Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Visit of Biscuiterie Dandoy's workshop

At Françoise's invitation, I met up this Tuesday with Pascale, Edda, Françoise and Greg for a friendly gastronomic walk in Brussels. The day started with a visit of Brussels' famous Biscuiterie Dandoy's workshop where we were very kindly greeted by general manager Mr Helsen and workshop chef Mr Sassi.
Flagship store, rue au Beurre

Dandoy is a famous institution in Brussels. They have been making biscuits since 1829. Their first shop was located rue Marché-aux-herbes but then moved to rue au Beurre in 1858, where it remains and acts as the flagship store, very close to the Grand-Place. There are now seven Dandoy stores: six in Brussels and one in Waterloo. The most popular delicacies are the speculoos, almond bread (a tin, dark, crispy biscuit with almond slivers) and pain à la grecque. Pain à la grecque literally means "Greek bread" but it's worth mentioning that its origin is in no way Greek. A few centuries ago, Augustine monks regularly donated bread to the poor, in the center of Brussels, in an street called "Fossé aux loups" or "Wolvengracht" in Dutch (Wolves Ditch). That bread became known as "bread from the ditch" (grachtbrood in Dutch) or "pain de la gracht" or "pain de la grecht" in local dialect, which in turn became "pain à la grecque" when wrongly translated back to French. Today's pain à la grecque is a soft flatbread with cinnamon and cristallised sugar.

Pain à la grecque

The workshop visit was quite interesting. We saw how "Feuilles de palmier" (palm leaf) biscuits and speculoos were made and were lucky enough to taste some pain à la grecque, still warm, just out of the oven. We were also happy to experience the relaxed and calm atmosphere of the workshop and the cheerfulness of the 15 or so employees working there. They are without a doubt proud of their work and know-how. Also good to see was how fabrication processes remain of an artisan nature, with a lot of things still done entirely by hand.

Feuilles de palmier

We evidently visited the rue au Beurre shop later during the day to buy our favourite biscuits.

Practical information:
Maison J. Dandoy
31, rue au Beurre (between the stock exchange building and the Grand-Place)
1000 Brussels

P.S. I'll explain what we got up to next during this fun day out in a following post. Suffice it to say at this point that we ate very well indeed...

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