Amsterdam & Belgium - Part 8 - Big Day in Brugge
Posted by Rich Link on 11/27/2003 02:15:13 PM
May 23 – More Brugge sights, and the great Duchesse vs. Vichtenaar tasteoff
A Scottish couple at the breakfast table had replaced the Irish couple. Another lively conversation ensued. We then decided to check out the Groeninge Museum. It was very nice to look at the works of the Flemish masters, and listen to the descriptions provided. However, WUPT!
Stopped at the nearby Erasmus. Teresa had Liefman’s Kriek Natural on tap. I think the lady felt that the cherry beer would be acceptable to a woman. Although Teresa knows more about Belgian beers than 99% of the women in the world, she didn’t force the issue. The kriek was lively, tart and very refreshing. It turns out this was an unsweetened version of the Kriek, and we were very happy that it was suggested to us. I tried Viven Blond 6.8%. Mild hop and yeast aromas. Dry, crisp hop and malt flavors. Very nice.
We did some walking and window shopping before buying some chocolate at Verheecke. Then it began to rain in earnest, so we tucked into a pub that we had never seen before, De Pub. It appeared to be English influenced, and the window claimed 99 beers. In actuality, the list was more like 35, with 8 on tap. The list was lackluster, and very expensive. Two Euro for pils, 2.50 for Rodenbach. 6 for Delirium Tremons and 6.50 for Kwak! I had a Rodenbach and Teresa a Haacht WitBier. The only recommendation I can make about this pub is avoid it. It's just off the north side of the Markt.
We wanted to have a light lunch, so we stopped in at Petit Grand, a small restaurant between the Markt and our room. Teresa had Duvel, fantastic as always. I had Brugse Tripel, golden amber, lightly sweet, with mild hop flavors. Teresa had smoked salmon croquettes with smoked salmon. I had asparagus with a cheese sauce, Ardennes ham and salad. Both were fantastic, and just what we needed for a light lunch.
We went back to the room for a two hour nap. Refreshed, we headed back out for research. At D’Zolder we did the much anticipated side by side tasting of the Duchesse and Vichtenaar. The Duchesse has been one of our favorite beers since we first came across it in Brugge in 1999. The Vichtenaar weighed in at 5.1%, the Duchesse at 6.2%. Vich’s aroma was very tart, to Duchesse’s tart and sweet. The flavors were the same as the aromas. Overall, the Vichtenaar is very tart, light body and somewhat fizzy. The Duchesse is sweeter, full-bodied, and overall smoother. You could almost compare them to Rodenbach’s regular beer and the Grand Cru. Except, in this case, the lighter beer is the more sour, and the sweeter Duchesse is the one that is wood aged for a lengthy period of time (18 months). The winner? Well, I think it was Teresa and I. Now we have another favorite in Vichtenaar. Now if we could only get it in America.
We then ordered Lindeman’s Framboos, tart, very full berry flavor, and very refreshing; and Drie Fonteinen Gueze. Earthy flavors, dry, tart, lip-smacking goodness. D’Zolder is quickly becoming one of our favorite pubs. We stumbled upon it in 2000 our way back from the windmills. They had 5 taps, including St. Bernardus Tripel and Abt for 2.25 Euro and 2.60 Euro, respectively, and 45 bottled beers. D’Zolder is a 16th Century cellar pub located at 53 Vlamingstraat, just a few short blocks off the Markt. Luk was very attentive, knowledgeable, and personable.
For our last night in Brugge, we had made reservations for dinner at Den Dyver. The beer dinners are extraordinary. A good three to four hours should be set aside for the experience. Teresa started off with a Kir Royale, while I tried the house beer, Den Dyver Blond, a very clean and well-balanced beer brewed by Steenberghe. The first course consisted of a piece of sushi, catfish mousse and gazpacho. The second course was quail stuffed with mushrooms, with avocado and mushroom beer sauce, served with Grottenbier, brewed at St. Bernardus. The Grottenbier is a very nice dark ale, with dark malt flavors, yeasty and gassy.
For the third course, Teresa and I chose different plates. She had the Pike-Perch served with asparagus shoots and Duvel. I had a Mexican steak filet, with smashed potatoes and asparagus, served with Watou Prior. The fourth course was a salad consisting of sheep cheese, apple and pear compote and asparagus vinaigrette, served with Rodenbach Grand Cru. We finished off with basil sorbet with strawberries, chocolate, lavender and berries, with strawberry mousse. We thought that was the end, but we then received various little pieces of dessert cakes and tarts.
Of course, that was way too much to eat. But we ate it all, and we drank all that they brought, with gusto. Another very delightful dinner at Den Dyver.
Tomorrow , leaving Brugge and going to De Dolle.
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