An Alternative 60th Birthday in Brussels – Part 2

Thursday, 8 September 2016 was the day that Lars turned 60. And on that sunny day, we went to the Grand Place.

The Belgian capital often organises free events, especially in summer. On the birthday of Lars, we could actually watch the Belgian finals of put shot for men, as part of the Memorial Ivo Van Damme, an annual athletics meeting, that takes place in the beginning of September.

This meeting had a sad start; a group of journalists organised the first meeting in 1977, in memory of the Belgian athlete Ivo Van Damme, who had died at the age of 22 in a car accident. In the meantime, the Memorial has become one of the most important athletics meetings of the world, attracting some of the biggest names.

Animation was in French and Dutch – Brussels is officially a bilingual city. Not only did the animators encourage us to cheer for the athletes, they gave us a lot of practical information about the sport itself, ranging from the weight of the shot to the difference between legal and foul throws. To be honest, we learned a lot that afternoon and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

And the shot putters themselves seemed to be having a good time as well.

Later that afternoon, we could watch the women’s finals of shot put – with performances of the Olympic champion! -, but we had become hungry. It was time for a very early dinner, so we headed towards the nearby Steenstraat.

Introducing The Smalle Steen, a restaurant specialised in some of Belgium’s most popular dishes. This place works with a tapas-inspired theme, allowing you to eat just as much as you want for a more than reasonable price. Most of the plates cost 5 euros and you usually combine 2 or 3 of them for a complete meal. To be honest, we stuck to 2 plates each and had a special beer for dessert.

The red beer is called “kriek”, which means sour cherry. Or as Wikipedia explains it,

Kriek lambic is a style of Belgian beer, made by fermenting lambic with sour Morello cherries.[1] Traditionally “Schaarbeekse krieken” (a rare Belgian Morello variety) from the area around Brussels are used. As the Schaarbeek type cherries have become more difficult to find, some brewers have replaced these (partly or completely) with other varieties of sour cherries, sometimes imported.

Kriek is one of the most popular Belgian beers, especially during summer, because of its refreshing taste. The name of the restaurant, by the way, means ‘narrow stone”, referring to the very narrow size of the building in which it is located.

Anyway, Lars enjoyed his birthday a lot! And it was the perfect conclusion of our summer in Brussels.

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