I’ll admit I’ve got a love for real Belgian waffles. But one of the major problems I’ve had is that you can’t get a proper Belgian waffle here in the US. Sure, a rather large fraction of the breakfast places here will serve you something called a “Belgian waffle”, but what you are getting is really just a regular ole American waffle made in a waffle iron with bigger crenelations, usually served up with a small mountain of fruit (or fruit-like “pie topping”) and whipped cream. Not that there is anything wrong with that, heck, I like a good waffle, and even own an American-style “Belgian” waffle maker myself that gets used several times a month.
But a real Belgian Waffle is a different beast. A proper Belgian waffle (also known as a Liège waffle, from the Eastern Belgium city of the same name) is a distinctly more refined item. First of all, it’s not made in a round iron, but a large rectangular iron with an open grid crenelations. A large lump of raised, yeasted batter is dumped right on the surface and the iron closes around it, allowing the lump to spread out into whatever globular shape it wants. The batter also has a bunch of pearl sugar crystals mixed into it, the idea being that as the waffles cook in the iron, the sugar crystals melt, resulting in a rich, crunchy, and caramelized exterior. The result is a nice hot treat that’s a noticeable leg up above the normal “Belgian waffle”, with a nice buttery interior, a yeasty taste, and a nice crunchy exterior.
In fact, I’ve found it’s pretty easy to find these, since there’s an almost uncountable number of vendors selling these things on the streets of Brussels, Amsterdam, or various other large Benelux cities.
The problem is, we’re not in or near Belgium, so it’s a lot harder to find a good proper Belgian waffle. It’s not impossible—indeed, a quick trip during ski season to Vermont will show you that most every major Vermont ski area now has a “Waffle Haus” someplace on the slopes, serving up a passably good Liège waffle as a mid-ski snack (I first encountered “Waffle Haus” at a Beeradvocate.com Belgian Beer festival in Boston. I’m sure they’ve gotten at least one angry letter from the large similarly-named Southern breakfast chain). And the US has several locations of Le Pain Quotidien, which also has a nice Liège waffle on their breakfast menu (see my review here.) But generally, you have to go in search of these.
Well, it turns out that many food trucks of the Boardwalk on Bulverde that night included one that makes… proper Belgian waffles. The Belgian Waffle Co is a nice, shiny, new food truck run by a pair of pleasant Belgians, offering up a menu of waffles. They start with three types of waffles: their original “Waffle de Liége”, as well as cinnamon and chocolate variants. They then offer up a rather impressive list of toppings: whipped cream, powdered sugar, and butter are free, while various modest surcharges will get you toppings ranging from fresh fruit, to Nutella, to peanut butter, to a variety of savory toppings (eggs, cheese, and ham, for example).
I opted for a fairly simple waffle: an original Waffle de Liége with with Nutella, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream. And the result was everything I was hoping for, with a nice fluffy and buttery interior, a nice crunchy exterior, and a sweet-but-not-too-sweet overall flavor that worked well with the toppings. In short: I’ve found another good source for proper Belgian waffles.
One caveat, however: While I found The Belgian Waffle Co at the Boardwalk, they appear to one of those food trucks that’s actually mobile and they travel around a bit. Make sure you check their twitter feed (@BWCAustin) for their current location before heading out.