Pascalino’s (Brussels, Belgium)

Okay, I’m going to start out by saying that this review is of a place that’s not particularly offbeat or unique. You see, pretty much any place you go in Belgium, you can count on three things being widely available: beer, frites, and Gaufres de Liege, aka the Belgian Waffle. Doing a simple walking tour of Brussels, I passed approximately two dozen storefronts, carts, and food trucks selling freshly made Gaufres de Liege, and by the time we got to Square de Meeûs, the nice aromas of freshly-baked waffles had finally defeated me, and I had to stop at Pascalino’s Glaces et Gaufres for a waffle.

Pascalino’s Glaces et Gaufres is your basic mobile dessert truck, basically offering up ice creame (Glace) and Gaufres de Liege. Handing over €1.50, a waffle was extracted from the hot iron and handed to me with a napkin. And, I’ll have to say, Pascalino makes a good gaufre. For those of my readers that haven’t had a real Belgian Gaufre, these are a different beast than your standard US-style “Belgian Waffle”. The batter is yeasted and allowed to rise, instead of quick-risen. Instead of the standard square or round waffle iron, a larger, open-grid iron is used, and a blob of risen dough is allowed to spread on the iron. And, most importantly, lumps of pearl sugar (the Belgians take their sugar seriously, and often have multiple types of it on the table at breakfast) are distributed in the batter so that they can caramelize on the surface of the waffle as it cooks. They aren’t entirely unknown in the US (indeed, I’ve reviewed Le Pain Quotidien in the past, and that Belgian chain has quite a few US locations).

The gaufre de Liege offered up by Pascalino in his truck was everything a good gaufre should be: crispy and caramelized on the outside, yeasty and fluffy on the inside. Sure, he’s not unique, since there are uncountably many vendors also putting out wonderful gaufres throughout the city. But he’s a good everyman representing one of Belgium’s finer culinary traditions.

Note: Pascalino’s is a food truck, so he moves around. I also saw him by the Musical Instrument Museum. If you can’t find him, find one of the many other excellent trucks around town selling fresh gaufres!

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