Happy Easter (Or: A drawing from Marco)

Happy Easter everyone!

In the Netherlands Easter Monday is also an official holiday. Unfortunately it is back to work for us tomorrow…

On that note, check out this Easter bunny that Marco drew:

This was for an Easter card that we sent to Marco’s dad. It also included a rhyming poem (not pictured). Not bad considering he wrote the poem and drew the rabbit during a (very) short 7 minute tram ride!

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Stone work by the Binnenhof (Or: Art at every corner)

Here is a look at one of the stone decorations in the Binnenhof:

You know the Netherlands has a lot of rain when even the art references it. (I kid, I kid. It doesn’t rain THAT much.)

And a zoomed out photo:

Unfortunately Binnenhof will be undergoing renovations later this year that are projected to last 5 years (article from nu.nl in Dutch). Five years of not being able to walk in this area seems rather long. The other option was to do the construction in stages so that the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives) wouldn’t have to temporarily move elsewhere. While that option might have been cheaper it would have meant construction would last 12 years…

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Clutter in the chips aisle (Or: Great place to leave your bread)

I took this photo for a certain someone I know who works at a grocery store (we were just talking last week about things being dumped in the wrong grocery store aisle):

While looking for some potato chips I spotted a sad looking bag of bread rolls and a chocolate bar. The bread can’t be resold (it’s a bag a customer puts together themselves) so it will need to be thrown out. The bread section is also near the beginning of the store, and this is at the end. Of course.

Oh, and I went for the bag of Albert Heijn black pepper and sea salt chips, by the way. That’s the gray bag to the left.

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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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A lovely sunny day (Or: Counting down to the weekend)

Oh, I know it is only Wednesday. But I have Friday and Monday off, so the weekend will be extra long this time! Today was the last of the sunny days for a while. Of course you know what that means: Parks closed, alcohol banned as youngsters flock to the sunshine from dutchnews.nl. On the opposite end of the spectrum, thanks to daylight savings the government has agreed to allow the curfew to start at 22:00 instead of 21:00 (nltimes.nl), from tonight. Here is hoping people use that extra hour responsibly (exercise, etc.).

If you live in Utrecht or in the nearby area you can sign up for Utrecht’s open bar experiment (also nltimes.nl). Five bars will be open for business 14 April to 17 April (of course with social distancing in place). I suspect that one will be “sold out” within 20 minutes of going online, just like the concert experiments earlier in March. First Covid self-tests now available at Dutch pharmacies (also from nltimes.nl). These self-tests take 15 minutes to give a result. Their accuracy rate isn’t as high as the government tests but they can help in situations where you want to take a test before visiting your grandmother or grandchildren, for instance.

The above article talks about Scheveningen getting their own color system (green, orange*, red) to show how busy the area is. In extreme cases, code red can be called, allowing roads to be closed off. As the colors progress to orange and red, more “peace officers” (Wikipedia) could be called to the area.

* = Dutch like the color orange, so they use that instead of yellow.

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Spring has been spotted (Or: Sunscreen options at Albert Heijn)

You know it is Spring when the sunscreen is on display at the local Albert Heijn. In this case it was on display at the self-service registers, which might make you think that the coming temperatures will be blazing hot, like 36C/100F. Nope. We are looking at around 22C/72 F for today and tomorrow before the temperature drops again. Don’t get me wrong – sunscreen is still needed at those temperatures if you spend enough time outside. I just always find it funny when I see sunscreen on display in the Netherlands.

I also wanted to complain about how expensive sun screen was here in comparison to America, but after quickly checking Walgreens I realized that it is pretty much expensive in both places. Who knew. I don’t go through sunscreen that quickly, that’s for sure!

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Keep to the right (Or: Spray painted measures in The Hague’s city centre)

The Hague has replaced the “keep to the right” stickers on the Grote Markt with spray painted versions. Well, the old stickers are still there but most of them are half torn off or trampled. So “replaced” is probably not the most accurate description.

The photo above was taken at the Grote Markt, just before Bijenkorf (so just before this photo which I posted over the weekend).

In other news…

Groninger Museum to celebrate stolen Van Gogh painting a year after the theft from nltimes.nl. The special website (with facts and background information about the painting) will launch tomorrow.

Ever Given sets course for Rotterdam after six-day Suez blockade ends from dutchnews.nl. 400 meter ship gets stuck in the Suez canal at a part that was only 300 meter wide. 6 day blockade occurs. Opps? Interesting fact: most of the ships that were stuck behind this one were also destined for the Rotterdam port, meaning there are three delays: waiting for the ship to get unstuck, waiting to get through the Suez canal, and waiting to get unloaded at the port in Rotterdam.

No more free plastic bags in fresh produce section of Albert Heijn from nltimes.nl. That makes sense. I am only surprised it took so long. I already have a reusable bag for fruits and vegetables – Albert Heijn has sold them along side the free plastic bags for a few years now – but sometimes it is easier to use a plastic bag (especially when you get two types of things that both need to be weighed).

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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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Appointment required (Or: Line to enter Bijenkorf)

This morning I took a photo of the line to enter Bijenkorf, a high-end department store. There weren’t too many people in line yet – it was only 11:00 – but there was a large amount of space roped off on the Grote Markt shopping street.

The not-quite-readable sign says “Welcome! Access only allowed with appointment. Scan the QR-code to make an appointment.” (QR codes have definitely become more popular during the corona crisis.) In the Netherlands you need to make an appointment at least 4 hours in advance. Non-essential stores can have 1 person per 25 square meters, with a maximum of 50 shoppers in the store at one time.

The sculpture is called “Veelhoofd” (Many heads) and it was created by Joep van Lieshout. The art in The Hague’s city centre moves around a lot – the sculpture was initially installed on the Spui (stroom.nl, in English) around the corner back in 2010.

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