Food, Beer, and Travel

a dump from the mind of Jon Piper

Posts Tagged ‘Antwerp’

Antwerp – Bolleke De Koninck

Posted by jwpiper on February 8, 2009

Well, before leaving Antwerp for Brussels, I had to give their legendary local beer a crack. And what better way to do so than in a local neighborhood pub? Based on what I’ve heard about Antwerp and De Koninck, I figured I could get it in just about any bar, so I ducked into one for lunch. I decided not to get to fancy and to order “De Koninck and Croque Monsignoir”. Well the ham and cheese sandwich was delivered without incident, but to go along was a tonic water. Glancing around proved that this bar didn’t serve De Koninck at all.

So I decided to drive the streets until I found a place with a De Koninck sign. Boy was I in for a surprise. The bar I found had three people there who were evidently celebrating one of their birthdays by drinking an absolutely excessive amount of good Belgian beer straight from the bottle. Ever had a Duvel out of the bottle? That’s one carbonated beverage. This time, I ordered “bolleke of De Koninck”. After berating me for my poor Flemish and teaching me the proper pronunciations and phrasing, I was presented the object of my search – a bolleke. De Koninck proved to be a very drinkable beer – nothing too special, but an easy daily drinker. Several stories in broken English, overly friendly hugging with strangers, and €1.60 later, I was all too ready to move on with an experience I won’t soon forget.

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Antwerp – Afspanning ‘t Waagstuk

Posted by jwpiper on February 8, 2009

As an interlude between visits to Kulminator, we grabbed a bite at Afspanning ‘t Waagstuk. Given that the place is better known as a bar with food, I took the opportunity to try a classic Belgian dish: stoemp. Actually, while the decision was somewhat motivated by my recent experience in Amsterdam with the Dutch version of this dish, I was also influenced by the fact that there wasn’t much more compelling on the menu.

If ever there was peasant food – this is it. Basically, it’s mashed potatoes with spices. In Holland, even with it all gussied up, it really wasn’t anything too special. Indeed, it screamed peasant food with dressing. But here, at ‘t Waagstuk, we had a simple rendition. It looked like a hefty pile of mashed potatoes with some green vegetable topped with a nice thick piece of bacon. Well, that’s exactly what it was. Except the potatoes were nicely spiced (there was nutmeg among other things) and the bacon was deliciously smoked.

I enjoyed a bottle of Cantillon Gueuze 100% Bio Lambic alongside it, which was nice to cut the heaviness of the dish.

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Antwerp – Kulminator

Posted by jwpiper on February 7, 2009

Given its reputation as one of the best places to have a beer in the world, I had to give Kulminator in Antwerp a visit while I was in Belgium. Stepping in, the bar appears tiny. There were probably 5 tables with about 5 seats each and another 5 stools at the bar. It was fairly empty when I arrived in the middle of the evening, so I grabbed a seat at an empty table and tried to scrounge up an aged bottle menu.

After one of the friendly proprietors dropped it off, it took me a while to figure out what to order. There were a ton of interesting beers of many vintages, and mostly at pretty reasonable prices. In the middle of the bar is a large book of beers which declare that in 2004 or thereabouts they had some 4500 beers or somesuch. I doubt the list is up to date, but clearly they’ve got a ton more beers than on their normal menu. A visit to the bathroom proves that probably half of the space in this bar is taken up by the beer itself. The properietor even pulled down a Three Floyds Darklord and a Sam Adams Trippelbock just to show he had them. It actually begs the question whether Delerium Cafe’s Guinness Book of World Records title is appropriate. Seems Kulminator is your best chance at finding just about any Belgian beer just about anywhere in Belgium. My personal favorites which are tough to come by even in Belgium include Westvleteren 12 (didn’t notice if they had the Blond or 8 as well) and several Struise offerings.

I met some folks who I ended up spending the rest of the evening with, and met back up the next day in Brussels. We enjoyed some delicious beers at Kulminator – some aged, some fresh. And I’ll be trying to work in visits to Kulminator on any future Belgium trips.

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