A dear, dear friend has been visiting me this week, and we have been having such a great time together despite a few days of dreary weather. She lives in California, which makes the overcast skies, daily bouts of rain, and the long winter nights a little difficult for her to handle. We've made the best of it and have had relatively little rain and, thankfully, for the first time in a few weeks no howling wind. I should be grateful, really, for the cold and the short days, because it forces me to stay inside more often to do some writing. She and I both managed to cram in at least a few hours of quality work most days, and while I didn't reach my number of goal pages, I'll take what I can get.
It's been quite fun to have a writing buddy again, and you can't beat the motivation an outside source provides. Working in a café is infintiely more enjoyable when "writing breaks" consist of actually talking to another human being instead just typing to one on gchat (although the girl watching her YouTube videos next to us at the café would probably disagree with that statement). Besides our attempts to put in the work the world and our advisors expect of us as graduate students, we have spent plenty of time biking around the city, visiting my in-laws in nearby Utrecht (i.e. partaking of my father-in-law's excellent cooking skills), and...and...drinking beer.
Oh yes, this is mostly a post about my love of Netherlandish beer. Beer, how I love the many variations you take on in the Low Countries. My quick survey of the internet informs me that the term, "Netherlandish," most often used in nerdy, art history circles, is not really used to categorize beer, and that really is a pity. I understand that Belgian beer and Dutch beer aren't exactly the same thing, but I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility to lump them together for cataloging purposes. The Belgians may get all the attention, and let's be honest here, those accolades are well-deserved, but there are some pretty good brews north of Flanders, too. We tried some more obscure ones on Sunday just for fun. Here we are at a smaller brewery, Brouwerij de Molen, where the flavors can get pretty exotic, but that just makes it more of an adventure:
There is my husband attempting to play some sort of bowling game set up in front of the hearth. More important for this post are the list of beers on the blackboard behind him and further back all the bottles for sale in the shop. I had a coffee flavored stout, which was...interesting...and quite good.
Here I am with my friend finishing my husband's beer, because he thought it was, "disgusting." We were not in accordance with that sentiment and we left the brewery feeling all warm and tipsy from our extra half glass of strong beer. If you don't know already, I really like beer, but I'm a lightweight, so an extra half glass will push me over the edge.
The rest of the week saw us drinking pretty standard bottles at home. We mostly drank Palm and seasonal varieties from Grolsch. Yesterday, my friend informed me that her visit would not be complete without a visit to Gollem, one of the first Amsterdam bars that really made me love beers from the Low Countries. So, while chili was cooking in my imported Crock-Pot (another lovely wedding gift), we were off consuming these:
Whoops! How did those delicious delicacies get into the picture? I meant to show you this:
Because when it's raining and nasty outside, nothing will make you feel quite as lovely as some fried carbs with a side of liquid carbs. Mmmmmmmmm...carbs. The guy behind the bar let us sample all the beers on tap before ordering, and now I love that place even more. I would ask about a beer, he would begin to explain it but then just couldn't be bothered, so in the end he just poured us a sample of them all.
As the title of the post implies, we fit in time to have a bowl of American chili for dinner. The recipe is straight from the Heartland, my mother's kitchen. My chili here tastes the same as it did back the U.S., although you should have seen the look on my face last fall when I realized this crazy country doesn't sell canned beans. That's not entirely true, but the vast majority of them are canned in tomato sauce and/or use a ridiculous amount of sugar in the canning process. That is when I learned the joy of cooking with dried beans. They are cheap, keep forever, and weigh much less in the shopping bag slung over my bike's handlebars. What, besides their long soak time, is not to love?
Yesterday morning, I took the beans that had soaked overnight, dumped them into my Crock-Pot, added some canned tomatoes, garlic cloves, diced onions, browned hamburger and a crazy amount of chili pepper, and then I walked away for about six hours. This was the result, my lovely American dinner coupled with a nice cold Duvel and made complete with a side of good conversation.