Saturday in Brussels

 
 
 

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            Yes, we’re in Brussels.  I’m not even going to explain why yet; I’ll get into that later in the week.  Suffice it to say that we have a purpose in being here and we came a couple of days early to enjoy Brussels.  I have been fascinated with Brussels for about a decade.  After our first year of working in Singapore, we had a period of weeks where we thought we might not stay there past our first contract of two years and we started poking around at other available positions.  There was a high school principal’s job posting in Brussels and we spent at least a couple of weeks researching and starting to think it would be pretty cool to live here.  Allan was soon after offered a different position where we were so we ended up staying there for five years, but I’ve still always wanted to see Brussels.  It has seemed to me like a city that can kind of laugh at itself.  I get that from the surreal art and comics they are known for.  I also get an attitude of “So what if half of our historic architecture was destroyed during World War II, we rebuilt modern buildings so get over it”.  I might be putting words in their mouths with that last assumption.   So far though, I’m finding Brussels down to earth and incredibly approachable.  At one point, I called it the European Seattle.  At lunch and at the jazz festival we went to, we met, and had meaningful connections with, three different couples.  By the way, thank you for learning English at some point in your lives, all of you.  If I lived here, they would all be invited to our place next weekend for dinner.  Nice people, very open.
            Here’s what we saw.
            Three exclamation points are not too many to celebrate asparagus!!!  By the way, those white sticks on the plate are asparagus.  I went with the vinaigrette along with a mountain of beef tartare.  
            We are officially having chocolate with every meal this week.  It seems we are unofficially having frites with every meal.  They just appear.
            There are six beer breweries in the world today that can state that their beer is brewed by trappist monks.  What are trappist monks, exactly?  They are a branch of the Cistercian order of monks, which is a stricter version of the Benedictines.  Founded in 1664, they are noted for their austere rules, including a vow of silence.  Five of these six breweries are in Belgium so we thought it would be a small enough goal to try and sample beers from these five monasteries this week.  Don’t expect much here.  My friend Patrick writes a true blog about Czech beers and it’s funny, has a rating system, and even a guest taster who has razor-sharp beer insights.  Allan and I are going to taste five beers this week and say either,  “I like that” or “I wouldn’t have that again”.  
 We started with the Chimay, also called the “Burgandy of Belgium”. 
  It was dark and a little bit sweet and not my favorite.   
 We then had the Orval.   
This beer is made at an abbey that is home to 25 monks.  They are technically contemplative, I’ve been there, brothers, and have chosen to live in silence and solitude.  To break up the day, they make beer, though they say that the proceeds only go to support the monastery and some other good causes.   The beer is medium colored and tasted like summer to me since the only time I drink beer is when I’m home in the summer and have access to the tasty Northwest microbrew beers.  
Finally, we had the Westmalle.  
 It was of similar body to the Orval, but just didn’t quite have the characteristics that say “vacation”. 
 So there they were.  Two more to go…
 I leave you with a picture of the all red fruit stand.

One thought on “Saturday in Brussels

  1. I have so many questions. First, were the beers on tap or out of the bottle? Which Chimay was it, there are at least three and because I am not an expert on Belgian beer (yet) I only know to refer to them as red, yellow and blue label. I recently had the Westmalle Triple and enjoyed it. I'll be on the lookout for the Orval – "tastes like summer" sounds like something worth trying.

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