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A Taste of Limburgish Beer

This article was originally published on Maastricht Region: to Live.

Recently I heard about Beercycle, a local business that delivers beer and wine between 9pm and 2 am in Maastricht. They have partnered with Jules & You, a student support organisation, so that members of Jules & You can get a discount with the company. I haven’t tried the service myself, but it did get me thinking. So today I thought I’d introduce you to a few of the typical beers available in the Maastricht Region.

Pils

The classic Dutch beer is a Pilsner and it is typically served in a .2ml or .25ml glass. It has a light gold or yellow color and I find a good one to have a crisp taste; good after a long bike trip. If you want to try a Limburgish pils, give Brand, Gulpener, or De Leeuw.

Pilsner’s in the Netherlands are considered the main tap beer in any cafe or restaurant. That means if you just order “beer”, you will get a glass of the house pilsner. You also will find that most cafes are loyal to a single brand; so don’t ask for a Gulpener in a Heiniken place.

Wit

Another popular beer type in this area is the Wit, or white, beer. This beer is an unfiltered wheat beer and often has a citrus flavor. Maastricht is best known for Wieske Witte, a white beer that was originally brewed locally. Today it is owned by Heineken and brewed elsewhere. Most of the other local breweries, Gulpener for example, also have their own white beers. You can often get Belgian and German white beers in Limburg cafes as well.

Belgian

If you like something a bit stronger or darker, Maastricht’s proximity to Belgium can place a wide variety of Belgian beers at your disposal. Sure the Dutch companies do have some Doubles and Tripels which are quite good; but why miss out on our neighbor’s beer making excellence.  Several Belgian beers are Trappists beers; originally or still brewed at monasteries and frequently feature rich and dark flavors.

If you don’t know which you want to try, I suggest you try one of the handful of beer speciality cafes in Maastricht. These bars have an extensive beer menu, allowing you to taste a variety of beers from all over the region.

Small Brewers

Although difficult to find in bars, I should point out that there are many tiny brewers in the area around Maastricht. If you prefer a microbrew, visit Glimburger to check out their selection and mix and match your own six pack.

Heiligdomsvaart Maastricht: A 7th Year Tradition

This article was originally published on Maastricht Region: to Live.

Last weekend (Thursday to be precise) marked the beginning Heiligdomsvaart, an eleven day religious celebration of the relics of Saint Servaas. Occurring only once every 7 years, the city has dressed up in banners to prepare this celebration of it’s first bishop. We wandered down on Sunday for the chance to witness the rare ceremony of processing the relics.

The highlight of Heiligdomsvaart, from the curious bystander perspective anyway, is the procession of the relics held by the local cathedrals, so that’s the part Dan & I went out to view on Sunday. Saint Servaas naturally took center stage, but St. Labertus and others were also represented with reliquaries and bust. Many bands and choirs provided music throughout the 2 hour parade. A nice little pamphlet was handed out so I was able to follow along with many sections.

I had expected the procession to be a bit like the Easter Monday one that takes place every year, but it actually felt a bit more like Carnival. Lots of fancy dress, although granted much more sober (both in tone and drink). The first portion of the procession seemed to focus around the life of St. Servaas as he became the first bishop of Maastricht and his death. In this section everyone was dressed up in Roman-esque and Medieval style outfits. There were even people riding on horses and floats representing different stages in his life.

After the story-telling part of the procession, the relics themselves were carried out; each accompanied by attendants from their respective churches. The pomp and circumstance surrounding the relics and the processions was pretty interesting, but my fellow parade goers seemed to be taking it all pretty casually. It was a very slow procession too, with many stops and starts as it wound its way around the old parts of Maastricht in a rough circle.

If you’re interested in catching this procession, they are holding again at the end of the Heiligdomsvaart celebration on 10 July at 2pm. In addition to the processions, many cultural events will be taking place, including music, an exhibit of art in the Treasury of the Basilica of Saint Servaas, and theatre shows. If you’d like to learn more, you can visit the Heiligdomsvaart website (Dutch mostly).

 

Eat your Herring

This article was originally published at Maastricht Region: to Live.

Celine enjoying some fresh herring.

I find it interesting that so many European cultures have a special place for herring. I suspect that this has to do with how cheap and easy it has been to get for centuries. Plus it pairs well with potatoes; another classic staple. Although we aren’t as fish-centric here in Maastricht as our northern neighbors, herring still plays a role in the cuisine.

The classic herring dish in the Netherlands is Hollandse Nieuwe, a fillet of herring served raw (well, lightly brined) with raw chopped onions. Tail on, but (thankfully) headless. People traditionally eat this fish by lifting it by the tail and lowering the fish into their mouth. At first I was sure this was just a joke that Dutch folks play on their visitors, but I’ve now see enough people do it to be convinced. I suppose it make sense if you want street vendor foot that you don’t need special utensils for. On the other hand, eating and walking will often result in chopped onion bits everywhere.

The rest of the year herring is more often eaten on a bun or in a broodje. High-end restaurants even slip it in here and there to add a Dutch flair to their cuisine. And naturally it is always available in the grocery store.

Want to try a little Dutch-style herring in Maastricht? Your best bet is the Friday market on Markt square. Fresh fish from a street vendor with the full fish market atmosphere to accompany your tastebuds.

 

Cucumber Days for Maastricht Minutiae

Cucumber Days is what you call time when not much is happening. So if you’re busy are they pickle days?

Although we’re not going on holiday until later this summer, Maastricht Minutiae is going on a semi-hiatus for a while as I’m in the middle of another extra busy stretch. Watch (or sign up for the RSS feed) for my republished Maastricht Region articles here, and perhaps a few answered questions.

Got Questions?

I’ve like to try answering some of your questions about Maastricht or the Netherlands. If you’ve got a good question, submit it on Formspring. I’ll answer it there and use it for a blog post here.

Thank you ka_tate for the CC use of the cucumber photo via Flickr.

Pinksterdag at the Kanne Flea Market

This article was originally published at Maastricht Region: to Live.

We were presented with another long weekend with fine weather here in Maastricht last weekend. And we took advantage of it on Monday by biking out to Kanne for a Flea Market that was rumored to be the largest in Europe. I won’t say it’s that big, but it was pretty impressive.

Pinksterdag is the holiday of Pentecost in the Netherlands and it is celebrated as a two day holiday; granting (nearly) everyone in the country a national holiday Monday. In Kanne, they celebrate with a massive flea market that is visited every year by some 10,000 people. With only approximately 1150 inhabitants living there, this influx of visitors results in closed roads, special parking, and a fun mix of the old, new, and weird lining the streets for blocks. Much larger and better organized that the better known Queen’s Day market, I’m sad that I hadn’t heard about it sooner.

I wish I had a way to transport this awesome glassware.

As with all good flea markets, the proof is in what’s selling. There was the usual mix of leftover junk and semi-vintage antiques, but the amount of interesting objects was pretty high. Old lab glass, brass clocks, a pink velvet couch, and a pith helmet; just to name a few. In addition we saw a few craftspeople: a woman hand-sewing horse halters and a young man hand-painting realistic marble textures. Very realistic! The churro cart had the best churros I’ve ever had; fresh and very sweet.

Tiny church/shrine.

In addition to the sellers and craftspeople, Kanne looks like a pleasant little town that I’d like to bike back and visit again. Many Dutch people live there, commuting over the boarder to work in the Maastricht area, and we saw a handful of nice cafes. A small and cute church/shrine was open during the flea market and is worth a quick visit for people who enjoy visiting religious buildings. Castle Neercanne, which boasts elegant dining and all the historic promise of a palace, is also nearby. If you do visit, make sure you go by bike and enjoy the pastoral landscape along the borderland.

 

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