Monday, 13 April 2009

Easter Monday : cherry blossom viewing

Today is Easter Monday .It's a holiday in Belgium , and today the weather has been
Since my largest cherry tree is in full blossom , I'm having a cherry blossom viewing.
( the trees behind the cherry are my two pear trees )

This is cherry blossom : ( click on all pictures to see a larger view)

This is pear blossom : lovely but quite different from the cherry blossom.

To drink on such a lovely day , I'm having a Kriek Lambic , which is a beer that originated when people conserved their surplus of cherries (noordkrieken) by keeping them in barrels of beer.
These cherries are bright red and taste more sour (tart) than the other types which taste more sweet.
The alcohol in the beer preserves the cherries. To make this beer , which won the gold medal in Brussels in 2005 , 240 grams of cherries are added to one liter of Lambic beer and then ripened in oak barrels. This type of beer has been made like this since the 19th century.

As is traditional in Belgium , every beer has its own type of glass to drink it from.

This beer tastes tart and a bit sweet just like a real cherry and is very popular in summer : drink it rather cold. Very refreshing. It's a lovely naturally red colour ( no colorants , no sweetener ! )

See how even the foam is a lovely pink from the cherries ?

Lambic is a beer that can only be produced in one area in the world , namely around Lembeke, not very far from Brussels in Belgium and then only during winter.
This is because all the other beers are made to ferment by adding yeast under carefully controlled conditions in isolation. Lambic is made to ferment by letting the brew cool off in large tanks with all the windows open, so the wild yeasts in the air can fall into the brew and start the fermentation. During summer there are way too many organisms in the air : the fermentation would run wild. Since these wild yeasts are specific to this area, it can only be made there.

The result is a unique beer with a taste that is very complex and that also varies from year to year. Because it is rather flat ( doesn't foam ) older lambic is mixed with younger lambic which gives geuze , a beer that does produce a nice foam and is even more complex of taste.
The pressure in the bottle can get quite high , so they use bottles of thick glass with thick corks and a metal wire to keep the cork in (just like champagne).
The best ones can taste quite tart, like biting into a rather unripe apple , which is a shock to people used to the 'usual beers', but works wonders to help you digest your food after a large and copious Flemish dinner ;)

This is the 'chapel' where the brew cools down overnight and collects the necessary microorganisms to start fermentation from the outside air with large ventilators :

(Disclaimer : this picture is the property of Brouwerij Boon , Lembeke, Belgium ). Looks like a swimming pool full of beer , doesn't it ? It's not beer yet, it has a long way to go before it is.
The site is in Dutch only, but the wonderful pictures there speak for themselves.

Large oak beer barrel being scraped on the inside.

(Disclaimer : this picture is also the property of Brouwerij Boon , Lembeke, Belgium )

Of course this being Easter , we have Easter eggs . These are all brown and black chocolate with a liquid filling ( I'm not fond of white ) and every colour of wrapping is another filling : coffee, vanilla, lime, banana, fondant, and many others I've forgotten.

At work we got a small present for Easter : a bag with some eggs and this kawaii chocolate bunny.

For this cherry blossom viewing I bought these original handmade 'cerisettes' at a chocolatier in Mechelen ( cerise is French for cherry ). The cherries are whole (stone and stem and all) and are kept in alcohol for up to 5 years. The taste from the cherries transfers to the alcohol.
These real cherries are then each covered with dark chocolate which is filled with the original alcohol. They're quite large and a mouthful, but as the chocolate cover starts to melt and the cherry flavoured sweet alcohol flows into your mouth you'll have a wonderful experience. Trust me ! ( See the stems sticking out ? ) ( Click the picture for a mouthwatering full view :)


kirin said...

Hi Walter,

Do you live in a large house with such a private garden of your own? Ohanami (=cherry blossoms viewing) is very popular in Japan, but we do that in public space normally as we cannot have space to have the trees for private use. You're lucky.

The pink colored beer looks interesting, even the taste is complex. (^_^;)

Easter has not "imported" in Japan yet, which is unlike Christmas. So I have seen many Western people write about Easter holiday, I feel I am alien finding no connections on that. :(

BTW, the cherries covered with chocolate look good! Very nice Ohanami to you!

Walter said...

Hello , Kirin,

Yes, I live in a house with a garden. I was lucky to buy the land and build my house before prices started to really rise. Now this land costs twice and triple the price! Of course when I started working I lived for six years in a small one room apartment.
It also means I live outside from the city and more than 50 km from my job, but I'm OK with that.
Easter is all about christian religion : crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
Easter eggs and the Easter bunnies are fertility symbols , originated here from about 1620.
You must definitely try the cherries covered with chocolate and drink the Kriek Boon when you come visit Belgium. Unless I get to Japan first , then I'll bring some!

Priscilla said...

Hi Walter!

Really really nice photos you have! :) Especially those chocolate cherries! Haha. They're my favourite to eat, but it's hard for me to buy them because I always get asked for ID, and I always forget to bring my ID out to buy them ~_~ *sighs*

I usually drink Floris cherry beer because it's sweet, but my brother hates it and says it tastes like medicine to him ^^;;;;; Maybe I should look for the one that you've posted :D

Keep up with the posts! :D

Walter said...

Hello, Priscilla,

Thanks for complementing my pictures :)
I didn't know you need to show ID to buy alcohol chocolates ?
I don't know how floris cherry beer tastes, but I do know a few others that have too much sweetener in them or are made with cherry juice and taste so artificial they make me teeth itch, so I can sympathize with your brother .
I'll try keeping up the posts, they're a lot of work, but getting comments is always fun.