Monthly Archives: May 2010

Belgo Centraal in London

Belgo Centraal Monk Waiter

Belgo Centraal Monk Waiter

The wife’s sister and her husband are in town so we went to see Oliver (Food, Glorious Food!) in Covent Garden the other night.  We needed some quick eats before the show so I surfed the intertubes and came across Belgo, a London chain of five Belgian style restaurants.  I was particularly drawn to the beer menu (delicious Trappist beers!) and the Beat The Clock theatre menu, where you pay the time you order your food at (between 5-6:30).  For example, if you order at 5:15 you pay £5.15 for your meal.  We wondered what we might get, but we received full size, quality meals served by waiters dressed up as monks.  To be honest, I could have lived without the last bit of humiliating kitsch. However, I can’t complain about £6 meals accompanied by delicious Belgian beers.  Amongst our party we enjoyed Mussels with frites, Spit roasted chicken with frites, and pork and leak sausages with mash.  Rachel and I enjoyed Westmalle 8 and Rochefort 8 with our meals, not too shabby for some fast pre show food.

Cheers,

Chris

Belgo Centraal Beat the Clock Menu

Belgo Centraal Beat the Clock Menu

Vancouver Beer Happenings

I’ve been keeping a list of things to blog about, but I’ve been taking my sweet time and most of the things no longer warrant their own post.  So here’s a collection of blurbs about things I meant to post about last month:

  • Dix is closed.  I wrote about how Dix was going to close, but now it actually is closed.  I will miss Caskival and pre-sporting event eating and drinking.  It still bothers me that I still can’t comprehend why MJG would do this to me.
  • Big Ridge is reopening. Big Ridge moved across the street to a new location because of parking disputes with the YMCA (really YMCA?).  My former local brewpub closed down last winter and is now opening in their new location with a revamped beer menu (an IPA replaces the Clover ale).  I can’t wait to check it out when I get back.
  • BC Beer Awards Awarded.  The first annual BC Beer Awards were doled out during VCBW (a rousing success from what I’ve heard).  The winners were selected via a blind tasting panel at the Alibi Room.  I can’t say they are who I would have picked, but then I’m biased by things like seeing.  Canadian Beer News has the list of winners here.
  • Dead Frog Pepper Lime Lager.  Dead Frog is from small town Langley, where I grew up, and so I’ve long been fond of them.  My pride has been replaced with disappointment with Dead Frog’s launch of their bandwagon Pepper Lime Lager.  I haven’t tasted it yet, but I can’t imagine it’s any good, although BC Beer gives it a decent review.  It is my opinion that lime and beer should only be involved when dropping a fresh wedge of lime into a bad beer like Corona.  All other marriages are abominations.
  • Phillips is rad. Phillips is brewing CAMRA BC homebrew competition winner Gary Giesbrecht’s Oatmeal Stout and including it in their Showcase mix pack.  How’s that for audience participation?
  • Berlin. I’m going to Berlin tomorrow morning to meet Erik and drink German beer, woooo!

Cheers,

Chris

Beer in Rome

Erik and I spent the last eight nights in Italy (with the whole Wolfe family, we are not gay, not that there is anything wrong with that), four in Florence and four in Rome.  I’m not going to lie to you, it was pretty rad.  We ate and drank like kings.  Also, I’m pretty sure I gained about a pound a day, but it was worth it.  I’ll let Erik elaborate on the food aspect, but highlights included Mercato Centrale, Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, Florentine tomatoes, the quest for the greatest pizza, punchy arugula, and hole in the wall restaurants with mean waiters and amazing food.

True bistecca should be at least 5cm thick, and that is why Italy is rad

True bistecca should be at least 5cm thick, and that is why Italy is rad

Meat Sandwiches from Nerbone in Mercato Centrale, Florence

Meat Sandwiches from Nerbone in Mercato Centrale, Florence

More food from Mercato Central in Florence

More food from Mercato Central in Florence

More wares in Mercato Centrale, Chianti Classico and fresh olive oil

More wares in Mercato Centrale, Chianti Classico and fresh olive oil

Of course, while in Italy we had to sample the beer.  We found that generally, every restaurant would offer Peroni or Birra Moretti for about 4 euros, which is a ripoff compared to the price of fantastic wine, especially with Florence so close to the Chianti region.  We most definitely drank our fair share of Chianti, but we also wanted to check out the burgeoning Italian craft beer scene that we’d heard about, which we found no trace of until we got to Rome.

We first encountered Italian craft beer, which comes mostly from the North of Italy, in a deli near our hotel.  They carried the entire range of the Birrificio del Ducato, a craft brewery near Parma.  Erik bough them all and we drank them all.  I personally enjoyed the very malty Chimera Dark Ale and the peppery Verdi Imperial Stout, but all of their beers were good if not great, not bad for wine country.

Craft beer encounter number two happened a bit by chance.  When in Rome, scour the city for the best pizza the Romans already know about, which is exactly what we did (“do as the Romans do” is played out).  At out of the way Pizzarium, arguably Rome’s best pizza by the slice (it was definitely delightful), we found a stellar craft beer selection that included international and italian craft beers.  I can’t remember what we had (all Italian things start to sound the same to me after a few beers), but you must visit this place if you are a disciple of the heavenly pizza and beer combination.

Pizzarium in Rome, go there

Pizzarium in Rome, go there

The Pizza at Pizzarium, half way through rapid consumption

The Pizza at Pizzarium, half way through rapid consumption

Italian Craft Beer from Pizzarium

Italian Craft Beer from Pizzarium

Later on we hiked a long way from our hotel to the trendy Trastavere neighborhood, which was, from the looks of it, foodie heaven in Rome.  There were so many amazing looking restaurants (trattoria, osteria, ristorante) and wine bars (enoteca) on the way that we almost didn’t make it to our destination.  Bir and Fud and Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa are two hole in the wall beer bars conveniently located across the street from each other.  I found them recommended on BeerAdvocate.com and they did not disappoint.  Bir and Fud serves only Italian beer and there is only an Italian menu.  We relied on the waiter, who initially told us to wait because he was busy eating, to help us out.  We first had an American Pale Ale because that is what he brought us without necessarily confirming that is what we wanted.  It was a great rendition of a hoppy west coast pale ale.  In the next round, we got to choose our beers.  I had a delicious imperial stout and Erik had a malty real ale, both were wonderful.  When you can get it, Italian craft beer is quite delicious.  At Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa, we were presented with many intriguing international choices.  Erik had a Cantillon Lambic and I had a Danish IPA, which were, again, both quite tasty.

If you are ever in Rome, you do not want to miss these two beer bars or Pizzarium.  You will be happy, and fat.  In other news, I speak Italian now.  Grazi mille!

Cheers,

Chris

The Wenlock Arms in London

We’ve been in London for a couple of weeks now, time enough to check out a few pubs.  Obviously I was aware that pubs were a big deal over here, but I wasn’t really aware of just how big a deal.  There are probably twenty pubs within a ten minute walk of our flat.  Back in Canada, there weren’t any pubs within a ten minute walk of where I lived and my pub of choice was a 15 minute drive.  English people are also very worried that pubs are closing down at an alarming rate.  In my opinion, these pubs must be closing down for a reason, that being they suck.  Every pub I’ve walked by in England so far has been packed, and this is at all hours of the day, so it’s hard to imagine any half decent pub needing to close down.  Anyway, I love pubs, so I’m pretty happy with my new found selection.

The Wenlock Arms London UK

When first looking for interesting pubs to try I stumbled upon the Wenlock Arms, which is frequently voted North London pub of the year by CAMRA.  They advertise nine casks of quality beer, so I obviously had to check it out.  It was in a bit of a sketchy neighborhood that you would only go to if you lived there or were heading for this pub.  The pub itself was a bit rundown, as was the clientele.  I supposed I expected the young, hip crowds you find everywhere else in London, but what I found was a bunch of old dudes who look like they drink too much.  Given the Wenlock Arms is a beer destination, it is fitting that it attracts beer nerds, and for good reason.  The two beers we tried were both outstanding.  It’s been a few weeks so I don’t remember what I had, but I was delighted to have a hoppy beer rivaling something from out of the North West for the first time in London.  Built in 1836, the place has some pretty cool history too.  Anyway, I’ll be back to try more of their delicious beer and to find out what it actually was, but I’ll only go there with serious beer people who will overlook the atmosphere.

Chris at the Wenlock Arms London UK

While not every pub has nine casks of delicious beer on offer, pretty much all of them have at least three.  This includes The New Rose, which is a convenient one minute walk from our place.  It’s a livelier spot frequented by the trendier locals hereabouts and it just might be our regular pub.  Their website is brilliant too.

Cheers,

Chris