Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Travel: Notes from Ghent - Back at the Trollekelder ... Where the Wild Things Really Are...

There are places I'll always go back to...

And the Trollekelder is one of those, so I was eager to return on this visit to Ghent, not only for the beer but also for the crazy-hot mustard and celery salt that's served with the platter of cheese and a salami-esque substance. The place hadn't changed much since my last visit but it was certainly busier, so we were relegated to sitting at the back, split from the noisy weekend crowd.

Scanning through the beer list I spotted Troubadour Magma. A beer I've had before from Brouwerij The Musketeers, who appear to do all of their brewing at De Proefbrouwerij in nearby Lochristi ... but this was a triple spiked Brett version. I have a fondness for Brett beers, probably stemming from my unseemly adoration of Orval, so I closed the menu, attracted someones attention by waving like a madman and ordered it along with a platter of cheese and meat of course.

It was superb...

It probably had a lot to do with where I was, who I was with, and my general elated mood caused by being back in Belgium and in Ghent, but there is no doubt that it ticked all my boxes at that moment in time.

One of my notes reads 'Orval on overdrive!' and I think that's a fair statement given that it's a 9.8% abv so-called imperial IPA with added Brett. It was also well over a year old which presumably helped its character.

I got citrus at first, like an under ripe orange, even down to that tartness. This was chased by a clean-but-wet labrador smell somehow converted into a taste, and some ripe fruit like plums or damsons. There was a lovely cleansing carbonation and then you were left with citrus again but perhaps more like that squishy, funky mandarin that sits in it bottom of the fruit bowl until you feel sorry for it and tentatively polish it off - with a slight grimace.

When I finished it I sat back with a sigh...

Was it really better than Orval? At that time and place, yes it was...

Would it still be now, sitting here at home ... in a side-by-side blind tasting?

Who knows?

... and that's hardly the point.


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

History: Then as Now ... 'Go it like Bricks!'

'Rules for the Behaviour of Young People at Table - Always wipe your mouth with the tablecloth for that must be soiled at all events, and will save your host's napkins, or your pocket handkerchief. Never speak not unless your mouth be full. If you begin to relate an anecdote of piece of news, be sure to stop in the middle of every sentence and take a mouthful of food, which you must then thoroughly masticate before you can finish the sentence, because it affords an opportunity to scan well in their minds what you have previously uttered, and they can be thus well prepared for the concluding part, and will be enabled to digest the subject matter under discussion while you are digesting your food. Champ whatever you eat making as much noise as possible; it will show you relish and are pleased with what you are eating. Always begin to speak before another has finished what he or she has to say, as it will seem to show the quickness of your perception in being able to understand a thing before it is uttered, and give the company a great opinion of your good breeding. The employment of fashionable and cant phrases gives grace to conversation - such as, 'that's your sort,' 'keep moving,' 'what's to pay,' 'I owe you one,' 'go it like bricks,' 'hookey,' 'how's your mother,' &c. Be sure on leaving a room to turn your back on the company, and if the door be open when you go out don't fail to leave it open.
A true sort of Christian can never be disappointed if he doth not receive his reward in this world; the labourer might as well complain that he is not paid his hire in the middle of the day.'- Fielding.

[Carlow Sentinel – 1842 via Carlow Library Local Studies Room]