I had heard about the boulets from my mother before I left for Belgium last month. As in, Ooh, you’re going to Liège. Make sure to eat some boulets. All I really knew about them was that they were meatballs and that was good enough for me.
The other food I was anxious to try was an authentic Liège waffle—the small, thick, dark brown kind encrusted with pearl sugar. It’s a sad fact that the closest I had gotten to the real deal in a long while was the prepackaged variety from Costco.
The last must-taste on my list was to hunt down an authentic café liegeois, which I know involved coffee, ice cream, and some kind of alcohol. Again, enough said.
On a brisk but sunny morning, I took the train to Liège from Brussels, which takes just over an hour.
Lucky for my waistline, Liege is a great walking town, with lots of hills to keep your waistline in check. The Liège forefathers even had the forethought to install a Stairmaster—I mean insanely long staircase, la Montagne de Bueren—smack dab in the middle of town.
So one of the top clichés among travel writers and consequently a big no-no if you’re trying to write an original piece about a destination is to mention the “contrast” between the “old” and the “new.” I’m biting my own typing hand trying not to mention it. It hurts a bit.
Here’s a photo journey of my Liege walking tour, with a heavy (get it?) emphasis on food and zero mention of the obvious. You know, the contrast with old and ouch!
No contrast here…
And certainly not here…
As usual when I visit a new-old-you know what I mean town, I establish where I would live if I were to move there. No contest in Liege. I would live in the impasses—ancient narrow alleyways off Rue Hors-Chateau that feel like a small village within the city.
And I would have a cat.
The Local Brew
Locals are very proud of their newest brewery, Curtius. Started in 2012 by two young Liegeois, the brewery just moved into an old convent, with outdoor tables and a tasting room. The beer is fresh and crisp, with hints of coriander and orange peel. If (like me), you can’t make it to the brewery during their opening hours, you can (like me) try it at a number of local cafes.
Liège has 13 home brews so if you’re in town for more than 24 hours (or you’re less of a beer light-weight than I am), you can really go to town.
The ultimate waffle
The line outside the door tipped me off that Une Gaufrette Saperlipopette was no ordinary waffle shop. It was by far the best waffle I’ve had in my life and the memory makes my mouth water. The perfect way to start our eating—I mean walking—tour.
There are many, many places to get your boulets but since I was only in Liège for a day, this had to be good. Au Point de Vue was the real deal. Boulets are a no-nonsense, stick to your ribs, meaty, saucy meal that, in my opinion, you can’t help but love. They’re typically served with frites, home-made mayonnaise, apple sauce, and salad. They made me pretty happy.
I lucked out weather-wise, with a clear, sunny, November day and took advantage of the many outdoor cafes to rest my post-walking tour feet and do some people-watching. The frothy drink involves ice cream, espresso, peket (a local version of gin made from juniper berries). So yes, caffeine, sugar, and alcohol—a day’s nutrition in one delicious drink. Genius. Care to try it? Here’s a recipe just for you.
I’m not ashamed to say it. I ate boulets again for dinner. Because, after all, when was I going to be in Liège again. My only regret, in fact, is not going back for a second round of waffles in the afternoon, for the same reason.
Exhausted from a long day of walking, I decided to stay in and order room service for dinner. Does that sound pathetic? Perhaps I haven’t shown you a photo of my home for the night:
The former residence of a Duke, the Crowne Plaza is easily the best hotel in Liège and one of the top luxury hotels in Belgium. Honestly, I was kind of anxious to spend some time there. The common areas are stylish and luxurious—my favorite was the lobby-level bar where I shared a drink with a cousin I hadn’t seen in at least fifteen years, who happens to live just outside the city.
And once again, the boulets did not disappoint…
My heartfelt thanks to the Crowne Plaza Liège for graciously hosting my stay.