A Canadian fencer has spent five days in what can only be described as heaven on Earth. In order to prepare herself for a vigourous year of competition Sherraine Schalm experienced the silence and strict schedule of life with the monks.
But these were no ordinary monks for she was lucky enjoy to stay with the beer brewing and cheese making inhabitants of Abbaye d'Orval. She was happy to be out of her bed before 4am, and pray seven times a day because, she says "Lunch was like, beer every day, supper, beer. And they make Trappist cheese as well. It was great." I'm pretty jealous of Sherraine's week of gastronomic delight.
Everybody knows Orval, the weakest of the commercially available Belgian trappist ales, but not everybody gets it. I personally think it's lovely. A great hoppy beer with lovely peppery flavours, and a nice amount of funk. However it's not to everyone's taste and some people think it's overrated. I have also been lucky enough to try Petit Orval, the weaker beer which is supposedly brewed just for the monks' consumption, but does sometimes make its way out into the big wide World. This was a decent enough beer but certainly lacks the character of its big brother.
I have never tried the cheese though, and that is something I would love to do. Cheese is a new passion for me. I didn't even like the stuff five years ago, but now I love it. The maturer, riper, or smellier the better. Maybe one day I'll try Orval cheese. Perhaps I'll take up fencing.