The holidays are upon us and that means lots of fabulous food and wine.

Kat is spending Christmas in Prague and the New Year in Austria. Molly is headed to PA with hot smoked salmon, truffle studded Pecorino, and a sparkling Riesling in tow.

A simple but decadent Flourless Chocolate Cake is a lovely recipe to make at the holidays, especially for Gluten Free or chocoholic guests. Enjoy it with crème fraîche, candied orange peel or a scoop of ice cream. We prepared this cake during our Art of Provence tour this fall. Viktorija taught a cooking class in Nice and the cake was a lovely finale.

Flourless​ ​Chocolate​ ​Cake
From Viktorija Todorovska

Makes: 1 8-inch cake
4 ounces dark chocolate (over 68%)
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line an 8-inch round pan with foil and butter the foil.
In a double-boiler, melt chocolate and butter, stirring the mixture so there are no
lumps. Add the sugar and stir well (note: mixture will be grainy).
Cool mixture slightly and then add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each egg.
Bake for 15-18 minutes until the center is soft but not runny.

Photos by Peter Newbury

An interview with Onward Travelers Jan Spadaro and Cathy Phipps Sine by Onward Travel’s summer intern, Caitlin Sweeney, Cornell SHA ’19

I had the chance to talk with two spirited and enthusiastic travelers, Jan Spadaro and Cathy Phipps Sine. When considering who to feature for the first traveler spotlight, Molly and Kat decided upon the perfect duo. From the beginning of our conversation, these two showed their sense of humor, all around enjoyment of each other, and love of travel. From cooking classes to getting lost in Rome, these two have done it all together.

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How did you hear about Onward Travel?

JS: Hmm, I think I saw a post about a trip on a friend’s Facebook, someone who had been on trips with Onward Travel previously.

CPS: I was familiar with The Cooking Cottage that predated Onward Travel.

Cathy and Jan enjoying breakfast in Italy.

Which Onward adventures have you gone on?

CPS: Jan and I have been on three trips. First, in 2015, to Anna Maria Island with Kat as our guide to explore the area and enjoy a meal hosted by Peggi, Molly & Kat’s mom. The second trip was to Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos in New Mexico to see and taste the Southwest in 2016. Our third trip was this past spring, to Italy’s Amalfi Coast with Kat and Chef Jenna as our guides.                                                

How long have you known each other?

JS: I’d say about 20 years (let’s see what she says!) but we’ve really gotten to know each other since her husband passed away in 2006 ~ 5 years after my husband passed, in 2001.

CPS: Jan & I met in 1999 when my daughter signed up to play soccer and Jan was her coach! There were 4 Emily’s on the team that year – one was mine and one was Jan’s. Our Emily’s became friends and so did Jan and me. On a side note, Jan was widowed in 2011. Her husband had my husband promise that we would always look out for Jan and their 3 children after he died. Little did we know that in 2006 my husband would also die of cancer and leave me widowed. Jan and I have a lot in common.

What has been your favorite trip so far?

JS: Wow, that’s a tough question, because each one has been different and unique. I will have to go with Amalfi. The Amalfi Coast is breathtakingly beautiful, the food was delectable, and the wine free-flowing! We had a great sized group, 16 of us, and many new friends in addition to a few with whom I had traveled previously. But I must add the same can be said for the other 3 trips I’ve been on, so maybe Amalfi is my most recent trip, freshest in my mind!

CPS: The Amalfi trip was most memorable! The coast was spectacular, from the sea, to the vineyards and lemon farms. I especially enjoyed our private boat ride out to the Isle of Capri. We sat out on the front of the boat sipping Prosecco as our Captain took the boat in and around grottos along the coast, before cruising us into Capri as if we were celebrities! We enjoyed a diverse selection of sightseeing and hands-on activities. One of the biggest benefits of Onward Travel is traveling with a much smaller group. I never felt like I was being herded along in a huge group. All of our trips had a wonderful mix of people who enjoy adventure and trying new things.

What is your favorite memory from traveling with Onward Travel?

Cathy in a lemon grove on the Amalfi Coast. Nice shirt, Cathy!

 

JS: So many to choose from, but I’m going to say it was the boat trip to Capri Island. Everything about that day was perfect, the weather, the scenery, the fellow travelers, and the atmosphere on the boat to make it seem we were living the life of the Rich and Famous

CPS: My all-time favorite memory was exploring the lemon farm in Amalfi. It is remarkable how one family has managed to keep it going for generations, while changing with the times but retaining the authentic values and traditions of the family. Singing the Star Spangled Banner at the request of the Italian Nonna and Papa at the farm and then hearing them sing the Italian National Anthem was a sight to behold! The Amalfi lemons and people are amazing. There’s no other way to describe them.

Jan, what is your favorite travel memory with Cathy?

JS: Cathy and I hopped on a bus to take in as much of Rome as we could see in the limited time we had one afternoon. We enjoyed the sites, and almost missed our stop to get off the bus close to our hotel. We were in a hurry, we thought, and as we hustled to get back to the hotel to meet up with the group, we got turned around and really had to use both of our memories of landmarks to finally find our way back, just in time to meet the others for dinner that night . . . only to then be told we were an hour early!  Deep breath, go get cleaned up, and enjoy (a few!) glasses of wine until the REAL meet-up time!  We got a good laugh at ourselves for that close call!

Cathy, what is your favorite travel memory with Jan?

Jan on the boat to Capri.

CPS: We like to laugh about the time we had an especially handsome, regal looking chef who was attempting to give us a cooking class. He seemed to zero in on Jan (although she denies it). Every time he turned around to check a pot or add more zest, we would edge Jan closer and offer her as his only assistant. She earned the nickname Teacher’s Pet on that trip

Why do you choose Onward Travel?

JS: That’s an easy one for me to answer!  As a single parent since my children were 7 and 8 years old, I have been solely responsible for planning the family vacations. Onward Travel takes ALL of that away from me! I can see the itinerary, decide if it’s a trip I would enjoy, and send Molly a check!  Of course, it’s also all about the great trips Kat and Molly plan; so many places to go, so little time!

CPS: I love exploring new cultures and places. History is so much more exciting when I get to stand on the very steps of some place I’ve read about. Traveling with others adds dialogue and discussions with interpretations that I may not have thought about. But above all, it’s the serendipity of possibilities that will happen along the way!

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Jan and Cathy’s personalities and pure enjoyment of each other’s company really show through in their answers. You can bet their future endeavors will be filled with laughter and many glasses of wine!

A guest blog post by Onward Travel’s summer intern, Caitlin Sweeney, Cornell SHA ’19

Traveling alone can be nerve-racking, unpredictable, uncomfortable and lonely.

At first.

Once you take the plunge the unpredictability becomes spontaneity. Nerve-wracking becomes exciting. Being uncomfortable becomes a welcome challenge. The loneliness becomes courage to branch out and make lasting friendships, or the confidence to be alone. All of the downfalls of traveling solo become the greatest benefits.

It can be hard sometimes to align your interests, schedules and resources with those of your friends. This can be a barrier to traveling with friends. Onward Traveler Tim Niles wasn’t always up for traveling alone, but as the travel bug nagged him and friends’ schedules didn’t line up with his own he decided to just give it a try.

Tim (right) with fellow traveler Ryan Goebel in London

Tim’s says that his first solo trip was pretty terrible. When he asked his travel agent to send him somewhere warm and mildly all inclusive, he ended up in Cancun for a long weekend. Tim recalls it was, “not a good place to be solo, but I didn’t have any problem finding spots at the bar or tables for dinner!” Small experiences like not having anyone to watch his things while he went swimming or sitting in a hotel room with spotty wifi trying to determine his next sightseeing destination made him realize the importance of planning and preparation.

Tim enjoyed participating in our “Beer Geeks in Britain” tour with Founders Brewing in June 2017. The social group suited him well and he enjoyed solo, exploratory walks during unscheduled time, plus camaraderie and shared experiences with the group throughout the week.

Tim recommends someone looking to start solo traveling starts with a hybrid trip. Go somewhere to meet a friend, but add a couple days onto your trip to explore alone. Meet up with locals who know something about the area. Travel alone with strangers on a group excursion.

Jeannette (second from right) with travel friends in Seattle.

On the flip side, traveling alone may not suit you at all. Many find sharing the experiences with fellow travelers and not having to worry about a thing is the best part. We always have solo travelers on our tours and it’s great fun as the group mixes and mingles. Jeannette Schacht has traveled with Onward many times, and she says she “loves the individual help and attention to detail. The travelers are all warm and friendly and look out for each other.”

Whether exploring a new city by yourself or joining an Onward group and making new friends… If you’re thinking about traveling alone, what’s stopping you?

Onward, travelers!

Here at Onward Travel we love to partner with businesses and organizations that share our interests and passions. We grew up working at our family’s cooking school so we’re absolutely delighted to announce a culinary tour in partnership with The Chopping Block, a Chicago-based recreational cooking school. The Chopping Block offers lots of interesting programming at their two locations and they’re passionate about teaching folks to cook. Last year The Chopping Block’s wine educator moved to Nice and this fall she will host a food and wine tour in Provence!

Sip wonderful French wines at the source. Photos by Francois Millo.

Our fall culinary adventure in France, The Art of Living in Provence, is open to any and all travelers who would like to savor Provence. The tour is co-hosted by The Chopping Block’s Sommelier and Nice-resident Viktorija Todorovska. Viktorija wrote a beautiful book about Provence and is excited to introduce a small group of folks to her corner of the world. Spend three nights in Nice, two nights at a country retreat in the mountains, and two nights in quaint and lovely Aix-en-Provence.

This weeklong tour, September 15—22, 2017, will highlight the connection between food and wine in Provence. Learn how professionals taste and assess wines. Chat with winemakers and learn about the process of making world-renown rosé. Take your passion for food and wine a step further with this immersion in Provençal cuisine. But of course, this is vacation, and we’ll be sunning ourselves on the beach, playing a leisurely game of péntaque, admiring the fountains in charming Aix-en-Provence, and laughing into the evening with new friends.

Provence is home to well-known, healthful Mediterranean cuisine. We’ll enjoy hands-on cooking classes, market visits, and special tastings. Food is art in France, and in Provence… the beautiful ingredients are the stars. From sunny Nice, to the hills of Forcalquier, to charming Aix-in-Provence, we’ll wine and dine, cook and create, and experience picturesque Provence… View all the details here.

Harney & Sons Tea in London – an Exclusive Look at British Tea and Royal Culture
Inspired by the Historic Royal Palaces Tea Collection by Harney & Sons Tea

We are so delighted to announce our newest partnership with one of our favorite businesses: Harney & Sons Tea! Headquartered in the Hudson Valley, with a tearoom in Soho, Harney & Sons Tea is a leader in the global fine tea market. They source a mind-boggling variety of the best teas from across the globe and Harney & Sons products are on the menus of many excellent restaurants and cafes around the world. Their mail order business also has a large and loyal following, and their teas can be found on the shelves of gourmet markets. We first got to know the Harney family when Molly met John Harney, the founder of the business, at a Cornell event while she was an undergraduate. John Harney and his son Mike, his successor in running this fabulous family business, are, like Molly, proud Cornell Hotel School graduates. Onward Travel couldn’t be more thrilled to begin offering tea-centric travel experiences around the globe with Harney & Sons Tea!

Join Mike & Brigitte Harney this September for a one of a kind tea-centered tour of greater London. Harney & Sons Tea is served at some of the most iconic tea drinking destinations in the British capital, including the famous Dorchester Hotel and the Historic Royal Palaces, for whom Harney & Sons has produced a signature line of fine teas.


Speaking about Britain, George Orwell once said, “Tea is one of the mainstays of the civilization of this country!” And Orwell was right: nobody drinks tea like the Brits! They average at least three cups per day, encouraged by a wonderful tea drinking culture that has flourished there since the national beverage was made fashionable by King Charles in the 17th century. Today tea is a part of local custom, vernacular, way of life and pop culture at every level of society.

As seen in London’s trendy Shoreditch neighborhood. / photo courtesy Duncan Hull

In London with the Harneys you’ll take a day-long Tea Infusiast Masterclass at the UK Tea Academy, set out on a historic walking tour including visits to Royal residences, and enjoy the traditional British tea service everywhere from the posh Dorchester Hotel to below the copper hull of The Cutty Sark. We’ll trace the history of tea and the tea industry from China to India to the British dining room. It’s difficult to seek out tea history in the UK without taking some time to explore another quintessentially British pursuit of pleasure: the garden, so we’ll visit some delightful gardens as well. In this adventure packed week our small group will dive in to explore London and her fascinating tea history from all angles.

High Tea in the Promenade at The Dorchester / photo courtesy The Dorchester

Our home base for this adventure will be a four-star hotel in the heart of London, The Chesterfield Mayfair. It’s a boutique hotel boasting style and charm galore (think dark wood, antique furniture, original paintings), a top-hatted doorman to make sure you know you’re in London, and rooftop beehives making honey for our tea.

The drawing room at The Chesterfield Mayfair / courtesy The Chesterfield Mayfair

The conservatory at The Chesterfield Mayfair / courtesy The Chesterfield Mayfair

Day 1: Welcome to England!

Upon arrival at London Heathrow Airport your Onward Travel guide (Kat) and a professional driver will collect the group and we’re off to brunch at historic Newen’s, located in the London suburb of Richmond, where “Maids of Honour”cakes are a 300 year old tradition, reportedly named for Anne Boleyn. The Maid of Honour cake is a cheese filled puff pastry tart, and we’ll nosh on those along with a delicious and restorative hot breakfast.

Then let’s head to the world’s largest collection of living plants, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, for a guided tour. Officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these gardens were founded in 1840 and contain tens of thousands of plants as well as an Arboretum, a lake, and plant houses spanning from the Victorian era to the contemporary. It’s the perfect place to stretch legs and jump right into Britain’s outstanding garden tradition.

The world’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse at Kew Gardens / photo courtesy www.heatheronhertravels.com

In the afternoon we’ll check into The Chesterfield Mayfair. Take a little time to freshen up and then we are off to an early evening Champagne High Tea at the legendary Dorchester Hotel. As we sit in the opulent setting of The Promenade in the heart of the hotel, we’ll toast to our week of adventure ahead as we enjoy the elegant spread and welcoming service that makes this one of the world’s most famous places to drink tea. A proud member of the prestigious Tea Guild, The Dorchester is an official partner of Harney & Sons Tea and we’ll enjoy some Harney tea there today.

Day 2- London Immersion

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel as you will each morning of your stay. Let’s get acquainted with London today! A friendly and knowledgeable local guide will meet us after breakfast and we’ll set out for a historic London walking tour. Our hotel is in the posh neighborhood of Mayfair, just adjacent to the royal district of Westminster which has one of the highest concentrations of famous landmarks in the world. From triumph to tragedy, splendor to squalor, the area has cradled royalty and witnessed revolt.  Laws have been made and kings have been crowned – and one even lost his head! We’ll learn all about it this morning as we follow royal footsteps along the Mall, stroll the hustle and bustle of Whitehall, pass Downing Street (home to Britain’s Prime Minister), and enjoy the relative tranquillity of Horse Guard’s Parade where two of England’s most ancient ceremonies take place.  We’ll visit Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and The Houses of Parliament.

As we wrap up our tour by the shores of the River Thames, continue your exploration and walk across Westminster Bridge to take in the vibrant South Bank and bustling Borough Market, or transfer back to the hotel to relax. Either way, the rest of the afternoon and evening is yours. Onward is happy to help you arrange tickets to see a show in London’s fantastic theater district, book a tour of London Tower, or point you in the direction of the city’s best shopping. This is a great night to make reservations at one of our recommended London restaurants to enjoy some of the world’s best cuisine.

Day 3 – A Very British Sunday

This morning we will set out to visit Kensington Palace, a royal residence set in the Kensington Gardens, and one of the officially designated Historic Royal Palaces, with whom Harney & Sons Tea has an official partnership.  Members of the British Royal Family have resided here since the 17th century and today it is the official London residence of a number of royals, including The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Catherine) and Prince Harry. The historic State Rooms are open to the public, and we’ll enjoy a tour of them today before we visit the gardens – formerly private for the inhabitants of the palace, but today one of the Royal Parks of London, designated Grade I and listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. After our visit to the gardens we’ll retire to a high tea lunch at The Orangery, an elegant structure set amid the gardens and long a location for royal entertaining. Sip Harney tea in a London palace as you enjoy a selection of dainty tea sandwiches, cakes and fresh scones with Cornish clotted cream.

Afternoon tea at The Orangery / photo courtesy Gary Bembridge

This afternoon you’ll have time to relax at the Chesterfield Mayfair, pop in to one of the many museums and galleries near our hotel, or cross a sightseeing destination off your list. We’ll reconvene in the late afternoon to partake in one of England’s greatest traditions together: The Sunday Roast. We’ll head to a favorite neighborhood butcher restaurant, the Blacklock, where you’ll enjoy your choice of juicy charcoal roasted meat – lamb, pork or beef – accompanied by duck fat roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, veggies and a rich gravy. It doesn’t get much better – or much more British – than that!

Day 4 – Back to School with Jane Pettigrew

Time to do a little learning! Today we will attend a private Tea Infusiast Masterclass with tea expert Jane Pettigrew at the UK Tea Academy. Ms. Pettigrew, the author of sixteen books on tea, has worked in the industry for over 30 years and she teaches tea masterclasses all over the world. In 2014 she was voted Best Tea Educator at the World Tea Awards and in January 2016 she was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to Tea Production and Tea History in the UK’s New Year Honours list. We’ll spend an entire day with Jane and her team, tasting, learning and talking tea together.

After this delightful and informative day enjoy the evening in London as you like.

Day 5 – History & Smuggled Tea

This morning we’ll travel to the west of Central London to visit Hampton Court Palace, built by Kings Henry VIII and William III in the 16th and 17th centuries, it is one of the most spectacular buildings in all of England and has been a favorite of generations of royalty. The Palace boasts an unusual, yet somehow cohesive, blend of Tudor and Baroque styles, with magnificently maintained interiors full of rich furnishings and a splendid art collection. The grounds and gardens may make you feel like you’re Alice and you’ve found your way to Wonderland. Other points of interest include the huge maze of hedgerows, with over 800 meters of trails, which was planted in the late 17th century for William III of Orange, the “real tennis” court (one of 43 surviving globally), and the world’s largest grapevine. We’ll tour this unusual and magical place with a fun and knowledgeable local guide before we enjoy a casual lunch in the on-site cafe, a purveyor of Harney & Sons Tea.

The Pool Garden at Hampton Court Palace / photo courtesy Stu Smith

Robert Fortune

In the afternoon, we’ll enjoy a special behind the scenes visit to Chelsea Physic House, an important location in the history of tea in the west. Robert Fortune, a botanist, plant hunter, and traveler, was curator here for a time in the mid-19th century, and under his supervision these gardens flourished. Mr. Fortune also played a gigantic role in shaping the modern tea industry. In 1848 he left Chelsea at the request of the East India Company and traveled to China where, after the Chinese government had banned the export of tea plants, he spent three years undercover. Mr. Fortune then transported 20,000 seedlings of tea from China to India, using cases like miniature greenhouses, along with a group of trained Chinese tea workers. A highlight of our visit today will be seeing one of these little greenhouses, known as a “Wardian Case,” used by Robert Fortune. You can read about his exciting exploits in this article from the Smithsonian!

Tonight, back in Mayfair, we’ll enjoy a casual dinner together at a trendy local gastropub.

Day 6 – Exploring Greenwich

This morning we’ll ride a ferry down the Thames to enjoy a lovely day in Greenwich, a London district bursting with history. The Cutty Sark tea clipper, built in 1869 and now moored there on the Thames, was one of the last and fastest tea clippers, as she was built in the era just before sailing technology gave way to steam propulsion. Retired for public display after 85 years on the high seas, the Cutty Sark is an important relic of the trading industry of the past. This morning we’ll arrive at Cutty Sark before the ship opens to the public and the Curator of Cutty Sark will provide a Curator Tour of the ship with an emphasis on its role in the Tea Trade.

The Cutty Sark docked on the Thames in Greenwich, London / Photo courtesy Karen Roe

After the tour our group will enjoy a delicious “Cream Tea” which means tea accompanied by scones with jam and clotted cream. Then we’ll walk through historic Greenwich to the National Maritime Museum, the largest Maritime Museum in the world, where we’ll be met by the curator for a private curator’s tour of the current exhibition which couldn’t be more appropriate for our group. As the curator leads us through Traders: the East India Company we’ll learn all about the East India Company’s pivotal and fascinating role in British maritime trade. Lunch today will be as a group in The Brasserie in the National Maritime Museum, overlooking beautiful Greenwich Royal Park.

Greenwich Park & Royal Observatory / Photo courtesy Francisco Antunes

After lunch we’ll walk through the park and up to the Royal Observatory, the home of The Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time, and important location in the history of navigation and astronomy. An audio tour is offered for those who’d like to learn more, and everyone will enjoy the panoramic views of London. Our last stop in Greenwich today will be the Queen’s House, an architectural masterpiece and once a Royal house of delights. Today the Queen’s House is home to the Royal Museums Greenwich art collection which includes works by European and British masters.
We’ll return to the Chesterfield Mayfair in the late afternoon. Our farewell dinner together tonight will be a quintessentially British dining experience, with a nod to the tea history we’ve been taking in throughout the week. Enjoy a seven course tasting menu, accompanied by fine wines, at a Michelin-starred fine dining Indian restaurant near the hotel. Whether Indian cuisine is new to you, or already a favorite, this meal will be an unforgettable experience and we’ll laugh and toast our wonderful week together as we enjoy a menagerie of flavors and beautiful, stylish presentation.

 

Day 7 – Farewell!

Our wonderful time together has come to an end. Book a private car to the airport through the concierge, or take an easy tube ride there. Head home with fantastic memories, new friends, and lots of knowledge about tea history and British culture!

To get all of the details about this trip, including pricing and registration, please click here!

Before my first visit to Brussels I mostly associated the city with its role as the de facto capital of the European Union, a long time domicile of the continent’s royal and rich. I imagined a fancy, stuffy place that screamed “Old Europe,” full of haute couture, Baroque statues and grand architecture. But while the architecture in Brussels is indeed gorgeous, and many of the locals well dressed, what shines through the most is that this is the capital city of a country of friendly fun loving goofballs, with a way more down to earth vibe than you might expect, and it’s a heck of a place to wander, eat, drink, ogle and enjoy… and here’s how I would recommend spending a laid-back and somewhat indulgent day in Brussels doing just those things.

Grand Place on a spring morning.

Grand Place on a spring morning.

This itinerary works best if you like to drink beer, because it includes some of the best beer in the world, but even if you don’t you’ll still learn something and try something new. This is a walking day – and you’ll see that you criss-cross the center of the city a little bit, but this is just a nice order of things, plus you’ll need to work up a good appetite for that hearty Belgian food, not to mention that strolling about Brussels is a delight in itself. Be sure to punctuate all of these stops with plenty of meandering, poking in to shops, or just relaxing and watching the bruxellois go by! Also keep an eye out for the city’s awesome comic book murals!

brussels-map

Visit bit.ly/OnwardBrusselsDay for our interactive map of Brussels!

Read on for my perfect day in Brussels, and if you have found yourself here getting ready for a trip to the Belgian capital, well then, lucky you!

You’ll see that some of these places are listed with two names – in Belgium there are two national languages: French and Flemish. Most people in Brussels speak French, but it is indeed a bilingual city.

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World’s best coffee at Aksum.

9:00am : GRAND PLACE / GROTE MARKT
Just around the corner from Aksum is the jaw dropping Grand Place – one of Europe’s most magnificent city squares. With the Town Hall building dating to the 14th century, and the Guild Hall buildings built in the 18th centuries, today the square attracts tourists galore. Join their ranks and take a selfie or two surrounded by the intermingling and fantastically maintained examples of Gothic, Baroque and Louis XIV architecture. You might want to come back later, as the evening atmosphere here is most convivial and the buildings are dramatically lit come come nightfall.

9:30am : MANNEKIN PIS
Corner of Rue de l’Etuve & Rue du Chêne
Yes, this is a totally iconic statue of a little kid peeing. The joke’s on you once you find it, and this is why I love Belgians. Don’t ask for details, just see for yourself.

9:50am : WAFFLE
As you ascend the stairs from the Place Royale to the complex of museums you’ll smell a delicious aroma wafting through the air… guess what, it’s waffles wafting and these street waffles are as tasty as they come! Enjoy one hot and crispy off the press, sprinkled with sugar or topped with whipped cream and chocolate if you’re really feeling crazy!

10:00am : MAGRITTE MUSEUM
Rue de la Regence 3 | 10-5 Tues to Fri, 11-6 Sat & Sun, Closed Mon
This museum is surrounded by many others dedicated to such interesting movements and topics as Beaux Arts, Fin de Siecle and musical instruments. These are all worth a visit, but my favorite is the Magritte Museum. One of the most famous of the early 20th century Surrealists, Rene Magritte is also a goofball and it seems only fitting that the man is a Belgian. This is a fun and educational museum, sure to delight people from all backgrounds.

12:00pm : AKSUM COFFEE
Rue des Eperonniers 60 | Tues to Sun 10-7
Whenever I get to Brussels I come straight to Place Saint Jean, the tiny square where Aksum occupies an adorable corner shop space that is small but friendly. You’ll enjoy lingering over an impossibly aromatic drip coffee, flavorful pour over or a basic espresso drink made with organic single origin coffee at this Ethiopian coffee house in the heart of the city.

12:30pm : LA MER DU NORD / NOORDZEE
Rue Sainte Catherine 45 | Tues to Sun, 11-6 (11:30 on Sun)
Nosh on oysters, fish and chips, a fantastic chowder or any other number of pescatarian delights at this streetside seafood purveyor. It’s all super fresh and served jovially over a counter to happy, well heeled crowds who stand around high tables sipping beer or wine, chatting and soaking up the sun. It’s hard to think of a better place to spend a little time on a sunny day. The close proximity to St. Catherine’s Cathedral ups the overall charm.

A delightfully delicate tart in the window at Champigros.

A delightfully delicate tart in the window at Champigros.

CHAMPIGROS
Rue Sainte-Catherine 36 | Tues to Sat, 8-6
After lunch, pop across the street to this gourmet market to pick up a few souvenirs for the epicureans in your life. The Belgians enjoy the simple things done well: stock up on dried sausages, pate, cheese, chocolate and other goodies. It’s also a great place to grab provisions for a picnic.

2:30 pm : CANTILLON
Rue Ghuede 56 | Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat 10-5
Oh, Cantillon. To the beer geeks out there it requires no introduction. This is one of the world’s most revered houses of beer and they don’t call their premises the Museum of Gueuze for nothin’. Even if you aren’t into beer the ancient copper coolship is definitely worth a gander. Gueuze is a type of blended lambic that takes a second fermentation in the bottle. It’s not for everyone, or shall we say it’s an acquired taste, but once youj’ve got a taste for it there are few things on the planet so delicious. And due to the amount of work required to  make a real gueuze, there are few places on the planet it to get it – and most of them are in Belgium! Cantillon is the holy grail of gueuze and lambic production – nothing has changed here since they opened their doors in 1900. Be sure to take a step back in time and linger through the self guided tour, you’ll get a good intro from a staff member and a printed guide and you’re on your way. The little bar area here is a great place to wile away the afternoon and swap travel stories… since this is a beer mecca you’re sure to meet other travelers from all over the place. Of course you’ll want to bring a few bottles back home in your checked bag. If not for yourself, they’ll cultivate an inordinate amount of glee in any beer lovers in your life because this stuff is tough to get and quite pricey in the US.

6:30 pm : RESTOBIERES
Rue des Renards 9 | Tues to Sun 12-3:30 & 6-12
Restobieres is a gem, and it’s in one of my favorite neighborhoods. Chef Alain Fayt has been creating real beer cuisine here for decades and, as long as you aren’t in a hurry, dinner here is a real treat. Enjoy traditional Belgian dishes, many cooked with beer, and a hand picked bottle selection boasting the country’s best. If Alain is there, ask nicely and maybe he’ll take you upstairs to show of his one of a kind collection of beer memorabilia. Reservations recommended.

Chef Alain showing Kyle around his beer memorabilia when we were there for our Beer Geeks in Belgium trip in 2015.

Chef Alain showing Kyle around his beer memorabilia the night we ate at Restobieres during our Beer Geeks in Belgium trip in 2015.

9:00 pm : LA FLEUR EN PAPIER DORE / HET GOUDBLOMMEKE IN PAPIER
Rue des Alexiens 55 | Tues to Sat 11-midnight, Sun 11-7
Head over here for an after dinner drink. They’ll serve it to you with a piece of chocolate! But the real draw here isn’t the drinks or the chocolate, but that the bar is a piece of living art history. Many decades ago, this is where Magritte and other surrealists, local and visiting, whiled away their evenings and their drawings and scribbles still cover the seemingly ancient walls. There’s truly nowhere else in the world like it.

Two other very special places not to miss:
That may have been enough beer for your for one day (or not!). But a short guide to Brussels would be remiss without noting the following places.

LE POECHENELLEKELDER
Rue du Chêne 5 | Tues to Sun 11am-1am (until 2 on Fri & Sat), closed Mon
I really love Le Poechenellekelder (aka the Puppet Cellar). Their bottle list is amazing as is the glassware collection – each beer is served with a different corresponding glass. The decor is befitting of a place that calls itself “The Puppet Cellar,” and 100% Belgian. The menu is also 100% Belgian and just supremely well done for the simple food that it is – a croque monsieur, perfect bolognese, or heady pate is just the right accompaniment to the national beverage. Also happens to be located across the street from Mannekin Pis. It gets crowded.

The tiny colorful courtyard at Le Poechenellekelder.

The tiny colorful courtyard at Le Poechenellekelder.

MOEDER LAMBIC FONTAINAS
Place Fontainas 8 | Daily 11-1 (Until 2 on Fri & Sat)
This bar is the other must not miss mecca for beer geeks traveling to Brussels. Many consider this the best beer list in Brussels, especially the number of great pours on draft.