Food

Orange sugar (Or: King’s Day in the Netherlands)

King’s Day is next Tuesday which means a lovely day off. That’s about the only advantage these days, since the usual King’s Night parties (the evening before) and the King’s Day market can’t take place this year due to the pandemic. But who am I kidding? I probably haven’t gone to a King’s Night party in the last 5 years (back when it used to be Queen’s Night, before she abdicated and gave the throne to her son).

It also means you see a lot of toxic orange baked goods at the grocery stores.

On the left in the back you have soesjes (profiterole according to the English Wikipedia). Those are pastries filled with cream. In the middle you have tompouce, which is just called tompouce over at the English Wikipedia because it is a Dutch/Belgium pastry. My sweet tooth doesn’t usually show itself so I don’t eat this kind of stuff that often anymore. The best tompouce I ever had was from Hema with a lime flavor, putting it a bit more on the sour spectrum than the sweet spectrum. But tompouces are tricky to eat, more like overstuffed hamburgers. If you bite wrong the cream in the middle squirts out in the back.

On the right you have a schnitte. I had no idea what this was. I told Marco and Roger this and they looked at me a bit incredulously. Apparently its a two or three layer cake with whipped cream between the layers, or sometimes jam. Marco said that Viennetta ice cream (English Wikipedia) could also be an example of an ice cream schnitte.

Viennetta was actually a possibility last week for celebrating my birthday, but we went for cheesecake instead. I will always consider Viennetta a luxury, since that is how I viewed it as a kid. With the commercial where the group would enjoy the ice cream in clear, tall glasses (obligatory YouTube link)…

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Slow cooker chili (Or: Friday meals)

You know it’s Friday when your phone says “No Alarm” for tomorrow. Finally! This was a long week. It wasn’t even work’s fault. It was just the week itself that was slow. It started on Monday when I thought it was already Tuesday… and yesterday I thought for sure it was Friday. You get the idea.

Tonight Marco and I watched the series (season?) finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Wikipedia) on Disney+. It’s a cool show. Not as crazy as WandaVision was, but still cool. It had some great moments. Marco has definitely converted me into a Marvel fan. I think we’ve done a marathon of all of the MCU films at least 3 or 4 times now over the years.

Here was Marco and I’s treat for surviving a long work week:

Slow cooker chili with cheese and crackers. The best part? How tasty it is. The worst part? It cooks for 8-10 hours. Since we both work at home these days, that meant delicious aromas wafting through the apartment. All. Day. Long.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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Birthday cheesecake (Or: Too many choices)

On Saturday Marco and I picked up some cheesecake from the Cheesecake Company in celebration of my birthday last week. This was our first visit in 2021. Last year we went right before the country went into a soft lockdown (talking with the owner about “the corona situation” while sipping our coffees) and we picked up some cheesecake later in the year. These days the company has a new owner to carry on the proud American cheesecake tradition. The store still sells the same flavors (and of course some new ones too), so it’s going fine.

For my birthday I chose lemon lime, Marco chose lime blueberry and for Roger we chose blueberry banana. (Do you see the nice chain of flavors we made by doing that?)

I couldn’t help but take a picture of some uncut cheesecake just waiting to be put out on display:

Lots of flavors!

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Decadent delights (Or: Three mini birthday brownies)

Earlier this week I received a small box in the mail. In Dutch it’s called brievenbuspakje. Brievenbus = mail box, pakje = little package. (A normal package is called pakket and the Dutch have the habit of adding -je to the end of the word to make it cute and tiny. If you’re interested in the reasons why, feel free to read Make it small: the Dutch love affair with diminutives at iamexpat.nl.)

But I do love brievenbuspakjes or brievenbuscadeautjes (mail box gifts). For whatever reason I am not a fan of having a company deliver something to our door, probably because the doorbell for downstairs is so heart attack inducing when you press it too long. Or something like that. I will go out of my way to order something at bol.com (effectively Dutch Amazon) if and only if it has the option to deliver to the local Albert Heijn grocery store.

But brievenbuspakjes are even better because they are guaranteed to fit in your mail box, meaning you don’t have to be at home and the deliver doesn’t have to spend time ringing your doorbell. Just put it in the mailbox and move on to the next delivery.

But back to that small box I received in the mail. I was thrilled to see the tiny gift in our mailbox earlier this week, though had no idea who it was from. The spoon is in the back of the picture to give a bit of reference to how small this box is.

It was from work to say happy birthday! It was a brownie from a local Dutch site, www.mmoodwineandfood.nl. At first when I read the flavors on the card (caramel, white chocolate and m&m topping) I thought it was one really, really extragent brownie. But no, luckily it was separate flavors:

It was so rich Marco and I split the one on the left, the m&m toppings. (Also, I’d not call that m&ms. They were more smarties size, aka the UK chocolates (English Wikipedia). Which apparently pre-dates m&ms by a few years.) The other two brownies were saved for another day.

But: yummmm. Even though we weren’t able to get to them for a few days it was still moist and delicious.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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FOAM Easter brunch (Or: A mix of savory and sweet)

This year’s Easter brunch by FOAM was delicious, not that we expect anything different by now. Both photos were taken by Marco, who has a better eye for food photos it seems.

Let’s see. Some of the savory items include: a scone with salted butter and chia jam, an avocado sandwich, a mini spinach quiche and a scrambled tofu sandwich. (Note: that seems to be the only way I like tofu. So tiny it tastes and looks like scrambled eggs. Although oddly I also only eat eggs every 2-3 years, so who knows.)

Some of the sweet items included a coffee hazelnut milkshake, a huge chocolate chip cookie, banana bread, and a fresh fruit salad. My favorite was the chocolate chip cookie (of course) but the banana bread was a close second.

See also the 2020 edition for FOAM’s Easter brunch. That was one of the first FOAM meals we had in corona – pre-FOAM@home on Fridays. I can’t believe it’s been a year already!

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Pretzel time (Or: A tasty lunch)

Since Marco had to work today and I didn’t, I decided to treat him to some soft pretzels from a nearby Austrian shop, Wiener Konditorei. They recently expanded their pretzel options to include sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, so Marco asked for a pretzel with sesame seeds on it. In theory I ordered a salted pretzel but as you can see, there wasn’t much salt on it when I got home. (No matter – I broke out the sea salt grinder at home and was good to go.)

My favorite dipping sauce with soft pretzels is yellow mustard, purchased either at the local expat store (Kelly’s) or the local Asian store, Amazing Oriental. It is a bit cheaper at Amazing Oriental however the stock is hit or miss. You might not see it for a few months. Luckily the expat store almost always has it.

Marco’s dipping sauce of choice with his sesame seeds pretzel was Frank’s buffalo wing sauce. Original and buffalo wing Frank’s have been available at Albert Heijn (the local grocery store) for a few years now. They don’t have my favorite extra hot variant anymore, though. I miss that one a lot! It is great on burgers.

Have a great weekend, everybody! Roger, Marco and I will be enjoying gourmetten tomorrow (gourmetten is traditionally done for Christmas, New Year’s and Easter – and any other time of the year you want it, of course).

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Comfort food (Or: Spanish stew from FOAM)

Here is a look at a recent meal from FOAM here in The Hague (via the FOAM@home service on Fridays). Spanish stew with butter beans, tomatoes, olive, parsley and lemon, with bread on the side.

The taste was subtle, in a home comfort kind of way where no one thing dominated at the expense of other ingredients. The butter beans (large enough that you can easily see them in the photo above!) provided a great texture to the dish. It definitely reminded me of the chili that we ordered from FOAM earlier in the year; that was also comfort food. I really liked the bread too – I could taste a hint of salt in the background. Good stuff.

Eurovision to be event experiment; Half of audience welcome from nltimes.nl. Back in 2019 the Netherlands won the Eurovision Song Contest with Duncan Lawrence’s “Arcade” (YouTube link), which gave the Netherlands the right to host the competition in 2020. After a long search the Rotterdam Ahoy was chosen as the venue. …and then corona happened and the event was delayed a year. Opps. So here we are, in 2021, hoping to finally hold the event. Should be interesting.

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The Dutch really like pancakes (Or: Options at Albert Heijn)

While shopping at the local Albert Heijn (grocery store) I decided to take a photo of the pancake options. There are a lot after all…

Let’s see… the second row is pancake options from Koopmans. Original, complete, whole wheat, custard (? Opps. Someone put that back in the wrong place – should be 6 grain whole wheat pancakes), “Grandma’s pancakes” with cinnamon, multigrain pancake and biological multigrain pancakes. The second row is mostly the store brand options – original, complete, multigrain pancakes, spelt pancakes, biological pancakes, and pancakes with extra egg whites. The last three options are the liquid pancake options – natural, original and complete pancakes.

That is a lot of pancakes, but where are the boxes of waffle mix? Those are much harder to find, unfortunately!

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Time for some healthiness (Or: Broccoli salad with spectacular cashew dressing)

Tonight’s meal was a broccoli salad with smoked almonds, grapes, dates, baby tomatoes and peanuts (to name a few ingredients). The star of the dish was hands down the smoked cashew dressing. Of course it came from FOAM in The Hague. It tasted quite healthy but so delicious at the same time.

It was interesting to have sweet elements like dates and green grapes in a dinner, but everything meshed well together.

I will admit I peeked ahead at the options for this coming Friday – the first option is a sushi bowl and the second option is Spanish stew. Definitely leaning towards the Spanish stew myself… However the sushi bowl sounds intriguing because it includes “watermelon tuna”, aka watermelon that is prepared with Japanese ingredients to make it look and taste like tuna. Here is a recipe for watermelon tuna from bhg.com, Better Homes & Gardens. Quite interesting!

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That’s a big bag of fries (Or: Value bag at Albert Heijn)

This evening Marco and I had a hamburger and fries for our Friday meal. Think of things like: burger, jalapeños, onions, lettuce, habanero tabasco sauce… (oh, and cheddar cheese for Marco). It was so good I forgot to take a photo!

While purchasing crinkle cut fries for this dinner–yum, yum, yum–I noticed a large bag of fries at the bottom of the freezer at Albert Heijn, a Dutch grocery store. It was so huge it didn’t even fit on the shelf anymore.

The bag on the right, krokante friet (crispy fries). It is apparently 2.5 kilos of fries. That’s 5.5 pounds. Yikes! It was a “value” bag that only cost €2.

On the other hand, if it had been 2.5 kilos of crinkle cut fries… yum yum yum?

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