Forget love--I'd rather fall in chocolate!
-Sandra J. Dykes
Valentine's Day greetings from Amsterdam, Netherlands! On this fine day of love (arriving yesterday from Belgium), I have realized that if Belgium and the Netherlands weren't countries but single men, I'd be the first to queue up for a date. Why? Three things: fine chocolates, cozy cafes, and fresh flowers. So you can imagine how much I'm enjoying spending the holiday of love in Belgium and the Netherlands. I already ate my weight in chocolate in Brussels (see below), so I couldn't resist buying a fresh bunch of colorful tulips to put in my window that overlooks Amsterdam's bustling flower market. Happy Valentine's Day! :)
While in Brussels, I got my V-Day game on early and sampled many of Belgium's finest brands of chocolates. One of my favorites was Mary, an admittedly girly and boutique-y chocolatier. The shop was cozy, the attendant was friendly, and the chocolate was amazing. Mary was founded in 1913 and has a handful of shops in Belgium and other countries.
A few other Belgian chocolate brands I tried include Sablon's Pierre Marcolini (delicious chocolates and a great place to take a well-deserved rest, although the portions are tiny, the prices are high, and the shop is a bit touristy), Neuhaus (a solid stand-by that I'm never disappointed with, especially the delicately-crunchy sugar-coated Astrid), and Leonidas (highly recommended by my host, but I was a bit disappointed and didn't like the "white chocolate"; I should have gotten loose pieces instead of the box, because my chocolates didn't taste very fresh).