Home > Uncategorized > The rest of the story (from the weekend)

The rest of the story (from the weekend)

Sunday in Antwerp (see previous post) was actually the culmination of what had to have been our most action-packed weekend of this rapidly-moving year. Friday night we hosted our good friends, Joeri and Sara, for dinner. To save you the trouble of going back through the archives and trying to remember who they are, I met Joeri officiating American football and have become pretty good mates with him and his family. They had us over for dinner a couple months ago, so it was our turn to host.

I decided to go full-on Tex-Mex: guacamole, salsa and queso for starters, all homemade — if you count Velveeta+Rotel for the queso as homemade — followed by fajitas cooked over coals on my little grill (it has the circumference of a basketball), served with some rice and beans.

Quick sidebar: I spent nearly two days trying to track down the fajita recipe from the La Michoacana Mexican meat markets in Dallas. If you like fajitas and live in Texas, please do yourself a favor and go to La Michoacana and pick up some of their pre-marinated fajita beef. You don’t have to speak Spanish (but it definitely helps). Between my brother and grandmom visiting the store and asking for the recipe last week — and me actually calling a La Michoacana and requesting it — I came up with a decent copy of their recipe.

After showing a bit of trepidation, I think Joeri and Sara began to appreciate the Tex-Mex. If they call and ask for the fajita marinade recipe, I’ll know I have truly won them over.

Second quick sidebar: It took us nine months to find proper sour cream. I even tried making it once, and though it tasted OK, it wasn’t the same thing. Some online research yielded one store’s name that might have it, and sure enough, the store carried legit sour cream. While I cooked on Friday night, Jenna set the table, including putting out the napkins, serving plates, condiments, etc. As I sat down, I noticed the sour cream she placed on the table looked funny. I assumed it had been sitting out and got runny. The next day, I commented to Jenna that the sour cream looked odd. She went to the fridge, pulled out a container, and said “I used this — the sour cream.” I looked at the container and knew the problem right away: We had served yogurt instead of sour cream with the fajitas. Oh well.

Saturday was equally eventful. I woke up around 8:30 (thanks to our cat, Charley, walking up and down my back) and after finishing the previous night’s dishes, I took off for a metro station to meet up with five friends (all fellow expat dudes). On the docket: Two — count ’em — two beerfests in Brussels.

The first was more of a “tasting” at the Cantillon brewery, the only active brewery in Brussels, a fact that’s hard to believe considering Belgium’s notorious beer reputation. They brew a type of beer most of you might spit out upon first taste, called a geuze, which is a very sour beer known as a Lambic.

From what I’ve heard and read, the Lambic style of beer came into existence quite by accident. Belgian farmers, more than 500 years ago, had come up with a sweet-tasting, thirst-quenching drink that they stored in barrels, and they left the tops off the barrels. Yeast and other bacteria would somehow — perhaps blown by the wind — wind up in the barrels, causing a spontaneous fermentation that resulted in an alcoholic product. I can only assume the farmers decided they liked the “spiked” version of their drink better and wrote down the recipe for prosperity’s sake. Hundreds of years later, the Lambic style of brewing beer is still going strong.

After the stop at Cantillon, we headed out to Jette, a section of town located in the northwest area of the Brussels capital region. By comparison to Cantillon — an internationally-renowned brewery — the festival in Jette was quite small.

We soon figured out this beerfest was being run by a fraternity-like organization at a local college. Tipping us off was the beerfest’s location: A college cafeteria, which was right next door to a large auditorium where the university was hosting an official student orientation … at the very same time. I know what all you college-aged readers might be thinking … why not study abroad in Brussels?

Going back to Sunday — driving home from Antwerp, after her 10-mile run Jenna said something to me, something along the lines of “I finally feel like we live in Europe.” We’re not here for vacation, and it’s no longer surreal to walk around town and see buildings that are older than than the U.S. and to hear so many languages that it feels like we’re on the top floor of the Tower of Babel.

Brussels feels like home to us. We are 10 months into our 24-month stay. As much as I miss friends, family, and the conveniences inherent in the states, I know that the joy we’ll get when we return to our native land might not outweigh the sadness we’ll experience leaving Belgium behind. We’ve made some treasured friends here (as this weekend shows). We’ve had incredible traveling experiences — and have many more in the future. We’ve grown accustomed to the differences between the US and the EU, and many of those differences we’ve come to embrace. This is home for us now.

And that gives me the perfect lead-in for the next bit of news: We’re moving to a new home. Not back to the states, mind you, but with our current lease terminating at the end of June, we decided to look around town and see if we could find better options.

By better, we wanted something a little more spacious, something in a more happening part of town, and something that would allow Jenna, when she gets home from work, to park and walk to our apartment within a few minutes. That’s impossible now, but we’ve found a place that delivers in every area. We agreed to a lease this afternoon and will move in on July 1. When we move in, you can count on a video tour, but for now, you’ll have to settle for that brief description.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. JD
    May 1, 2010 at 3:44 am

    14 more months………s-t-r-u-g-g-l-i-n-g

  2. February 22, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Do you still have that recipe from La Michoacana Meat Market? I love that place! Thanks

  1. May 4, 2011 at 9:59 pm

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