Monday, November 17, 2014

Amersfoort--Rain, Zwarte Pieten, and Antipasta

We have had glorious sunny days here in The Netherlands, but Saturday was not one of them. 

We had planned a walking tour of Amersfoort for Saturday afternoon and made restaurant reservations at an authentic Italian pasta house where we could have dinner and a chat with our good friends A. and J.

Then it rained! 
But we still walked our foot tour with our umbrellas and ate a great meal with our friends.

It isn't often that I visit such a beautiful old city and never take out my camera (except in a warm, dry restaurant!), but Saturday was one of those days. So I am going to refer you to some super photos of Amersfoort on The Hochmans in Holland blog. Click HERE.

We hadn't really done our research very well, since Saturday was also the arrival of Sinterklaas and his helpful Zwarte Pieten in The Netherlands AND in Amersfoort. So we weaved our way for a couple of hours through the raindrops and the swarms of eager children and patient parents to see the beautiful old Dutch city.

We never caught a glimpse of the jolly old Sint Nicolaas, but the place was filled with Zwarte Pieten (Black Peters). And we didn't see not one white or pink or green or stroopwafel Piet! They were all Zwart, as tradition should be. No protesting! Just lots of happy kids and adults! The way holiday time should be!

Photo Source:?

Later in Da Luca's Pastahuis we met up with A. and J. for our chat and a nice meal. 

This was only our antipasta! My vegetarian lasagna was tops! 

Think I want to go back to Amersfoort in the sunshine and for another pasta dish ;)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What To Buy At The Markthal in Rotterdam

Okay, here goes!
Time to make your shopping list!
(Warning:photo rich!))

This booth has a choice from the roof-gardens and city gardens in Rotterdam!( Just chosen as Best European City)

Not anything like the mushrooms in our forest!

What a choice!

Truffles Under Glass!

Spices that look and smell as beautiful as they taste!

Healthy Eye Candy!

Have no idea how to get into this ranbutan fruit.

And this? Looks like a Haas avocado, but it isn't!

Yum! My kind of sweet and salty!

Are you NUTS?

Our olive trees will never see anything like these!

Cheese so old (aged) that it crumbles!

More aged Rotterdam cheeses.

Can't forget the freshly baked breads!

And yummy French dried sausages!

What about Spanish serrano ham?

Or packaged Dutch stamppot?

Now for the sweets!!!
Poffertjes (mini pancakes with powdered sugar) can't be forgotten.

Mouth-watering delicacies!

Don't forget the ones with fresh sweetened whip cream!

Ahem! "American" style donuts! What the ?

Ahhhh! Fresh caramel filled stroopwafels made while you wait!

Or chocolate covered stroopwafels or plain ones already packaged.

This coconut macaroon snowman is ready for winter.

And I bought nothing! Hard to believe, I know!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Bird's Eye View of the Rotterdam Markthal

And check out this site HERE.

Stay tuned for shots of what you can purchase at the Markthal in Rotterdam.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I Can't Explain the Feeling

On Wednesday we took advantage of a great train deal to travel 1st Class to Rotterdam. The route we chose was not non-stop, but luckily we could still follow directions and cross over to another perron/platform when we needed to change trains. Most of our 1 1/2 hour trip was in a private area, but the seats were no more comfortable than 2nd Class. But at least we can say we traveled in 1st Class.

With the exception of the 1st Class, I had the "been there, done that" feeling. While living in The Netherlands, I traveled by train a few times.

Then we arrived at the Central Station in Rotterdam. It was almost lunch time, and with our train ticket we had received a coupon for coffee/tea and a huge almond paste filled cookie. So we had our treat before we left the train platform. As we searched for the restroom, I felt like I was in an expensive shopping mall. And the travelers were better dressed than most folks we travel with by plane. Expensive clothes, shoes, super hairdos! Classy folks!

Then we left the station.

My husband spent at least the next 15 minutes convincing me we were in Rotterdam. Nothing looked familiar!!!! And I had lived in and later near Rotterdam from 1979 -1988! How many times had I walked or driven these streets???? Going back there and not recognizing anything was very emotional for me. It was almost like Rotterdam had died, and I was visiting the grave monument. Don't get me wrong, everything was beautiful and modern and HUGE! But not what I remembered! 

Finally we turned a corner and things started to get somewhat familiar. Except now the pitiful looking shops I remembered were now shops for designer items. The little insignificant shopping street had become a top (expensive!!) shopping area. Finally, after making one more turn, my emotions calmed down. 

This was the Lijnbaan. This was the shopping street where our son learned to eat American hamburgers and how to walk when the area was empty on Sunday afternoons. The shops and restaurants are now different, but the buildings along the Lijnbaan are the same. 

And then we turned another corner, and I was lost again.

How can a city change so much in 25 years?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One More Week, Flip ;)

Flip went on a road trip with our son J. to New Orleans this past weekend. This was the second Big City he has visited.

How could he visit NOLA without wearing Mardi Gras beads?

And there was a cute doggie in the home where he spent the night. 

But Flip is back home at J's and must wait a week before we get back in the US.

He has found his ball. Time for a few chases!!!

To Never Return Home

Five years ago this next week my in-laws left their home to never return. 

They didn't have the chance to pack their bags. They didn't even have an opportunity to plan what would happen to what they left behind. 

At the time, I thought what a cruel way to enter the last stage of your life here on this Earth. But as cruel and as painful as their circumstance may have been, it happened. Just as it happens to many of the world's elderly. One of the two is injured or ill, and the other goes along to the care facility because they can not live alone.

My father-in-law was not the injured or ill spouse. But he passed from this Earth in February 2010. 

He never went home again. 

He celebrated his last and 93rd birthday at his home on November 11, 2009.

Happy Birthday, Pa.

Monday, November 10, 2014

"Wij Heten U Van Harte Welkom Op 'De Riet'"

Taking a tour through a farm is not new to us. Even the aromas and downright revolting smells don't bother us anymore (well, not much, anyway). After you have converted a working farm/barn into your home like we did in Zoeterwoude in the late 1980's and 90's, you have smelled it all! So last Friday evening's walk-through (with blue plastic showercap-like wrappers over our shoes) the halls and stalls of "De Riet" in Olst wasn't bad at all. 

The young farmer's daughters each had their own cow to show off, and the farmer explained how the feeding and milking worked and what made his MRY cattle so special.

And back in the kitchen his lovely wife was preparing the following menu:

Welcome aperatif: 
Prosecco with MRY osseworst on toast

Appetizer (and warmer-upper after the tour in the non-heated barns): 
Fresh tomato soup with a Quiche Lorraine

Main Course (served and eaten at the long kitchen table): 
Boeuf Bourguignon (MRY stoofvlees/stew)
Haasbiefstuk/beef steak in Cognac Sauce (MRY)
Creamy mashed potatoes
Brussels Lof/Endive in cream sauce

Dessert (with the help of the youngest daughter):
Greek yoghurt with sweetened condensed milk and stroopwafel crumble 
Vanilla ice cream from "de Rosahoeve" farm.

A great visit to the farm "De Riet", delicious dinner, and super conversation were had by all. We said goodbye to our hosts and new acquaintances at 11:00 pm!

This is definitely something we will do again in the future. Next time we will try out a different farm, but not because we did not like "De Riet." (Rating:*****) 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dinner with the Farmer's Daughters at Lugtenberg Farm "De Riet" in Olst

Since my hub and I really didn't want to make any long, tiring trips during our visit to The Netherlands this autumn, we searched out things to do close to the Beltway apartment. Last evening we had an enjoyable evening with a lovely dairy farm family in Olst.

As part of the project group Stichting Ijsselhoeven (Eten op Ijsselhoeven), the young Lugtenberg family (with four beautiful daughters) opened up their farm and home and kitchen to the two of us plus two other couples for an informative and delicious evening. Going out to have a good meal is always on our "to do " list while on vacation, but this meal was different and special.
De Riet

We arrived at the Lugtenberg farm on the Kleistraat at 6:00 pm (as requested). Everyone around here has their evening meal at this time, so that was no surprise. We were greeted in the barn by the farmer and his cute young daughters who politely pumped us with questions when we told them we were from the US. I had previously reminded my hub not to chat too much about us, but what do you do when your host and sweet hostesses are so curious? What was even more interesting was the fact that my hub's parents had built a house and had lived for over 20 years just a few streets over in this small community. So technically, you could have called these folks neighbors. At least the older generations had been the neighbors. For seven generations the Lugtenberg family has had a farm on this spot in the province Overijssel.

In my next post,  I will share our dinner menu and our tour of the farm.
For more info about the dinners on the farms, go to