08 March, 2008

Kinder Suprise

One of the best things about living in Luxembourg and Europe in general is the availability of one of the best candy thingies in the world! They are called Kinder Suprise and are these hollow chocolate eggs with a white lining that I think is praline or something like that. You break open the egg and inside is a little suprise toy in a yellow plastic case. Although the toy suprises inside are made for kids I am sure, they are still fun for adults as evidenced by the 15 or so that we have accumulated over the past few weeks after getting turned on to these little bundles of joy.

You can either get a single egg at the store or more frequently we get a 3 pack of eggs. Right how the 3 packs come with a Shrek logo on the box so that guarantees you one Shrek per box and then you usually get 2 other random toys. It is getting to the point where I get more enjoyment out of opening the eggs than eating them although the candy is really tasty as well.

One night in Brussels

Our friends Heather and Ray were visiting this week and we ended their trip on Thursday and Friday in Brussels. We they ended it on Thursday and Friday with Paula in Brussels. I drove up there Friday morning and spend the day and night with them. This one day trip included a look at some sites, some food and lots of good Belgian beer. We visited several bars in town, a bottle shop or two and the Cantillon brewery.

When I arrived on Friday morning, everyone was at breakfast at the hotel. I had some work to do while Paula, Heather and Ray visited a cathedral and then they were off to the Brussels City Museum. Since I had visisted it in December, I skipped the museum and head to the Bier Tempel beer store to do a little browsing and to pick up the Tim Webb Guide to Belgian Beer book. From there Ray and I made a post noon visit to the Delirium Cafe for a few beers. The crowd this time of day is alot easier to take than at night. There was less smoking and we were able to easily get seats at the bar. After a few beers, Paula and Heather joined us after some shopping.

Our Visit to Cafe In de Vrede

Today on our way back from Brussels, Paula and I stopped at the Cafe In de Vrede which is right across the street from the Abbaye at Westvleteren. We had tried to visit here right after Christmas but were saddened to find out that they were closed. When we visited today they were open and they were hopping! We got there a little after noon and quickly found a table at the front. The place is gorgeous, modern and doesn't look like it could be associated with a monastery at all. We sat down and I immediately turned to the list of drinks but I didn't really need to see it as I knew I wanted a Westvleteren 12 and Paula wanted an 8. In addition to just 3 beers on the list (all Westvleteren of course), they had a nice selection of food that included, salads, cheeses, meats and sandwiches. Paula and I each went for a sandwich with a salad. While I was waiting for the food, I took a wander over to the little store at the front of the cafe that had various things for sale, food, candy, cheese and of course beer! On this day they had the 8 and Blonde for sale. Paula and I each got a 6 pack of the 8 as we already had Blonde in the basement at home. The price of a case directly at the Abbaye is extremely reasonable and although the 6 pack price is a bit more at this little shop, they are still very reasonable.

Everyone in this placed seemed to have a big smile on their faces while they were eating and drinking, even the little white dog that was sitting on a woman's lap while she had her beer and sandwich. You have to love the attitude towards dogs in most public places we have been to in Europe so far.

We also came across the coolest beer drinking sight ever I believe. The first was a group of about 4 ladies, probably in their eighties standing in line at the gift shop and one of them coming back with a 6 pack of Westvleteren 8!! This fine beer is not just for the youngsters anymore! We also saw a table of 3 other senior ladies each drinking a beer and no food on their table. I wish I could have taken a picture of this but Paula reminded me that sometimes strangers don't like you taking pictures of them. All in all this was a great lunch stop and one I hope to make back on several occasions with family and friends that come to visit.

About 5 minutes from the Cafe is Deca Brewery which is a contract brewer and beer warehouse but also the brewery where the guys from Struise (makers of Pannepot, Struiselensis, Black Albert and others) make some of their beers and sell them. I had traded emails with one of the brewers a few weeks back knowing that we would be passing through around this time and hoped to grab some Struise beers. I was told that the Pannepot Grand Reserva would be available by the case when we got there but it most have sold out as it was not available. The cool thing about this place is that you can grab an empty crate or box and make a case of whatever you want from full cases as most of them are in open crates of 24. I made a case of several different things including Struise Witte, Rosse and some others. I was told that the Grand Reserva and the Black Albert would be available in April so it looks like I will be making a 3 hour trek or so up to Westvleteren and Deca!

02 March, 2008

Salon du Vin

Last week while Paula and I were taking a nice bike ride on a warm Sunday, I came across a poster advertising what looked like a wine festival for this weekend. I did a little research online and found out that this festival was in the town of Steinsel in Luxembourg and looked to be in civic hall in this little town that was about 15 minutes from our flat. I could not tell exactly how this fest work but it looked like it was €4 per person for samples of wines from about 30 different producers from Luxembourg, France, Germany, Greece, South Africa and a few others.

We went to the festival today, Sunday, with our friends Heather and Ray and it turned out to be a great time. After getting through the initial shock of not speaking French at most stands, the wine stand attendants, mostly the wine producers, were more than happy to help us through their various wines and offered really generous pours in many cases. After roaming around for about 2 hours or so, we had some snacks and then went back to purchase some bottles of wine from our favorite stands. I think we ended up with about 3 free bottles from stands that wanted to get ride of opened bottles or were just in a good mood.

I hope to post some pictures on this soon.