Monday, May 28, 2012

New Rainbow Duo cartoon: Paris food adventure

Our latest Rainbow Duo cartoon is out entitled Paris food adventure. Most of these cartoons are inspired by our real life, but this one literally happened to us when we were in Paris last summer.

I'm glad I did not know what I was eating at the time...and yes, it was surprisingly yummy.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Books I read in April

April was the month in which I attempted to read many books, but only managed to finish two. Sometimes I can be a real lazy reader and if a book doesn´t manage to grab my attention within the first few chapters I can´t be bothered to continue reading. That happened to me a lot last month.

Luckily, I do have 2 more books to add towards my goal of reading 30 books this year. At the rate I´m going I´m slightly behind schedule, but I´m sure the summer holidays will help me catch up. The two books I read were another crime novel and a lesbian fantasy novel.

Ice run by Steve Hamilton (crime/suspense)

I can best describe Ice run as a good choice to pick if you need something to read on the train or plane. It´s a nice crime novel, nothing more and nothing less. It´s not as good as many of the crime novels I have read, but it did manage to keep me entertained throughout.

Ice run tells the story of a former PI Alex, who after a lot of bad luck in life decides to move back to the small town where he grew up. Of course, life doesn´t really stay quiet and his help is needed time and again. On his last job he came into contact with Natalie, a former cop who´s also had too many bad cards dealt to her.

The two of them embark upon an affair of sorts. Soon it turns out there´s many things from Natalie´s passed that Alex doesn´t know about, some of these things have come back to hunt them. Luckily they both have plenty of skills to sort it all out - but will their relationship survive? And do we really care?

It´s not a very well thought out plot. Even though the story is captivating in general, some of the parts I found rather boring. Like Alex spends a lot (!) of time plowing snow. This is described over and over again. At some point I wanted to scream: "I get it, it snows there a lot! Stop mentioning it!" I also thought Natalie could've been portrayed a little less annoying. I had a hard time understanding what the hell Alex saw in her. Besides that, it's not a bad read.

Saint Olivia by Jacqueline Carey (fantasy, lesbian)

This novel was such a nice surprise. It started out a little boring, but after that I couldn't put it down. Saint Olivia tells the story of a nowhere land between the United States and Mexico, where the US military rule things and life is rather restricted. The military have been experimenting on creating so-called Wolf-men who look just like men, but have the strength of wolves and also have absolutely no fear.

One of wolf-man gets involved with a woman of the town and Loup is born. Loup looks like other girls, but is ten times as strong and ten times as smart. Most of the book is about her life, how she tries to stay hidden and pretend she is just like everyone else, but at the same time longs to be herself. Being herself involves using her abilities, showing her strength, and being together with the girl she loves.

Before she gets to do this, she has to go through a lot. After her mother and brother die, who have always protected her, she has to go to an orphanage. She ends up having great friends there though, and together they figure out how to make a life for themselves in the military town.

I loved this story and especially the main character Loup. I'm not usually a big fan of fantasy novels, but I liked that this story had enough reality in it for me to be able to get into it. It was a really interesting book and a great read, which made me think I should read more novels that don't fall into the crime domain.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

25 Belgian beers I tried and (mostly) liked

Many great and wonderful things come from Belgium - including fries, chocolate, smos and, of course, my awesome girlfriend. Another thing the Belgians do best is beer. As an avid beer drinker, I've quite enjoyed sampling their many different brands over the years. 

More recently, I've started to try and drink as many different ones as possible (on separate occasions, of course!). This has resulted in a list of 25 different Belgian beers that I would like to share with you. I did not only drink these beers, but I also used my own very subjective rating scale to judge each one:

**** = loved it! Will drink it again and again.
*** = liked it a lot! Will order it again.
** = it's ok. Not bad, but I won't order it again.
* = bleh, bleh, BLEH! Stay away from this one.

Luckily for me, only few of the beers I drank fell into the one star category and more than a handful I rewarded with 4 stars. Some of the beers I hated are actually ones many people love, but well, there's no accounting for taste.

If you're a beer drinker you probably recognize most of these brands, but hopefully there's also some surprises. I've taken the liberty of sometimes listing more than one beer per brand and at other times just lumping them all together. 

In case you know nothing of the different types of Belgian beer, find out the basic distinctions here.


01. Bobeline **
I wanted to try this beer because it looked "different" plus I love Spa water. Yes, I made the silly inference that because this town makes great water their beer would be nice as well. Not so much. It wasn't bad, but I don't think I'll ever order it again.

02. Bon Secours **
This is another beer I thought looked interesting, but had a disappointing taste. I've learned since then that if you see a beer you've never seen before there's probably a good reason for it.

03. Brugse Zot blonde ****
Brugse zot is one of my new favourite beers to drink. I first discovered it while visiting Brugge and I loved it right away. Don't let the silly logo fool you, it's a really good beer!!

04. Brugse Zot brown ***
The dark version of Brugse zot is also pretty good, but I don't like it as much as the blonde one. I guess it's a matter of taste, so if you prefer darker beer try this one instead.

05. Chimay triple ***
This is one of the Trappist beers. They usually come in (at least) 2 different kinds double and triple, but sometimes there's other variations like quadruple or blonde. Chimay is an nice brand and I would drink their beers again, but it's not really the kind of beer I get really excited about.

06. Duvel ***
Duvel is one of those nice beers that's always a good choice. It's not the best beer I've ever had, and it's not in my top 5, but it's still a really nice beer.

07. Ezel blonde **
This is the kind of beer that tastes pretty much like it looks: cheap and average. Still I was rather disappointed about that. You shouldn't give this brand a try unless there are no better options.

08. Ezel brown *
The only thing worse than the blonde donkey beer, is the brown version. I had two sips, then threw it out. I thought it was disgusting. So stay away from this one!

09. Grimbergen **
Grimbergen is an Abbey beer that comes in a few different versions. I think I tried a six pack of the gold variety (or maybe it was the blonde), but I did not care for it much. It's not a bad beer, I just didn't like the aftertaste of this brand.

10. Jupiler ***
This is the first entry of regular ale on this list (I think it's called 'pale lager' but then I'm not that versed in official beer terminology). Because Belgium is so good at making beer, even their regular stuff is pretty good. I would choose this over Stella (number 19 on this list) any time.

11. Keizer Karel (blonde) ***
Keizer Karel was surprisingly good. I only tried the blonde version and I really liked it. 

12. De Koninck ***
This is the beer I usually order when one of my other favourites Palm (number 18 on the list) isn't available. It's similar, but not as good. Still, it's a very nice beer to have.

13. Leffe blonde ****
Leffe is always a good choice of brand when choosing among similar standard brands. I really enjoy their blonde beer.
14. Leffe brown ***
Leffe brown is just as good a beer as the blonde version, but as with most beers I prefer the lighter version slightly over the brown one. 

15. Lucifer ***
I had to try this one just because it looked unusual. I expected to be disappointed, but it's actually a really good beer!

16. Maredsous **
Another Abbey beer (or is it Trappist? I am never sure which is which) on this list, but one I don't really care much about. I think I tried several of their beers, but it's just not for me. I think it's just the typical taste this brand has I don't really like.

17. Morte subite natural Oude Geuze *
I thought this beer was disgusting! It's described as "special" and "unusual", which I suppose it is, but if you enjoy any of the beers I've listed so far I doubt you'd want to try this. They also have flavored beers like Kriek, which could be decent, but stay away from this particular version.

18. Palm ****
You can never go wrong ordering a Palm. It's just a really really nice beer, one that I've been drinking for years.

19. Stella artois **
I couldn't decide whether to give this 2 or 3 stars. It's not a brand I would ever choose if I had better options, still it's not that bad a beer to drink. It's just a little boring and average.

20. Straffe Hendrik *
Perhaps if you enjoy really dark, strong, bitter beers you should give it a try, otherwise stay the hell away from a Straffe Hendrik!

21. Tempelier ****
This beer was such a nice surprise. I just thought the label looked cool so I had to try it, but it's actually a really good, yummy beer.

22. Verboden vrucht (dark) **
Verboden vrucht (Forbidden fruit) is described as different and unusual and I can tell you that usually means it's got a weird, bad taste. This one wasn't actually as bad as some of the other beers I've drank with a similar description, but I would never order this again.

23. Westvleteren X *
Westvleteren is one of the most exclusive Trappist beers, which means that everyone claims it's o-so good. We got the chance to buy a six pack last year and it's one of the few beers I just couldn't finish. I thought it was absolutely disgusting!

24. Westmalle (double, triple) ****
Westmalle is my favourite Trappist/Abbey beer. I even got to drink one at the bar across the actual Abbey it's brewed! I always have a hard time deciding which one I like best, the double or the triple. This doesn't really matter though as they are both delicious.

25. Winterkoninkske *
The final beer on the list was another disappointment. If there's one thing I learned from tasting some of these  random beers is that very, very dark beer is just not for me. This is another beer I thought was disgusting and could not finish.