(not my photo, credit to danschleifer23 on flickr)

The one thing on my list of “Dutch Food I Want to Eat” I didn’t get to this trip was bitterballen. They’re pub morsels, eaten piping hot with a good grainy mustard.

I found a recipe for them on The Dutch Table that calls them “fried gravy.” Now, gravy is Super-Not-My-Thing, but actually that makes a lot of sense regarding their texture. I think I may have to try to make these, but maybe figure out how to bake them instead… or try and convince my dad to add them to the Hanukkah frying cavalcade.


Damn @zarkmabaro for introducing me to these; they're addictive as hell. #borrelnootjes

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Zed introduced me to these little nuggets of trashy goodness. The Google Translate version of the Dutch Wikipedia page tells me that translates (inexactly) as “drink nuts.” They are peanuts coated with a crunchy layer of grain, flavored in various ways. They’re often served at bars; they’re very salty and go well with beer. I brought back several bags from the Netherlands.

What does “Poesta” mean? Wiki tells me that the English translation is “Puszta” and it’s a region in Hungary. I thought the illustration on the bag was of onion and cilantro, but maybe it’s garlic? They tasted like they’d been coated in a ramen flavor packet, basically.

Oh, I found a site that carries a Puszta Pepper spice blend. “A typically Hungarian spice mixture with freshly grounded paprika, caraway, a whiff of garlic and onion.” Okay, I can get on board with that.

I saw Lydia this weekend, and we chomped our way through a bag of “Bacon Kaas” flavor—bacon and cheese. This taste was not as successful, I thought. It was certainly unique, though. You got mostly the cheese flavor, until you inhaled and got a wisp of bacon smokiness. It was bizarre.

These are the others flavors I brought back, they will be finding their ways to various parties where I hopefully not be noticed shamefully scarfing.

[image: two bags of boorelnootjes]
[image: two bags of boorelnootjes]

I thought I had a hookup to replace these when they’re gone, but apparently the Dutch specialty shop in San Jose closed last year. Drat. But according to their Yelp page, they sold a loooooot of expired products, so perhaps that’s for the best.

Free Music in Amsterdam

One of the neat things about the classical music scene in Amsterdam is that every week there are two free lunchtime concerts put on by their professional institutions, the Concertgebouw and the Nationale Opera & Ballet. (This is not to mention all the pretty decent buskers you can hear playing outside the Rijksmuseum at all hours of the day.)

I was able to catch one performance at the Nationale and two at the Concertgebouw on this trip. The Nationale performed the one-act opera in the video above, The Telephone by Gian Carlo Menotti. It was performed in Dutch, and if you think English sounds awkward in an operatic context, well… Dutch. Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy it! I especially liked the soprano who played Lucy. They all did a very good job at conveying the humor even to someone who had no idea what they were talking about.

I was unfamiliar with the The Telephone, and upon seeing the title, was wondering if it was an opera I had seen in Aspen fifteen years ago. All I could remember was that it was a woman on the phone, she’s really depressed, and at the end she strangled herself with the phone cord. I looked it up later, and that one is The Human Voice by Francis Poulenc, and it is super-not a comic opera. However, both are sometimes performed together, linked by the telephone theme (and the fact that they’re both one-acts and can’t sustain an entire evening program alone).

The performances at the Nationale are at Tuesday lunchtime, and you can basically walk in and get a seat. The Concertgebouw’s lunchtime concerts on Wednesdays require more planning. There is vastly more demand. People start lining up around 11am, tickets are distributed to the line at 11:30am, and then the concert is at 12:30pm.

The first concert I saw was a piano, clarinet, and oud trio performing traditional music from Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. This was sadly plagued by technical issues. I felt so bad for the poor oud player. His amp kept cutting out. They tried to fix it, but it remained on the fritz throughout their performance.

The second concert I brought Zed along with me. It was a performance of the first and last movements of the Brahms Piano Quintet, which is one of my favorite pieces of chamber music (that the oboe doesn’t feature in). Now, I hate to be That Person who is all “You’re Not Enjoying Music Right!” but damn it people, please put your damn cameras and phones away. It’s incredibly distracting! Not to mention against the rules of the venue! Three people sitting in front of us had their phones up the entire time. Someone sitting in our row was taking very loud photos with an SLR and changing lenses. It was all very annoying.

Anyway! This wasn’t one of the movements they played, but it’s my favorite.

Miffy and Mints

[image: a postcard featuring Dick Bruna's character Miffy]
[image: a postcard featuring Dick Bruna’s character Miffy]

The Corgi Sisters always bring me back souvenirs when they go traveling. I am a terrible friend and usually forget to buy stuff. This time, I made sure I remembered. While visiting Utrecht’s Centraal Museum, I picked up some Dick Bruna-illustrated postcards with our initials.

Miffy, or Nijntje in Dutch, is Dick Bruna’s cartoon bunny creation. She is beloved throughout the Netherlands. Uniqlo had a children’s collection featuring Miffy for her 60th birthday last year. On my last visit, the first thing Zed and I did was take a photo in front of the big Miffy statue at the train station:


Sorry it’s so blurry. I was coming off a 9 hour flight and my selfie game was not strong.

The other trinket I got the Sisters was Wilhemina mints.

[image: stock image of wilhemina pepermunt]
[image: stock image of wilhemina pepermunt]

Wilhemina was Queen of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1938. In 1892, a candy company started making these mints with her profile on them. You can’t leave a restaurant in Amsterdam without being offered one of these. I think I still have one or two in my purse.

Belgian Fries

[image: french fries in a paper cone, topped with yellow curry sauce]
[image: french fries in a paper cone, topped with yellow curry sauce]

There was a lot of quick street food to grab while walking around Amsterdam (herring, for instance). Fries + sauce counted as lunch a few days. These were from Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx, the best Belgian fries from Amsterdam.

This place is basically just a hole in the wall with a walk up line (which is always full). They make the fries as the customers order. Zed and I ordered some with Belgian mayo (not sure how that’s different than “the classic mayo,” but it was delicious) and Andalouse sauce, which was more tomato-y. I saw it described somewhere as “kind of like thousand island.” A few days later I went back by myself and got the yellow curry sauce, as seen in the photo up top. It reminded me of the chicken curry ‘n fries I used to get at St. Stephen’s Green in Mountain View.

Fries for lunch today. I was oddly drawn to yet repulsed by the idea of Hannibal sauce.

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Their menu doesn’t really go into what makes each sauce, unfortunately. What is Hannibal sauce? WHAT IS IT.

Complaining about the Nice Weather in Amsterdam

The weather this trip (so far) has been astonishingly nice. #Amsterdam #rijksmuseum #museumplein

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I was in Amsterdam for two weeks. It was gorgeous. I went in expecting the weather to be like my 2015 trip (which had taken place earlier in September than this trip). During that trip, there were about two days of nice weather, and then it turned into dreary dreariness. It was cold. I didn’t have enough rain-appropriate clothing. I had to take my umbrella and windbreaker everywhere. I always felt damp.

This time? I was READY. I bought a new rain jacket. I had layers. I had scarves. I had puddle-appropriate shoes. And then… it sort of drizzled twice. And when it did, I was like, “Well, this is it for summer. It’s been nice, but now it’s turning to crap.” But no. It persisted in being the nicest weather I could possibly imagine. If I’d known, I could have packed a hell of a lot lighter.

That jacket’s hella cute too. I’m kind of annoyed that I didn’t get to wear it. Now I have to wait until California gets wet and wintery.

Pickled Herring

By Judith Leyster -, Public Domain,
By Judith Leyster –, Public Domain,

During my trip to Amsterdam, Zed and I visited the Frans Hals Museum in the nearby town of Haarlem. (Haarlem, by the way, super cute place.) This painting is not by Hals, but was originally attributed to him. It’s by Judith Leyster, a contemporary. The audio tour had this kind of adorable drinking song playing in the background for this painting.

It’s about how pickled herring is so good and salty and makes you drink a lot. So a few days later we had to get some.

The Dutchiest of lunches: pickled herring.

A photo posted by sarah (@braisinhussy) on

It was pretty damn good.