveries, this is the place for you! You’ll see chocolate demonstrations and have the opportunity to taste a selection of chocolate to help you find your favourite.

tasting some succulent drinking chocolate at La Maison

Two of my personal favourites do happen to be represented at La Maison. The chocolates of both Laurent Gerbaud (who has a beautiful new shop in Brussels) and Edouard Bechoux, owner of Les chocolats d’Edouard of Florenville, Belgium can be found at La Maison.

Laurent Gerbaud Chocolatier has a strong connection to Asia, as Laurent lived in China for two years. He takes great pride in the purity of his chocolates, with no added sugar, butter, alcohol or preservatives and offers a terrific selection of exotic fruit such as Egyptian prunes, figs from Turkey and South African apricots that are happily covered in thick dark chocolate.

the very charming, Laurent Gerbaud

Laurent is upbeat and enthusiastic. Edouard Bechoux has more of a reserved nature, but he is equally creative, and started his culinary training at the young age of 14. He spent several years living in Tuscany and brings that influence to the kitchen in his bistro, which by no surprise, serves a lot of chocolate on the menu. I enjoyed beef served with a Ugandan chocolate sauce. It was most delectable!
Edouard also specializes in drinking chocolate and has 17 kinds of hot chocolate, 12 kinds of cool chocolate and 35 desserts for sale in addition to the extensive selection of  fresh chocolates, all made on site.

Edouard Bechoux's creativity with chocolate is sure to please

Please return the week of October 24th, when I will introduce you to Monsieur Galler.

To match the excitement of the fall migration of geese happening here on the Canadian Prairies right now, I thought we’d celebrate with our own migration! I’ll be migrating some of the content from my lifestyle blog over to this blog in order to fill in the blanks regarding my research for Chocolatour, which formally began 2 years ago … in the fall of 2009 … with a trip to Belgium, France and Switzerland.

Rather than repeating those posts (which you can still read over at the Blogger blog,) I’ll update them by giving you choco-centric information that will be a teaser for what you’ll find in Chocolatour: Your Guide to the Faces and Places of Chocolate.

Let’s start with Belgium, and our glorious time in Brussels, Florenville and Liège, Belgium. I visited those three particular cities as they are home to three of Belgium’s finest and most innovative chocolatiers.

the squares in European cities are wonderful, with the Grand Place of Brussels being no exception

I will devote a future blog post to each chocolatier, their products and communities in my top 3 picks for innovative Belgian chocolate. But for this week …

My Top 3 Reasons for Loving Belgium:

1) Chocolate! (But of course!) There are probably more chocolate shops in Belgium than any other place on the planet! In Brussels and Bruges, in particular, you’ll encounter a chocolate boutique every few steps. And the chocolate is amazing. In most cases, it’s handcrafted by local chocolatiers, each with his or her own unique style to entice you. Experiment! Try many and find the right chocolate personality to match your own. Think of it as chocolate dating, and what can be more satisfying than that!

2) The Belgians are really nice. You’ll find most Belgians to be a friendly, helpful people. Try to engage in conversation. Knowing a little French will be helpful, as French is the principal language spoken in Brussels. But you will find the Belgians to be much more humble and accommodating than their French neighbours, making a trip to Belgium pleasant and engaging.

3) Beer! I’m not a big beer drinker, but the Belgians really know their beer, and if you’re fortunate enough to visit during the warm summer months, nothing will refresh you better than a frosty mug of Stella Artois on one of the gorgeous patios!

Please share your own special memories about Belgium. We’re celebrating World Tourism Day today, and I can think of no better way to do so, than to celebrate the attributes of other cultures with our fellow lovers of travel.

See you back here the week of October 10th, when we’ll meet some amazing men of chocolate.

Long-time readers of my Blogger blog will recall that last fall I embarked on a chocolate-tasting journey through Belgium, France and Switzerland.  What an amazing taste-tantalizing two weeks that was!  Well, I’m thrilled to say that the tickets are purchased, the reservations made and the Euro chocolate tasting resumes on Monday, September 20 when I fly to Amsterdam, Barcelona and Italy for more of the best European chocolate available to chocolate lovers anywhere. Yes, my waistline will suffer. But all in the line of duty for you, my dear readers as I continue my research along the Chocolatour. Stay tuned to this blog for news on the release date of the book.

Last year I came home with a suitcase literally filled to the brim with the most amazing chocolate from the most innovative Belgian, French and Swiss chocolatiers. Can the experience possibly be beat? I had oodles of fun, and learned much from chocolate connoisseur, friend and travelling companion Kathe Lieber of Montreal. This year, I’m travelling with vivacious Virginia Heffernan of Toronto, a fellow writer, chocolate and wine enthusiast. I’m thinking it’s going to be an amazing trip!

I’ll make the next post to this blog on October 5th, the day following our return.  But to whet your appetite, please take a look at last year’s reflection of “Take 1” here.

chocolate in my suitcase


I’ve just returned from 2 weeks in Europe, meeting some of the world’s best chocolatiers — all in the way of a good day’s work. My next book will be about chocolate. There will be much more about that as time goes by.
I’ve unpacked the big suitcase, which contained an assortment of immensely heavy press materials, heaps of clothes to be cleaned, toiletries and about 5 pairs of shoes. How is it that men can travel with just one (or possibly 2 pair of shoes?)
And then there’s the second suitcase. The size you use for a long weekend of travel. I took it nearly empty, knowing … hoping … that I would be coming home with lots of chocolate. And sure enough, I was right. So much so that I had to unzip the expansion pocket on the suitcase just to fit my treasured stash without crushing its valuable contents.
The trip began in Montreal on October 9th, where I enjoyed a tremendous lunch with friends at a trendy restaurant specializing in chocolate, then visiting a remarkable chocolatier in Pointe Claire. A great way to begin a voyage of chocolate discoveries.We flew from Montreal to Brussels (via London) with British Airways (BA.) The staff on BA is always friendly and courteous. They seem to enjoy their jobs, making travel so much more pleasant than what I’ve experienced on various other airlines. I’d highly recommend them for overseas travel and we are using forward to enjoying their service again.
Throughout our three days in Belgium we met several memorable creators of chocolate magic. I’ve always loved Belgian chocolate and now I know why. No one takes greater care than the Belgians in making chocolate much more than just cocoa butter, cream and sugar. Those 3 key ingredients are only a small part of the amazing chocolate creations we were introduced to. The Belgians really know how to innovate with chocolate.
France was included in my itinerary because the Salon du Chocolat and the World Chocolate Masters Championships were taking place at the same Paris venue mid October. How could a self-declared chocoholic not take in the world’s largest chocolate extravaganza? The Salon du Chocolat offered consumers an amazing selection of chocolate delicacies, enhancements and accompaniments. The World Chocolate Masters event introduced me to trend setters and key people in the chocolate industry from around the world. A most enjoyable visit to the south of France topped off the French experience and introduced me to yet another amazing chocolatier.
Our trip concluded with four days in magnificent Switzerland, a country whose thriving economy pays tribute to the chocolate industry. The Swiss take pride in eating the world’s most chocolate on a per capita basis and in producing the world’s greatest abundance of chocolate products. I came away with a greater respect for Swiss chocolate, thrilled to see that the country best known for its creamy milk chocolate is now producing an increasing amount of impressive dark and delicious delicacies.
Hats off and thanks to my translator, part-time navigator, full-time friend and fellow taster, Kathe Lieber for joining me in this endeavour. Her new knees served her well as we navigated our way through some of the world’s best museums, houses of chocolate and other memorable places. More on that later, too.
But for now, I just wanted to assure you that I am alive and well and probably a few pounds heavier than when embarking on this journey.
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