Saturday, December 14, 2013

20131211 Lithuania

After work on 2013/12/11, after walking around the center of town,
headed down to the brewpub Busi Trecias, at Totorių g. 18 Vilnius. When I got there, was able try some beers as well as some pig ears and other appetizers.
I had forgotten how good pig ears were. Had a
Švieses - lager (#4,672)
Joudas Tamas Dark Lager
Kalnapilis Kvietinis - hefeweizen
Kalnapilis Grand - English lager
On the way back stopped at this small beer store and was amazed what was down the stairwell.
At the Bamblyne, as it is called, tried:
Rinkuškiai - exclusive - a double bock with about 15% alcohol.
Vilniaus Alus - 13 Statinię Šviesusis - Old Ale
at 15% it was quite strong
Birzu Alus - 1686 Jubiliejinis Plus - 7% old ale
Sirvenos Bravoras - Gutstoutas - ale oatmeal stout
Next day - first things first: after work, purchased an insane amount of amber jewelry.
Then took a short, frigid walk to Avilys (Prie Katedros), a brewpub at Gedimino 5 Vilnius.
The beers were good and had the pleasure of connecting with someone that I have met on eBay. Had a great talk about culture and travel and just life in general. Also some more traditional Lithuanian fare, such as fried bread; I forgot how good that was.
Tried the following beers
What was pleasant about the honey beer is there actually was a faint aroma of honey.
On the way back to the hotel, stopped in - again - at Bambalyne, the small beer shop. The following beers were sampled.
Also tried to do some video recording, so we'll see how that works out.
Senojo Vilniaus - Alus Tamsusis Labai Stiprus Alus Su Prieskoniais - spiced beer
Also wins the award for I believe the longest beer name of any beer ever tried.
Dundulis - Humulupu IPA
Dundulis - Smakas - English lager
Also picked up Lithuanian mead to bring home.
At the end of the Friday took the train to Kaunas Lithuania. The reason will become more apparent later in the blog, but safe to say I have a great-great-grandfather from Lithuania.

After arriving at the hotel, walked down to the...
Bravaria Kaunas, at 49 Karaliaus Mindaugo - P.C. Akropolis Kaunas. The Akropolis is some sort of gigantic mall.
Braveria was part of a chain. It's not too bad, although the beet soup and the pig's knuckle was fantastic. Had
Medaus - Ginger spiced beer
Premium - pilsner
Ajeru - German Dunkel
Švyturys - Ekstra - German Pale Dortmunder lager
Was a little sad as on the way out; noticed there were other bottled beers that apparently were not on the menu!
Returned to the Hotel and discovered the bar was not too badly equipped. Had a
Volfas Engelman - Imperial Porter
Not a bad Porter, but at only 6% alcohol this is not imperial. Had a nice conversation about this with one of the people tending bar. She has had other people say the same thing: it's good but not "Imperial." She even mentioned the brewery does offer tours. I said I tried to contact them, but their email was no good. She went to the trouble of looking up the email, confirming it was bad, and even trying to call the brewery. Service!
Volfas Engelman - Rinktinis - Pilsner
Švyturys - Baltas - Hefeweizen [4,692]
Visited my great great grandfather's church - Surviliškio Church of Jesus Crucified - in Surviliškis Lithuania.
A very old lady - (Greta? Gerta?) comes over and says (like my grandmother would've) "I was not being nosy, and I was not watching you out my window, but why are you here?"
My driver - Carlos - explained what was up. The lady seemed so surprised and happy, and did recall the old family name "Tylunas" but said these families are long gone from the town.
I surprised her by giving her one of the books I've illustrated, to donate to the town library (which was closed today), where I had pre-enscribed "December, 2013 Donated by artist Mark Lee Rollins, great great grandson of Dominykas Tylunas, formerly of Surviliškis."
Also saw the Ninth Fort, where Nazis committed a massacre.
Back in Kaunas after the adventure was finished, took a moderate walk downtown to Avilys brewpub.
Although they only had two beers, what was interesting was they are not the same as the one in Vilnius.
Had a nice lunch potato soup with hop(!) butter, as well as a really good beet salad. Tried the
Avilio Light - Pale Ale
Medaus honey - English Ale
Went to the center of town, where they were having a Christmas celebration, there were also made-up Christmas displays well.
Then made to the Gyvas bar, which is really close to the center of town. They had a fairly complete selection of Lithuanian beer on tap and bottles.
Sampled the following beers leading up to #4,700.
Aukstaitijos - Kanipu - English Lager
Vasaknu - Dvaro Tamsusis - brown ale
Armeniukas - Ale, Strong Belgian Brown
Dundulis - Dounkelis - brown ale
Kvietinis - Vilniaus Alus - Hefeweizen
Approached that magic even number and asked the bartender, that's when she suggested a very nice IPA.
Dundulis - Dubults IPA - double IPA. (#4,700)
After explained why this IPA should be called a "double" due to the alcohol content, she politely pointed out the name was Lithuanian for "double." Duh.
Back to Kaunas Park Inn for a quick dinner. Tour tomorrow.

Really apologize - I thought this post had more. Will add some pix to go with it, but basically, had a really good tour of Kaunas, train back to Vilnius, and stayed at the Holiday Inn before my AM flight.

Had the following beers, as well as some fun with some Brits on a bachelor party night.

Butautu  - Dvaro Light Šviesus - Lager, Pale
Grimbergen - Blonde - Ale, Belgian Blonde  
Grimbergen - Grimbergen Optimo Bruno - Ale, Belgian Brown, Strong

What was fun with the bachelor party, is that most of the folks hailed form England, some had moved to the US and South Africa. One guy said I would never guess where he was form. When I showed him the fob on mi iPhone case - with the triskelion - and told him I had been there, he was incredulous. "The fookin' Isle of Man; he's been to the Isle!"   Jocularity.

On the way home, had a
Warsteiner - Pils - Lager, Pilsner, German Pils (4,704)
at about 30,000 feet over the North Sea on Lufthansa.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

France 2013-12

It is not easy to get from Boston to Pau, France. First one had to go from Boston Montreal, Montreal to Paris CDG, thence to Pau.

Montreal is actually nice for a brief layover; once Customs figured out I was in-transit and not "entering" the country.

Had an excellent meal at Gastropub Cabine M - in fact one of the best meals ever at an airport restaurant. Along with a pork belly salad, had a

Creedmore Springs - Lager

Rickard/Molson - Rickard's Red

Once my baggage was ransacked at the local terminal G at CDG, there's a quick one and a half hour flight. And as we all know, seeing "Newton's Rings" from the airplane means "good luck".

Was really great along way to see at least four nuclear power plants splitting atoms, blithely uncaring that petroleum is available from the Middle East.

Pau is located near the picturesque Pyrenees mountain range; in the distance covered with snow.

The town itself was quite old, a classic European-looking town, at least in the center. The outskirts have shockingly modern buildings, especially near the airport.

Just walked around to the center of town and the castle.

The Château de Pau is a castle in the center of Pau, the capital of Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Béarn. King Henry IV was born there.

However, ran into is one major problem. There really no bars open on Sunday. One of the best beer bars - La Tireuse - was closed. Stopped at a small bar near the hotel - Clin d'Oeuil (blink of an eye).

And NO FaceBook - Bad BAD dog.

It is NOT " Clin D'oeuil" - as the "d" is lower-case and the "O" is capitalized!

Had several beers spoke the local folks including Marcel; who was quite a character and insisted on a photo with me wearing his beret.

Tried the:

Pelforth - Blonde

Affligen - Special Blonde

Pelforth - Brune - brown ale

Fischer - Desperados

yes folks, a French beer, blended with tequila. Probably quite good with spicy Mexican food or even curry, but by itself a bit overpowering.

After that very close the hotel find a place called Le Garage.

Had a fantastic duck liver burger, along with a couple beers.

Heineken France - Edelweiss - Hefeweizen

John Martins & Timmermans - Cerise - oude kriek

On the way back to the hotel, stopped in at a small magasin, et acheter, (woops, lapsed into French) store, and bought a bottle of

Fischer Tradition - Bière de Garde

The next evening after work, found a few more places were open but still quite a few places closed on Monday.

The special beer bar - La Tireuse - was still closed. Out of business? I hope not but the last review I could find was 2012...

When walking try to find a decent bar and stopped at the L'Aragon. Had an excellent dinner of pâté and roast duck.

The beers tried were Oldarki beers Now that name would never fly in America!

Oldarki - Extra Pale

Oldarki - Blonde [4,666]

On the way back to the hotel, stopped in again at the Clin d'Oeuil. The night before (hier soir) Marcel had recommended Armagnac as a "digestive".

Armagnac is a brandy, similar to Cognac. According to Wikipedia, Cardinal Prior Vital Du Four claimed it had 40 virtues:

makes disappear redness and burning of the eyes, and stops them from tearing; it cures hepatitis, sober consumption adhering. It cures gout, cankers, and fistula by ingestion; restores the paralysed member by massage; and heals wounds of the skin by application. It enlivens the spirit, partaken in moderation, recalls the past to memory, renders men joyous, preserves youth and retards senility. And when retained in the mouth, it loosens the tongue and emboldens the wit, if someone timid from time to time himself permits.

Would have loved to try the semi-banned gourmet dish "ortolan", which is prepared by force-feeding an Ortolan Bunting before drowning it in Armagnac and roasting it. Mmmmmmmm armgnac-drowned Bunting.... going to try it with some day with a Goldfinch.

My last day in Pau was quite a treat. We lunched at a local small gourmet restaurant.

First of all there was a duck pâté, then three different wines, lamb meat pie, and crème brûlée with pistachio nuts.

The duck pâté was absolutely unbelievable - locally raised as well as the corn used to force-feed it; such delicate flavor.

Mon Dieu. C'est marvilleux. Absolutely.

Best. Lunch. Ever. I truly mean that.

And then a small parting gift that nearly drove a friend to tears.

Then a flight to Paris, where one encountered the living hell of the shuttle bus.

Yin and Yang; tit for tat; I suppose I had to appease the gods that be for such a superbe petite dejuner.

It was supposed to 20 minute ride from the airport to the Holiday Inn. The shuttle bus stopped at one point inexplicably, but also waited at another hotel where some lady frantically kept saying "wait my friend will be coming any minute now."

Arrgh. 40+ minutes for a 20-minute shuttle. There is very fine line that separates the average person from becoming a serial killer.

Once at the hotel, realized both from fatigue and how long it would take to get there, the center Paris was not in the cards for this evening.

As it turned out, the hotel bar had several beers not tried before, as well as a decent sandwich for dinner.

Beers que j'ai buver:

Bräu Union Osterrich - Hofbräu Edelweisse - Berliner Weisse

Kronenbourg - 1664 - pils (tap)

Grimbergen - Blonde (en boutielle)

Duvel - Duvel Belgisch Speciaalbier - Belgian strong pale ale

Tomorrow - Lithuania!