Back in November, when the weather was starting to get chilly, Jérémie was asked to do some work in the small, but lively, town of Delft in Holland. I wasn’t going to miss a perfect opportunity to visit another country in Europe so I made sure he planned it when I’d be around so I could tag along for the adventure. It was only a few days and we went by car which allowed me to appreciate the Flemish roadsigns of Belgium and the varying degrees of understanding between their radio personalities and that of the Dutch (I’ve decided that as an anglephone, I can understand marginally more from the Dutch)
We arrived slightly later in Delft and he’d informed me we’d need to get ourselves to a restaurant immediately after checking into the hotel before everything closed down so there was no time to waste! We took to the little streets, lit for Christmas, and happened upon a tasty restaurant completely by chance called Eet & Proeflokaal de Kurk. I think it’s fair to say I’m always a little apprehensive with unknown restaurants and unknown flavours but somehow we ended up in the right place. I was a little sad they were out of the deer carpaccio with bacon starter but the smoked salmon was great and then I had guinea fowl with a confit leg and potatoes in a Calvados sauce. The one bonus was that Jérémie decided that he’d replace his starter with their mustard soup, which was the first time I’d ever heard of such a thing and it was so good, it was the reason I came home looking for a recipe. Another find while we were here was the new-to-us seasonal beer dubbelbok which we made sure to order from then on in save for a lambic each at Locus Publicus where they have over 200 beers to choose from. When he first said we’d be going to Delft I wondered if I’d be disappointed but it turns out, this small charming town in all it’s walkability really hit the spot and possibly my favourite. A Highlight, aside from finding the little white bowls at Dille and Kamille I’ve been searching high and low for these last 4 years, was sitting outside at a cafe, drinking my coffee under a little blanket they supplied and watching everyone go past the square on their bikes and the way the town was suddenly filled with people when the church bells rang at noon.
Once work was done in Delft we hopped in the car headed for Amsterdam. We started out of the main centre and hit up a few furniture shops looking for stools to put in our kitchen and after striking out we eventually headed further in and while I liked it, while it had lots to offer and was beautiful, it lacked a certain charm for me. Had I not been so taken with Delft I might have loved it more, but we did do a little canal tour, as recommended to us by his parents, and it was interesting to get a little more history. One thing I never knew was that above the front doors of Dutch houses there were traditionally patterned glass windows candle lit at night to help locals find their home in a sea of endless row houses. I regret not having photographed any to show but it just means you’ll have to go see the crooked houses and their stunning windows yourself!
Utrecht is another beautiful city in the Netherlands. It was a must-see for me as he’d previously told me about working there and thought I’d love it more than Amsterdam and I really did. Not only is it adorable, but it has some great shopping with a nice canal view (though you won’t have any lack of canal views in the country as far as I can tell) and on Sunday the city really comes to life with a market set along the water. Coming to Holland felt very much like being back on Vancouver Island, and while the scenery is vastly different something about how home-spun everything is just felt like a place where our own family could have been from, even though we’re not even remotely Dutch that I’m aware of. There was also a strong sense of family both in how everyone piled on to one bike (if possible) often with a child’s seat just behind the handlebars and another behind mom or dad and if not you might just have a big ol’ bucket to fit the kids in front and how many legitimate kids cooking utensils I found to involve everyone in the kitchen. Hopefully the next time we travel into Holland we’ll have a little more time and I’ll finally try my hand at cycling with the locals, both a potentially great and terrifying experience.