What I did on my holiday, part 3

Cantillon brewery, Brussels, Belgium

Our hotel was almost deserted on Monday morning, in stark contrast to the previous day. We checked out nice and early and went into Bouillon for a bit of shopping. The only supermarket in town is a branch of colruyt. I don’t know the pecking order of Belgian supermarkets, but colruyt appears to be at the budget end. They did have some Luxembourg wines and Duvel beer though, which is all we wanted. At the checkout we found they don’t take VISA cards – luckily we still had enough cash on us.

After a trip to the bank to top up our cash reserves we wandered around Bouillon for the last time. We also bought a big box of real chocolates and some local beer in a gift pack with a glass.

The drive to Brussels was largely uneventful, although the sat-nav took us down some rather narrow shopping streets in the southern suburbs. We arrived at the Cantillon brewery museum just before lunch time.

We had hoped to find a nice little bar to have lunch in. However, that part of Brussels has a largely immigrant community and bars were thin on the ground. There were a few sandwich shops, but we settled on a Lebanese fast food joint, and had a couple of delicious pizzas which were very good value.

Returning to the brewery we did the self-guided tour. As on my previous visit more than ten years ago, and when we arrived that morning, there was a school trip having the guided tour. I hope Belgian schoolchildren realise how lucky they are to have such interesting visits! After the obligatory tasting I bought a dozen bottles and a T-shirt. I bought 3 each of Grand Cru Bruocsella (75cl), Gueuze (37.5cl), Kriek (37.5cl) and Rosé de Gambrinus (37.5cl).

On my previous visit I bought a lot more than this, but the UK pound wasn’t quite so weak back then. These are beers for keeping. A few weeks before the holiday Sarah and I drank my last bottle of Rosé de Gambrinus. Although it was over ten years old it still tasted perfect, with immense depth of flavour.

Leaving Brussels before rush hour, we drove to the little town of Ittre where we stayed our final night. We had a swim in the hotel’s pool, then had a look round the town. It was very quiet.

That evening we went to a restaurant called l’Abreuvoir. This was a stunningly good choice. We were lucky to get a table, as it was almost fully booked. (A couple who arrived shortly after us were turned away.) There was a written monthly menu, but the better option was the daily menu, which was recited by the waitress. This cost a mere 30€, including wine. The food was imaginative, fresh, and tasty. The service was friendly and efficient. This was not only the best meal of the holiday, it was the best meal out Sarah and I have had in years.

We came home the next day, after looking round Bergues (where we also had lunch) and shopping in Calais. All in all, a most enjoyable short break.

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