Monday, February 20, 2006

Belgian Beer no.15: Urthel, the fantasy beer

Last weekend was spent discovering new beers while taking the tourist trail in Brussels. Despite living here for almost 10 years, it is still amazing how many hidden places I discover. I have either avoided many because they came across as ‘tourist traps’, or because, simply, I never found them.

Till last Sunday. Not only did we discover a new beer bar (which I am sure most know), but also a new beer: Urthel. The bar is the Poechenellekelder, on Rue du Chene 5 in 1000 Brussels. And Urthel seems to be ‘Belgium’s newest cult beer’. Unfortunately I don’t fully understand the legend and story behind the beer, but it does seem to be a fascinating legend of elves and Erthles, who can be traced back to the 17th century.

Erthles are fantasy creatures, not taller than 40cm, bald head, round figured, a big nose and heavy beards. They can live to be 280, and they love poetry, music, singing and dancing. Happy creatures it seems. If I understand correctly the Erthels live in the Leye valley. Now Urthel is brewed at the Leyerth brewery, and is (who saw this one coming) the magic drink of the Erthels. And the story goes on – unfortunately only in Flemish, so difficult to understand the whole plot.

But I do suggest you try the beer, as it indeed a different beer, maybe on the way to become the cult beer of Belgium.

Turkey fillet with Urthel Hibernus Quentum Tripel 9,0° (serves 4)

400gr turkey fillet
8 slices Ardennes ham
150gr leeks (white only)
100gr grated cheese
2tsbp olive oil
1.5dl chicken stock
1dl Urthel beer
1dl cream
pepper and salt to season,

Slice the leeks into rings, wash and drain. Heat the oil in a frying pan and lightly cook the turkey. Turn the heat down. Pour over the turkey the leek and half the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Let the whole cook for 25min. Season to taste.
Let the turkey cool down, and cut into 8 even slices. Roll the ham around the turkey slices and close with tooth picks. Heat the rest of the stock, and add the Urthel beer, the grated cheese and cream. Continue stirring till you have a thick sauce.
Place the turkey and ham rolls into a dish and pour the beer, cheese and cream mixture over. Put the dish under a grill, till the mixture is golden brown. Serve with toast or ciabatta, and an Urthel beer.

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