If I could be for just one little hour…

Some days I dream of escaping London for a bit. Lately I’ve been dreaming of Brussels, a place I have yet to visit. I bought a bottle of Chimay Blue weeks ago and have been saving it for a day like today. (OK, beer pedants– I know Chimay is not brewed in Brussels, but it is Belgian.)

London doesn’t do well in the summer– its broad, grey shoulders look blanched in the sun and can only really seduce when rain-wet. Air conditioning is almost non-existent here, and the city floods with tourists, making it hotter, slower, uglier. What’s a native to do but dream of invading someone else’s city?

(Not to mention I had a miserable day dealing with arrogant, Apple/Mac-cultists at the Regent Street “genius” bar– whoever thought labeling customer service reps “geniuses” was an idiot, but I find myself in one of those I need a drink moments.)

I’ve always shied away from Belgian beers– seeing them as the yuppie choice here in London. So many lovely pubs here eschew British real ale for Belgian brews for which they can charge dearly. I tried Leffe and it left me cold, and Hoegaarden couldn’t charm me either– maybe I needed to pair the right food with it? I lost patience with the precious endeavor. That is until today.

I decided today was a good day to dream with my Trappist aid. The 9% seems to say: GOD(ess) WANTS US TO BE HAPPY. I’d found a Chimay-ready chalice at a charity shop a few days before, and it looked grand in it– amber and cloudy with an optimistic, beige head. It tasted of a dark mysterious fruit, the juice of something Edenic and forbidden. The dominant flavour was alcohol, or maybe that is what I most needed to taste at that moment. Prunes with a sour taste that’s unlike citrus- it is it’s own flavour and it’s delightful. I wished I had a some frieten— comfort food! But as the heady 9% hit me I decided it was time to book that Eurostar ticket.

Eats: yeast pate on seeded bread

While listening to: Jaques Brel– Jackie

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13 Responses

  1. So how would you sum up the beer? Cute in a stupid assed way?

  2. Haha, David– I wouldn’t want to go so far as to say that after another one of these that might describe me. I love that song!

  3. I like the Marc Almond version m’self. Yes, go to Brussels. Your education demands it. Especially since you have a direct rail link on your doorstep. Clink-clink-clink all the way home.

  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re going to call it a “Genius Bar,” freaking serve booze already. Grr.

    I love the Chimay Red. Nutty, vaguely fruity deliciousness.

  5. Hey Beer Nut– I love the Marc Almond version, too. Jaques is such a gorgeous album! I once saw him do it live several years ago, singing to a little cassette tape in a portable stereo. I cried.

  6. Lori, I agree completely. Until they have enough Chimay Red available to drown their smug superiority, the Genius Bar is just a Big Jerk Counter to me.

  7. mmm, chimay.

    have you tried kwak? it’s one of my favorite belgians. can’t wait to have one again a few months down the road.
    http://www.bottledbeer.co.uk/index.html?beerid=997

  8. I like the Chimay beers. Red is certainly my favourite.

    I have also always stood Chimay and Orval beers together. Just the same to be together, but different enough to hold their own. In the past I have often followed one with the other. Delicious, I thnk!

  9. As we’ve just come back through Brussels on the way back from Germany, I have to say; don’t go to Brussels expecting something cutesy! It’s *much* uglier and dirtier than London.

    But there are some nice pubs…

  10. Hey Boak- that is good to know. I don’t know what I was expecting– maybe grim and corporate? Dirtier than London…that’s really saying something!

  11. Hey, c’mon. Paris is dirtier than London too!

    Brussels also smells of wee, or at least the metro and the Grand Place does.

    I still go there several times a year though…

    Remember that your Eurostar ticket gets you to any Belgian city, and Ghent is lovely. I’ve heard good things about Bruges and Antwerp too.

  12. Hi Boak– I haven’t been to Paris in nine years! I don’t remember it being dirtier than London but then my memory isn’t the best.

    I’m looking forward to Brussels, even if it smells like wee– ha! I haven’t exactly made plans yet.

    My friend told me about the ticket scheme– I will explore Ghent when I go. Thanks for the tip! My friend was encouraging me to take a day trip to Bruges.

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