Thursday, July 28, 2011
B für Belgien
I first discovered Liege waffles about 10 years ago when backpacking around Europe with my sister. I remember that we weren't very hungry, but bought one from a vendor in the subway in Brussels because it seemed that one should have a Belgian waffle when in Belgium. But the waffles one finds in Brussels (Liege) have little in common with the Belgian waffles found in diners in America. Liege waffles are made from a slightly sweet yeasted dough (also not to be confused with a yeasted batter a la Marion Cunningham)
that is sprinkled with pearl sugar before it hits the waffle iron - the sugar melts and forms a light glaze. I don't have anything against regular waffles, but if I never eat one again, it would basically be OK with me. Liege waffles, on the other hand, are something that I dream about.
Cassonade, a small Belgian cafe on busy Oranienstrasse in Kreuzberg sells both Liege and regular waffles. The bummer is that they make both kinds in advance, reheating them in the waffle iron. This is just nuts as both kinds of waffles benefit highly from being freshly made and neither takes very long to cook. In Brussels, the majority of vendors use thawed frozen dough with delicious success and I can't think of any reason Cassonade couldn't do this as well. That said, the waffle was pretty good and at only 1.60 Euros, a delicious and affordable snack. Still, it wasn't quite as doughy (in a good way) as it might have been had it been freshly griddled, and the glaze was somehow lacking. I'm not saying I didn't like it, but with with a very little effort, Cassonade could remedy these issues. I have to add that the cafe also lacks something in the ambiance department. Aside from a shelf with some different Belgian products (mostly beers) and a plastic table, there really isn't much to the interior. These days you can sit outside, but it's not like Oranienstrasse offers much charm. I say, go early and maybe you can catch them making the waffles fresh, get one to go (do not be distracted by the toppings, they only take away from the sweet doughyness, which is the beauty of a Liege waffle) and stroll down to the canal.
Photo courtesy of the Taxi Gourmet