Tuesday, June 13, 2017

MENU's Scandinavian Odyssey 1. North Holland

We decided, while we are still fit and able, to travel more. For the last two years it was Lynne’s turn to show John places she loved which he had not visited: Greece and Turkey and then Hong Kong. John worked in Oslo in Norway in the late 1960’s while he trained to be a photographer, so this year we decided to go north – no wine farms, probably no restaurants as we heard it was very, very expensive (it is!) but a great trip to plan. We don’t like organised tours and the thought of a bus trip is a complete anathema. So the plan was to fly to Schipol in Holland, hire a car, and drive to Scandinavia, through Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway – and back
We were on the midnight flight with KLM and they don’t feed you much, so we went to Ocean Basket in Sea Point for supper. Marvellous service, we were fed and done in 35 minutes
Fish and chips for two. John’s with batter ….
Lynne’s, grilled
And of course a good bottle of Jordan’s Inspector Peringuey Chenin Blanc
After the Uber ride to the airport and checking in, we refreshed with two Windhoek draughts at R36 each, expensive for Cape Town
We like sitting in Spur at the airport, good views of the planes taking off and landing
Our Boeing 777 was parked right in front
After the usual sleepless night on the plane, we arrived and went to collect our car from Europcar. We had booked a simple VW Golf manual. “Not available”, they said, “but we have an Opel”.” It is an Automatic”, they said to John “is that a problem?” Absolutely not. And it came with SatNav, which has been invaluable as some of the places we have stayed were deep in the country. And lots of space for our luggage and food box. Wow, what an upgrade. We intended to eat out of supermarkets where we could and it has worked very well, especially with the ‘on date’ specials.
We arrived at our friends’ house in Wieringerwaard in North Holland to find it was a sunny early summer and we spent most of the days out in the garden
to find it was a sunny early summer and we spent most of the days out in the garden
We enjoyed a very special bottle of Douro Magna Carta 1983 – still lively, fruity and perfumed
Supper in the garden with a bottle of Alsace Pinot Gris
To go with our feast of white and green asparagus and new potatoes
finished off with strawberries and ice cream
The next day, we went to visit some open gardens and art galleries in the area. The artist, Jan Grooteman, is 87 and has a gallery full of his very interesting art works, wood carvings and sculptures, ceramics – some are his daughter’s - and paintings. He is still working
Multi talented
Ceramics and wood sculptures. He often uses found objects
Early summer and everything is green
Straight roads lined with elms
In a small local village, this open garden was magnificent. The woman who is the gardener is a real plantswoman
She had a small shop offering jams and pickles
Bearded iris
Alpine plants and some from South Africa, this looks like Bulbinella
Huge poppies
A froggy pond
Playing the mating game, with huge air sacs which blow up and make his croak much louder
The prettiest four leaf clovers
Small but perfectly organised
A typical Dutch country scene. We are heading for the coast
Ta Da! You have to see at least one traditional windmill. We have a friend who has restored one and lives in it. They have been overtaken by the modern sort, Holland is full of them
The fishing harbour at Den Oewer
A tour of the harbour! Not for us, we were after some lunch
All the best seafood. Tiny shrimps, slices of fresh salmon, wonderful lightly smoked eel, which is becoming so rare and expensive
herring done several ways and other sorts of seafood
The only wine available, small 200 ml bottles of Pinot Grigio from Italy, very indifferent but wet
Fish and chips for four please
Very fresh cod, great crisp chips and served with mayonnaise, tartar sauce or garlic aioli
The bulb fields have been ploughed up and replaced with potatoes already
Home for Borreltijd at 5. It is the Dutch version of a sundowner or cocktail hour; it is at the same time very day when they chill, very civilised. Good Texels beer
Peter pours some Cava
Yvonne has a mini glass
We were celebrating the arrival of their daughter Nicolette from the Hague where she works for the government. Lynne’s favourite god-daughter
Peter has an outside kitchen in the barn and began preparations for the next day’s supper
Our supper that night was a fantastic selection of the products from the fish shop; also some cold meats, cheese, salads and bread
The warm weather was bringing out the roses in their garden
Damselflies on the water lilies in the pond
and large green frogs
They had planned a very special dinner for the following day and these were some of the wines we planned to drink
Peter produced this superb Marquès de Riscal Rioja 1983 from his cellar. The stained cork had to be eased carefully out of the bottle but was still pliable. It made me (Lynne) sneeze with delight. You could smell good red fruit. The nose was full of rich cherries and berries with just a little mustiness, a warning of possible TCA. But no sign whatsoever on the palate. The first sip was silky ripe fruit, supported by soft chalky tannins and some resiny wood. Mulberries, cherries and raspberry. Lovely length of fruit with a touch of fruit acid on the end. Alcohol there but not obtrusive
Another old friend, Cora; we all went to Tuscany together in 2002
The chef taking a deserved break after his two day cooking marathon
Yes, Rickety Bridge glasses have reached Holland – Peter and Yvonne attended a festival there last year – they come to South Africa regularly. This one had the Rioja in it
The best thing about Europe is the bird song. And the blackbird is the best. Here one takes a bath in the bird fountain
We are having a proper Indonesian Rijsttafel!
The selection, which included Lynne’s favourite Babi ketjap
Nicolette has a suntan already. In Europe you take every opportunity when the sun shines
A blue tit on the bath
As the evening wore on it became chilly enough to warrant a fire pit. It was still only May
A sunset in Holland with a modern windmill
The boys went to the seaside; the girls went shopping an Schagen
Some old houses nestled beneath a dijk
A little Dutch maiden
On the top of the dijk
Elderinge admiring the sea
This is what the lads had for lunch. Kibbeling are fried fish pieces
First a beer …
… then the fish and chips
What the girls had for lunch in Schagen, the local town: Bitterballen
Baby duck time
Following Mum
This is a complete hybrid of a white duck and a mallard, happening more and more
Holland in contrast” Poppies, and old and new windmills
An avocet and a spoonbill on the vlei
Dinner out at a friendly restaurant in Schagen called Linke Loetje – we recommend it if you are in Schagen
A pork fillet Asian style
Steak with a Bordelaise sauce
Sticky pork ribs and a baked potato for Lynne
A good green pepper steak for John, also with a baked potato. Every plate has a small croquette on it
Our friends insisted on paying for the meal, so John bought a bottle of Kasteelberg Shiraz (€37.50) which we really enjoyed. The owner knows his wines and sells some good South African farms' products
Schagen used to be a seigniory governed by a seigneur. This is the castle. Schagen is also called “Magnusveste”, called after knight Magnus. He was a courageous knight who helped conquered the Egyptian city Damiate in 1219. It has been restored and modern bits added but still has its moat
Time for us to leave for Germany. We love visiting Holland and our friends are so generous and hospitable. Now we are on our own and at the mercy of autobahns and AirBnB
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