So Saturday the 11th of July finally rolled around, and it was finally time for my trip to Europe!! And with 27 hours of travel ahead of me I made sure I packed some essentials…
The trip itself was fairly drama-free and I even got a couple of hours of sleep (which is a lot for me). I got to sample some amazing delicacies on the plane, including meals with inventive descriptions such as stewed beef with seasonal vegetables and braised egg noodle in oriental sauce with shredded vegetables. But seriously, the food was actually pretty decent, with the deep fried pork in oriental coffee sauce a particular highlight, along with some of the best chardonnay I’ve ever had (it’s so unusual to get decent wine on a plane), a Baileys night cap, and even a mini Connoisseur ice cream for dessert (although sadly it was the Murray River Salted Caramel and Macadamia, not the Cuban Mocha or Cookies and Cream, as I would have preferred!). The breakfast of a tasteless cheese omelette and manky chicken sausage was not ideal…
…but I can probably forgive Singapore Airlines, as they made up for it with the great movie selection!
I arrived in Holland early this morning to grey and overcast skies, which are all I’ve really ever seen in Holland. In fact, it was so dark and gloomy that I was surprised when the plane landed, as I thought we were still coasting through the clouds!
Returning to Holland after my last visit in October, it seems like it was only yesterday that I was here, especially seeing as the weather hasn’t really changed despite it supposedly being summer (wintery and breezy and I didn’t see the sun once today)!
It’s nice to come back to a familiar place, and staying at mum’s house – complete with cool quirks like the winding three storey staircase, and souvenirs from Mum’s time in Africa, like Gerald the giraffe – feels almost like I’m coming home.
After I freshened up, we went for a walk to the local supermarket to grab some ingredients to cook some lunch (a tasty gourmet tomato bacon and cheese toasted sandwich, made with this special super-thin bacon they have, and brie (which can be used on the average sandwich, because it’s the same price as standard cheddar at home).
But instead of just a few supplies for lunch, I went a little overboard and we came back with a huge basketful of goodies. I just love checking out the supermarkets when I’m travelling because there are so many interesting and different foods to try, and it’s even more fun when the labels are in a different language because sometimes you don’t quite know what you will get.
I stocked up on heaps of sweet items including chocolate coconut biscuits (kokosrochers), mousse-like chilled desserts (including the ‘Grand Dessert Double Choc’), some things kind of like Maltesers but with a filling like Aero or Bubbly, and one of my favourite things in the world, Speculoos (aka cookie butter or biscoff spread). I also grabbed a bottle of Bounty milk drink which I’ve never seen before and I can’t wait to try (they also have a Mars drink, although sadly not a Snickers one, which surely would be the priority).
And because eating a balanced diet is the healthiest way to live, I also got some savoury snacks to balance out all the sweetness.
Japanese pindabollen, which seem to be common in Holland, are basically peanuts covered in rice cracker material, with either sesame seeds or other toppings; or according to Google translate, are “a peanut covered with a jacket of rice flour… consists of different peanut dumpling, some with sesame seeds and other weather sweeter. The bulbs are tasty brittle” (much more accurate than my description). I discovered these on my last visit and they didn’t disappoint this time. I’m a tad addicted and they pair well with an arvo beer or wine.
Alternatively, although I had high hopes for the bacon pepsels (translated = bacon pretzels), filled with ‘fine bacon flavour,’ at first I could only taste the tiniest hint of bacon flavour and they looked a little odd with this weird piece of skinny pink rod inside the pretzel. In saying that though, as I continue to eat them as I write, they do grow on you; and the more you eat, the more the bacon flavour seems to increase. Actually, they’re quite nice. If you are a pretzel-lover, you will enjoy the bacon pepsel, as they are even better than the regular pepsel; however they are definitely no competition for the Japanese pindabollen.
As we hadn’t already bought enough things to carry home, we decided to get a bunch of different things to graze on for dinner. The meats, pates and cheeses here are so cheap and delicious, and you can get a great spread of nibbles without spending much at all. Our spread included three delicious French cheeses – a camembert, a blue mould cheese and a soft unripened mould cheese – ‘Saint-Marcelin’; crackers, bread and dips; these mini ‘salads’ that don’t look amazingly appealing but taste pretty good and come in different flavours (I think they may have been a salmon, a satay chicken and a crab one); some pumpkin hummus; mushroom pate; olives; and a range of meats.
We also got some bitterballen to cook up in the oven. Also called Dutch Dippers, these savoury bites are similar to croquettes, but are deep fried rather than pan fried. They are generally made of a beef ragout which is then rolled into balls, coated in a mixture of eggs, milk and breadcrumbs, then deep fried until crisp and brown, then served hot. After eating them tonight, I think they would make a great late night (post-drinking) snack, and tasted to me a lot like the filling of a meat pie but a little creamier, with a crispy outer shell. They taste a lot better than they look!
So overall, day one was pretty successful – I got to see my beautiful mum, the food adventures are off to a good start and I even managed to stay awake all day (it’s now 10.30PM)! If you made it to the end of this long post, congratulations! I blame the quality of this one on my lack of sleep and jetlag. And the glass of wine I just had, which is putting me to sleep. The posts will get better (I hope!), or at least hopefully shorter. In fact they will almost definitely get shorter because I’ll be having too much fun to have time to write long posts. And don’t worry, this is just the support act. So stay tuned, and soon I will be at the main event, in my favourite place in the world, Italy!
Miss Italy Foodie X