Monday, February 01, 2016

Chocomania! A visit to the Neuhaus factory shop

I have been ghosting you again, dear readers. Not much has been going on here, just struggling through the gloom of a Brussels winter. It got cold for a little bit, snowed a tiny amount, and now has gone back to quite warm, but rainy gloom has replaced the frosty sunshine we had in January. And it's still so dark all the time!

But not for much longer... We are almost in the final countdown to the NZ trip, less than two weeks to go. On the one hand, I kind of regret that we will be enduring most of the winter here anyway, but on the other hand, I didn't want to use up such a big chunk of holidays so early in the year, and when we come back, hopefully spring will be here. Plus, NZ in February is much nicer than January. At least, I hope so. Every time I check the weather forecast, it seems to be sunny but with rain predicted for the coming days. Not sure whether that means it has actually been sunny all the time or not...

Couple of quick things before I probably go into hibernation again and then hit you with an unending stream of posts from New Zealand. (Eeeeee!)

Our joint Christmas present to ourselves was a shiny new Magimix food processor. Points to note: my god, it takes up space! I knew the size of the processor itself (we bought online, but had seen it in a shop). What I didn't know was how much room all the blades and other accessories take up! It's true, by the time you fit the blade and clean the machine afterwards, half the time you could have just chopped the carrot yourself, but it's a lot of fun. And we've made some things like pommes de terre dauphinoise or sliced leeks or julienned carrots where I definitely wouldn't get the things as thin or uniform. And it does come into its own when you're making a big batch of whatever. We made soup yesterday with 2 cups each of diced carrot, celery and onion, and that saved a lot of grief. If you have any recipes that require a lot of chopping/slicing, send them my way!

Plus it's so shiny and red, and looking at it gives me a smug middle-class sense of self-satisfaction
About the only other noteworthy thing I've done this year is also food-related (surprise, surprise). I wanted to take some Belgian chocolates back home to friends and family, but the good ones (not cheap and nasty bulk-buy seashells) cost an absolute fortune. Like at least 25€ per box that you see in the photo below. Times it by maybe 10 people and you're looking at a cool 250€. (Geez, thanks for the maths help, Einstein.)

Luckily, I was talking to a colleague who let me in on a little Brussels secret - the Neuhaus factory shop! Neuhaus is already one of my favourites, so I was super excited to visit, especially when I heard you can eat as many free samples as you like. Basically, the boxed chocolates are not so much cheaper than what you get in the retail stores, but the real bargains come in plain, single-variety cardboard cartons. I picked up three kilos of chocolate for 40€.

You can eat as much as you want from the open boxes

And then splash the cash on the plain packaging

As far as I'm aware, the plain boxes aren't "seconds' in the sense of being defective or whatever. We were looking for later expiry dates on the boxes we bought, and they all expired by like the end of April, so I'm guessing that's more the reason why they are in the factory shop. Apart from that (I'll just assume my family will eat their chocolates quickly!) the only downside is that there's only three different varieties of chocolate in the three kilos and I'll have to fiddle around in NZ packing them into individual portions. On the plus side, it will be a lot easier to transport them than the equivalent in 10 different boxes. 

I suppose I've lifted the veil of mystery for anyone who may be reading the blog and also getting chocolates from me, but oh well. I figure most people would rather more chocolates in a less fancy package (and also that I don't bankrupt myself).

We went by car, but apparently you can take the metro to the last stop and walk a short way, so definitely an option if you're ever visiting Brussels. Beware though, we didn't have breakfast, and I would have thought I could eat basically endless quantities of chocolate, but I got sick pretty quickly! If you're coming on a mission, e.g. for the bulk-buy chocolates, make sure you taste those first, because by the end I horrified myself by having to take a bite of different chocolates and then throw the rest away. (A dark day for humanity.)


  1. I was highly impressed with Understanding Frenchman when I moved into his flat and discovered he owned a food processor. I don't use it often, but for grated carrots, it's amazing (UFM also loves grated carrots - is this a coincidence?). I discovered recently that it's also good for making things like shortbread when you can't be bothered to mix a whole lot of hard butter.

    Thanks for the tip about the Neuhaus outlet. We're going to Brussels soon, so I'll definitely try to fit that in!

    1. Yes, haven't bothered with any of the accessories for dough/juice/purée etc yet! Cool, pity i won't be there (if it's in the next six weeks or so)

  2. Hard to believe you were defeated by free chocolate! I look forward to my stash - I do not care a hoot what the packaging is!

    1. I know, hang my head in shame! It's very rich though


    While I was reading your post, I thought you were going to say that you took the free samples to give as gifts.

    I associate Neuhaus with their boutique in a mall in New Jersey where their display windows always have attractive tins with Tintin characters (filled with chocolates, of course).

    I’m sure everyone will be happy to Belgian chocolates from you, even if they’re wrapped in napkins. Good chocolate is good chocolate.

    1. Ha, gifting free samples would be a bit cheap! I think they probably frown on you filling a doggy bag too :)

  4. You can have julienned carrots without the machine too....can't you?

    1. Sure, if Jules makes them (ha dee ha). I could wash my clothes on a rock by the river, too, but I'm not going to :)


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