Sunday, April 14, 2013

Brussels without plans

I think I've reached a point in my travelling (at least for work) where international travel feels as mundane as travelling to Cleveland. I had to pack two days before I left, since I'd planned to leave my bags at work and pick them up at the office on my way to the airport. So the day I actually left for the airport, I wasn't actually carrying anything with me when I left the house, so the entire flight over I felt like I had forgotten something. It didn't help that I was using a different bag and backpack than I usually do, so everything felt foreign...except the city I was headed to: Brussels.
I know, I should feel like a foreigner in a city where I can't speak the language, but the general vibe is "whatever," so I don't feel out of place. After checking in to my hotel, I headed over to the Grand Place for some Galler chocolate. I was told that if I went to Brussels and didn't bring back the chocolate, I might as well just not come back.
 It was, however, a great day for a stroll. And so I took advantage of the conditions to wear myself out enough to take a quality nap. I'm not sure where I got to, but I did come across several view that I'd seen before.

Yield to the Street Ninja!
I met up with my team for dinner, and we found ourselves at the delightful Les Petits Oignons. There were over a half-dozen of us, and one of the options for dining was a four course set menu. It was either have the whole table eat off the set menu, or order our meals a la carte. So, after almost no discussion, we went with the set menu: a light salad, broccoli soup, oven-roasted salmon, and chocolate mousse. Which would have been perfectly acceptable (I'd already decided that I would have the salmon when we saw it on the menu outside), but then the waiter did one of the worst things you can ever do for someone like me: he gave me options. On a set menu.

Over the course of our two hour dinner, I got to enjoy something akin to a true communal dining experience. I started off with a Leffe and some bread rolls with olive oil and a dish of olives with a peculiar flavor that I wasn't too keen on.  A salad with what I believe was pomegranate was the first dish from the set menu. However, I switched out the broccoli soup for some sort of shrimp bisque. Actually, all but one of us switched soups. The salmon was delicious, especially paired with the house white wine.  For dessert, I and two others swapped the chocolate mousse for some creme brulee, another group had some sort of rum-soaked cake, and ultimately only one person had the chocolate mousse. I will almost always opt for the creme brulee, unless a Sacher torte is on the menu (but that usually doesn't happen). Take that, set menu!
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