18 December, 2008
30 November, 2008
A few times over the last several months we would visit a corner bar in Strassen. Although it is a bit smokey inside and it is locals bar, the main reason we go is because there is a dog that hangs out at the bar that comes over to talk to us and let us pet her. Her name is Tricksy and she is very friendly and seems to greet everyone that comes into the bar. During the warmer months they leave the front door open and the comes in and out from time to time to check out what is going on outside the bar. We realized that Tricksy does not speak English so she really doesn't understand what we say when we talk to her but she is friendly all the same!
23 November, 2008
Check out the pictures we took of this cool tasting day!
The tress & lights festival concept was started in Geneva in 2001, with 18 international artists involved, but the concept of having open-air art festivals in Luxembourg started in 1995 when Luxembourg was the European Capital City of Culture. And credit also goes to Prince Felix who recommended that the festival be brought to the Grand Duchy.
This festival will see 10 artists' creations across the city, including four Luxembourg creations and three created specifically for this festival.
ArcelorMittal and LEO (Luxembourg Energy Office) are credited as main sponsors, the latter contributing to a 100% sustainable energy source for the festival exhibits.
The festival opens on Friday evening (24 October) at 19:00 on the Place Guillaume with a "Nuit du Festival", until 30 November. Jugglers, musicians and open fires will amuse visitors to the exhibits, and roasted chestnuts, tea and gluwein will also be available. And a tourist train will start from the Place de la Constitution at 20:00, taking visitors to all the exhibits. Additionally, three guided tours will depart from the Hotel de Ville on the Place Guillaume at 19:00, 19:30 and 20:00. The LCTO will also be organising free guided tours throughout the festival on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 18:30, starting in front of the Hotel de Ville.
The artists and their creations are listed below:
- "Brothers and Sisters" by Ron Haselden (England) at the Place des Martyrsds
- "Light Trees" by ACT Design (Belgium) at the Place de Metz
- "Focusing Life" by Marco Godinho (Luxembourg) at the Place de la Constitution
- "Hana-mi" by Simona Braga (Italy) at Bld Roosevelt
- "Le Trésor" by Cédric Le Borgne (France) at the Pont du Grund
- "Cohabitation" by Géraud Périole (France) at Square Robert Brasseur, sponsored by KPMG
- "TransGleditsias" by Elvire Bastendorff (Luxembourg) at the Grand Rue
- "Cellule originelle" by Studio CS (Switzerland) at the Bld Royal
- "Ouni Titel (7m héich)" by Mertens & Quetsch (Luxembourg) at the Place d'Armes
- "L'envoi" by Jean-Francois Arnaud (France) at the Place Guillaume II
Check out some pictures from our 2 hour journey around Luxembourg City at night to take in the lights!
05 November, 2008
Although we know the Phillies had a great season and a great team, one fact you don't hear about how they broke their curse of no championships relates to a Chase Utley Smurf that was born in March 2008 in Ghent, Belgium, before Spring Training started in April. You won't read about this on espn.com or philly.com but I think my making of the Chase Utley Smurf doll is what put us over the top!
I had a little bit of a dilemma for Saturday night as the Phillies were playing in game 3 of the World Series vs. the Rays and I could not miss it. Luckily the hotel had free wireless internet in the rooms so I brought my laptop along with me to wake up at like 2am to watch the game online. Well it turns out there was a long rain delay before the game started so I went back to bed and woke up to catch the first pitch and the rest of the thrilling 5-4 win. Although I didn't get to bed until about 7am due to the delay and length of the game, it was worth it to get a wine.
Check out pictures from our short but fun weekend in Strasbourg!
03 October, 2008
20 September, 2008
Brussels - On 5 and 6 of September we cruised around Brussels. On Friday the 5th we started with a beer and lunch at Poechnellekelder right across from the Manniken Pis. We then wandered over to the Cantillon brewery for a tour and some extended tastings. In addition to the 2 samples you get in the tour at Cantillon, we also got to try their draft faro, straight lambik and also Broucsella straight from a bottle coming off the bottling line from the brewer. We also got to talk with the brewer a bit which was cool. We mentioned that we were from the Philadelphia area and they said they had some good friends in Philly including Tom Peters from Monk's Cafe. It just so happened that Tom was at the Cantillon brewery the day before to choose the barrel for their next Monk's Cafe Gueuze. Darn, we missed him by one day!
On the 6th we started our the day with a trip to the Brussels city museum and then off to the lambik countryside and lunch at Drie Fonteinen. Aside from really good food, they had their draft faro, kriek and a few others. After lunch we walked around the corner to the brewery and brewery shop to pick up a few bottles. When ready to leave Ed mentioned that we were from Philly and that he had seen the brewer Armand at a few events in Philly in March with my cousin Keith. Much to our surpise that was enough to get us a great tour of the brewery and their newly opened Lambik Droom tasting cafe. Lydie, partner at the brewery with Armand started by giving us a great tour of the brewery and then the barrel room down below in the cellar. Not only did we get a vip tour but Lydie grabbed a pitcher and cracked open a barrel of lambik and gave us several sample straight from the barrel. There is really no other place on earth to have their beer as pure as this as it would not travel well or and it is not bottled in this state. We moved on from the barrel room, after many pictures, over to the Lambik Vroom for more tasting, this time with Lydie and Armand the brewer! We were treated to gratis samples of their oude gueuze, oude kriek and kriek straight from the barrel. Side by side with the bottled kriek, the kriek straight from the barrel was hard to beat!
After about 2 hours with Lydie and Armand, we said our goodbyes and headed further into the countryside to take in a beerfest at De Heeren Van Liederkercke, a great restaurant outside of Brussels. We wanted to visit anyway as I have heard they have a great beer cellar and excellent beer cuisine but they were also having a beer fest that included a good deal of the beers they had on their menu. We were able to try some stellar beers for only a few euros each including the rare Drie Fonteinen Hommage and their J & J Blauw! We also stayed for dinner and had a great time listening to a band play music and watching kids in spiderman outfits running around while their parents drank great beer. Overall a great day.
We headed back to Brussels in the early evening and hit a few more bars for good measure including Morte Subite and Porte Noire. Brussels is one great beer city.
Brugge - After 2 days in Brussels, we headed off to Brugge about an hour away. We spent Sunday and Monday (7th and 8th of September) in this walled and watered town. I was stoked because our B&B we were staying in was on the outside of town, outside of all the crazy one way cobblestoned streets and all the people. When we arrived I was delighted to find I had my very own garage to park in and at the cheapest rates of the whole trip! The owner of our B&B was very nice, had several cats and knew alot about beer. When we told her that we were visiting Westvleteren on Monday to pick up some beer, she knew all about it and said she had a few crates at home and really liked the 8.
On Sunday and again on Monday evening we visisted a good deal of the Brugge beer bars including 't Brugs Beertje, Cambrinus Restaurant, Staminee de Garre, Brasserie Erasmus and De Zolder Keldercafe. Check out some pictures from these great stops.
On Monday the 8th we headed started the day off with a great sightseeing tour on the canals of Brugge. Check it out.
Later in the morning we all piled into the car and headed west to the Abbey at Westvleteren for lunch at the In De Vrede cafe next to the Abbey and then we had an appointment at 2:45 to pick up 2 crates of Westy 12, one of the best and some sought after beers in the world. We were not sure how we would fit 2 crates of beer in the car after we loaded in all the luggage and other things we purchased along the way but it all worked out.
After the great stop at Westvleteren we headed over to the Struise Farm for a visit and some sampling of the great beers they produce. Although the brewer, Urbain, was hard at work doing some bottling, he was gracious enough to spend time with us sampling about 5 beers including Fedeltà, a slightly sour blonde beer that Urbain said he had recently brewed at Allagash in the U.S. Next up was the Tsjeeses Reserva from a 750ml, a beer that is not even released to the public but that Urbain keeps on hand for samplings. After that we moved on to Dirty Horse, a fantastic beer that I had been waiting to try for some time. The beer was 5 years old and served from a really cool wine decantor. This the Struise take on a lambik style beer and it also has some flemish sour characters. The next beer was Pannepot Grand Reserva from a 750 ml bottle which I have never seen before. Another great beer. With some of the PGR left in Paula's glass, Urbain talked about a new beer he had recently brewed for a group in Sweden. This new beer, Black Jack is billed as an imperial porter with a special coffee used in fermentation. I think the coffee is Columbian. Urbain pulled some of the beer from the barrel and mixed it into Paula's PGR and it was a fantastic beer. The coffee aroma from the Black Jack was noticable once you got your nose just close to the glass and it was wonderful in the taste as well. Even after letting the last 1/2 ounce of the beer sit in the glass for 10 minutes or more, the coffee quality was still strong. I will surely be searching out this beer in Sweden if need be! After another great visit to Struise we were off to Brugge for the evening and a great dinner and some drinks at 't Brugs Beertje and the Garre, two great bars.
Antwerp - On Tuesday the 9th we headed off to a brewery tour at Rodenbach. Although the tour was only in Dutch, the brewery was good enough to let us join along with about 30 Dutch senior citizens and it was a great time. In addition to wandering around rooms full of huge wood foeders aging wonderful Rodenbach beer, we also got some nice samples at the end of the tour. After the tour we were on to Antwerp and a mission to spend a few hours at the Kulminator, one of the best beer bars in th world and they probably have the best aged beer cellar in the WORLD!
I could go on for days about the Kulminator but I can only type so much before I have to go to bed so I will hit some of the highlights. On two trips to the Kulminator that night, we had several great beers including Struise Earthmonk and Struise Pannepot Grand Reserva and we did a little blending experiment and it was damn fine. In addition to that we cracked into their vintage collection and pulled out a 750 ml bottle of Felix Oudenaards Kriekbier from 1975, a beer as old as me! Despite being as old as dirt, it tasted damn fine also. The cherry taste was very present and there was also some carbonation. One fine beer and served in a cool basket so it was all good. We also had a 1995 De Neve Gueuze that also had a fresh character to it and was another excellent aged beer. After sharing those 2 beers from breweries no longer in business, I moved on to a 1979 Oud Hoegaards Bier Blanche which is basically an early version of Hoegaarden and aside from no carbonation, this beer also held up very well. Between all of this Paula had a bottle of Kwelchouffe from 2000 which is no longer made. At the end of the night Ed and I shared a bottle of 1982 Thomas Hardy's and it was a great way to end the night.
31 August, 2008
Check out our pictures so far from the Schueberfouer...we will be back several more times before it ends!
17 August, 2008
14 August, 2008
12 August, 2008
On our trip to Stockholm and Copenhagen we visited some of the best beer destinations in the world and some would never know they were there. The beer landscape in Scandanavia is dominated by Carlsberg and Tuborg but there are many great craft brewers in Sweden and Denmark and some in Norway and Finland as well. One problem with beer in Sweden and Denmark is the sales tax applied. I think in Sweden taxes were about 23% on top of the price and in Copenhagen it was even higher at 25%. Despite that, we had to take advantage of being in this great beer area!
We first landed in Stockholm on 8 August and after checking into the hotel and roaming around a little, we took the T-metro to Akkurat, a bar that has been described as one of the best on earth with many rare beers made exclusively for them by Cantillon and other Belgian brewers. When we arrived at maybe 7pm, all of the outside seating was taken and most of the seats in the bar area as well but we were able to snag one bar stool and then an hour later a second stool.
The bottle list at Akkurat is simply amazing. They have a very extensive selection of Belgian beers, many from old vintages and many hard to find or rather I should say impossible to find beers. There were about 5 main beers that I was hoping to get while here, most of them from Cantillon. After having a nice Cantillon Gueuze on tap, I grabbed the huge bottle menu and asked for a rare Cantillon Soleil de Munuit but was sad to find out it was no longer available. I then "settled" on a rare Cantillon Reed Gueuze Pinot Noir and after several minutes of the bartender searching in the beer cellar (which is behind lock and key) for this beer I was relieved to see him come back to the bar with a beautiful bottle and a nice wicker basket to serve my beer from. He also brought 2 nice glasses for Paula and I to share. The beer was in a champagne bottle, like nothing I have seen from Cantillon and this was one damn fine beer!! The beer was several years old but the fruit character from the Pinot Noir matched very well with the tartness of the gueuze. Although this was a pretty expensive beer (about 400 Swedish Kronas which is approximately 40 Euros) but it was definitely worth it and due to the fact that it is not legal to take bottles away from bars in Sweden, I didn't feel bad spending the cash.
We went back to Akkurat the following day shortly after they opened and found it to already be half full but we had no problem getting 2 seats at a table in the bar area. I had one purpose in mind at this point, getting a bottle of Westveleteren 6. The production of this beer was stopped long ago and there are really only 2 or 3 places on earth that I know of that still have this beer and one of them won't sell it. Akkurat had it listed on their menu and although it was about 30 euros for a 33cl bottle, I felt it was worth it for this 1996 gem. The wait was worth it as the taste was still very present, malty and it was served in a proper Westvleteren glass! Overall Akkurat was a great experience and the 2 bartenders that we talked to on both occasions were very nice and helpful. They even remembered us the 2nd time we went, probably because we dropped a nice pile of kronas on both trips.
Later that same evening we ventured out in the rain to Monk's Cafe. No, not the Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia but the unrelated bar in Stockholm. This is a relatively new bar but has gained a great name for carrying a large array of Swedish, Belgian, German, American and other beers. Although the prices for some beers were quite high (like about $500 for a bottle of Sam Adam's Utopias) there were several reasonable beers and several on tap brewed by Monk's Cafe at their little brewpub or for them by local brewers.
We only had about an hour or so to spend here at Monk’s but we enjoyed it while we were able. Upon walking in I was greeted with a BeerAdvocate magazine sitting on a wine barrel at the entrance so I grabbed it to get a good English read in! We were quickly greeted by the bartender who spoke perfect English and was helpful in providing beer suggestions. As Monk’s brewed a few of their own beers or had them made my local breweries, I decided to start with their British IPA and then later moved on to an orange ale which sounded interesting and turned out to be pretty good. The bar was pretty empty and we found out was closing at 9pm as they had a late night the previous night due to the Stockholm 08.08.08 festival.
On the afternoon of 10 August we made the short flight to Copenhagen to take in the culture and the beer. In Copenhagen is what many believe to be one of the best beer shops in the world, Olbutikken. Olbutikken is a small bottle shop but has a crazy selection of Danish, Belgian and even American craft beers. The shop is owned by Jeppe, the brother of the brewer at Mikkeller, a great Danish craft brewer. Olbuitikken has several beers made especially for the shop so I was geeking thinking about getting the chance to try some of these. Before we left for our trip I had traded emails with Jeppe to setup a time to visit his shop on Monday as they are only open 3 days a week for a total of 12 hours. Jeppe was kind enough to open up for us at 2pm on Monday and we took advantage of it. The shop was only about a 10 minute walk from our hotel so we headed towards the shop a few minutes before 2pm with a bag full of American beer to trade with Jeppe.
We got to the shop a little after 2pm and were greeted by Jeppe from the back room. I spend the first few minutes just circling around the shop looking at all the Danish, Belgian and American beers that he had to offer. Although the size of the bottle shop is not large, the quality of what he has packed into the space is just amazing, all killer, no filler. It seemed like they had every available bottle from Mikkeller including the newly released Beer Geek Brunch One – for - One which was made in a limited quantity for Olbutikken. The selection of Belgian beers was also great including Black Albert and Pannepot Grand Reserva from Struisse and several Cantillon beers including Blabaer Lamik, a blueberry lambik made exclusively for Olbutikken. I think the Blabaer was actually brewed by Jeppe at Cantillon. There was also a very nice selection of American craft beer including some from Allagash, Southampton and Jolly Pumpkin.
We spent about 40 minutes in the shop talking to Jeppe about beer and Copenhagen. He spoke English very well and was a wealth of information. I brought 6 beers from American craft brewers including some Russian River and Lost Abbey to trade with Jeppe. Thanks to my cousin Keith for sending these bottles over to me to help out with this trade. After I selected about 8 bottles or so to take home, we worked out the trade so that I owed nothing for my acquisitions! I tried to pay Jeppe but it would not allow it.
For the rest of our time in Copenhagen we had some decent Danish beers at a few bars and made a quick trip to the Norrebro Bryghus brewery to sample a few of their beers.
03 August, 2008
Check out our Luxembourg bocce practice!
Enjoy my pictures so far...
I am not sure the name of this café but it is right behind the Grand Palace and they have very reasonable drink prices. By this time it was about 11pm and was getting more and more busy. We are still trying to master the technique of going out for dinner a bit later so that we can stay out later at much of Europe does. After a drink at this café we headed for the bus back home to Strassen.
On the bus ride home we decided to get off a few stops early to get a drink at a Strassen bar we have visited once, Benelux. It is a locals corner bar but we felt welcomed in here. When we entered a noticed that there were a bunch of tables with poker being played at WWE wrestling on a tv! After sitting down with a drink, we noticed that there was a cute dog hanging around one of the poker tables. A few minutes later the dog came over and sat next to us to let us pet him. We found out his name was Tricksy and he just loved to be pet.
A few minutes later a guy came in with a poodle type dog on a leash and he sat down at the bar and his dog sat down at a barstool next to him. A bit later, Tricksy the dog jumped up on a barstool to sit next to some guy that walked into the bar with no shoes on. We figured this guy lived above the bar but still don't know why he would walk around with no shoes.
It was too funny to see 2 dogs sitting at a bar with their owners just enjoying the night. When we open a bar someday, we are going to have to institute a dog at the bar policy because it just makes for a happier bar!
28 July, 2008
19 July, 2008
08 July, 2008
06 July, 2008
We were only able to go on the 4th but that was the best day to be there! After a few Underground transfers, we had just a few minute walk to the bar and when we got there about 7:30 the place was packed beyond belief. The outside patio area at the front of the bar was crammed with people so we made our way into the bar and took a look at the special beer list they had for the fest. At any one time there were about 27 beer on tap and a good deal of them were cask! They had a nice selection of beers from Sierra Nevada (Bigfoot, Southern Hemisphere Harvest, Extra Special Pale, Porter, etc), Flying Dog, Brooklyn, Terrapin, Anchor and a good number of English cask beers using American hops which was nice to see. One beer that really caught me by suprise to see on the list was Struise Black Albert in cask! It was a suprise as this was an American Beer Fest and Struise is Belgian but it was more of a suprise that the beer was in England and in cask none the less! Due to the rarity of this beer I had to try a glass, despite it not being American.
Overall I tried several very tasty American beers, a few English, a Black Albert, and met up with some great people. Overall a great night!
We arrived in London around 9am and too the few minute walk from the train station to our hotel to drop off our bags. As we were several hours early to actually check into the hotel, we decided to walk to the park to figure out what the setup was like and then take in the circus that is the Harrod's department store.
We made our way to Hyde Park after a couple wrong turns and about 10 minutes. The concert venue was about 200 yards into the park and already had a crowd of maybe 50 people camping out waiting to be let in at 2pm to get to the front of the stage. As the event was general admission and just in a big field, getting to the front would be a good idea but also would not allow you to sit down and hang out in the lawn as we had planned.
After reaching the concert venue and talking to a worker about what we were allowed to bring in with us, we headed to the other side of the park towards Harrod's. After passing by a park working cutting the grass we ran into a guy who looked very similar to a certain guitar playing superstar. Turns out it was Jack Johnson and he stopped to talk for a minute when I said hello. He seemed like a really cool guy just walking around the park in a t-shirt, jeans, flip flops and a newspaper. I had a Phillies shirt on and I mentioned we were Philly and he got a smile and said we were from G. Love's town which was cool. Although it was just a passing minute, it showed that rock stars can be cool down to earth people. Some even a bit shy like Jack seemed. I didn't think quick enough to ask for a picture but I felt good that I didn't so he didn't think I was a big tool!
After walking around a bit more, having lunch and a pint at a pub, we arrived back at Hyde Park around 3pm to get into the venue. There were already thousands of people roaming around the venue, eating drinking and just having a good time. It rained a bit throughout the first hour or so of the concert but by the time G. Love came on, it was pretty nice out which made it easy to sit on the ground and to take in the sounds.
G. Love played alot of his best songs and a bunch from his new album. At first I thought his show would end without playing Cold Beverages but while I was in line for some beer and wine, he played it and everyone rocked out to it. G. Love put on a great show but I was a little diasspointed to see him be second in line and not third. It also didn't seem like the London crowd was that familiar with his music but he still got a good cheer.
After Ben Harper, who also put on a great show, Jack came on and everyone went nuts and finally stood up for his performance. He seemed a bit shy at the site of over 30,000 fans going crazy for him but he started out with some great songs from his new album and alot of the hits that you are used to hearing on the radio. Later in his show he brought out G. Love to play on Rodeo Clowns which I love and he also brought Ben Harper out later as well. For one of his encore songs he said he had 2 guests to bring out, G. Love and Jimmy Buffet! I could not believe that Jimmy Buffet would be there but sure enough he came out and they all rocked out to A Pirate at 40 or something like that. Cool song and a great show overall! Definitely worth the cost of flying to London for the show!
Check out some pictures we took at the show. Maybe a few videos as well.
For the final on 29 June, there were a huge screen setup in the center of town and there were a bunch of beer and wine stands and all kinds of food. Since the final was held in Austria, there was some Austrian food as well. Paula and I went a few hours early and walked around and took in the sites of all the crazy German and Spanish fans watching the game. By the time the game started there were about 6,000 fans going crazy. The game was exciting and fun to watch but the crowds got a little too much to handle so we too off in the second half and walked around a bit before heading back home. When the game was over, Spain won 1-0 and they partied late into the night.
23 June, 2008