BRUGES, Belgium — Stroll through the architectural bonanza of Bruges and you will inevitably notice the cookies and biscuits from Oud Huis Deman, a five-generation, family-run bakery hidden out by the ring road.
The bakery doesn’t offer tours but it has a presence throughout the city. In tourist shops and tearooms, there are little bags of treats like kletskoppen, ultra-thin wafers of candy sugar, wheat flour, and oatmeal; or pretzel-shaped Brugse achten, dense, sugar-coated, and begging for a cup of tea, all with the bakery’s low-tech yellow label.
Most famous, however, are the sweet, gingerbread-like biscuits often paired with local cheese and eaten here for so long, they’ve taken the city’s name: Brugs beschuit.
Why such devotion to the hometown brand? Five generations of family production certainly have something to do with it, but most important, they’re really good.
“It’s typical, it’s quality, it’s still artisanal, and it’s nothing to do with the stuff you can get at the big supermarkets,’’ says Virginie Carleer, co-owner of the just off-the-beaten-path Tearoom Carpe Diem. “They’re the only product we sell that we don’t make here,’’ she adds.
“The best way to eat the biscuits is with cheese,’’ says Oud Huis Deman owner and baker Anne De Meester, whose family has been making biscuits, dentelles, kletskoppen, and other sweets since 1880. “My kids eat them with jam at breakfast.’’
De Meester says she’s the last artisan in town to make the Bruges biscuits, and it’s easy to understand why — it’s a five-day process, with baking on Thursday, letting the bread-like loaves rest Friday and Saturday before cutting on Sunday and sugaring on Monday.
“Nobody else does this?’’ I say.
“No,’’ she says, simultaneously laughing a little and biting her lip. “It’s too much work.’’ Tearoom Carpe Diem, Wijngaardstraat 8, Brugges, 011-32-050-335-447, www.tearoom-carpediem.be JOE RAY
URUBAMBA, Peru — In the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, surrounded by the jagged peaks of the Andes, Sol & Luna is an ideal place to begin a visit to Peru. Its 28 spacious private “bungalows,’’ are set amid gardens of exotic and native flowers, frequently visited by hummingbirds.
Located just outside the town of Urubamba, Sol & Luna is close to several impressive Inca ruins, including Pisac, an Inca citadel, and Ollantaytambo, the only Incan fort the Spaniards were unable to conquer.
Sol & Luna’s nearby ranch offers a show of Peru’s famous Paso dancing horses, accompanied by a bounteous lunch. Guests may ride briefly at the end of the show, while the more serious riders can book horseback trips into the mountains.
Peruvian specialties at Sol & Luna’s restaurant include guinea pig and alpaca, and the chef willingly shares the recipe for his spectacular quinoa soup. Sol & Luna also offers extensive spa services and a well-equipped gym where one looks out over the gardens to the Andes while pedaling on a stationary bicycle.
Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru’s most famous destinations, are an easy train trip away. Rates at Sol & Luna, including a generous buffet breakfast, are about $200 for two. Sol & Luna Lodge, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Urubama 069, 011-51-084-210620, www.hotelsolyluna.com/english/hotel.htm