Sunday, August 27, 2006

Belgium - Beer Lover's Paradise

Belgium is considered by many as the Beer Lover's Paradise, mainly because there are currently about 115 breweries that brew more than 1,000 different beers. So when I moved into Brussels I decided to set myself a goal "Drink at least 1 new beer each week" that way although I will not try them all after 1 year it would be for sure a well spent year. So we moved to Brussels last December 3rd which means I have been here for 38 weeks; although I have only tried 23 different Belgian Beers so far, if I include all other beers I have tried it comes up to 47 so I am not doing that bad.
Belgian Beers are divided into at least 6 different types, and following what I have found on the internet I will also give you the list of beers I have already tried separated, and my preferred ones are in italic and bold, so go and try them!!. If you want to know more about Belgian Beers you can go into http://www.bierebel.com/ or check wikipedia

Belgium


Pils:
The name comes from the town Pilsen in Bohemia (currently Czech Republic) where it was made for the first time in 1842. It's a beer of low fermentation, golden pale ale with a slight bitter taste. It is always filtered and saturated, has an average of 5% alcohol and is drunk cold. They represent currently more than 70% of the beers drunk in Belgium.

BavikCristal
MaesPrimus
Stella Artois

White Beer:
It is a turbid (un-filtered), refreshing, thirst-quenching beer and its taste is raised by coriander, generally they are fermented again in bottles. They made their appearance in Eastern Brabant in the 14th Century and the capital of this type of beer is not other than Hoegaarden
Blanche de Bruges (Brugs Tarwebier) Hoegaarden

Strong Blondes:
They are high fermentation beers with a golden color, a strong alcoholic strength and a bulky foam collar, they are referred to by certain specialists as the "virtuoso beers". The leader of this type is without any doubt Duvel, brewed by the Moortgat brewery in Breendonk
Duvel Hoegaarden Grand Cru

Specialties:
This category is for non classifiable beers, most of the time these beers are attached to a city or area. They are generally beers of high fermentation.
Mc Chouffe Brun (The blond is still at home) Kwak


Trappiste:
These are beers manufactured in the community of an abbey, the life of these monks is shared between prayer, reading and work. Thus the monks manufacture beer, cheese, meat products, bread and even fruit and vegetables.
They are generally a strong alcoholic strength (6º to 12º), they could be blond or brown and have a second fermentation in bottles.
There are only 6 brands which can carry the Trappiste name: Achel, Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle and Westvleteren.

Chimay Cinq Cents (Creme)Chimay Grand Reserve Trappiste Ale (Blue)
Chimay Premier Trappiste Ale (Brown)Westmalle Tripel
Orval


Beers of Abbey:
Although the abbeys remain as the recipe's owner, and they give the name to the beer, over the years they have entrusted the brewing process to independent breweries.
The Beers of Abbey are high fermentation, strong, malted, fruity and quite round ones. The term "Tripel" indicates a pale beer of approx. 7-9º of alcohol and the "Double" a dark beer of aprox. 6º

Grimbergen Optimo BrunoGrimbergen Blonde
Grimbergen Cuvee de l'ermitageLeffe Brun & Blonde
St Feullien Blonde

Kriek:
It's a beer with cherry taste. To obtain this beer they macerate cherries in an oak barrel where lambic is being fermented, once they are added a new fermentation starts because of the sugar in the cherries. After 9 months of maturation the Kriek is filtered bottledtted.
Belle Vue Kriek


Czech Republic

Pilsner Urquell Staropramen Light & Dark
Budweiser Budvar Dark & Light beer from Novometsky Pivovar


Turkey

Efes Marmara 34
Turkish Tuborg


Slovakia

Golden Pheasant or Zlaty BazantTopvar Light & Dark
Saris


Egypt

Sakkara & Sakkara Gold Stella


India

Cobra King Fish


Other

Asahi (Japan)Baltika 13 (Russia)
Carlsberg (Denmark)Kronenbourg & Kronenbourg 1664 (France)
Obolon (Ukraine)

Willard Wigan - Doing the Impossible

I received a email forwarded by a friend about a dyslexic artist who was able to create the most amazing art pieces in microscopic scale, his name Willarg Wigan. So of course I thought it was one of this internet era urban legends, but I was proven wrong!!

He was born in Birmingham, England in 1957 and his work is ground-breaking - partly because of the astounding beauty of vision which challenges the belief system of the mind and partly because it demonstrates that if one person can create the impossible.

He works in total solitude at a quiet retreat in Jersey mainly at night when there is a greater sense of peace in the world and less static electricity to interfere with the immeasurable precision and tolerances required to create the pieces.

The smallest sculptures can only be measured in thousandths of an inch which is why they can sit, very delicately, on a human hair three thousandths of an inch thick. When working on this scale he slows his heartbeat and his breathing dramatically through meditation and attempts to harmonize his mind, body and soul with the Creator.

He then sculpts or paints at the centrepoint between heartbeats for total stillness of hand.

Have a look at some of the pictures attached or on his webpage and be amazed.

Barn Owl perched in the eye of a needle

Elephant on a pin

Girl with balloon walking an eyelash

The Statue of Liberty in the eye of a needle

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Another good weekend in Brussels

Although the weather was not the best for sightseeing as it was rainy a good part of them, having some friends over visiting is always a good and refreshing way to spend the weekends.

This time it was Liz Adrianza and her boyfriend Koen who were visiting. So it was a weekend of catching up, her playing around with Daniela, Koen practicing some Spanish and we catching up on our lives.

It's just really interesting how things evolve and change because I met Liz in my first AIESEC Conference (SCL 2000) while we were both delegates and newies in AIESEC, now 6 and a half years later we meet each other again in another continent and still enjoy the friendship that started in that event. That's the kind of thing I love about AIESEC

Liz and Koen in Brussels

Liz, Koen and Perla in Brussels Park

Daniela in Brussels' Park

All in the Atomium

GG Family in the Atomium

Perla - The Atlas Lady

Vene-Mexican Dinner

Last Thursday (17/08) we invited 12 people for a little get together in our place in order to finally inaugurate our apartment and showcase a bit of our Mexican and Venezuelan cuisine.
For the night my wife and me cooked:

  • Pollo al Mole: Chicken in a mole sauce. Mole is a typical Mexican sauce which is composed of between 17 to +30 ingredients (depending on the Mexican state or taste of the cook)
  • Pollo desmenusado: Chicken breast boiled, then minced into small pieces and cooked with spices
  • Empanadas de Pollo y Queso: Empanadas are a typical Colombo/Venezuelan dish made of corn flour shaped as a semicircular and filled with Chicken or cheese (those were the 2 fillings we had) and then fried
  • Chicharrones: Normally fried pork skin but in this case they were made out of flour
  • Arepas: Typical Venezuelan dish made of corn flour in a round shape, they are normally eaten instead of bread or filled with anything available.
  • Tacos Dorados: Tortillas filled with potatoes and then fast fried for it to be crusty

Of course that all accompanied by 3 different types of spicy and non spicy sauces, it was definitely a very good dinner.

Next one should be in the end of September or early October as I will be out almost all of September so Maria and Goncalo, please let me know when you guys are available.

Ven-Mex Dinner 1Ven-Mex Dinner 2
Ven-Mex Dinner 3Indians resemble Mexicans

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Brussels amazing 2006 Flowers Carpet

This past weekend Brussels' Grand Place (or Groete Markt in Dutch) was beautifully decorated with its famous and traditional Flower Carpet. It's a tradition that started in 1971 by the landscape architect E. Stautemans, who having already made several flower carpets in other towns in Flanders took the challenge of building the first one to cover almost all the Grand Place with Begonias.
It has been instituted as a tradition ever since and every 2 years for a weekend this beautiful square shows off a new design and is covered in Begonias and grass in a predefined pattern, to see all previous design click here. This year's Flower carpet was inspired in the Alchemy of the Middle Ages and is the first time that it includes moving parts.
See here some of my own pictures and a couple I borrowed from other flickr users.

Flower Carpet
Flower Carpet - Perla and DanielaFlower Carpet - Rafa and DanielaFlower Carpet - Town Hall
Flower Carpet - Brussels SymbolFlower Carpet - PigeonsTown Hall Detail
Flower carpet 2006, Brussels, Belgium
Taken by Anja+Andreas
Bruxelles - Brussels flower carpet
Taken by guillaumeo

Thursday, August 03, 2006

July gone and post delayed

It's amazing but July's almost gone already. It was a month that included:

  • The hottest days of the summer in Brussels, a summer so hot that it beat all of the historical data reaching 38º some days without even a soft breeze. Thanks to god it is much cooler now and the forecast is that it will remain like that for the whole week
  • 1 trip to Slovakia for 4 days to have some meetings with my boss, meet with Misho - my Trainer from ITC - a short hike to a hill near Zilina with some really interesting talks
  • Me forgetting my camera on the plane after coming from Slovakia, but it was found safely by the crew of Slovak Airlines and now by boss is safekeeping it for me until our next meeting
  • 9 friends coming over for dinner and to get to know our apartment, so that means I prepared 2 waves of sushi rolls and chicken salad; and now we are scheduling one training session for me to teach them how to make sushi (I hope that goes well)
  • A virus infected our computer which meant we had to backup our data, format the hard drive and reinstall everything (the good thing is that it is running better now)
  • Indian dinner in Brussels with AIESEC people on last Thursday, thanks to Kuntal it was a lovely night and dinner
  • Problems with my publishing my blog, the reason for this and other postings to be delayed.

August will not include a lot oftravelingg but it will be a very busy month with a lot of preparations for the things to come, September promises to be a crazy month with at least 3 out of 4 weeks on the road and tons of stuff to get done, so let the work KICK IN!!