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!
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.
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!
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…
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.
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…
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…
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.
I would definitely recommend this restaurant, and plan on visiting it again!
Just before Christmas Marco, Roger and I decided to try out a new food place in The Hague. Well, Marco – being the adventurous soul he is – had already visited it during lunch one Friday and brought back the good news to us.
In late October a Vietnamese street food restaurant with the name of Viet Street opened. It sounded delicious so Roger and I quickly agreed to try it out. We decided to go there for a late lunch before seeing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at the movies (which was awwwwwesome).
Because we were not sure about the portion sizes we ordered some spring rolls to split as a starter, although I didn’t snag a photo of those. Marco and Roger both got Vietnamese pancakes (stuffed with shrimp and/or pork belly, if I remember correctly) with the usual added veggies on the side. You open up your pancake and throw them in as needed.
I was going through my photos of the holidays and noticed another good one to post. On the first day of Christmas we went to Marco’s dad and his wife for a lovely rijsttafel spread (Indonesian meal, translates to “rice table”).
For dessert, she made a delicious ice cream cake for us:
As soon as I saw it my eyes lit up at how fanciful it looked. And the ice cream inside was positively delicious. As the holidays are already a few weeks gone, my memory plays tricks on me but I believe it was cinnamon ice cream.
The talented baker did apologize for one detail, which would hardly be noticed. She created red and green leaves (with fondant, I believe?) to go all along the sides of the cake, but ran into trouble when the ice cream melted and dripped down the sides a bit. Personally, I love the little gaps on the side allowing you to look into the cake and at the leaves.
I’ll admit, I wish I had a slice of this ice cream cake in front of me to eat again.
We interrupt this blog post to say: Happy birthday, mom!
Here’s a look back at our oliebollen making attempts this year. (Quick recap: oliebollen literally translates to “balls of oil” and are sort of like doughnuts, usually with raisins found inside. They are a traditional New Year’s Eve treat for Dutchies.)
First, a look at the batter. Doesn’t look like much yet! Or it kind of looks like we are making chocolate chip cookies… But it still needs to be allowed to rise for about 45 minutes, too.
To make the experience a bit easier this year we bought an oliebollentang from Albert Heijn. It’s really just a glorified ice cream scoop. We also tried wetting the scoop in oil between each oliebol. It was still trial and error, but we finally learned the best trick for us was to use a large spoon to grab the batter, and then carefully place it into the oliebollen scoop, and finally put the scoop into the oil, releasing the batter under the oil so that it would come off (a bit) easier.
Time to fry them up! My favorite part is when the oliebollens start flipping on their own. Doesn’t always happen, but sometimes.
They are already looking a lot like oliebollen. You only need to keep them in the oil for 3-4 minutes, but they should be flipped once to make sure both sides are evenly cooked.
And the finished product, with a fair heaping of powdered sugar on top.
As mentioned in a few months back, the oliebollenkraam (= stand to sell oliebollen) has temporarily moved to the Grote Markt due to construction around the Spuiplein. I suspect the move has been good for them and they are making much more money where they currently are. They are consistently voted one of the best stands in this providence.
Oliebollen is sort of like a doughnut and covered in powdered sugar. They are traditionally filled with raisins, but you can get them without raisins as well these days. They are eaten around New Years Eve, although you can also find them at carnivals throughout the year.
Here is a look at the line around 10:30 this morning:
And a close up, to show you what the stand looks like:
So the lines weren’t too bad at 10:30. This is what it looks like around 14:30, just four hours later:
There’s still three lines, give or take, and they stretch just to the edge of the tram/bus area. Compare that to the lines in 2014 and 2015. Of course that is at the old location, where it is easier to just have a single line.
I suspect the crowds will be greatest around 17:00, when everyone is out of work. However by then festivities will also be starting at our place so we won’t be going outside until closer to midnight, for the fireworks.