Food

Food truck festivals (And: News from The Netherlands)

Good news – the food truck festival Rrrollend is coming back for a special winter edition from March 1 to March 5 at the Lange Voorhout. Official website in Dutch. Indebuurt.nl (also in Dutch, it means “in the neighborhood” reports that the winter edition means they will be selling glühwein (mulled wine) and hot chocolate. Yum. Rrrollend will also be back in The Hague in Mid-May (at the Hofvijver) and in mid-August (at the Lange Voorhout).

Above is the shaved ice cream Marco and I enjoyed back in 2019.

In other news, The Hague’s public transportation company will stop selling HTM bicycles in The Hague on February 1 (official website in English) due to low demand. Most people use the NS train company’s bicycles instead. The bikes will be moved to Zoetermeer, a suburb of The Hague, where the demand for them is higher.

The cool event in Scheveningen is open for one more week (the last day is the 22nd). You can go ice skating or view ice sculptures. Official website in Dutch.

If you want to travel to Utrecht, you can also visit the I Light U light festival going on through January 29. The artwork is all in the neighborhood of the main train station. Official website in English.

And finally, we had some pretty strong winds last Thursday. Some planes were asked to use a runway at Schiphol airport that is not normally in use (the Oostbaan, or East runway) but one plane arriving from Detroit still managed to land the plane just short of the runway. Although to be honest I don’t know how much you would feel that as a passenger. See also dutchreview.com in English.

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Happy New Year! (Or: Oliebollen time)

Happy 2023, everyone!

Marco and I made oliebollen a few days ago. It’s a donut-like snack that you fry in oil and then cover in powdered sugar.

Of course, purists would say that donuts took their inspiration from oliebollen, not the other way around.

I also purchased some apple beignets from the oliebollen stand at the Grote Markt yesterday. New Year’s Eve is the busiest time of the season for oliebollen stands; this particular one opens at 06:00 on New Year’s Eve.

Here is a look at some photos of the New Year Eve’s fireworks above The Hague, from regio15.nl (article in Dutch).

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It must be after Sinterklaas (Or: Lots and lots of oliebollen mix)

I was recently at Albert Heijn doing some grocery shopping. I swear, you almost don’t need a calendar when you walk in there — you can easily tell it is after 5 December (Sinterklaas) because the first ingredients for making oliebollen (a donut-like treat frequently eaten on New Year’s Eve) have started to appear.

At the top of the display you have powdered sugar in the blue and white cans, oliebollen mix in the middle in the yellow and orange boxes, and whipped cream on the far right. Although they haven’t quite set up the tower of sugary goodness that they had last year. Yet.

I am also happy to report that my favorite Christmas cookies are back at Albert Heijn. I picked up a pack for home and a pack for my coworkers the first day they were stocked. It’s a nice large Christmas cookie (in the shape of a wreath) dipped in dark chocolate and covered in red and green sprinkles.

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Traveling by boat (Or: A day trip to Amsterdam)

Last week Marco and I traveled to Amsterdam to see my sister-in-law, who was in town for work. One of the activities we did was a canal tour by boat:

A random bridge along the way. The weather was great, as you can see. Blue skies and lots and lots of sun. I of course forgot to bring sunscreen but hey, what can you do (except be smarter next time). We also had lovely weather this weekend, although today’s weather definitely colder with a hint of rain here and there.

And one of the random house boats we saw along the way. It’s definitely not my thing to live on one of those, but to each their own. The flowers were a nice touch.

Speaking of flowers: a lovely, flower covered bike. It definitely demands your attention.

And finally, a bowl of yoghurt for me and a small plate of poffertjes (Dutch mini pancakes) for my sister-in-law. This was a restaurant very much themed towards tourists – I think there were about 15 orange clogs hanging from the wall. (Both pages link to English Wikipedia.)

All in all a fun day. I miss the sun already!

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Street food delights (Or: Umami restaurant in The Hague)

Marco and I decided to visit Umami, a Chinese restaurant in the city centre. We had looked at the menu a few years ago, but it seems like they have added a street food option since then. The only unexpected thing was that even though we were able to make a reservation for 15:00, when we got their the hostess seemed surprised and said that the kitchen closes between 15:30-16:00. (Why does the website let you make reservations for that time slot then?)

But in the end it wasn’t really a problem as Marco and I had stared at the menu in advance and had a general sense of what we wanted to sample already. The only difference was that we ordered everything at once, whereas we were hoping to order a bit, see how full we were, and then order a bit more if needed.

The snack attack platter, comprised mostly of croquette/bitterballen type snacks, plus 4 spring rolls. The croquettes are filled with meat paste or ragu. The quality of these snacks can differ greatly based on the restaurant you are at, but luckily upscale dining restaurants use high quality meat. In this case the croquettes were green curry, chicken satay, shrimp, duck and rendang. But as they say you also eat with your eyes – the photo above just begs to be eaten (and to be photographed).

Above are two bao buns. In the foreground is chicken thigh and in the background is beef. A bit messy (especially the beef which leaked everywhere) but still quite tasty.

And finally, sandwiches. In the foreground, chicken thigh and in the background duck. We actually only had a half each, taking the other half home for later.

It was a great experience. We do plan on going back to sample some other stuff later (and perhaps the actual lunch or dinner menu, versus the street food menu). If you like good food that is Instagram worthy than this is the place for you.

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CeeCee’s chicken and chips (Or: Food hall in the Haagsche Bluf)

This past weekend Marco and I visited the food halls in Haagsche Bluf (denhaag.com in English), a tiny, upscale shopping area in the heart of the city centre. The food halls (official website in English) have 10 food stands with various types of food like Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Malaysian, etc. We chose CeeCee’s chicken and chips for our first visit:

At the top of the photo we have mozzarella sticks with sweet chili sauce and twister fries with sweet chili sauce and ketchup for me. The chicken tenders were hot and spicy on the left (obvious, I am sure) and lemon and pepper on the right.

The food was good, although none of it really stood out. So good, but not great. (In comparison with the tacos Marco and I shared at the Mall of The Netherlands last month.) The service could also be better. Marco and I ordered via a QR code at the table which you can see in the lower right of the photo. The website said that I would receive a text when the food was ready, so we thought it would be okay to switch tables. However, I received a call saying that they went to my original table and we weren’t there. Oh well.

Don’t get me wrong though – this is on my list to go back as the concept of food halls are always nice, and I either want to try some falafels or some Malaysian food next.

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Inflation (and corona?) strike (Or: Cocktails at Milu)

I recently went out for drinks with some coworkers. We went to Milu, and we went on a Wednesday of course. (If any of my family is reading this, Milu used to be Het Wapon, where Marco and I had our wedding reception back in 2013.)

Why did we go on a Wednesday? Well, 5 euro cocktails of course! Oh wait, it is 6 euros now and there are less choices. Thanks to inflation and/or corona. Don’t get me wrong: 6 euros is still a steal and there are still 5 choices. The cocktail choices are every rotating, which is probably a good thing. You can see a lot at one of the old menus at this old blog post from 2017 (scroll down to the end). I remember really liking the Hello Tokyo cocktail, although I don’t seem to have a picture of it readily available.

On the left you have a lemon ginger scroppino for a coworker (vodka, Caipi ginger liquor, Prosecco and lemon sorbet) and a golden caipi boy on the right for me (Caipi ginger liquor, grapefruit, lime, rhubarb and soda). I loved how sour it was, which was exactly what I was looking for.

Above is a frozen pornstar martini (vodka, Caipi ginger liquor, lime, passionfruit, orange and vanilla). Very sour again. While the paper straw looked very pretty and worked well with the drink, it didn’t hold out forever so I ended up finishing this slushy drink with a spoon.

In the background you can see Dutch bitterballen (English Wikipedia). We actually ordered a platter of four different things. The other three (chicken nuggets, duck spring rolls and cheese sticks) quickly disappeared, leaving the bitterballen to finish. They are definitely an acquired taste. At any rate, I didn’t need any dinner after this when I got home.

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The tastiest bento box (Or: SET restaurant in The Hague)

A few weeks ago Roger, Marco and I celebrated the reopening of restaurants by going to SET in The Hague’s city centre. It is not far from the Grote Kerk. The best part about going for lunch is that you can order a bento box (meat, fish or mixed). I always go for the meat box.

The lunch begins with a miso soup. I’m not a huge fan of tofu blocks, but they do work in this soup in small amounts.

The star of the lunch is of course the meat bento box:

Karage (Japanese chicken) in the top middle, beef in the top right, and pork in the lower right. Roger and Marco usually go for the mixed box, which means I get to gloat that I have karate and they don’t. The only problem with having this meal for lunch is that you definitely have no interest in dinner later in the evening, but it is worth it!

I however mourn the loss of the “ice and sand chocolate dessert” which used to be on the menu years ago. The ice cream had a lovely taste and it was definitely visually pleasing.

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Tough decisions (Or: La Catrina in the Mall of the Netherlands)

Earlier this month Marco and I went to the Mall of the Netherlands when we both had a rare day off. For lunch we decided to have tacos at La Catrina:

Tough decisions indeed. I think I would go with chicken tacos. As you can see we did the mix and match option so that we could try all three of the tacos – beef, pork and chicken. The chicken and the pork were great. The beef taco was okay but it was clearly the least of the three as it was a bit dry that day. But still tasty.

We also ordered tortilla chips with some extra guacamole:

They were tasty and hit the spot for a light lunch. I also posted this picture so you could see the band around Marco’s wrist. We visited when most corona measures were still in effect, so we had to wear a face mask inside the mall and show a QR code via the CoronaCheck app. Since then most measures have been rescinded, with the exception of face masks and mandatory corona tests for indoor events with more than 500 participants.

The mall approached the QR code check in a smart way. If you wanted to visit the upper floor where the restaurants and movie theaters were, then you would have your QR code scanned downstairs before taking the escalator up. You would receive a wristband to let the companies upstairs know that you had your QR code scanned so that they did not need to do so again.

If you want to visit La Catrina they have locations in the Mall of the Netherlands, Foodhall Scheveningen and Market33 in Amsterdam.

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Sweet nostalgia (Or: S’mores pop tarts)

A few weeks ago I visited Kelly’s expat store here in The Hague. In a moment of nostalgia I picked up a box of S’mores pop tarts. (My second choice would have been regular chocolate, another nostalgia hit.) I have had a pop tart a few times over the years but not that often. I think it is also the price – when I left the US back in 2012 you could wait for the occasional deal to get 2 boxes for 5 bucks. Whereas one box is €5.25 over here in the Netherlands. Import pricing…

In reality the look left a bit to be desired, but the taste was the same as I remember. I did do one thing differently though. As a kid I would always peel off the sides (where there isn’t any top frosting) and throw them out. Shame on me, I know. But these days I enjoy things a bit less sweet, so I ate it all.

Random news:

  • MediaMarkt in The Hague (aka the Dutch version of Best Buy) is moving later this spring, from their current location on the Grote Marktstraat to a new location on the… Grote Marktstraat. They will be moving into the old location where the Dutch department store V&D was, which is a better spot then what they currently have. I will just enjoy having escalators and not horrible steep stairs to get to another floor. Thanks to Marco’s dad for that news tip.
  • There will be another press conference here in the Netherlands tomorrow evening. The rumor is that almost all corona measures (except for the basic rules like hand washing, ventilation and testing if you have symptoms) will disappear on Friday, February 25. So no more mandatory face masks (except probably for vaccination centers or hospitals), no more advice to work at home, etc. We’ll see if it works.
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