Waffles in New York – Part II

The authentic batter-based goodness, hailing from Liège in eastern Belgium, is a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle compared to the American version.

Liège waffles fresh out of the iron

Invented by the chef of the prince-bishop of Liège in the 18th century as an adaptation of brioche bread dough, it features chunks of pearl sugar which caramelise on the outside of the waffle when baked. Preparation is a two-day process, but the reward is well worth the effort. Toppings are optional, and really not necessary.

Liège waffle close up

A Liège waffle is considered to be street food in Belgium. People buy it, put it in a wrapper and munch on it on the go, so no fork and knife required. Where can one find this Belgian goodie in New York?

Le Pain Quotidien

First came across Le Pain Quotidien in Brussels. Can’t describe how excited I was to find a slice of metropolitan Belgian rusticity in this city. A quaint wooden interior, all pine and chalkboards scrawled with organic specials, gives way to an assured menu of open sandwiches, huge salads and soups served in rough-cut bread bowls.

"Our daily bread" - artisan bread made with organic stone-ground flour, salt, and water, kneaded and shaped by hand

Owner Alain Coumont learned about bread as a small child, standing on a chair every Sunday watching his grandmother bake bread. What he wanted was simple: bread, hearty and wholesome, with a firm slice and a good crust.

If you would like to share bread made with your own hands with family and friends, to smell the aroma of freshly baked loaf in your own kitchen, or just to play with dough for a few hours, Le Pain Quotidien offers baking classes at the new Bleecker Street Bakery.

Sourcing organic ingredients wherever possible, this bakery/cafe not only builds lasting and meaningful partnerships with organic farmers, but also ensures the ingredients are of the highest quality. It’s about finding the very best, in a way that is good for all of us. This philosophy is also reflected in the design of the cafe and he materials used.

Communal table made of reclaimed wood

Reclaimed wood and recycled Gypsum are used in construction and in the furniture. Energy-efficient lamps, and environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and packaging are also adopted.

Menu holders adorning the center of the tables. Creative recycling of an old loaf

The Belgian waffle here is probably as close as you can get to what you can find in Belgium. The caramelised sugar glistened on the most delicious buttery-sweet treasure beneath, lightly dusted with sugar and topped with fresh berries. The organic hot chocolate served in a bowl, was equally decadent. You can adjust the strength of the cacao flavour with the melted chocolate that was served on the side.

Belgian waffle and organic hot chocolate

What I appreciate the most is the community spirit beyond the communal table. Le Pain Quotidien partners with City Harvest, Feed the Children and The Doe Fund, food rescue organisations dedicated to feeding the New York’s hungry men, women and children, serving its daily bread once the doors have closed to those in need.

Le Pain Quotidien
Add: 1131 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10028 (btn 84th and 85th Street)
Tel: +1 212 327 4900

As someone who loves food, I can’t stand the thought of someone going hungry or being abused. If you also want to help those in need in our very own city, why don’t you come join us this Saturday at the stunning Watermark on the harbour for a low-key, fun charity party to benefit Foodlink and Harmony House?

Foodlink / Harmony House Charity Party

Date: 21 April 2012 (Sat)
Time: 10:00pm onwards
Venue: Watermark, Central Pier 7, Star Ferry, Central, Hong Kong
RSVP: http://hkdballcharity.eventbrite.com/

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About Patricia

Born in Hong Kong and studied in England for most of her life. Transplanted herself to Tokyo, New York and finally back to her root. Having treated her taste buds to the best of these continents have to offer, she has decided to invite others to join her on her gastronomic voyage. Full-time food lover, part-time cook who wants to enjoy the pleasures of life, mostly at the dining table.
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