Damien’s Belgian Waffles
2-3891 Chatham Street, Steveston
Perhaps one of the most personal (other than through immediate family and personal travels) exposures that I’ve had to international cuisine was during my days as an international college student. For a time, I had the pleasure of having a rotation of roommates in my dormitory flat – a four bedroom space that had a shared kitchen and dining area for our own personal use. I can still vividly remember each one of the fellows I shared my quarters with (will use nicknames here): first there was “D-dog” (from Minnesota, USA), “Dai” (from Osaka, Japan), “Franc” (from Paris, France), “GQ” (from Seoul, South Korea), “Afro” (from Ontario, Canada), “Vocal” (from Massachusetts, USA), and lastly the fellow who was there for my entire stretch of time in that residence, “Gelato” (from Brussels, Belgium).
Through each of them, I was able to learn about their family traditions and meal favorites, as we’d routinely have group chowdowns where we scrambled for cash to come up with grocery money after too many nights out drinking our savings and parents’ money away. But it was French-speaking “Gelato” who probably opened my eyes most to his country’s food culture. In my mind, I had some stereotypical images of what Belgians ate. And lo and behold, this fellow provided a living example in the flesh, as he would regularly be chomping down on bricks of dark chocolate, tartines with cheese, frites, and of course waffles. Some of these he would get sent to him as care packages from his mother in Belgium, and other times he’d venture out and get them at available supermarkets. The dude even had a waffle iron.
The warm, sweet scent of his waffle making mornings were a delight. With a strong cup of coffee, it often was the start of my weekends after a long week of school (and Friday night partying). He was a few years older than us (due to his fulfilling his mandatory time in the country’s military) and took on this big brother role pretty well and always made sure there were plenty of sugar caramelized waffles to share. Sadly, it has been many years since I partook in one of these authentic waffle-fueled mornings.
So during a recent visit to Steveston while walking around the town site, when I spotted the signage for Damien’s Belgian Waffles in a simple looking strip mall, I knew I had to go in and make a purchase despite us already having had a greasy spoon breakfast. At the time, there were no other customers and the female proprietor’s two young girls were scurrying around having fun. It seemed very homey and could probably benefit from a better decorated space but there is not much you can do in those commercially designed, architect-in-a-box complexes.
The distinct rounded, sweet and chewy-style Liège waffles here sure did bring back good memories of “breakfast ala Gelato”. The richness and less airy texture of these, as compared to mainstream North American waffles, or even the crispy Belgian Waffles, is what to me, makes these fabulous. Not to mention highly addictive.
Aside from the regular, plain variety, they offer an assortment of flavored versions. For my take away box of six, I chose the plain, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate and maccha types. Each one had its distinct flavour profile, though I must say the maccha was the weakest in terms of transmitting the special ingredient it contained. The consistency of the waffles themselves was solid throughout all six (yes, we ate them all in one sitting later that day). It was recommended that since we took them as takeout, that we toast them briefly and that helped to soften them, as well as to create a slight melt to the chocolate waffle. I was curious how this would compare to the dine-in experience, but I was certainly not disappointed with what I brought home.
I’ll be back, in lieu of being able to visit my old roomie, who is now somewhere else in the world. But surely, he is probably still making a mighty fine and tasty waffle!