Author Archives: Niki

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Time to party! (Or: A tram ride through The Hague)

Get ready for the party tram…!

Party tram in The Hague

Unfortunately the party tram isn’t able to prevent me from taking blurry pictures, but it was moving at the time so there is that.

This was taken around the Centrum tram stop (Centrum=city center). You can rent the trams out for a group and enjoy a festive ride through the city. You also have a similar type of tram where you can ride around while you enjoy a meal. It’s seems interesting, but I haven’t riden on one yet.

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Eggnog for the holidays (Or: An American tradition)

A few weeks ago Marco and I went to Kelly’s expat store for eggnog. This is a traditional drink which is served in Canada and the United States during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It’s a milk drink with egg mixed in. You also have some types with alcohol mixed in as well.

Borden egg nog

We actually picked up this carton for one of my friends, my “taalcoach” (language coach) from SamenSpraak. I’m actually not a fan of eggnog but maybe he will be!

Categories: Food, Holidays | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Undelivered letters from the 17th century (Or: Treasure in The Hague)

A news story from last week: thousands of unread mail from the 17th century were found recently in The Hague, some letters still unopened and unread. (Dutch news link || English news link).  A museum in The Hague has had them since 1926 but they have only recently been studied.

Undelivered letters - Hague museum for Communication

Photograph: Hague Museum for Communication

With letters from aristocrats, spies, merchants and more, the collection is a wonderful look at the Netherlands as it existed back in the 17th century. Most news articles report about a letter which was delivered to a man and returned unopened – likely he suspected that it contained news that he was the father of an unwanted child.

It’ll be interesting to see if and when the letters would be digitized – there are bound to be many interesting reads. Also interesting: the 600 pieces that are still sealed can be read without opening them at all – that’s modern day technology for you!

Categories: Culture, The Hague | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Would you like a bit of dessert with that? (Or: Spekkoek and ice cream)

Tonight for dessert Marco, Roger and I had this:

Spekkook with ice cream and whipped cream

Spekkoek (a multi-layed Indonesian cake) with chocolate ice cream, coconut milk ice cream, whipped cream and coconut shavings on top of the cake. What makes this dessert notable is that you cook each layer separately, one at a time. Hours to bake but minutes to eat!

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Chocolate and other sweets (Or: A visit to Plasman in The Hague)

I visited Plasman last week. It’s a bakery/lunch cafe in the Statenkwaartier neighborhood of The Hague. A lot of international companies and expats can be found there.

Of course since it is almost time for Sinterklaas they make their own fancy versions of chocolate letters. Each child receives a chocolate letter depicting the first letter of their name. So I have seen my fair share of chocolate N’s over the last few years.

Chocolate letters by Plasman (Sinterklaas tradition)

They also have cakes:

Cakes by Plasman (The Hague)

A look at another case:

Sweet offerings by Plasman (The Hague)

And a close-up of the macaroons, a small circular cake that comes in many different forms based on the country of origin:

Macaroons by Plasman (The Hague)

Quite colorful!

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Escalope of salmon with basil (Or: Yes, Marco; Yes, Marco; Yes, Marco)

On Saturday, Marco, Roger and I cooked one of the recipes from Marco Pierre White‘s book “White heat”. He is a renowned chef from England. This post’s title comes from the fact that he is a drill sergeant in the kitchen and likes to repeat his statements at a rapid fire pace (cook faster, cook faster, cook faster!) and the only accepted answer is “Yes, Marco; Yes, Marco; Yes, Marco”. You can imagine how my husband (Marco) loves to use this to his advantage.

We cooked Escalope of salmon with basil. It is as you might expect a salmon dish with a basil sauce:

Escalope of salmon with basil (Marco Pierre White)

The sauce is made from shallots, vermouth (a wine also known as Noilly Prat), fresh basil, fish stock, cream and butter. Yum.

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Today’s theme is: Stories (Or: Dutch podcasts)

I’ve added a few more podcasts to the Dutch podcasts page. They are:

Achter het verhaal (“Behind the story”) – This podcast interviews journalists to get the ‘story behind the story’ for an article published in the print or online newspaper. It’s from ‘Dagblad van het Noorden’, or ‘Daily paper from the north’ as a rough translation. When in doubt, pick the newspaper stories that interest you the most to listen to.

1 minuut / Plots – 1 minuut is a podcast with stories that last about 1 minute each. A great way to learn the language. My only criticism is that you need to have a podcast player that can automatically play the next episode, but that is nothing against the podcast itself. On the other side you have ‘Plots’, true stories told over about 45 minutes. Both are by VPRO, as is Toendra above.

VPRO also has podcasts ‘1 minuutjes jeugd’ and ‘1 minuutjes kleuters’, both of which are more appropriate for children to listen to.

Of course I also have my favorite podcasts in English. I’d prefer to listen to similarly quality Dutch podcasts to kill two birds with one stone (enjoy myself and hear more Dutch) but you cannot have it all. Some of the English language podcasts I listen to could be best categorized as docudrama’s or serialized fiction – stories broken up and told week by week or month by month.

The Black Tapes podcast – inspired by Serial (a non-fiction podcast following the case of someone imprisoned for his girlfriend’s murder), The Black Tapes is described as “a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her enigmatic subject’s mysterious past and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both”. Season one just finished.

Limetown – “Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women and children disappear from a small town in Tennessee, never to be heard from again. In this seven-part podcast, American Public Radio host Lia Haddock asks the question once more “What happened to the people of Limetown?” (But be warned – there’s only a few episodes ready and there seems to be a small delay publishing more.)

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Categories: Learning Dutch | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (Or: Wait, what? Really?)

Marco and I went to Marks and Spencer for coffee and noticed along the way that the Christmas items were out. It’s not November yet, but I am sure Christmas items have been out by American stores for at least a few weeks. Halloween and Thanksgiving be damned, of course.

I have to admit that the Christmas tree cookie by the coffee was a nice, cute touch:

Christmas tree cookie and coffee, Marks and Spencer

And the Christmas section included ornaments, Christmas cards and wrapping paper and snow globes and…

Christmas items by Marks and Spencer in The Hague 2015

I didn’t buy anything. But I do like looking. Marco, the good husband that he is, rolled his eyes politely but came along.

Categories: Food, Holidays | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dutch painting trivia (Or: Next to ‘Girl with a pearl earring’)

I am sure a lot of you know the painting ‘Girl with a pearl earring’ in The Hague, painted by Vermeer.

Girl with a pearl earring

But do you know what painting is next to it in the room?

It’s a head scratcher.

Mother combing her child's hair

‘Mother combing her child’s hair’. Not too noteworthy, right?

Except she is not holding a comb.

The sub title is ‘Hunting for Lice’.


I wonder if that was deliberate to keep the line moving after you study the Girl with a pearl earring. Though the painting is beautiful in its own right.

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It’s all in the label (Or: Homemade jalapeno hot sauce)

Marco made his special jalapeno hot sauce again this weekend (to accompany tonight’s dinner of soft-shelled tacos). I especially liked the label he made:

homemade jalapeno hot sauce bottle

Death to the drinker. Well, not really, but it looks cool!

However I think the skull and swords would be more apt for the ghost pepper hot sauce, but unfortunately we don’t have the ingredients to make that at home (but we do have two store-bought versions).

Maybe next time he will take it up a notch and make habanero sauce!

Categories: Food, Marco&Niki | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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