Only natural then that it should be my selection for a little two day excursion – a chance to peruse the chocolatiers by day and sip on some fine beers by night.
During the planning stage, it came to my attention that Belgium is home to one of Europe’s chocolate museums (although I doubt Cadbury World qualifies as a museum). There is a small (but perfectly formed) website at www.mucc.be which has a very concise summary of what’s on offer to the visiting chocolate hound, and whose menu system looks remarkably like Apple’s site.
Founded no more than two or three years ago, the museum occupies a three storey building on the Rue de la Tete d’Or, and as well as numerous exhibits (chocolate moulds, fine porcelain ‘tea’ sets, posters, photos and preserved cocoa pods) as well as demonstrations of the art of the chocolatier. There are even chocolate sculptures and chocolate clothing. Oh, and free samples!
The ground floor houses various glass cases containing old style moulds (some of which are original Cote d’Or moulds), an explanation of the processing of the cocoa beans, and at the rear, a kitchen where we came across a gentleman demonstrating how pralines are formed in moulds. The upper floors delve more into the history of cocoa, regions where it is produced, and the effects of the cocoa trade both here in Europe and in Africa.
For €5 (adult admission) it’s an interesting way to pass an hour or so, and smaller visitors will enjoy helping themselves to the empty chocolates and free samples of Plain, milk and white chocolate pellets (which can also be bought in the small shop). This is a rather quaint museum, with a distinct ‘homegrown’ feel to it – an obvious labour of love which remains unspoiled by big business and commercial sponsorship.
For the same reasons that make it so quaint, it also lacks the ‘whizz bang’ factor that today’s tourist attractions seem to think is so necessary to attract custom. Here is a quiet place where it is possible to peruse the exhibits in an uncrowded, unhurried atmosphere. Younger visitors might find it a little boring, but a handful of cocoa buttons will buy you enough time to have a good look around and learn some fascinating facts about the mighty cocoa bean. After all, it’s the reason this site exists!
Museum opens 10am to 4:30pm, closed Mondays and holidays.
Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate
Rue de la Tête d’Or, 9/11
1000 Brussels (Belgium)
Tel.: +32 (0)2 514 20 48
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org