Wallonia's adorable towns are the perfect place to pick up original presents for friends and family. Let us give you a few ideas to get you started on that shopping list...
Belgian beer, wine and spirits
Wallonia's star beer: La Chouffe
The legend says gnomes, living in the region, discovered a secret spring in the Valley of the Fairies: beer, instead of water, flowed freely from it. Sadly, a great collapse would bring their civilisation to an end, leaving men to learn how to make beer themselves.
The story adds that the last of these magical creatures gave a local a recipe... The Achouffe brewery (chouffe means gnome in Walloon) was born and with it the famous golden brew, with hints of fresh coriander and fruity tones... It's so tasty, so refreshing, it's no wonder the Belgians have a zest for life!
The brand produces a variety of beers, including the N’Ice Chouffe (its Christmas edition), finely spiced with thyme and Curacao. A lovely way to warm up on cold winter nights.
Belgian bubbles - La Cuvée Rufus
The monks, needing wine for communion, started growing grapes in Wallonia in the Middle Ages. The whole region followed suit with the Meuse valley proving particularly successful. Better trade links with German, France and Spain undermined production in the 19th century but Belgian wines are now making a come back.
This was is extra special. The Agaises vineyard stands on chalk which lends itself to being almost the same as in the Champagne region... hence the production of sparkling wines made following the méthode traditionelle. Trust us: the Cuvée Rufus is pure magic.
A word to the wise - Belgian Owl Whisky
Etienne Bouilon, Master Distiller, had a genius idea: using the grain grown locally to make a Belgian Single Malt Whisky of the highest quality. In 2013, 19th-century copper stills were sourced from the former Caperdonich distillery in Rothes (Speyside, Scotland): the adventure could begin.
Local spring barley, water that takes 20 years to permeate in the underlying limestone, passion... brought the exceptional Owl whisky to life in 2016. You could say it truly encapsulates ‘the unique flavours of Wallonia’. 85 Euros may sound a little stiff but the value rises every year a little more... This Belgian liquid gold will prove perfect for your Dad or Uncle. Hopefully, they will gladly share with you!
Liège's favourite liqueur - Peket
This local version of jenever gin comes in no less than 50 flavours, such as violette, lemon or chocolate (try them at La Maison du Peket in Liège!. Natural peket is clear and not matured, but the most popular type has a lovely pale brown colour. This comes from the oak barrels in which it’s matured for at least two years and adds to the taste. You will also encounter it in local cuisine: cooked with quail or duck, or simply served along smoked fish or strong cheese like the one produced in Herve.
Peket is a drink for celebrations, small or big: from meeting friends at the weekend (lookout for the flamed version!) to the festivities of August 15. Sounds like the perfect drink for New Year festivities!
For the foodies in your life
Spice up your Life - Saffron Delights
Éric and Sabine launched the first professional plantation of saffron in Belgium in 2009. Set in the heart of the Hesbaye, Le Safran de Cotchia now counts over 120,000 bulbs! As beautiful in colour that it is enchanting in aroma, it is sure to delight any chef to be in your life.
Hotting Up – Bister mustard
François Bister's line of business in 1926 was roasting chicory. He bought a local mustard factory in 1930 and turned his attention to a jealously guarded recipe for L'Impériale mustard. The company still exists and now offers a lovely selection of mustards, sauces and pickles (onions, gherkins, capers...). A nice stocking filler.
Jam love in Durbuy
Saint Amour is an amazing artisan confiturerie filled with delights made from local natural ingredients. Think incredible jams, flower (dandelion, lilac) and wild fruits (elderberry, hawthorn) jellies, flavoured vinegar... The workshop opens to the public for a good dose of nostalgia. All in all, the perfect gift experience for those who love breakfast in bed.
The current trend for all things terroir is having a tremendous impact on the cheese industry in Belgium: there are over 700 varieties to choose from...
Not sure where to start? Make a detour via Chimay.
The Cistercian Abbey there was established in 1850 as a place to study, pray and work but even monks need to eat. By 1862 it was decided that a dairy and a brewery would be built-in order to help generate funds and cheese sold on the local market. The recipe has barely changed. In the true style of the category of cheeses known as Monastic Washed Rind cheeses, the texture of Chimay is semisoft, supple and slightly springy with a few variations available should you want a full platter to share... Make sure to pair it with one of the beers brewed on site!
The father of all macaroons
The Solbreux bakery is known for the Beaumont macaroons, a secret recipe handed down from father to son since 1842: 6 generations! Go buy a pretty box for Granny to dip in her tea.
Save all your kisses for me - Les Baisers de Malmedy
Little meringues brought together by whipped cream, like sweet little kisses. The real ones were invented in Malmedy but you will find variations in nearby towns. Rather lovely as a present for teatime at Auntie’s but will they last the car journey? We doubt.
Couques de Dinant
These biscuits vary in shapes and designs, some particularly intricate and creative. Why are they so hard? It's all due to the baking, we're told: they were originally created to go through a period of famine and are to be sucked (or dipped in a cuppa), not chewed. They are particularly addictive though and sell in vast quantities worldwide, even in Japan.
Belgian Chocolate - of course!
The Philippe Darcis chocolate museum offers the sweetest journey in the cacao world. This walk through time, from the Mayas to the first chocolate shops via the French Revolution, is sure to fascinate you.The visit is of course followed by a chocolate tasting. Tip: the Darcis chocolate factory also features a pastry academy...
The beauty touch
In the heart of the Citadelle of Namur, the Perfumery Guy Delforge invites visitors to discover the secrets of his perfume creation... through an underground journey. In this incredible setting, visitors can learn the many processes in creating a fragrance. Book a workshop as a gift or create a special perfume for your Mum or a loved one! A thoughtful and magical gift.
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