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Sweet store displays (Or: Valentine’s Day by Hema)

❤ Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

Valentine’s Day display at Hema in The Hague

Marco and I exchanged Valentine’s Day gifts this morning. He got me a small bottle of cava (a Spanish sparking wine), a bag of Haribo gummy bears and a chocolate rose. ❤

I got him Winter-in-lov, a chocolate and rooibos tea, with additional spices like cinnamon, ginger and licorice. If you like tea with chocolate notes, I can highly recommend it.

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

A bit of color in the city centre (Or: Chinese New Year 2019)

This past Saturday was the celebrations for Chinese New Year in The Hague. I took some photos of the “statues” that represent the holiday. Upon closer inspection, I noticed these are mostly the same statues used back in 2013 for the first Chinese New Year I attended (scroll down to the second-to-last photo).

I’ve taken some better, close-up photos of some of them this year. For example, my favorite:

with the Oude Kerk (Old Church) in the background, and a bird flying past too!

For some of them it was actually a bit hard to tell which of the 12 animals they represent, but because a few stripes on the top of this guy’s head (above), I think he might represent the year of the tiger.

Year of the ox
Click here to see the rest of the photos for Chinese New Year 2019…
Categories: Holidays, The Hague | Tags: | 4 Comments

Cheese for the masses (Or: New Henri Willig store in The Hague)

A Cheeses & More store by Henri Willig has recently opened in The Hague, not far from the Binnenhof. This chain bills itself as a ‘cheese gifts’ store so expect slightly higher prices.

It looks a bit touristy from the outside:

The location isn’t marked that well on Google Maps, but if you’re coming from the Hofvijver (the famous pond) and you’re at the Bagels & Beans café, then keep walking past it and follow the corner. The cheese store will be on the left.

Marco and I aren’t cheese experts, mainly sticking to a few standard cheeses. I was thrilled when the local grocery store started carrying cheddar cheese. It goes great with the Ritz crackers from Kelly’s, the local expat store. Otherwise our standard fare is a jonge belegen cheese which is ripe at about 2 months and translates to ‘young, mature’.

I had a purpose for visiting this Cheeses & More store, as I knew they carried a lovely spicy cheese. We first tried it (or something similar) when Marco’s mom brought back cheese from Alkmaar, a city well known for its cheese market.

We had seen the cheese at Schiphol airport as we were flying to the States for Thanksgiving, but didn’t have time to pick it up after we arrived back in the Netherlands:

I wonder how many people accidentally ask for the ‘red hot chili peppers’ cheese. Ha!

Categories: Food, The Hague | Tags: | 1 Comment

Chinese New Year in The Hague (Or: Tip for this Saturday)

Happy Chinese New Year! 2019 is the year of the pig. And not the gluttonous kind…

The Hague will again feature Chinese New Year celebrations this Saturday to mark the occasion – see the scheduled program. The holiday is celebrated nationally in city hall while the local celebrations are held in Chinatown, including Rabbijn Maarsenplein and Bijenkorf’s parking lot.

I’ve always been a big fan of the local celebrations held at Rabbijn Maarsenplein (with its Chinese New Year market) and the area behind Bijenkorf (which always has lovely sculptures). But the dance routines in city hall are not to be missed, either!

Picture from the 2013 Chinese New Year celebrations, in the parking lot behind Bijenkorf

Come check it out. You won’t regret it!

Categories: Holidays, The Hague | Tags: | 2 Comments

Beef noodle pho (Or: It’s what’s for dinner)

(The “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” line is an American slogan from the early ’90s.)

A few weeks ago Marco, Roger and I made Pho again. It’s a Vietnamese soup dish, made with either beef or chicken.

I’ve blogged about pho soup once before, last May. The best part of the dish: the beef is thinly sliced, and then cooked at the table by pouring the hot broth over it.

Tasty! Though I might have been a bit greedy with the amount of coriander I threw on top (although some of it was also mint). The noodles are bean spouts, something I don’t remember having before moving here. In fact, I’ve learned the Dutch name for them, taugé, but always have to look up the English translation. The sprouts pictured above are most likely from Indonesia.

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The yearly tradition (Or: Zuurkool, better known as Sauerkraut)

Last Tuesday Marco’s mom made zuurkool for Marco and I (yay!). The three of us have an agreement that she makes zuurkool once a year, when it gets cold out.

This year worked perfectly as Tuesday was the first snowfall in here in the Netherlands. Only about half an inch, give or take, and gone within a day or so. Nothing compared to the cold weather which parts of the U.S. are getting with that polar vortex!

Zuurkool was on Tuesday’s menu

The best way to describe zuurkool is “sour mashed potatoes” (indeed, the Dutch version is generally a combination of zuurkool and potatoes).

It’s very tasty when the weather is cold out. Which is exactly what I said last year, it looks like…

Categories: Culture, Food | 2 Comments

Gevulde speculaas time (Or: Who knew almond paste was so tasty?)

Last week Marco and I made gevulde speculaas (literally “filled speculaas”) which is a type of spiced biscuit filled with almond paste. In case my parents are wondering, this is what Marco and I brought over for Thanksgiving! The actual recipe came from a box of Koopmans mix.

One possible title for this one is “The day after”

The only thing we had a bit of trouble with was the thickness of the bottom and top dough. Easy enough to roll out, but then it was too wet to transfer it to the baking dish easily.

But was it delicious? Yes it was! Especially if you add a small spoonful of whipped cream on top, with a dusting of powdered speculaas spices…

Categories: Daily Dutch living, Food | Tags: | Leave a comment

Amsterdam, where Prinsenhof and Brouwersgracht meet (Or: Puzzle time)

I recently finished a 1000-piece puzzle of Amsterdam — a present last year from Roger. And indeed, the puzzle sat in the ‘puzzle holder‘ for a good 5 months before I was able to finish it. The puzzle itself shows the corner of Amsterdam’s Prinsenhof where it meets Brouwersgracht, on King’s Day – hence all of the orange-clad characters.

Here is a close up look of the detail:

In the meantime, I’ve already started the next one. That would be a puzzle of The Hague’s Hofvijver which Marco bought for me as a Christmas present.

Categories: Everyday purchases, Friends&Family | Tags: | 2 Comments

Tandr restaurant in The Hague (Or: On a whim)

Over the weekend Marco and I went to Tandr in the city centre, not far from city hall. We’ve walked past it countless times, our interest piqued by the lovely smells from the grill wafting out the doors. I’m not sure why it took so long to step inside…

A view of the restaurant

The menu is Mesopotamian. Marco and I both chose lamb durum, with durum being the type of wheat bread the meat is wrapped in.

We ordered the meal (durum wrap, French fries and drink). The durum wrap has a small salad inside, a mixture of garlic and samba sauce, and the chosen meat (in our case, lamb).

It was really delicious! It was definitely a bit much for a lunch, but the price was reasonable, around €9 or €9.50. The menu on the website is a bit out of date in regards to the pricing, so keep that in mind. My only quibble with the wrap is that the pieces of lamb were sometimes a bit too big to eat in one bite, at least for me.

It’s always a good sign when a place includes a jar of pepper flakes on the table. Marco quickly threw some over his fries.

I would definitely recommend this restaurant, and plan on visiting it again!

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The fables of Jean de la Fontaine (Or: Exhibition at the Central Library)

From now through April 1st, there is an exhibition (De Raaf, de Vos en Kornuiten) going on at the Central Library. That translates as The raven, the fox, and his mates. The exhibition covers the work of Jean de la Fontaine, a French fabulist.

The header translates as “A lesson in behavior”. The beginning of the text reads: “A fable is a short story or poem with a moral. The intent is to both amuse you and to teach you something. You can think of the moral as the soul of the fable…”

The fables shown in the library were translated by Rob Scholten while Carlijn van Vlijmen worked on the illustrations.

“The monkey and the dolphin”
“The wolf and the dog”

As mentioned, the exhibit runs through April 1st and can be seen on the first floor of the Central Library, next to the escalators.

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