Anyone up for gourmetten? (Or: Fun times in October)

Another “Wow. Is it that time already?” type posts. Next week’s Albert Heijn discount flyer includes discounts on meat for gourmetten. In October. Does anyone remember if that is actually normal?

Like my post about the Christmas display at the CASA store, I am not against this. However, gourmetten is a social activity so you’re more likely to invite people over to your house. Which doesn’t sound that good in corona times.

New Year’s Eve 2013

But, one step back: there’s no good translation of gourmetten in English, but it is sort of like an indoors barbecue. You have a special grill or baking plate which you place in the centre of the table. You can grill almost anything you want (meat, fish, veggie meat, bell peppers, mushrooms, pineapples…). Generally the meat goes on the top. There are also 6 to 8 slots underneath with ‘little pans’ where you put the more fragile stuff like veggies and mushrooms, or even pancake batter to make pancakes. Add some baguette bread with butter and other toppings and you are set for the evening. But generally gourmetten is very popular at Easter, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, not in October. (Or sometimes you can request it for your birthday. I think I did that one year!)

Christmas 2012 (check out the mini pans underneath)

Hmmm. Gourmetten, anyone?

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Holiday displays (Or: Christmas time at CASA)

I’ll just leave this photo here…

CASA (a home department store) has put up their Christmas display already.

And you know what – I like it. I like it a lot.

Categories: Holidays, Shopping | Tags: | 2 Comments

On to the weekend (Or: Supernatural and chili)

Friday! For dinner Marco made slow cooker chili. The recipe was from my old Cuisinart slow cooker that I had back when I lived in the US. We haven’t made this recipe in ages, but I am glad we finally did. It makes plenty of leftovers so later in the weekend or early next week we will have chili with tortilla chips. Yummm.

It almost felt like a normal Friday evening (in a non-2020 year): for the first time a long time we had a Supernatural episode to watch. Like many TV shows, this one went on hiatus after the corona crisis started, with only 7 episodes to go in the final 14th season. Most of our normal TV shows have not returned yet, so we are watching more shows via Disney+ or Apple TV these days (if you’re a gamer, I highly recommend Apple TV’s Mythic Quest).

In corona news, the prime minister said they wait until Monday to see if the situation improves (nltimes.nl). Otherwise I expect a press conference on Tuesday. The good news is that the government said they would also be working on a roadmap for corona measures, so that it is more clear what measures could be expected in various scenarios. It definitely feels like the government always reacts, versus acts.

There have been some anti-lockdown and anti-corona law demonstrations in The Hague in the last few days (everyone comes to The Hague to protest, since this is where parliament is). There were 15 arrests on Wednesday evening and 80 arrests yesterday evening (!). I walked past parliament this morning and saw a few people with signs outside the Tweede Kamer, although they were just standing around and not actively protesting yet. They probably still needed to have their coffee.

On a lighter note… Keukenhof (a massive tulip garden not far from The Hague and only open a few months of the year) started planting tulip bulbs for the 2021 season. By Christmas they need to plant 7 million bulbs – yikes!

I mentioned Keukenhof a few times earlier this year because the park never even opened before the crisis hit. Instead they created lots of videos and posted them to their website and YouTube, getting 22 million views (in a normal year they get about 1.5 million in person visits). If you want to see the videos they posted earlier this year, check out their YouTube channel and the “Keukenhof Virtually Open 2020” series.

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Up, up and up (Or: Not a reference to the Pixar film, sadly)

A side note, though: Pixar did recently post the opening minutes of the film Up on Twitter, if you want to watch a bittersweet video.

But my “Up, up and up” refers to the number of newly diagnosed corona cases. Just yesterday I posted that I was surprised to see us almost hit 5,000 cases (4,996) so quickly. Then the numbers for today came out: 5,831 cases (nltimes.nl). It does look like additional measures will be needed, but no one knows yet what those might be. At least the weather is still so cold and rainy that staying inside is less annoying…? But enough of the craziness for today.

Here’s a short Dutch lesson for you. If you want to say “in about 4 days” you can say een dag of vier. For a while I was translating that as one or four days. I was confused for a while there.

Een means either ‘a’ or ‘one’ depending on the context or emphasis. If you want to make it clear you mean ‘one’ you would write it as follows: één. It has a slightly different pronunciation then the indefinite article ‘a’.

Back to the present: Last week I was reminded of how confused I used to get when Marco said een uur of twee of drie. What? 1 or 2 or 3 hours? Which is it?! But eventually my brain caught up and spit out the proper translation: 2 or 3 hours. And all was well with the world again.

Random article of the day: I mentioned earlier in September that the carnival on the Malieveld was allowed to go ahead, lasting about a month with limits of 5,000 persons inside at any one time. I can understand if others want to go enjoy themselves, but you’ll notice I haven’t been anywhere near the Malieveld since it arrived.

But anyway, the mayor of The Hague received a cute miniature carousel horse from the carnival organization. It was a thank you for allowing the carnival to go ahead:

The mayor said he’s still thinking about where it can be placed.

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Just another rainy Wednesday (Or: Blanket weather)

I am currently sitting under my Mickey Mouse blanket. Marco got it for me a few years ago, probably from bol.com (aka Dutch Amazon). It keeps my toes warm, so that’s good.

During last Monday’s press conference Rutte and De Jong said the Netherlands would hit 5,000 infections by the end of this week, but unfortunately we’re pretty much at that point already with 4,996 infections today and more than 1,000 patients in the hospital (article in English from nltimes.nl). That’s about 500 more infections than yesterday. We have a few more days before we would see the effects of last Monday’s additional measures. If we do not see a “flattening of the curve” soon then I expect more measures imposed early next week.

Most of my adventures outside lately are confined to going to the grocery store and back, the earlier in the morning the better. It does mean that work and not-work have been bleeding into each other a bit, but on the plus side work has been a bit more forgiving the last few weeks. I’m also in the middle of reading two novels in English. One is Stephen King’s The Institute and the other is Mariko Koike’s The Graveyard Apartment. Both feel nice and creepy / spooky, perfect for October.

And since we need something a bit more positive today, here’s an article from Omroep West (in Dutch) about dogs being allowed into a local museum. For one day only, on Animal Day, for a special dog-themed exhibition:

The article includes a video with lots of tail wagging dogs. Check it out. You can also read more about the Being human exhibit at the Fotomuseum’s website (link in English).

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Rainy days (Or: October is upon us)

Rain rain rain. That’s all it does these days. It’s cold and wet and dreary and (even without the corona issues) it would be the perfect time to stay inside.

This morning I searched my drawer for an appropriate sweater to wear. I don’t have many – I found one, which is actually one more than I expected to find. I don’t usually wear sweaters, but maybe that will change now that I am at home and not in a climate controlled workplace. We’ll see…

Some interesting things I came across today:

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A vision for the future (Or: New plans for The Hague’s Central Library)

Plans for redesigning the interior of The Hague’s Central Library made the news recently. The building which houses the library and the city hall celebrated its 25th anniversary last month. it was opened by then Queen Beatrix on 8 September 1995. It’s an interesting building, having been given the nickname Ijspaleis (Ice palace) by locals.

The original architect (American Richard Meier) knew exactly what he wanted and didn’t want any changes at all, which is why a plan to redesign the interior is so surprising. But the architects in charge of this project admit problems with the design – the entrance is hidden and it looks more like an office than a library. I definitely agree with that!

The redesign will focus on the entrance, the café and the children’s area. There will also be a new debate space on the fifth and sixth floors and a rooftop terrace. Actually, I think there is a terrace already but it’s not in use at the moment.

Minder boeken in Haagse bieb van de toekomst (omroepwest.nl, in Dutch)

Mecanoo designs masterplan for The Hague Central Library (mecanoo.nl). Click “View project” at the bottom of the page to see a few additional photos.

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Bagel and beans (Or: Chai latte, anyone?)

Earlier in September, Marco and I visited one of the local Bagels & Beans cafés to enjoy a lunch outside. It was a bit cold, but doable as long as I kept my jacket on. It was probably my first visit in 2020, although admittedly we usually only go a few times a year. Check out our chai lattes:

I always loved these plates, and pretty much forgot about them until I saw our coffees. I also had a bagel with butter and chocolate sprinkles, but I was decidedly not Dutch about it. If you’re Dutch, you spread on the butter and then pour the sprinkles on top. The butter is mainly there to help keep the sprinkles from falling off while you take a bite. I have no interest in butter and chocolate together, so I instead simply alternated which one I put on my bagel. Which did mean I sadly had some chocolate sprinkles left over, but c’est la vie.

It definitely showed that I haven’t been to a Bagels & Beans in a while. I forgot that you need to pay inside. Which worked on in the end, since we were also asked to leave our contact details for corona purposes. Unlike other places (with a QR code you scan) you simply wrote your details in a notebook with a pen.

In other news, The Hague library no longer requires online registration before visiting the library (article in Dutch from the library website). The rule only lasted about two days, but was temporarily required after the press conference last Monday. A few days later the library received status in The Hague’s emergency ordinance as a doorstroomlocatie, or basically a place where people walk through it to experience something or get something (museums, monuments and attraction parks are other examples). This was probably for the best, since the link above mentions that there were long lines outside of people waiting to get in. Face masks are still urgently advised the library, like all public indoor locations in the Netherlands.

Here is your Awww moment for the day. The first color photos of the panda cub born earlier this year in a Dutch zoo are available:

The panda definitely knows how to pose for the camera.

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Oliebollen and coffee (Or: The perfect pairing)

As noted in an earlier blog post, I stopped by the oliebollen stand in the city centre today (in the area of Blokker and Xenos). Luckily the stand is big enough for good social distancing – there are two lines in the middle, with exits on either side. I didn’t have too wait that long either. I ordered two oliebollen and four krentenbollen (oliebollen with raisins). The two regular ones are for me and the four krentenbollen are for Marco and Roger.

Preparing the goods… bag of oliebollen with a canister of powdered sugar. And here’s a look at the oliebollen with some coffee:

Not the best pictures in the world but you get the idea. The one on the left is a krentenbol and the one on the right is an oliebol. Normally we douse them with even more powdered sugar, but not this time. The dough itself is pretty sweet anyway.

The reason we can have oliebollen already is because The Hague (along with a few of the other larger Dutch cities) decided that oliebollen stands would be allowed to open a month earlier, from 1 October, rather than the usual 1 November. This is to help combat the loss of revenue due to all of the cancelled festivals this year, where oliebollen is also traditionally sold. Oliebollen sales will peak around New Year’s Eve (the busiest day of the year), although some stands will stay open through the end of January.

Categories: Food, Holidays | Tags: , | 4 Comments

More postponements (Or: Bring on 2021 already)

Sure, let’s bring on 2021 – not that I think January 1st, 2021 will be a magical day where everything is suddenly better. But you have to look forward to something.

For a good read, check out this article at dutchnews.nl: Despite the government u-turn, the Dutch are still unwilling to wear masks. It does a good job of explaining what kind of issues this country is experiencing with wearing something as simple as a face mask.

This week saw two more cancellations in The Hague:

It just reinforces Marco’s idea that we should put up the Christmas decorations extra early this year, to bring some more cheer into our apartment.

On the plus side, I know that the oliebollen stand on the Grote Markt by Xenos/Blokker is open again. I’ve seen it with my own eyes! No photo proof yet, however. I heard a rumor that we’re going to go pick up some tomorrow. Yum yum yum. According to their Facebook page, they are open from tomorrow (Saturday).

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