A waffle a day keeps the doctor away! That’s how the saying goes, right?
In my humble opinion, I believe that waffles are one of the greatest things to ever come out of Europe, more specifically Belgium. When I talk about waffles, I definitely am NOT talking about the ridiculous Americanized “Belgian” waffle impersonation. I am talking about Liege waffles, which most people have probably never heard of and that is truly a shame.
Belgium is a small European country that is tucked between France, Germany, and the Netherlands. The country is best known for its chocolates and beers but, to me, the waffles are and should be the most important. The traditional Belgian street food made its first appearance in America during the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle. The Brussels waffle was the waffle that was chosen to be introduced to our country. It comes from a batter, is light and perfectly rectangular in shape. This waffle is most likely where today’s American version of Belgian waffles.
The Brussels waffle is not what I am here to talk about though. I would like to educate all of the Americans on the better and, unfortunately, lesser known Liege waffle.
The Liege waffle comes from the city of Liege in Belgium. These waffles are denser than the Brussels waffle and made with a dough similar to brioche. The one ingredient that sets these waffles apart and makes them so amazing is the pearl sugar that is kneaded into the dough. As the dough is cooking in the waffle iron, the pearl sugars melt and caramelize giving the waffles a beautifully sweet taste. Liege waffles are less common in the US mostly due to the fact the dough is difficult to make and that pearl sugar is hard to find in most grocery stores and it is expensive.
My top three experiences with Liege Waffles:
1. In Belgium, Brussels (obviously)
It seemed like every five feet, while walking in Brussels, there was another waffle stand. They were just everywhere. Each one had a display showing all of the different waffles you could buy. You would tell the chef which one you wanted, and they would then make a fresh one right in front of you, and hand it to you in a little boat to enjoy while you continued to walk around the city.
For me, the waffles were excellent just with powdered sugar. The more extravagant ones looked nice, but too messy to eat while walking around. My friend, Laura, got a fancy one, with strawberries, chocolate, and whipped cream. It looked very yummy so of course I took a picture of it (see pictures at the end of this post). I was in Brussels for two days and ate no less than 5 waffles. They were just too good.
2. Arlequino Gelato Barcelona, Spain
THIS PLACE. This little gelato shop is nestled right in between a McDonald’s and a bank, in the shadows of La Sagrada Familia. If you weren’t looking for it you might not even notice that it was there. I lived in Barcelona, in the Sagrada Familia area, for a month and stumbled upon this place on day when I was walking home with a friend. At first I thought it was just gelato, but upon further inspection I found the waffles!
My order, every time I went here, which was often, was: cookies and cream gelato on top of a waffle. This was my first time ever having tried a Liege waffle and I didn’t even know what it was. I just knew it was the best waffle I had ever had and that I would never look at waffles the same way again.
I think my favorite part of this restaurant was the fact that it was right next to one of the most beautiful parts of Barcelona. I could enjoy it outside while also being mesmerized by the incredible Sagrada Familia.
3.Waffle Providence, Rhode Island
I just found this waffle restaurant the earlier this year and just finally had time to go visit. After the two waffle experiences I wrote about already, my expectations were set very high for Waffle. This place has a seasonal menu, along with a few regular items. The waffle that sounded the best to me was the strawberry cheesecake waffle. It was topped with strawberries, whipped cream, powdered sugar, strawberry ice cream and cream cheese frosting drizzled on top. When they brought it out to me, I was awestruck. It was beautiful. I had never seen something so beautiful. And it tasted even better than it looked, if that was even possible.
My friend got the lemon poppy seed waffle, which also looked amazing. It was the Liege waffle, topped with poppy seeds, lavender flowers, vanilla ice cream, and a lemon drizzle.
Waffle also has a list of savory waffles that seemed like they would be very good as well. I am already planning my next trip and I am very excited for it.