I had previously written a few posts on Ghent, which is my favourite city in Belgium. If any of these have inspired you to visit this city in Flanders, you might also like to make a note of some of the tips below. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to bring home something from Ghent to share with those around you or even to extend your experience?
If you have a sweet tooth, make a beeline to Temmerman @ Kraanlei 79 (open Wed-Sat 11am-6pm).
The candy shop has been around for generations and sells all kinds of sweets, including the local specialty: cuberdon. Made of arabic gum and raspberry juice, cuberdons are also known as neuzeke (little nose) in Flemish due to its cone-shaped form.
Over at Temmerman, these purple soft sweets take on a new dimension – that of a human face. I kid you not.
Don’t you agree they look creepy? Especially the one in the photo above with icing sugar in its mouth (looks like it has teeth)! I’m not a fan of the rasperry flavour. Nonetheless, I’m sure that a bag of these purple heads will make for a striking souvenir for friends or family.
Temmerman also offers a wide selection of licorice. You can choose hard, soft, sweet, spiced, salty, or even triply salted. The lady running the shop said that the latter is excessive in her opinion but she stocks it anyway because it’s popular enough amongst the Dutch. For something that is more likely to be enjoyed by most people, try the speculoos gingerbread.
Of course, a visit to Belgium will not be complete without some artisanal chocolates. If you’re visiting Brussels, click HERE for some of my recommendations.
In Ghent, you will have various chocolatiers to choose from. You can’t go wrong with Yuzu @ Walpoortstraat 11 (open Tue-Sat 10am-6pm). The shop is run by Nicolas Vanaise, who makes hundreds of these elegant blocks of chocolatey goodness every day.
Working with single-origin chocolate plus cocoa beans from Central and South America, he churns out these treats with eye-catching textures or patterns inspired by his past life as an archeologist. There are common-enough combinations using flavours such as truffle, lemon or coffee. But if you’re feeling experimental, ask for a praline with ham, mustard or cheese.
I had the chance to meet him during a work activity in Ghent. I love how he gets his inspiration to make these pralines.
My favourite anecdote is how he came up with his Havana praline, which he created to evoke the ambiance of gentlemen’s clubs. “Imagine sitting in a Chesterfield chair while having a cigar, just like Hemingway,” he said and hence came the idea to combine Jura whisky with Cuban tobacco.
Last but not least, I’d recommend a visit to Tierenteyn Verlent @ Groentenmarkt 3 (open Mon 1000-1800, Tue-Thu 0900-1800, Fri 0830-1800, Sat 0930-1800). The shop has been in business since 1790 and is most famous for its mustard, made using a secret family recipe through the centuries.
In the photo above, you can see the empty jars of mustard waiting to be filled with fresh mustard from the cask barrels. The mustard is tangy and sharp, with a good balance of flavour between the vinegar, salt and mustard.
I didn’t buy any the last time I was in Ghent as I was going to be on the road for more than a week and I wasn’t sure how long the mustard would last outside the fridge. But I’ve already planned to get some the next time I’m back in Ghent!