Monday, December 17, 2007

From Friesland with love: Berenburg

Recently, we were in Friesland for a housewarming party. Our dear friends up north bought a land, built a huge house on it with an attic and a cellar (for the wines!), and now the family of 5 has been living in there for about a week. We’ve seen the house before when it was still being constructed. What impressed me most was not just the space it boasts, but the huge glass windows in the living room facing the water. Gorgeous zeg.

Not just that - In the middle of the living room was this big black furnace that greets you when you enter, like a focal point, and it matched by the way the black floor tiles. It’s not just a fireplace, but an oven grill! Can you imagine a big barbecue grill installed in your living room? I had to laugh when I realized it was fixed. But the darn thing is so cool. It even has a twin reserved outside for the summer months. The family could grill to their heart’s content in the garden by the water when the weather allows them to. The final pitch for this oven is the massive cover that does not heat up. If you happen to accidentally lean on it, you won’t feel the heat or get scarred. Plus, the oven does not leave any lingering smell at all in the room. Sound just fantabulous right?

Anyway, so much for the house stuff. I went to the kitchen for my red wine refill and saw this beside the beer tap, a local Frisian drink: Sonnema Berenburg

The bottle shape, the bearded man print, just the whole bottle design, is simply boring, don’t you think?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the whole presentation 4. If Sonnema is not so emotionally attached to its brand image, they should seriously overhaul it. Pronto! Re-package Berenburg into something more inviting. Pick something appealing please? Pick something that persuades people to drink it. Pick something that makes people salivate in anticipation. Ah, that’s more like it.

Anyway, the alcoholic drink piqued my curiosity. Yep, I am up for a Berenburg tasting. Smelled it, savoured its intense aroma, and poured a little on a wine glass.

The 2 Dutch guys chatting at my back interrupted my Berenburg reverie, and told me to be very careful as it’s a very strong drink. I glanced back and saw what they were both drinking - oh dear me. I gave the 2 guys a wry look and was so tempted to say something about their girly drinks, but out of decency (cough) I held back. As you can see, I am a dark beauty type; I love dark lagers, strong beers, and wine. Heineken is water.

Lifting the glass slowly to my lips, I quickly guzzled Berenburg in a smooth go into my throat. Umm... it tasted like whiskey?

One of the 2 Dutch guys said I am better mixing it with coke. Now, that sounds familiar. “Oh, zoals rum cola bedoel je?” [Oh you mean just like rum cola?] I said.

“Yeah, zoiets.” [Yeah, something like that.] He replied nodding his head in agreement.

Hmm, Berenburg coke or coke Berenburg?

“Nee, ik drink liever puur!” [No, I prefer to drink pure]

My response left the 2 guys giggling and looking at each other. Have you ever seen middle aged Dutch men giggle? Well, I clearly have. It makes you feel like you are the man in the room. Seriously.

The 2 huge glass swinging white doors of the kitchen swung open and in walked the Dutchman announcing he is ready for another refill of Heineken, the water beer, er heck no, the girly drink, lol.

“Aha, je hebt iets ontdenkt!” [Aha, you have discovered something] Dutchman grinning from behind his empty beer glass.

“It tastes like whiskey, or rum, I think.”

“No, it’s Berenburg. It’s from Friesland, a spiced strong alcoholic drink.”

“I know, but what I meant was, it tasted like whiskey.”

“OK, but it’s not whiskey.” He argues.

“I know it’s not whiskey but it tastes like whiskey!”

“It’s Berenburg.”

SIGH –whatever, lol. Annoying dutchmen!

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