The neighborhood wine bar


One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about daily life at our wine bar is meeting so many people who read my blog. It’s always a pleasant surprise when someone asks for me or asks “Ben je de flamingo?” This weekend, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a couple of fellow expat bloggers who stopped by. Yesterday, Bitterballen Bruid stopped in and on Friday Cognac and Coffee stopped by. The only downside is not having more time to chat, but a massive thanks to all who stop by. Here’s Cognac and Coffee’s post about her visit.

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Yesterday we enjoyed some fantastic wine and snacks at Vino Veritas. The bar was recently opened by two former New Yorkers. Very pleasant atmosphere, authentic food, and really good wine. We will be back!


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Google City Experts Visit Vino Veritas

Google City Experts in UtrechtLast week, I received an email about participating in a Google City Experts event. Not specifically as an expert, but as one of the host venues for city experts to visit. They were organizing a tour through Utrecht’s newest cafés, bars, restaurants, and hot spots and wanted to include Vino Veritas! Obviously, we said yes.Google City Experts in UtrechtLast night, only our third night open, 30+ Google City Experts arrived in a fleet of tuk tuks to sample our wine and atmosphere. It was a fantastic experience and a thrill to see our wine bar completely full and buzzing with people enjoying our wine. Google City Experts in Utrecht
Being a Google event, you probably won’t be surprised to know that someone was there with Google Glasses. I didn’t get to try them, but got to hear a bit more about what they’re like.Google City Experts in Utrecht It was great getting to meet Tim, one of the members of the Google Team who lives in Utrecht and was so happy to get a chance to promote the city. The other cities around the world who are a part of this new project are: Amsterdam, Atlanta, Austin, Barcelona, Birmingham (UK), Boston, Bristol (UK), Chicago, Edinburgh, The Hague, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Manchester (UK), New York, Osaka, Paris, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Raleigh-Durham, Rotterdam, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Utrecht, Washington, D.C., and Wijchen. However, it’s a new program and they’ll be adding more cities as more people sign up and get involved. If you’re interested — no matter where you live — you can sign up here. As an expert, you get special access and recognition, so it’s worth checking out. They key is to add new hotspots and places of interest to Google Maps, with photos, reviews and more, making the maps even more useful.Google City Experts in Utrecht

I’ll leave you with a few more photos of the event and encourage you to stop by Vino Veritas, whether you’re a city expert or not!Google City Experts in UtrechtGoogle City Experts in UtrechtGoogle City Experts in UtrechtGoogle City Experts in Utrecht

A Street in the Sun

A Street in the SunI walk along Voetiusstraat fairly often, as it’s the street that leads on from the side of the cathedral. No matter which angle you approach it from, it’s always a lovely street (with great rooftops). A few weeks ago, as I was walking home and the sun was shining, this particular view of the street caught my eye. The lovely building at the cross street with the mullioned windows, the corner turret on the building across from it, and the typical Dutch stepped rooftop, all made an interesting visual line. This is complemented by the row of Pyke Koch lamps laden with spring flowers that stretch off into the distance. If only the cars weren’t there.


We’re two days into the new wine bar and so far so good. Things were a bit slow yesterday during the Netherlands-Australia football match, but we did have a lovely couple come in — one was a reader of my blog and the other gave me a great tip for future research!

The evening picked up after the match and we had a good evening. We hope things continue to build and appreciate all of you who have stopped in so far. A Street in the Sun

Vino Veritas Is Finally Opening!

Vino VeritasIn less than 24 hours, we will officially be opening the doors (well, one door, but you get the point) of Vino Veritas. Tuesday, 17 June, at 4 p.m. (16:00), we welcome anyone who would like to come enjoy some fantastic wines, meat, cheese, and vegetable plates.

We ourselves directly import from Italy all of the food and wine that we serve. We have chosen each one with care, finding the best representation of each, and typically they are made by small, artisanal makers, sometimes even made by hand. This is as close as you can get to tasting real, authentic Italian food and wine without actually going to Italy. We have a selection of more than 25 wines, including sparkling, white, rosé, and red, as well as a delicious dessert wine and an outstanding grappa.

We don’t serve hot food, so don’t expect lasagne or spaghetti. What we have chosen to offer are a variety of cheeses, vegetables, and cured meats. Among the offerings are taleggio, gorgonzola, mortadella, prosciutto, copa di testa, and balsamic pickled onions. You can order just the selection of meats, just the cheeses, or get a mixed platter that includes a selection of both.

Vino VeritasMany of the wines are sold by the glass, ranging in price from €3,50 to €6. And don’t think that just because a wine is only €3,50 that it’s nothing special. That is our cabernet and it is outstanding! If you have questions about the wines, feel free to ask. We’ll try to help you find the best wines to suit your tastes.
Vino VeritasAnd yes, we have a terrace! Hopefully, the weather will return to the sunshine of last week so everyone can enjoy it fully. As you can see in the picture, Giovanni was taking advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the terrace before we open.

Our Dutch is a work in progress, and inevitably we may need to reply in English — or Italian if you prefer!

And now I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped us throughout the first part of this venture. You’ve been invaluable! Whether it’s help with translating obscure wine terminology or tweeting and sharing on Facebook to let everyone know we’re opening, it’s all deeply appreciated. And special thanks to Biltstraat herself for her enthusiasm, encouragement, and promotion. We couldn’t have chosen a better street!

And we’ve already got press! De Utrechtse Internet Courant posted an article about us today, as did Sophie in Clogs, who was one of our guinea pigs on Saturday.

So come to Vino Veritas, located at Bilstraat 9, just steps from the Wittevrouwenbrug. We’re open Tuesday through Sunday, from 16:00 until … (23:00 if it’s quiet, 1:00 if people are hanging around enjoying the wine and weather). Pinnen, ja graag. The World Cup matches don’t usually start until 6 or later, so come in for a drink after work or to relax before the later matches. All countries welcome!

Brick Street Tetris

Drain RepairI’m fully aware that this may be one of the most boring blog posts ever unless you like posts about general street/drain management and construction. But since living here, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with the brick streets and sidewalks here in the old city center.

For starters, they’re hell on heels, not only making it difficult to walk in high heels but also generally tearing up sturdy, sensible shoe heels. I used to walk all over Manhattan in thin high heels, but I just can’t do it here. The sidewalks are too uneven and the heels tend to get stuck in between the bricks.

Secondly, there’s a marked difference in riding a bike on a brick street and riding on a smooth surface. When you get onto a smooth bit, there’s a sudden sense of relief as you realize you’re no longer rattling about. Ahhhhhhhhhh.Drain RepairHowever, I do admit that the brick streets are more picturesque than the typical asphalt or concrete and when it comes time to make repairs, whether to drains (the box bit at the bottom of the picture) or to actually widen the sidewalk area, it’s surprisingly simple.

Today we got a front row view of a street drain being replaced. The parking spot next to the drain was blocked off with some cones and soon enough, a yellow JCB digger showed up, along with a few shovels and picks. Then men in high-viz orange clothing began simply digging up the surface bricks of the street and sidewalk and then used the digger to get out the deeper dirt. The bricks aren’t permanently grouted or stuck down, so they’re easy to take out and replace as needed.

Once the new drain shaft was installed, they simply filled the dirt back in, put the bricks back in place, and filled in the gaps around the bricks with the remaining dirt. There are no horrible asphalt fumes, no horrendously mismatched lumpy layers, and as soon as everything is in place, you can walk on it, bike on it, or drive on it. It also takes a relatively short amount of time from start to finish. This was essentially a morning job. Drain RepairOnce they were done, everything was back in place and only a bit of excess dirt remained.

So now that I’ve bored you with the dirty underbelly of Dutch brick roads, here’s a slightly prettier view of a patterned brick street in glorious sunshine.Brick Street in the Sun

The Paushuize, Publishing, and Me

My article in Dutch the MagazineDespite my excitement in yesterday’s post about my photo and name appearing in the new book about the Domtoren, I do actually have a background in publishing. In the US, I had my first article — a software game review — published in Compute magazine while I was still in high school. (Although there was a bit of nepotism there, as my dad was one of the editors. But still, it passed muster!) In fact, I ended up following in my dad’s professional footsteps after university and worked for a group of magazines, working my way up from assistant editor to editor-in-chief. So I’ve seen my name in print plenty of times and I’ve even had the cover feature on occasion.

Even with the experience, though, there’s still a thrill to seeing your work published. I regularly write for websites (although my name isn’t always attached), but there’s an extra thrill I get from seeing my name in print on paper. I remember when I first moved to New York and saw one of my articles in a magazine for sale at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square. It gave me a real sense of satisfaction.

However, it’s been a while since my name has appeared in physical print next to my writing, so when I recently received my issue of Dutch: The Magazine with my article about the Paushuize and the Netherlands’ only pope, I got to relive that frisson of excitement. I’ve had some of my photos appear in print over the past few years, including one in the previous issue of Dutch, but this is my first full article in a while.My article in Dutch the Magazine

The magazine is published in North America, so if you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, you can try some of your area book stores, etc. I’m not sure how widespread the publication is, but it is growing, so you never know. It’s definitely worth looking for, especially since Invader Stu has a new monthly column in the magazine, as well. If you can’t pick up a copy, I really do suggest you plan a visit to Utrecht so you can take one of the guided tours of the Paushuize. There was so much great information about the palace, the pope, and the city that I didn’t have room to include!My article in Dutch the Magazine

Watery Amsterdam

I was in Amsterdam today for a potential job — keep your fingers crossed for me, please — and I snapped a few photos of some of the canals and river. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll finally do a real post. For now, lots of shiny water.




The Muses Are Cold

Cold Inspiration
Still working away, but every once in a while, I run up against good ol’ writer’s block when my own writing muses seem to be as cold and frozen as the muses depicted in this sculpture/fountain that stands in front of the Stadsschouwburg. Tomorrow, though, I get to go get inspired by a couple of friends in Den Haag, and if nothing else, it will be a nice break from writing. Plus, I get to see some other friends here in Utrecht in the evening, so it will be nice to get out and about and be social again.

In the meantime, apologies to those whose blogs I normally read and like/comment upon. I’m so ridiculously far behind and have no idea when I’ll get caught up again. And thanks to those who comment and like my postings here. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reply back, but I truly do appreciate you all. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. We may get some more snow Sunday and/or Monday, so my snowy pictures may continue! Fijn weekend!

A Few Photos on Friday

All that work I’ve been doing recently on the ol’ resume seems to have paid off; my proposal was chosen for one of the jobs I applied for on So for the past few days, I’ve been editing some articles about New Zealand tourism. Who knew my interest in the country would finally pay off! The “sound of Te Awamutu had a truly sacred ring” a few decades ago when I first heard Crowded House’s song “Mean to Me”, and I’ve been curious about the country ever since.

Unfortunately, the editing work meant I didn’t get to get out and enjoy the brief bit of sunshine we had this week! All I could do was look at it out the window. Someone else who got to enjoy the sunshine was this huge bird that’s been visiting our back garden for the past couple of weeks.
Big Bird
My cat Lola has been glued to the windows in the kitchen, watching this bird — possibly bigger than Lola herself — flitting from bike to branch to brick.

The weather isn’t looking too promising this weekend, but I’m determined to get out for at least a little while. Maybe a trip to the Saturday market, if nothing else. I need some new photos! I hope you all get to enjoy your weekend!

Shameless Self-Promotion

I’ve got a couple of things to mention that require voting for me or buying stuff from me, so I thought I’d get it all over with in one post.

First off, I’ve got three photos entered in a contest at the Insego website. It’s a site for expats living in the Netherlands, and they’re running a Typically Dutch photo contest through the 5th of January. Yeah, I probably should have mentioned this sooner, but it slipped my mind. You may have to register (although that should be free and easy), but the idea is for you to “favorite” my three photos (last three photos on the second page, under the name Alison Netsel). To get to the competition, just click here.

Next up is the 2011 Bloggie Awards nomination. A very kind friend nominated my blog, so if you feel like doing so, please nominate me. The more nominations, the better. I already know I’m up against some tough competition (whom you should also nominate), and likely won’t make it to final voting, but it can’t hurt to try, right? So, please go to the website and enter A Flamingo in Utrecht ( under the Best European Blog category.

Now onto I found out about this site recently through another expat, and finally decided — although I should have done it before Christmas! — to add some of my photos to it. What this means is that if you like my photos, you can buy them in a variety of formats (cards, laminated prints, matted prints, canvas prints, etc.) at a decent price. I’ve got a handful of photos up at the moment, but would like to add more. If you’ve seen a photo here on my blog that you’d personally like to see included, just let me know and I’ll add it. I don’t expect to sell much, but it would be nice to sell a few odds and ends. The quality is supposed to be quite good, so it’s worth a shot. For future reference, there’s a link to my work over there on the right-hand sidebar, just under the e-mail subscription link.

And finally, just because I should mention it again, if you need any English-language editing work done, please consider me! You can find all the pertinent pricing details, etc., at my website Even if you don’t have need of my services, please mention me to anyone you know who may need my services. I’m open to working on any type of project, from papers and presentations, to business documents and pamphlets, to scripts and websites, not to mention anything in between.