The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Bring Belgium Home With Classes At Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafter

By Melissa Wiley in Food on May 10, 2012 4:00PM

We haven’t set foot as yet in the illustrious Kingdom of Belgium, but a quick stop inside Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafter in the Gold Coast has officially fanned the flames. Judging by the taste of the whimsically named “gateau de voyage,” or “travel bread,” permeated with sinuous ribbons of dark chocolate and flecked with toasted almonds, the country is well worth a visit. But if you can’t go to Belgium, you can always bring Belgium to you, at least in the culinary sense. Chef and co-owner Renaud Hendrickx is slaking aspiring boulangers’ appetites by providing hands-on instruction in the finest Belgian pastries.

The most recent tutorial, titled “Flipping Crèpes in Brussels,” took place Sunday, April 15, and forthcoming classes are announced only via the bakery’s Facebook page, not on an independent website. Of course—and better yet—you can always stop in and inquire about upcoming classes in person, in which case we’d highly suggest treating yourself to a croissant, perhaps the pistachio chocolate, for the road, even if you are just ambling across the street to Bloomingdale’s. Anything buttery that takes 18 hours to come to full fruition should not be left to wilt on the shelf.

The croissants, let it be known, are just the homemade icing, so to speak, on the cranberry brioche, not that brioche has icing. There are full fledged meals to be had in this Low Country hideaway. The Belgian salad, for instance, replete with chicken curry, arugula, lentils, and homemade vinaigrette and bread, is a glorious swan dive into freshness almost unparalleled outside farmers’ markets. Likewise, the ingredients in the bakery’s signature country bread, made daily and served with everything from leek and potato soup to a soft-boiled egg perched aristocratically in a porcelain egg cup, couldn’t be sparer. Flour, water, yeast, and salt, it turns out, make for something surprisingly decadent. How is that possible? Fortunately there’s a class on the horizon so that we can find out for ourselves. Le Cordon Bleu, another time perhaps. We have Belgian fish—or more likely waffles—to fry.

Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafter is located at 100 E. Walton Street.