Wow. I had a serious lunch with the Bosteels, Ivo and his son Antoine. Steve and I trained to Belgium from Germany this morning (no big deal, thanks to the ICE train, about 2 hours and across the border, ho-hum), then took a local to Dendermonde, where Ivo met us and threw our luggage in the back of his Benz SUV and hurtled down the roads to Buggenhout, where the brewery has been since 1791. Really.
This is the brewery that produces Pauwel Kwak, Tripel Karmeliet, and DeuS. You may never have heard of the brewery; they take pains to make the name of the beers important, not the brewery, or, in fact, themselves. "We are not important. The beer is important." says Ivo. "We are a service, the brewery, we are in service to the beer." Steve and I turned to each other at one point and said, "The man is a quote factory," which he is, because his passion for brewing shines through like hot summer sunshine.
The picture above is Ivo holding up two glasses of beer. Take a look at them. Click on the pic and look at them close up. They are the same beer. Ivo did this to show what a difference the glass makes. That's Karmeliet Tripel in its own glass (on the left) and the Kwak glass on the right. You'd think they were two different beers. This goes to show that the different glasses for different beers are not just marketing. They show -- and smell, and taste -- the beers just how they were meant to be.
Anyway, the lunch. We went to 't Truffeltje in Dendermonde, a place Ivo and Antoine said they only went to two or three times a year...it is a Michelin one-star, and the meal was excellent. First we got an amusee bouche of a scallop in a DeuS sabayon, side-by-side with a forcemeat eel disc on greensauce: to drool for. We spooned up the excess sabayon and ate it. I must admit: I have never been a fan of DeuS. Now I understand. What a delicious beer. We had it with the seafood, and all of a sudden it made perfect sense. I get what everyone else ever said: it is crisp but complex, startling and not really one-dimensional at all. Now... was that me, or was it individual batches? I don't know. I stopped drinking it because it bored me. This was not at all boring.
We had a filet of cod with a Karmeliet sauce (did you know Karmeliet was made with oats, barley, and wheat, all both malted and unmalted?) that was excellent (see left), squab breast with Kwak sauce (with the best damned carrots I've ever had), and about three dessert courses. Woof.
Then it was back to the midst of Dendermonde, the plaza, where we had draft Karmeliet -- rather dead, and uninteresting -- at which point Ivo hustled us next door to St. Joris Cafe where we had the bottled Karmeliet: excellent.
Well...maybe there's something to this "bottled Belgian is better than draft" after all.
We finally bolted, and Ivo wound up driving us to Het Anker when we missed our train...but that's another story, and I'm exhausted right now. Must sleep.