The Netherlands

Oliebol, typical Dutch food or an ignoramus

A traditional food tradition on “Oudejaarsavond” or New Year’s Eve is to munch on a pastry aka Dutch doughnut. A typical Dutch old fashioned golden-fried dough spheres plain or filled with currants, raisins called “Oliebol or Oliebollen plural form.

In character sold at food stalls called “Oliebollenkraam”, bakeries or special food trucks with other delicacies e.g. apple fritters named “Appelbeignets” next to “Berlinerbollen”, again fried dough, flat oval shaped and filled with a fruit jam or custard and much more.

In reality, the fried doughnut could vary enormously in taste, flavour and presentation. At times a far cry to be named a perfect oliebol but being literally an unworthy blob of gunk, the double meaning of oliebol translates as a greaseball.

Hence, the jokingly rib often cried in exasperation of a person being an ignoramus “oliebol”.

Oliebol as a favourite traditional pastry snack mostly munched in the weeks heading towards the countdown or occasionally at carnival fairs throughout the rest of the year.

We like nothing more than a perfect oliebol being crispy, moist and flavoursome. With intervals, the oliebol quality varied greatly which inevitably led to a popular yearly nationwide contest to find the best oliebol.

Oliebollen revanche AD.nl

Oliebollen revanche AD.nl 28 December 2015

The popular 23rd edition of the Oliebollentest 2015 held by Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad (AD). This year 164 contestants from various cities across the country were listed, reviewed and published in Uitslag AD Oliebollentest. More than 39 vendors scored an 8 or higher, click on the list to view whether the top 25 vendors are near you to satisfy your olliebollen appetite. Those who didn’t make the cut have vouched for revanche in the upcoming test for the title or top listing, which invites for another round of tasting 2016.

More than 39 vendors scored an 8 or higher, click on the list to view whether the top 25 vendors are near you to satisfy your olliebollen appetite. Those who didn’t make the cut have vouched for revanche in the upcoming test for the title or top listing, which invites for another round of tasting 2016.

Oliebollen 201512_1

Oliebol, Dutch traditional doughnut pastry

Yesterday we joined family and friend celebrations at two different homes while devouring very tasty Oliebollen, also the first bites of this winter season. Unbeknownst to us, the delicacies were from vendors listed in the top five places.

Their origin was revealed as #2 Bakkerij Olink, Maarssen and #6 Bakkerij Vliegendehond, Wolvega. Truth to be told the “oliebollen” were fantastic, beautiful golden colour, crispy on the outside with a nice airy crumb bit moist without being soggy nor greasy. Fruity aroma flavour of currants and raisins without being overly sweet, often they are sprinkled with icing sugar on top.

For Dutch food lovers and language learners in search of authentic food, you can find an English recipe version by clicking this link olliebollen en appelflappen.

Update 8th January 2016

I just stumbled upon one of my culinary forums on an old thread regarding oliebollen, a highly recommended recipe post “Bollen bakken” on Eetschrijven blog by Gerrit Jan Groothedde, Dutch culinary journalist. A recipe translation will be added here shortly.

The blog post with recipe starts with a friendly but adamant request after baking the delicious Oliebollen, to keep them warm or reheat by setting the oven on 100°C/212F for 15-20 min. to keep the delicacies warm and crisp.

I have to concur with his advice, if possible, to avoid the microwave this will only disintegrate flavour and taste of the oliebollen. Also not to pair fine glass Champagne but perhaps a better fit would be beer instead if alcohol is a must.

Eaten as a snack, lunch or whenever you fancy with a nice cup of tea or coffee makes it perfect too.

Eet Smakelijk en Gelukkig Nieuwjaar – Enjoy and a Happy Newyear!

Spicy Hare or Rabbit Sichuan style

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Who would have guessed at a food swap, having a great coffee talk I would end up joining wild game groups on the net and near the woods (no I don’t hunt). My curiosity has introduced me to otherwise unknown wild game gourmets of cooks and hunters.

It didn’t take too long to buy a fresh wild rabbit/hare directly from a hunter and before I arrived home I decided to prepare Sichuan style version. With the infamous dried peppers ‘Hua jiao‘ 花椒粒 and ‘La jiao’ 辣椒乾 (literal translation is flower pepper kernels and dried Sichuan chilli).

Both are very distinctive spices not easily replaced if you want to add a particular heat and aroma.

Hua jiao & La Jiao

Hua Jiao Flowerpepper and La Jiao Sichuan whole pepper

 

These ingredients are not common in supermarkets or deli stores. I have added the images for recognition. So you know what to search for at the Chinese supermarkets or Asian Toko’s.

Homemade Sichuan hot chilli oil is an infused aromatic oil, made of grounded Sichuan chilli peppers (la jiao) and flower pepper (Hua jiao) to flavour the oil together with other spices. Used as a finish in many stir-fries, swirled on top of noodle soups and an integral part in marinades for spicy appetisers.

A part of my last batch ended up as food gifts so I need to refill and stock up my own pantry soon. Making the oil is not for the fainthearted because using and stir-frying peppers will release a very pungent sensation and can irritate the skin and eyes.

Conveniently store bought works as well, you can find these at the supermarkets/Toko’s. Shop for the standard Chilli oil look for an aromatic Sichuan version on the shelf.

Aromatic oils; Homemade SiChuan hot pepper chilli oil and Sesame oil

Aromatic oils; Homemade Sichuan hot chilli oil and Sesame oil

 

Aromatic oils; Homemade Sichuan hot chilli oil and Sesame oil 

As with buying sesame oil, for advanced gourmet sleuths, they enjoy cooking with various oils for blending or cooking purposes. Buy small bottles once open use it quickly or it can turn rancid. Note of caution, sesame oil is not intended for frying, but only quick sauté for example to fragrance a dressing or sauce at the end of cooking.

Spicy Hare or Rabbit in Chinese Food Therapy

In my childhood rabbit meat was a staple ingredient and prepared by my parents in many dishes; stir-fries, stews, and herbal soups often paired with traditional Chinese medicine. The latter to make a tonic with the purpose of strengthening and nourishing the body. Cooking with Chinese herbs is about recuperating the body and rabbit meat is well known for its high protein content.

In Chinese dietic therapy; “According to TCM food, like medicine can be divided into the characteristics cold-hot-cool-warm. When applied correctly nutritional ingredients can help the patient to overcome an inclination to or even a manifested disease. Food used to aid and act as preventive part of a nourishing diet can achieve the same goal to strengthen recovery process”.

For more information on the use of tonics and food therapy, click on the links. Browse the internet for more in-depth TCM information and/or elaborate search on practices and belief system.

Rabbit or Hare meat is considered foods with warming qualities, high protein level and the temperature was cold. The more reason altogether to add spice in this wild game stir-fry dish bringing it all in balance.

A few days later I posted food pics of my Sichuan style cooked spicy hare dish just for fun between all other social media posts. The food pics picked up attention with a request to share the recipe and preparation method. Instead of a wild rabbit, hare, you can make this dish with other meats as well, for e.g. lamb would be very nice with the peppers, capsicum, and daikon (rettich/white carrot or aka daikon).

Here is the recipe link Spicy Hare stir-fry regional Sichuan style – Recipe.

WSET wine course in Leiden

After years of enjoying many and more glasses of wines and spirits I decided to sign up for the International Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), qualification Level 2 and 3. The WSET wine course is the largest wine educator in the world with 56,000 students per year in 62 countries. The institution has become the international standard for sommeliers, importers, retailers and hospitality. This action does not come as a surprise for my inner circle, who are familiar with my entrepreneurial history in the restaurant business. The enrollment was just a delay due to travel and living abroad. What’s not to like in another discovery trail and acquiring a certificate for wine appreciation it is hitting two birds with one stone.

WSET wine course in Leiden

The above mentioned WSET wine course has approved program providers in The Netherlands ensuring the high standards of teaching. From the listed companies on the WSET wine course page in Dutch I have chosen the Dutch educational company “Wijnstudio”. The Wine Studio claims since 2005 the highest exam results for the International Wine Certificate with 99 graduates in one take and 71 graduates  for Wine Professional (Source: wsetglobal.com).

The Winestudio is an independent company, who does not sell wines nor being tied to an importer. The company also focuses in addition to the educational courses on gastronomy, the pairing of wine and food taste in flavor and aroma. For those who aspire a professional career and wonder what the education differences entails here are two summarized articles to consider on wine courses; comparison of wine certificationsGuide to Wine education courses. More information in the Wine education widget as listed on our Asianfoodtrail ZEEF page.

Having viewed Dutch wine educational websites information and comparing course fees, it was enlightening to notice their graduates success rate. While this is encouraging information, the decision maker however was distance for preferred location. The WSET wine course program is being held in my present hometown Leiden at a new course location this year. Instead of a bored meeting room it is being hosted now at the wine shop La Bordelaise which lies conveniently in the heart of the city.

Last night entering the class room, all students received the course material and the box with tasting glasses. The Level 2 Award course began with our teacher opening the first bottle of the evening, a Royer Brut Champagne, France. Although we received a wine tasting list overview, I wished I had remembered to take a snapshot of the wine labels. Besides illustration purpose I wanted to test a new mobile wine app, coming up in a next post.

WSET Level 2 award

Unboxing of WSET level 2 award

Cathay Tulip, overnight sensation

Peng Liyuan, the wife of the President of China Xi Jinping named in the presence of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima a special tulip in Keukenhof.

Cathay tulip christening by Peng Liyuan, China President's wife

Photo source credit: Shanghai daily

With the name giving ceremony this purple parrot tulip has the name, for eternity “Cathay Tulip”.

Cathay Tulip

Photo source credit: http://www.cntvna.com/

Peng Liyuan’s “Cathay” tulip debuts in Beijing, click here to watch the video. Ever since China’s First Lady had baptised the new tulip “Cathay”, the new variety has become an overnight sensation. China has a high demand for importing the new cultivated Cathay Tulip and the Netherlands sees a rise in a new export product.

Keukenhof press release:

The new Cathay tulip is a strong and colourful flower, that can be grown in a sustainable way. Mr Bart Siemerink, director of Keukenhof, already expresses the wish that this is a symbol for the strong, flourishing, and sustainable bond that China and the Netherlands have.

 If you happen to travel by train along the route Leiden – Amsterdam, you actually have a track view on the bulb fields “bollenstreek” of Lisse, where Keukenhof is located.

Rijn Schiekanaal, Leiden

Walking along the Rijn Schiekanaal, Leiden is a very pleasurable walk, watching the waterways boat traffic and country life around Polderpark Cronesteyn. Up and about our local residence city Leiden can be an entertaining leisurely discovery walk, bike or boat if you own one 🙂

Polderpark Cronesteyn is an approximately 90-acre park in the city of Leiden in the Dutch province of South Holland. The park was realized in 1982, designed by Evert Cornet in the Kleine Cronesteinse or also known as Knotterpolder, situated between the A4 motorway, the railway Leiden – Alphen, and the waterways Rijn Schiekanaal and the Vrouwenvaart.

The park and the polder are named after earlier Castle Cronesteyn, the castle was demolished during the 80 – year war commissioned by the Municipality of Leiden so that it could not serve as a refuge for the Spaniards. Only the moat of the castle remains and is now part of the park estate woods.

You can scroll down to view the featured photos or watch the photo slider in the gallery here above.

Rijn Schiekanaal, Leiden

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Pass the bridge and away from urbanized concrete into rustic ‘polder’ life.

There are beautiful routes near Polderpark Cronesteyn for an overview of walking & hiking routes, as well as bicycle routes just click on the links for a direct web link in English.

Photo overview walk route along Rijn Schie kanaal and Knotterpolder rustic life.

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Walk the dog and jog for health and wellness

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Newborn life in the Knotterpolder

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Knotterpolder, it borders highway A4

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a hidden tranquil spot

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just around the corner near the walk route nosy neighbours

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In and around Leiden waterways, you will find boats, dinghy’s, longboats, shallops and more

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Rijn Schiekanaal

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Rowing boats, pinnace for leisure and training competition

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Leiden has around 88 bridges

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In the background down south lies Leidschendam

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boat traffic line up to cross the bridge

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Rijn Schiekanaal from Leidschendam to Leiden

Polderpark Cronesteyn is the largest park in Leiden, covering a huge diversity of plants and animals. As the park is divided into several sections you will find a bog garden, butterfly meadows, an old estate woods, pastures with plenty of water and planting stock. Along the Rijn Schiekanaal route lies the entrance of protected bird nesting area ‘Reigerbos”, a breeding area for Herons as well as an apiary, more photo images will feature in our next post.

Train track, between Leiden – Amsterdam

It never is boring to travel by train especially when you can watch daily vibrant colors passing, during Spring time next to the train track between Leiden and Amsterdam in The Netherlands. While not a daily commuter, there hasn’t been a year gone by that I or many others will take a snapshot and forward it using their smartphone to share or post on a social media platform.

Of course, nothing changes since these bulb fields are there like forever, however upon seeing these colorful flowers starting to bloom everybody knows Spring has begun. It also signifies that Keukenhof has opened its doors for the public attracting busloads of tourists, the Garden of Europe, its fields lying along the train track. This train track scenery shows touristic Holland in a nutshell with the bulb fields, pasture, windmills and waterways.

The photos were taken on the train while travelling back home from Amsterdam to Leiden, you can scroll down or watch the featured photos in the slider here above in the gallery. One of the images shows a common dwelling Dutch houseboats or barge often to be seen along many rivers and canals. Many tourists or adventurers looking at these vessels can not help themselves but just wonder, just if or how’s “living on a Dutch barge” will be.

Why not undertake something adventurous and different by planning your next city trip, rent a Dutch private houseboat in Amsterdam. You don’t need to take a leap but satisfy your curiosity and search for possibilities click on the previous link and here to find out more and who knows where you might end up next.

Train track View

Tulip flower bulb fields.jpg

Tulip flowers bulb fields

Dutch houseboat or barges.jpg

Dutch houseboat or barges along the many rivers and canals in The Netherlands

White flower bulbs galore.jpg

White flower bulbs galore

flower bulb fields red and yellow.jpg

flower bulb fields red and yellow

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Many waterways between the flower bulb fields

vibrant yellow flower landscape.jpg

Vibrant yellow flower landscape

moving on to the next field.jpg

Rapidly changing from one colour moving on to the next field

Tulip field cultivation with new bulbs.jpg

Preparing a new field to sow with a new tulip colour

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A view between the fields with small communities

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Passing by Dutch waters, land, houses and windmills

Variously changing landscape of fields and housing jpg

Train track rotational sight of fields and more fields

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a quick country view peek

Keukenhof 2014 has reached a new record with a total of 1 million visitors and a new tulip named “Cathay” was baptized by Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese president Xi Jinping before Xi takes part in the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. Overnight the Cathay Tulip bulbs demand soared for delivery with new export orders to China. China now boasts its own flower park modelled after Keukenhof, for the Dutch flower industry a booming export business.

Cinemasia Film Festival

Woohoo!! 7th CinemAsia Film festibal is coming at De Balie, Amsterdam, for online purchase click here.

The 7th edition of the CinemAsia film festival will take place on April 1st until 6th at De Balie in Amsterdam. CinemAsia is the gateway to Asian cinema in The Netherlands with films from China, Japan, Korea, India, Indonesia, Philippines and more. The eclectic festival programming runs from the large Asian blockbusters, independent films to inspiring documentaries that have never been seen before in the Netherlands. CinemAsia also acts as a media platform promoting visibility of Asians in film, television and media in The Netherlands.

Cinemasia Who are they?

CinemAsia Film Festival was started in 2003 to stimulate Asian cinema within the Dutch film industry and to offer a creative platform for Asian-Dutch residents and media professionals in the field. CinemAsia focuses on independent Asian diaspora films exploring the multi-facted culture and identities. Through our programming, we try to make Asian immigrants in the film industry more visible in order to resist stereotypical images in the media. CinemAsia is the only festival in the Netherlands and in Europe that works with Asian programmers, employees, volunteers, interns, and filmmakers with a goal to promote Dutch-Asians in leadership and creative positions in the media, film, and television industry.

CinemAsia Mission?

Visibility of Asian diaspora:
In the media as well as in the political realm, Asian immigrants are invisible. And when Asians are visible, they mostly have a stereotypical role. You can think of ‘the Asian nerd’, the Chinese takeaway, et cetera. Through its programming, CinemAsia tries to make Asian immigrants in the film industry more visible in order to resist stereotypical images in the media.

CinemAsia also tries to support filmmakers with an Asian origin in the Netherlands. CinemAsia is the only festival in the Netherlands and in Europe that works with Asian programmers, employees, volunteers, interns and film- makers with a goal to promote Dutch-Asians in leadership and creative positions in the media, film and television industry.

Pan-Asian platform:
CinemAsia is the only pan-Asian festival in the Nether- lands that has as a goal to bring different Asian com- munities together by searching for connections outside the ethnic origin. CinemAsia has developed positive connections with different Asian communities and aims to bring these relationships together through the festival. With this platform CinemAsia offers new networking op- portunities and partnerships for Dutch-Asians and media professionals.

CinemAsia Film Program & Tickets:

Film Program will be available on-line mid-march, ticket sales starts on 20 March 2014 at De Balie or online click here.

This edition CinemAsia opens with the national premiere of the Korean blockbuster SNOWPIERCER (2013) by Bong-Joon Ho, the Korean masterpiece that resembles the growth of Asian cinema on the global arena.

“Save this eccentric masterpiece from Hollywood! It’s the train movie to end all train movies, a dystopic vision full of vivid characters, dark humour, awe-inspiring revelations and surreal imagery” – The Telegraph
“A rare high-end sci-fi/fantasy pic!” – Variety
“Avert your gaze from Hollywood and look to Korea for Snowpiercer!” – Grolsch Filmworks

Traveltip Chinatowns in The Netherlands

Lonely Planet published in travel tips and articles category, some of the World’s best Chinatowns. The Netherlands most famous Chinatown is located in the former Red Light district of capital city Amsterdam, a major tourist attraction for decades. Amsterdam is also featured in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel: Top Ten Cities.

If your making plans to book a holiday to Europe, come and visit have a glance at what the City offers in promising upcoming cultural events and more. Click this link of “I Amsterdam” and download the Amsterdam 2013 Newsletter for news and Programme highlights.

Amsterdam renowned for its creativity and innovation – photo copyright ©IAmsterdam

Important events to watch:
People and their historic houses tells us more about their culture, this theme will be central to the World Interiors Event 2013 “Past, Present and Future of Interiors”

While here visit Den Haag, Chinatown in The Hague take a peek at this album of Chinatown Den Haag website. It has followed the example of Chinatown London with a Chinese Gate. A significant entrance of Chinatown connecting directly with The Hague City Centre shopping area and historical sights for leisurely strolls. It has many events during the week and weekends to visit and engage, lots of top attractions, landmarks and tours. I recommend to sign up for the guided tour at famously Binnenhof where the Dutch Prime-Minister resides in the turret at the corner of the Hofvijver. For a concise overview of sightseeing highlights read the info on the holland-hotel link.

Renowned port of Rotterdam saw its first Chinatown located in Katendrecht which in local slang was called “de Kaap“. An initiative instigated by the celebration of the 100-year presence of Chinese in Dutch society saw Erika Blikman and Yuen Han Lam teaming up. Together they brought a young group of enthusiast designers, artist and cultural professionals together, with the ambition in 2011 starting  China op de Kaap (website is only Dutch yet, but gives a clear view featuring an ongoing program). The project received overwhelming enthusiasm and support, de Kaap now represents an eclectic mix of arts and heritage of Chinese community set up by first immigrants arriving in this neighbourhood.

De Westkruiskade is located in Rotterdam city centre and conveniently near Central Station, due to the neglect of city planning in the past Katendrecht saw most of its proprietors move out due to loss of business customers and visitors. New entrepreneurs started their business closer to the city with a new Chinatown named Kruiskade, however it is delusive next to Chinese this neighbourhood also includes Dutch, Antillian, Suriname and African residents with many Oriental shops, restaurants and supermarkets catering to multi-cultural shoppers and attracting visitors on City day-trips.

Enjoy great Chinese and other Asian cuisines in Chinatowns explore Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. Discover these Cities and have a great time with their offerings!

Note: Featured image source Chinatown Den Haag copyright ©Arnhem.nl

Time-zone digital globe

On the way to the Schiphol airport I arrived far too early and after having a coffee, strolled around in the shopping area at Departure Hall 3. From a distance you could hardly miss the electronic display of  the Time-zone digital Globe at Schiphol Airport, it is a “big” blue balloon. While approaching you can not help yourself but imagining you are on board of your plane and actually counting the minutes till take-off.

In just a few hours we will be flying to a different time-zone in Asia, our destination Bangkok,Thailand. Flying eleven hours into a time-zone seven hours ahead of our current position Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Goodbye rain, hello Sunshine!

Time, before the invention of clocks we used position of the sun to measure time by using sundials. As the sun moved across the sky, its shadow aligned with marking lines etched on a surface. These sun dials have become antiquity. On the Internet accessible World Clock or handy mobile apps with time-zone and cities for work and social contacts have become clicks in a blink.

Being here and working five days a week, from nine-to-five or different hours, the week, months, quarters and whole year being ruled by a calendar and time-schedule, tick-tack, tick-tack. To know that as soon as I am board I will change the time on my tablet, take off my watch and wiggle my toes in anticipation of sand, sea, sun and freedom of not being ruled by time. For a short period I will rule my day as I see fit…..well that’s what I want to believe, so bear with me for now.

Calculating time in places at other countries or parts of the world  than your home-base used to be a hassle. The website everytime zone makes it so easy viewable in a glance, just as the digital globe object placed at shopping area at Schiphol Airport.

Time and distance for travel sure have become digits on a sphere. Question: Where are you know?