A Taste of New Orleans in Utrecht

okra

This morning, before lethargy and two jobs could distract me, Charlie and I headed out to the market at Vredenburg in search of some okra. I knew that there used to be a vegetable stall there that always had okra, but it has been a while since I’ve been to the Saturday market and I was worried they wouldn’t be there today. Fortunately, my concerns were soon allayed and I was in possession of a nice bag full of okra. And I only had to wrestle Charlie back to his sit position twice!

(Charlie is relatively well trained, but when he’s out in the world with lots of distractions, he gets a bit overwhelmed. I’m trying to get him more used to crowds and all the associated smells and such and he’s definitely making progress. I’m very proud of him!)

As for the okra, the reason I absolutely had to get some today is because I’m turning Vino Veritas into a Creole/Cajun restaurant for one night only on Tuesday, which happens to be Mardi Gras. This time of year, I always get nostalgic for my years in New Orleans and I’ve had a hankerin’ for some authentic gumbo. Since the Klein New Orleans event last summer was such a big hit (although I still question some of the recipes), I thought I’d host my own Klein Mardi Gras — on a much smaller scale, of course.

This has been a really last-minute decision, so I’m sadly short of purple, green, and gold decorations, but at least we should have some mighty fine food and a good Mardi Gras/New Orleans music playlist. I brought a small selection of some of my Mardi Gras beads with me when we moved, so maybe I’ll hang some off the cactus we have at work, in honor of the trees covered in Mardi Gras beads in New Orleans. We had one such tree right outside our dorm room freshman year. I have fond memories of sitting on the balcony and watching the plastic beads catch the light.
Mardi Gras [Day 47/365]
Oh, but the food! That’s what y’all want to know about! We’re going to be serving up gumbo, jambalaya, and shrimp etouffĂ©e, and I’m thinking about a marinated avocado and crab salad and/or a corn and black bean salad for starters. And if I can scrounge up some food coloring, I might be making mini king cakes for dessert. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! And if you’re wondering, I have my own recipes, but also got some recipes from my friends from Louisiana, just to make sure I’m doing it right. Seriously, y’all. This is going to be the authentic taste. I guarantee! Ooo weeee!

(I had to throw that Justin Wilson link in. My grandpaw, who used to catch his own shrimp and fish in Florida and cooked a bit of Cajun-style food — despite being from Tennessee — used to watch Justin Wilson regularly and I’d watch with him when I was visiting. It’s one of my fond memories. The last time I saw my grandfather before he died was actually in New Orleans. We ended up going to the Court of Two Sisters for lunch. It was one of the first restaurants I went to in New Orleans and it was always a favorite. While we were having lunch, he told me about visiting the restaurant while he was in the Navy during WWII. They’d been stopped in New Orleans before heading out and he and some friends had dined at Court of Two Sisters. Years later, while we were cleaning out my grandparents’ home, I found a photo taken that night. It’s one of my cherished possessions. That’s him on the right.)
grandpawneworleans

So, anyway, if you’re in Utrecht this Tuesday, 9 February, head to Vino Veritas (Biltstraat 9) and pass a good time as if you were down on the bayou! Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Huize Molenaar Viewbox

Huize Molenaar
I regularly see things related to Utrecht on Twitter or Facebook that interest me. As a reminder, I open up a separate tab in my browser and hope to get around to following up on it in the not too distant future. I’m not always successful, as I kept one tab open for more than a year before finally giving up on it.

Today, however, I’m able to close two tabs. One was for the Heksen van Bruegel (Bruegel’s Witches) exhibit at the Catharijneconvent Museum. I may or may not post on it, as it was mainly for a bit of research for an article I’ll be writing on Bruegel in the future. However, today was the last day of the exhibit, so it was now or never! The other tab I can close relates to the Huize Molenaar and more specifically, a viewbox on a lamp outside of the building.
Huize Molenaar
I’d seen the viewbox somewhere online and was curious to see it myself, so I’ve had the Huize Molenaar website open for around a month. I’d forgotten about it while I was showing my friend around the other weekend, otherwise I could have checked it off my list earlier. I had honestly forgotten about it again today, until I was walking past the building itself and suddenly from the deep recesses of my mind, I remembered that there was something specific related to this building that I wanted to see. Finally, it clicked, just as I was about to walk past the lamp to which the viewbox is attached.

Huize Molenaar is used for private events, ranging from meetings to wedding receptions, and they offer fine dining for any of the events. They’ve been hosting private events since 1892. The viewer shows what looks to be an old photo from one of those earlier events. Ultimately, it’s just one of those cute, quirky things that makes walking down the streets of Utrecht that little bit more interesting.
Huize Molenaar

Daydreaming

IMG_2484

This was a beautiful day. Today is not that day. I’m feeling permanently damp from the dog outings of the past few days, where it doesn’t fully rain, but 20 minutes is enough to leave you feeling pretty saturated.

A Big Yellow Building and the Moon

Dusk
Any wander around town when friends are visiting deserves a brief stop at the Willem Arntsz Huis. Between the amazing building and the big yellow birdies, it’s definitely worth a short stop. So while my friend was visiting last weekend and we happened to be in the vicinity, we took a quick detour. It wasn’t that late, but dusk was arriving and the moon was already out, so it created a nice setting for some simple silhouettes of the lamp posts and the bare branches of the tree. The photos aren’t as crisp as I would have liked, but they’re not bad for having been taken with a phone.
Dusk

Charlie and the Black Cat

Charlie and the Cat
Charlie is a smart dog. Too smart sometimes. He can open doors with ease, give you a high five, jump through hoops, and much more. But he does have his less than brilliant moments. Such as today. We were walking around the northern part of town, following the ring canal when I stopped to take a photo of this little bit of black cat wall art. I’ve seen this cat pop up in various spots around town, so I thought I’d get a photo of it.

What you see in the photo is the exact moment that Charlie spotted the cat. He’d been looking elsewhere until then. Being a good boy, he didn’t move until I started to walk. At that point he zoomed over to the (fake) cat. Poor thing can’t be blamed, as he does live with two black cats. But it amused me that he was taken in by the shape. It also amused the three girls who were walking past at that moment and saw him go straight for the painted flat cat. I wasn’t the only one laughing. Bless his heart.

First Caturday of 2016

Cat on a wall
My friend who visited last week is a fellow cat lover, so as we were wandering around town, we invariably caught sight of quite a few cats, indoors and out. She spotted this one, who was high up on a wall, surveying his domain.
Flora's Hof Poes
I also took her to Flora’s Hof, with the express hope of seeing a cat. I was originally thinking of the marmalade cat who is usually spotted in this little garden area, but it was a lovely tuxedo cat who was out that day, enjoying a bit of the winter sun.

Eventually, he got a bit thirsty, so he headed over to the bird bath for a refreshing drink.
Flora's Hof Poes
He may stalk any birds that come for a bathe and a nice view (and perhaps a few dropped patat), but I wonder if he’s noticed the even larger cat who seems to be stalking him and anyone else in the garden!
Flora's Hof Poes

The Domtoren and the Pope

IMG_2493

I love this little intersection of historic spots and lovely architecture, especially as dusk makes its way in and the setting sun turns the Domtoren a glorious rose gold. Now the spot also has the addition of the statue of Pope Adrian VI to help frame the whole scene.

Camera Obscura

photo

A friend of mine came for a visit yesterday, but before meeting up with her, I took Charlie out for a walk to try to make up for the fact that I was going to be gone all day. We’d had a very light dusting of snow during the night, but nothing to make walking around treacherous. We had the added benefit of some glorious sunshine, but that’s more relevant to the photos I took later in the day.

Anyway, as Charlie and I were wandering around, I decided to finally go in search of the Camera Obscura I’d seen recently on Instagram. This house on the Kromme Nieuwegracht once belonged to photographer Frans Ferdinand van der Werf (1903-1984). He settled in Utrecht in the 1930s and became well-known for his photos that ranged from comic scenes in the city to the liberation of Utrecht by the Allies.

There is currently a free exhibition of his work at the Utrechts Archief, which is running through 21 May. I suppose I’ll have to leave Charlie behind again for that one, but I really do want to see the exhibit. Maybe I can get some fresh photography inspiration.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Circle

I was reminded of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge today, so I thought I’d see what this week’s theme is and see if I have anything that fits. Cirkel (circle) is the theme, and my first thoughts went to the canals and particularly the bridges that have half-circle arches that form a full circle when they reflect in the water of the canal.
circle bridge canal reflection