Waterloo, couldn’t escape if I wanted to…

…Waterloo, knowing my fate is to be with you. Wo-ah, wo-ah, wo-ah, wo-ah. Waterloo, finally facing I wanted you.

**This post has been edited with an added note at the end** (March 14)

Today Bastien was with Greg’s parents again, so we took advantage of the situation and did some sight-seeing. Obviously you can tell we went to Waterloo. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of me with a Waterloo sign, but I have all year! I would say it’s only about 45 min. away…we went to Wavre, then back to Louvain-la-Neuve first, but it wasn’t far from Louvain-la-Neuve. Then Brussels isn’t far from Waterloo! I didn’t really buy any souvenirs…but I did buy a book called the best of Belgium. I have a book of Europe from my Aunt and Uncle which is really cool and helpful, especially if you need to know about hotels and a lot of restaurants, but the book I got today just highlights the best Belgian sight-seeing opportunities. The highlights of Belgium. With it is a little history as well, which is really neat. I was able to get it in English which was good. My French isn’t that good yet! All of their plaques, and signs, and books, and things (even the audio in the wax museum) are written/spoken in French, English, Dutch, and German. Well, some things had only 3, but others had more. There may have even been a few things with more languages, but I don’t remember.

We went to lunch at this really awesome restaurant that I believe used to be a house. It had a big open fireplace at one end, and you could see a little of the kitchen with their rotisserie as well. For an appetizer I had cheese fondue with friedparsley (it was cooked anyway) and for my meal I had rabbit! Rabbit in a dark beer sauce with potatoes. It was very tender, fall off the bone meat. I haven’t had rabbit since I was a kid! I used to say it tastes just like chicken, and I guess it’s close, but there’s a difference…I just can’t quite pin point it.

After lunch we went to the visitor’s center to get our tickets. We climbed up the Butte du Lion (Lion Mound) and had a wonderfully, amazing view of the surrounding area…fields mostly, but you could see the main part of Waterloo and there was this really big house that was quite far away, but still looked huge. Imagine it up close. Looking at pictures online doesn’t really prepare you for how high the mound actually is. The the bottom of the staircase it has a sign warning that it’s a steep staircase and if attempting you should be in good physical health with no heart conditions;

oh my was it hard. I feel bad for Greg, he had Sylvain with him…and Adeline had her purse and the baby-bag. I’m just an out of shape wuss. Like I said, the view was great, worth it, even just to say that I’ve done it. There was also a sign saying ‘stay off the grass’ and one of the first things we see when we start to climb; two kids rolling down the hill. I wouldn’t even want to toboggan down that hill! It’s so steep.

 

 

I learned so much about the battle of Waterloo with Napoleon and the allied forces. I knew next to nothing this morning. After the Butte du Lion, we went to the Panorama which is a building with a panoramic painting of the battle. It had battle sound effects playing which helped, but it wasn’t that exciting. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the painting was beautiful, but I was expecting a little more. I do believe they are going to start working on fixing it up soon, so that’s good. Next was the wax museum. I thought it would be a little bigger as well, but I thought that what they did have was pretty neat. They had oral narration going on (when you pressed a button) and you could choose French, English, or Dutch (see above). I thought that was neat. Having been to some historical sites/museums in Canada I’m not even sure if they have options like that…I never paid very close attention to those details.

The last thing on the agenda were the films. The first film was documentary style with clips of battle reenactments. They do it every 5 years; unfortunately they did it last year, so if I want to see it I’ll just come back in 4! It was in French with English and Dutch subtitles. Because I had to read and was only half listening, I almost missed something! When the man was talking about how much the battle of Waterloo impacted the world, the subtitles mentioned that there were a lot of places named Waterloo. What I almost missed was the narrator actually mentioned Canada as a place having a Waterloo. Go Canada! I heard the word Canada and was all ‘what did he say?!’. According to the pamphlet I have 124 towns or sites around the world bear the name Waterloo. Or course we can’t forget the Duke of Wellington! He was a hero after this battle. Isn’t there a Wellington county or something around where I live….? Why can’t I remember that? I just don’t pay enough attention. The second film was clips of battle scenes from the 1970s movie ‘Waterloo’. They also had written information everyone once in a while (again, in the multiple languages). If I was able to pick out the characters right I think that Wellington was played by the Dad in ‘The Sound of Music’.

That’s basically it for us in Waterloo today. There was one more thing we did though. One of Greg’s friend owns a shop in Waterloo. He has lots of Foie Gras. There are many other things there of course, including the rare white truffle…it is the white one’s that are rare, right? He also sells wine and he brought out a bottle to share with us. It was a white wine, 15%, very sweet. Now, I’m not a big fan of wine, but when I have found a kind of like it’s always white. This wine was very good. I would actually go so far as to say it is my favourite wine to date. It even beats the wine I bought (because Martha had it and I like it) when I was at Steph’s cottage a few years ago. Green Label something or other. I mean I haven’t had it in a while, but I’m pretty sure the wine today beats it. And it was chilled. I prefer chilled, white wine. I guess I don’t mind strawberry flavoured Zinfandel, but that’s another story. I apologize for the lack of specifics about his store. I’m very tired. I think I’ve inherited my Dad’s problem with wind. I feel all achy like I’m getting sick *sigh*. A good night’s sleep with make it all better. Yeah, it was really, really windy up on that hill. It was generously windy on the ground, let alone up there!

Let’s see…was there anything else I wanted to say? I’ll give you a little bit of history about the battle. Because it’s at the end, you can skip it without missing all the good stuff! June 18 1815, the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon’s last stand. *cue dramatic music here* Basically, news reached the Congress of Vienna that Napoleon had re-taken Paris (from April 6 1914-March 1 1815 he was exiled on the island of Elba, but escaped and with 1000 troops took Paris on March 20). They planned to (with England, Prussia, Russian, and Austria) invade France and get rid of him. This invasion was scheduled for the beginning of July. Well, I guess Napoleon was not one to sit on his laurels, because he decided against waiting for an attack (totally makes sense), but instead to first attack the English, driving them back to the ocean, then going on to defeat the Prussians and the others. The British and the Prussians were positioned in Belgium – Napoleon knew this, so on June 15 he crossed the border and headed for Charleroi. He made an attack on the Prussians the next day and while it was a bit of a victory for Napoleon, things would not go his way two days later. Of course it rained like crazy June 17, the night before the battle, so everybody was cold, wet, and tired, and a battle that Napoleon thought would start early and be finished by noon, didn’t start until 11:30 and lasted 9-10 hours. So he attacks the British, and might have won if it weren’t for the fresh Prussian troops that snuck up on him around 7 and repelled his final assault with some of his Old Guard. It was around 8:30 when the French surged back in complete disarray, abandoning almost all of its artillery and heading to Charleroi. Napoleon escaped capture and arrived in Paris on June 21. He abdicated his position as Emperor the next day. He died (apparently there is some controversy to this) May 5 1821 on the island of St. Helena (were he was exiled the second time).

All of my information is from my Visitor’s Guide pamphlet. If any of you who read this happen to be an expert on Napoleon and have found glaring errors in my account, please don’t yell at me. I would be happy to have any mistakes pointed out to me as I do like to learn (despite my desire to never go back to school again).

Maybe you’re wondering ‘why all the food pictures?’ Well, you see, when my cousin Katie went to France for school she would send us email updates and most times they would have detailed accounts of interesting things she had to eat. Since I don’t think describing food is a strong point of mine, I show you pictures instead. And come on, who doesn’t like food!

I almost forgot! Today Sylvain started giggling. I mean real baby laughs! It was great, very adorable, of course (as all baby laughs are). Just thought that might be of interest for some of you. He’s 4 months old now!

**Sybille informed Adeline and Greg, then Greg told me that the land with the Butte du Lion, the Panorama, and the Visitor’s Centre (and maybe the wax museum which is across the street?) belong to Wellington, ie. England. The Butte du Lion was erected between 1824-1826 and is dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives in the battle. It also marks the spot where the Prince of Orange (Prince D’Orange), heir of the throne (of the Netherlands, if Wikipedia is to be believed) and Commander-in-Cheif of the first body of Wellington’s army, was wounded. The cast-iron lion on top weighs 28 tons. There are 226 steps (41 m high). **

When did the hill shrink?

Advertisements

Wine and Cheese Party

Last night was the much-anticipated Wine and Cheese Birthday Party! While I spent quite a bit of time off to the side by myself (I was feeling a little under the weather and I still don’t speak enough French to understand all the conversation!), I still had a great time.

I made a fruit salad all by myself…I know this isn’t hard and all I did was cut up the fruit, but for me it is a step in the right culinary direction! And on Friday I helped Adeline make an olive cake, but I didn’t have any because I don’t like olives >_<. Before I put him to bed, I took a lot of time taking care of Sylvain. Greg thanked me because that left him and Adeline free to socialize (he explained to me earlier that they don’t get to see all of their friends regularly because they all live an hour away) and I was happy to do it. It’s really nice when you get time with your friends who you haven’t seen in a while. Everyone was really nice and I met the couple who we are going to the sea with in June.

On to the cheese! There was so much! And I actually have no idea what they were all called and I didn’t try all of them, but I tried about, hmmm, 5 or 6 different flavours. One thing to say about Belgian cheese is that it is a lot stronger than our cheese at home (or at least the cheese I’m used to eating). It tastes so real, less chemicals. I know for sure that I do not like goat cheese. I’ve tried it 3 times now and I don’t like it. It’s like when I gave foie gras a second chance – nope – don’t like it at all. The other cheeses were good, but I think it’s going to take a little time for me to get used to them and to really like them. They’re a lot stronger than I’m used to. We also had a cheese pie which smelled like feet but tasted really good! That’s another thing about real cheese…some of it smells nasty, but you have to ignore that and just eat it!  We also had fresh bread from the boulangerie (bakery) down the street and grapes. You can’t have a wine and cheese party without grapes! I didn’t actually have that much wine. I’m not really a fan, but I will try it some times. Also, when I do drink it I prefer White, but Greg says that with cheese you drink Red. I also had a little bubbles to drink (remember, it’s not champagne if it doesn’t come from Champagne France!).

For me, the best part of the night was the dessert! From the bakery we got two fruit pies (cherry and apple with almonds) and two mousse cakes (chocolate and speculoos –> a typical Belgian cinnamon cookie).

Chocolate:

Speculoos:

And then we got to blow out the candles! Ready Greg?

1 – 2 – 3!

MAKE A WISH!


CHOCOLATE!

Just as a note, today was a good day. Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY GREG!

I forgot to mention something of crucial importance in yesterday’s post, I can’t believe I did that. When we were shopping in Louvain-la-Neuve yesterday Adeline took me to this little chocolate shop called Neuhaus. They have an amazing selection and of course we all know how good Belgian chocolate is! The man working picked out an assortment of different kinds (Adeline bought me some for my birthday, she is spoiling me! But I shared, don’t worry :D) and I’ve spent last night and today trying them and making notes. They have this booklet type thing with all their chocolates, pictures, names, and descriptions. So I circled all the one’s that were in my bag and then checked the one’s I would definitely buy again, and marked the other one’s as being good, but not my favourite. I mean, of course they were all very tasty, but some I just liked better than others. Another great thing about Belgian chocolate (as if you’d need any reason to eat it other than it being from Belgium) is the surplus of hazelnuts in most of it. I LOVE hazelnuts in chocolate. So I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with these treats, but I know I can’t buy them all the time. Mom, I won’t spend all my money on chocolate, don’t worry. ^_^

Now, for those of you who have been following my blog, or who read my New Year’s Eve post, here is the menu from that evening:

Appetizers:
– Wrap rolls stuffed with goat cheese, garden rocket, sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto  – these were tasty 🙂
– Foie gras toasts with “fleur de sel” and onion confit – not so much a fan…duck liver really isn’t my thing apparently 😦
– Spoons with pan-fried black pudding on a bed of apple dice – not bad, not bad 🙂
– Mini croissants stuffed with leek and diced bacon – Awesome! 😀
– Variety of dim-sum – …I can’t seem to remember this….

Variety of dishes:
– Smoked salmon salad with avocado, pink peppercorn and lime juice – I didn’t really like this. I wasn’t able to finish it, I like my salmon steamed. 😦
– Lobster Bisque – This wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t my favourite. Maybe Dad and Lisa would like it because of the lobster!
– Scallop kebab with vanilla flavoured mashed parsnip – Again, seafood. It didn’t really have much of a taste for me, but the texture was interesting. I don’t often eat scallops.
– duck breast with mango dice and fresh mint – This was good! The duck’s liver I can do without, but the way the meat was cooked was very, very good. The mango was different because of the mint, but still ok. 😀
– Canadian meat pie – This was good too! Adeline made it. It’s a dish out of Quebec. 😀

Desert:
– Passion fruit bavarois with raspberry coulis – Yum! 😀
– Chocolate truffles – Do I even need to comment? 😀 😀 😀
– Choclate-iced éclairs stuffed with vanilla custard – 😀
– Javanais —————\
– Merveilleux ———– I can’t remember which one I had, but I’m sure they were all delicious!
– Lemon cream pie —–/

Drinks:
– Margarita cocktail – I found out I’m not a fan of margarita’s….Let’s just say at first I was not expecting the salt…
– Pouilly-Fumé (Loire) Les Terres Blanches 2009 (white wine, to go with fish) – This was good even though I’m not really a wine person.
– Mercurey (Bourgogne) 1er Cru Clos L’Evêque 2007 (red wine, to go with meat) – I didn’t actually have any of this.
– Bulles Pour Elle/Lui (Belgium) Methode Traditionnelle 201 – I  had the Bubbles for Her. It was good.

So, that’s what I had on New Year’s Eve. Jean was happy I tried everything and didn’t mind if I didn’t want to finish something, which was very nice and understanding of him. The main course was all made of things that they only have on special occasions, so for everyone at the table it was a real treat!

Thank you all for tuning in. I hope you have a great day and an awesome weekend! (I know I will ;))

Bonne annee!

Ok. So I almost dropped the ball here. I’ve got 31 minutes before I miss a day of blogging. Although if I go by Toronto time I still have 6.5 hours! The following is an outtake from last night. I wrote it down on paper before going to bed….I guess it was very early this morning. Here we go:

What a night! We had so much food (some I liked, some I didn’t) and the dessert! Delicious chocolate truffles and more. It is now 2:42am January 1, 2011. Which means it’s not even 9pm for you guys in Ontario and in Vancouver it’s not even 6! (I still can’t get over this time change thing….) I’m spending the night @ Jean-Go’s, and we cleaned up most of the party stuff. There will be a menu for this evening coming, and I got pictures of some of the desserts, but I didn’t think of doing that for everything else. The things we had tonight are not common here, most of it is for special occasions only. I had a great time trying new food and I’ve discovered that I like duck…at least the way it was done tonight. That’s all for now, I need sleep. One more thing; Jean is going to help teach me how to cook. He’s invited me over to learn. It sounds like fun and I’m hoping that I can learn to enjoy taking the time to make things. Bonne nuit!

So that only really touched the surface, but the most important thing to take away from this is that even though I didn’t know what they were talking about unless Jean translated for me, I still had a great time.

Also, we had this drink that was like champagne, but was not champagne because it did not come from Champagne, France. It was made by Jean’s uncle, and had Bubbles for Him and Bubbles for Her. Very exciting.

I leave you now with some eye candy ^_^:

%d bloggers like this: