Nostalgia (report from my second homeland)
Posted by Lorenzo Dabove aka Kuaska on 10/14/2003 03:26:22 PM
I was in Belgium in the weekend.
I am in Italy from a few hours and yet I am suffering of nostalgia!
After 9 hours trip by rented car (with a sandwich lunch in an autogrill with Drie Fonteinen and Cantillon guezes brought from home) we (I was with my usual team of three persons, two homebrewers-husband and wife and a wine-sommelier) went first to Jamagne (Philippeville) to meet Jean-Pierre Nain (Mortal’s Beers) because I proposed his Yellow Mortal (as example of a very small craft brewery)to Wallonia responsible in Italy for the beer-list of an important tasting organized by Wallonia for the "Week of Wallonian cuisine” with famous Belgian chef Philippe Renard in luxury hotel Four Seasons in very trendy shopping Montenapoleone street/via della Spiga area in Milano. On 10th November I will present Saison Dupont, Gouyasse, Yellow Mortal, Rochefort 10, Kriek Lefebvre (not my choice!), Hercule and Cantillon Gueuze Bio (I know that Anderlecht is not in Wallonia but.....me and the chef are great lovers of their masterpieces!). The guy of Mortal’s beers is very nice and “crazy”, we sampled together different versions of his yellow (all similar due to the using of dried yeast) and then he offered us a special aged Black Mortal to take away putting sugar in a bottle totally without carbonation! Then we went to Bekkevoort (near Diest) in a “hoeve” (farm) very very nice. After leaving baggages we went soon to Hasselt where we found Martenshuys and Lucien disappeared (now two trendy cafés have substitued them) so we had our meal at nice Hemelrijk with some good beers and good food. Before going to sleep we had our last drinks in wonderful Jagershof in Waanrode (3 km from our farm) where a very kind lady served us her rare trappist beers.
Friday we went first to very interesting Jan Hoelemans beer-store in nearby Aarschot. The car began to be more heavy. Then we went to Kerkom brewery where Marc Limet was friendly as usual offering us all his beers plus two extra bonus as a Reuss expressly made blending Bink blond and Girardin lambic in front of me and a very special kriek (nearby Gorsem and Sint Truinden are famous for cherries!) aged four years and forgotten in his cellar. It was lovely but lacking a bit of body.After some excellent Bink blonds we drove to Helchteren to sample Ter Dolen beers. We were disappointed because the beers were not good as before because now they do not brew here but Van Steenberghe does it in Ertvelde We went then to Achel where we sampled in an awful self-service two lovely easy drinkable Blond and Donker (both 5%) both on draught . We bought some unusual beers in the adjoint shop an a big bottle of Achel bruin strong in alcohol (9 %) for an autogrill lunch of our return trip. We went then to Liège to have our supper in Vaudrée in Angleur. We were vey disappointed because every rare beer we asked were unknown to the waiters and above all was not available. It is easy to list one thousand beers stocking only a few part of them. This is a bad habit that I found in other pubs in Belgium (Moeder lambic in St.Gillis as one example). Luckily cote à l’os was very good. After a long trip (for Belgian distances) to our farm we stopped as usual in “our” Jagershof where rivers of Petite Orval, Westmalle Extra and Chimay Dorée flew on our glasses until the closing hour.
Saturday we went to Cantillon to say hello to my second family. As usual I felt commotion leaving rue Gheude. I will be guest for a special supper in Van Roy’s private home next November during my stay in Brussels for EBCU strategy conference. Then we drove to Gent to buy some bottles at Hopduvel beer-shop where I tried to buy a whole crate of Odnar but my friends allowed me only six bottles (our car after one day turned in a truck!). Then we went to nearby Zwijnaarde at Zwarte Fles pub where we had a good lunch with excellent beers and an extraordinary Liefmans Goudenband 1987 that the owner kept hidden in his cellar but as you know for a serious beer hunter there are no secrets! Then we went to Belsele at Boelens brewery where we sampled Waase Wolf (bottles incredibly full of yeast!), Pa Gist, Bieken and so on. Then we went to Zottegem at BLES bierhappening where 19 breweries were present. I did not pay to enter as Zythos member (even if the membership card I receveid calls me “Maurice”!) While I was talking with Stephen D’Arcy and Peter Sutcliffe I felt something special around me: it was beautiful Hildegarde (De Leyerrth brewery) running to kiss me! It is a fantastic beginning isn’t it? I sampled all the beers present except the well known Abbayde des Rocs range, Orval, Westmalle and of course the disguting Florisgarden. I appreciated very very much Tonneke on draught and Special Mars (Contreras is one of my favoirite breweries), Wonderful Special De Ryck was in better conditions than Rochus (I promised Ann to help her in exporting her beers in Italy), Achilles range, Paeleman nice beers (sadly actually brewed by Van Steenberghe). Slaapmutske range on draft was good while in De Cock range Sinpalsken bruin were totally uncarbonated. Roman Ename (Blond and Cuvée 974) were almost good while Adrian Brouwer were far from a traditional oud bruin but closer to a tafelbier. Troubadour beers on draught from De Musketeer brewery were OK, De Graal Tsjing were easy drinkable while Hoppiekoppie on draught especially brewed for the festival was lacking in character. Pico beers (Alvinne blond and extra) were “green”, closer to homebrewed products than to professional ones.
After th efestival we went to extraordinary Gans in Huise. I found there a guy ad his girlfriend that met me before in one of my visits in Esen. Perfectly served by the very friendly lady, we found the impossible to find Shii-take with Japanese perfumed mushrooms (the former original one not the modern brewed by Mycelia laboratories, then we had a fantastic very old Wets Kriek and another very old gem as old De Koninck Dworp gueuze is. Of course we ended our “hard day” at Jagershof.
Sunday was the “Pajottenland day” because the sun was shining and we were thirsty! After a breakfast atthe farm with Dulle Teve (!) we went directly to my dear friend Ives Panneels at In de verzekering tegen de grote dorst” in Eizeringen. He spent a lot of time at ou rtable offering us two rare Eylenbosch products, one gueze and one faro both aged more than 15 years.
Then after a short break in Sint Anna Pede church square (four bars in a few square meters) we went to Scepdaal at De Rare Vos where I met Wim De Kelver (De Lambikstoempers) siting with on eof his brothers at the table close to mine: ghe world sometimes is small but in Pajottenland is the smallest!). I had (as usual) ju (young horse) with green pepper sauce drinking Rare Vos aperitif, Girardin lambic (9months old) and a special aged bottle of Hanssens (25 years old) offered by the owner who became very friendly after knowing that he was serving “the prince of Pajottenland”:-)). Then we moved to the splendid In de oude smjse van Mekingen where we drank Moriau (or is better say Boon) oude geuze and De Koninck (or is better say Boon) kriek. The atmosphere were fantastic as usual with the wonderful couple of th eold owners sitting while the daughter serves lucky local drinkers. After taking a picture with the lady she told me “please take a picture also with my mother because she is jelaous!”. My friends told me that while I am talking I always touch people’s arms, shoulders etc. This habit of mine typically Italian sometmes is embarassing exspecially for Flemish people but I do not agree because in my opinion Flemish people after first suspicious moments are more and more latin (what do you think Filip, & Joris?) After Mekingem’s gem we moved to Gooik fields finding in the middle of nowhere the beautiful Den Haas where I sampled a nice Dikke van Pamel (De Proef). Inside was crowded of families so we drank outside profiting of good wheater. Not to be missed: quiet place with animals outside and inside (a big white rooster was jogging around among drinkers’ legs) and above all cheap beers in an interesting list. Then we moved to Asse towards Koekoek lambic bar where I enjoy several glasses of “vos” lambic from Girardin’s barrels laying in the small cellar downstairs. The owner became very very friendly after my fourth glass so I had a “flemish-english-italian” brilliant conversation with him. My friends abducted me bringing me to next place, Beersel for the Drie Fonteinen pensenkermis (kermesse of boudin) celebrating the 50th anniversary of the restaurant actually run by Guido Debelder. After a traditional soup of pork and calf tongues cooked by Guido’s beautiful wife, we had the excellent famous “pensen” (boudin in french) white or black sausaged made with pork’s blood. We drank all the drinkable: faro, lambic, geuze, kriek etc. Armand is a dear friend so he sat down at our table with his wife giving us a special magnum of 1987 geuze. Armand then brought me to the upstaris room to greeting Frank Boon and Dirk Lindemans that were both there with their families. Last gift of Armand was four bottles (one to each of us) of a very limted edition(300 bottles only I think) of a 5yo oudegeuze with a wondeful red label with a splendid painting of local painter Felix De Boeck after the permission of Museum of Drogenbos. Happy and borderline to drunkness we went home but we......had to say goodbye to the Jagershof where we drank our last glasses of Petite Orval and Westmalle Extra.
Monday was the return trip day but we stopped in Achouffe for a 10 a.m. aperitif. La Chouffe and Mac Chouffe on draught, both disappointing if compared to the gorgeous beer I loved in the eighties.
Oh yeah! I am in Italy from a few hours and yet I am suffering of nostalgia!
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