Sunday, June 12, 2011

Let's Start at the Very Beginning...

It's a very good place to start.

I (Ashley) have been in the food industry since I was 12. I worked in Bochy's Bakery, and I loved it. I loved the lunch rush. I loved making a customer's order look pretty. I loved the satisfaction that came from customer service. It was a great summer job, and ever since then I've worked and thrived in many different food related jobs.

Lance, my husband, has always been a natural entrepreneur. He seeks out new challenges and really enjoys the highs and lows that come with the risk of being a business owner (and in his case, multiple businesses!)

Together, we've become quite the team. This last winter we had the opportunity to work at an international company, Obelis, in Brussels, Belgium for three months. We applied for this internship because Lance had lived in northern France and southern Belgium for two years and had fallen in love with it, which means, of course, that I needed to experience this European life.

We lived in the heart of Brussels, right next to the European Union, actually. Many of our evening runs led us to this large, magnificent building. The streets were paved with uneven cobblestone, there were bums on every corner, and we rode the metro many times a week. In the long tunnels that lead you to your metro, you are almost always guaranteed to be bombarded with the sweet, cinnamon smell of waffle dough baking somewhere. It is virtually impossible to pass up a fresh, hot waffle. They are crisp and soft at the same time with a punch of sugar in every other bite. They are so amazing that you can take the waffle and eat it like a doughnut, with out any toppings necessary.

Belgian Flag
My first encounter with real French Crepes!'

Living in Brussels also means amazing fries. "French fries" should really be called "Belg Fries". The concept of the "fry" (really called a FRITE...pronounced freet) dates from the late 1600s and originated in amazing cities like Namur, Liege, and Dinant located in Belgium. They created these fried potatoes as a replacement for fried fish when the rivers would freeze over in the winter. The French will dispute this fact, but people from the Netherlands and Belgium support it.

Us, waiting in line at Friteland!

Whether or not the frite originated in Belgium doesn't change the fact that this amazing food has been around for a few hundred years...Which means there has been plenty of time to perfect the recipe. While Brussels has an amazing frite joint Fritland, Liege has an even better place. These frites are crunchy but melt in your mouth at the same time and you can choose from around 30 sauces to dip them in. We traveled a few hours to visit and revisit this frite place - and in doing so, we were able to sit down with the owner and chef of the restaurant. He gave us all his tricks and secrets and even added us as friends on Facebook!

For about a year we had been talking about how we wanted to bring true Belgian waffles to Provo, and finally, after our European experience, we knew we'd be able to. We purchased our waffle and crepe maker, carried it together on the metro and trains (all 350+ pounds!), and somehow managed to get it back to the states. After we finished our 3 month internship, we then backpacked for nearly a month all across Europe. That gave us plenty of time to walk and ride and plan! When we got home, the next month was spent creating, searching, and haggling - fighting to find a place to settle our little piece of Europe.

Sometimes the Metro looked like this.

 Under the Eiffel Tower in Paris
 At the very top!

Stay tuned for more about the process of how The Awful Waffle began.