25 Jun 2011

Hedonist Hideouts: Huize Colette, Ghent.

For most of this month, I've been in the middle of exams. On the less stressful side, fortunately, but it's still a lot of work and not the kind that makes one overflow with creativity: grading exams and papers, assessing presentations and then juggling, checking and double-checking hundreds of marks.

On the bright side, this can be a good time to discover new and exciting corners of my home town, when I feel in need of mental as well as physical refuelling.

My most recent discovery is Huize Colette, a chocolate and book house my husband had recommended. He was sure I would love it. He was right.

A few days later, I grabbed my Kindle and took off for a much-needed break in our beautiful medieval city centre, where I found Huize Colette tucked away in the shadow of the town hall.

Huize Colette's ground floor looks like a cosy tea room, which is nice enough, but if you're 'that kind of person', you need to follow the row of books up the stairs and discover the first floor.

Upstairs, the 'chocolate and books' house consists of a landing and what I can only describe as the perfect living room: funky colours, comfy armchairs, lots of bookshelves and friendly people who bring you delicious hot chocolate.

I was so intensely happy when the chocolate turned out to be scrumptious. Underneath the hope, I had braced myself for grave disappointment, but it didn't happen.

When I arrived, I asked the young woman downstairs what she would recommend (always a good way to get a feel for the people behind the place), and after enquiring about my tastes in chocolate, she recommended the 'fondant' hot chocolate, which is the standard name here not just for a dessert but also for the dark, bitter chocolate that is still sufficiently sweet.

She said, if I still fancied a more bitter taste, I could try the 'bitter', which is the darkest hot chocolate drink they're serving.

I installed myself in one of the comfy chairs, took my Kindle, put my feet up and waited for the chocolate to arrive.

The 'fondant' was gorgeous: full of flavour while still creamy, and obviously made fresh. Quite a large mug as well, as you can see.

I also tried the 'bitter' afterwards, which I loved but is not to everyone's taste I'm sure. If you're into dark chocolate, starting off with the 'fondant' is definitely the right choice.

If for whatever reason you don't like chocolate, they also offer a wide range of coffees (including several 'with a kick'), teas, organic fruit juices and a few alcoholic drinks (no beer).

After about an hour and half in hedonist heaven I was more than ready to face the world again and I left Huize Colette in a state of nerve-tingling, chocolate-induced bliss, temporarily in love with the world.

The mood lasted just long enough to get home and grab the next batch of exam papers and my evil red pen, but hey - every minute spent well fuels your inner strength for the times you need it most.

I've already arranged to meet with a friend there next week, and I will drag along several others in the months to come. It's the perfect place for great conversation, as well as for quiet reading or writing.

Too bad it's not open at night, but if this means the ladies behind the business continue to enjoy it for many, many years and keep the place as cosy and authentic as it is now, I am happy they've made this decision.

Contact details:
Huize Colette
Belfortstraat 6
B-9000 GENT

Open Tuesday to Friday 9:00 - 19:00 and Saturday/Sunday 10:00 - 19:00.

What's your favourite hideout?
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  1. oooh, I do love me some hideouts, but most of my friends say they love my place as a hideout since it's posh and cozy :)


  3. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Sorry to yell, but you have a bookstore that serves CHOCOLATE!

    Oh, man, they would soon know my name from all my frequent visits. :)

    And that first picture looks a little like what I imagine the view from a hobbit's house might be.

  4. Ah, I love a good fondant. These little hideaways seem dropped into your life by the very store of heaven! Beautiful post, thank you for sharing this with us. :)

  5. L.G.: I know! I'm ashamed to say it's been here for about 9 months and I only discovered it a few weeks ago. I'm sure I'll make up, though!
    When you plan your European book tour, you'll have to include Ghent and I'll buy you a hot chocolate and a brownie! :-)

    Suze: I love discovering places like this, even more so when they have books and/or chocolate. :-)

  6. off course it does! /snortsallshocked/
    You do know that Dezzy always has the best cakes and the best chocolates in his imperial chambers!

  7. DEZZY: well, that changes everything! :-)

  8. Your hide out sounds wonderful. Don't tell too many folks about it or it will lose its charm. At the moment we seem to be frequenting Williams Fresh Cafe.

  9. mbj: I have to admit it was tempted to keep it to myself. :-)

  10. Your hideout looks lovely. Mine tends toward the rustic.

  11. Oh my, a chocolate and book house? How wonderful! I love the pictures, and your little hideout sounds just fabulous. :)

  12. Munk: Oh yes, this wouldn't do for total and/or rustic seclusion. There's much to say for hobbit houses in hollow hills. :-)

    Julie: it is. :-) I'm going back in a few days, when real life gets a tad less busy. Can't wait ... :-)

  13. omg, I So envy you this slice of heaven.

  14. Chocolate and books! Sounds like a heavenly retreat. My favorite hiding place is right here at home--and I usually have some chocolate and always lots of books.

    Tossing It Out

  15. Chocolate AND Books??? WOW. It doesn't get any better than that :-)

  16. damyanti: it's gorgeous. :-) I bet you have your own alternative hideouts though. :-)

    Lee: I love spending lots of time at home as well (with chocolate and books), but it's great to have an lovely alternative in the city. :-)

    Sam: The perfect combination. :-) It's owned by 2 women who've combined their passions: one of them's a book-loving historian and one of them a pastry chef.

  17. Oh wow... I think I want to move to your city.


  18. Misha: you'd be most welcome. We're a hospitable lot. :-)


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