Utrecht Wijnproeverij Woensdag

wijnproeverij utrechtExcuse me while I do a bit of work promotion.

We’ve got a lot of great wines at Vino Veritas that are only available by the bottle, due to being a bit pricier. That means that many people don’t get around to trying them and we really feel like they’re missing out. So we’ve decided to start doing a wijnproeverij woensdag (winetasting Wedsnesday) once or twice a month, starting this week (29 October). We’re keeping things simple and casual for a mid-week event. We’ll offer samplings of two wines and an accompanying snack and give a bit of information about the wine and highlight different aspects, including how wines can change when paired with food.

We’re starting it all off with two of our personal favorites, a Brunello and a Cannonau. These two reds, one from Tuscany and the other from Sardinia, have received high praise from the industry and from regular consumers and now is your turn to try them. Full details of the wine tasting can be found on the Facebook event page. Reservations are required, but you can reserve your spot through FacebookTwitter, Instagram, in person, or in the comments here. We’re not picky.

The event should only last about one hour, though you’re welcome to stay after it’s over and try some of our other wines. We’ve just added two new wines. We’ve got a Ciliegiolo that is sure to appeal to all of our many customers who love our Negroamaro, and we’ve got a proper Lambrusco that is nothing like the cheap, sweet stuff you are likely to find in the grocery store. This is an elegant, dry Lambrusco that has made a lot of fans in the three days we’ve been serving it. We love it, too.

So come visit us, whether for the wijnproeverij on Wednesday, or just in general. And for everyone who thought our bar was too bright, we have new softer lamps going in today. Speaking of lights, the Biltstraat winter lights went up this weekend and the street is looking quite charming. It’s all getting quite gezellig. Come see for yourself.
utrecht wijnproeverijThanks for sticking around for the advertorial. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Utrecht adoration.
domtoren utrecht wijnproeverij

Time Travel: Biltstraat

Biltstraat 1947 (Het Utrechts Archief)It seems appropriate that I came across this photo of Biltstraat recently, as this is one of the only streets I see these days. The wine bar and my freelance writing are keeping me very busy. This photo is relatively recent, dating back to 1947. In some ways the street has changed little. Amusingly, even the awning looks to be the same style on the second-from-the-left building. The fifth building with the bay window looks nearly identical, as does the larger ninth building and everything in between.

The street used to be lined with trees, but those were felled during the war, I believe, but they’re gradually being reintroduced, which makes taking comparison pictures a bit more difficult. The biggest difference, perhaps, are the defined bike paths now on each side of the street. They’re the reddish strip seen in the current photo. Amazingly, it looks like I managed to find almost the exact same spot to snap this photo as the original. Mine just includes a few more rooftops, a bit of sunny, blue sky, and the other side of the street.Biltstraat
To show just how little the street has changed in almost 70 years, here’s a photo I took from the front door of our wine bar, Vino Veritas, earlier this week. In black and white, just a few steps up from where the original photo was taken (directly across from the third/fourth buildings), everything looks surprisingly similar. The grand old dame is holding up well! Biltstraat
First photo via Het Utrechts Archief

Dreams for Biltstraat

Wat wilt u ...
Before I was struck down with the plague (OK, maybe just a really bad cold), I got to see the new initiative taking place on Biltstraat. I had read about the stickers going up all along the street and was curious to see them in person.

Biltstraat, a great street just outside the old city ring canal has seen a resurgence in the past year or so. When we first moved here, it was a fairly dull street with not much more than a lot of work placement offices and the occasional shop and grocery store. Now, there are great shops like AYA Living (fun, affordable items for the home and more), a new branch of Bert’s Bierhuis, and lots of interesting restaurants, including the unusual Te Koop, which sells not only food, but also the random bits of décor inside the restaurant.

Still, there are a few places standing empty or currently undergoing refurbishment. To get people interested in the street again and to help potential investors and entrepreneurs get a feel for what people in the neighbourhood want to see, the Biltstraat retailers association has started a fun initiative to see what kinds of stores people want to see move into Biltstraat. Anyone with an interest can go into AYA Living and pick up some of these stickers, fill them out, and place them on the windows of empty store fronts. (Be kind and don’t stick them elsewhere.)

Some of the most frequent suggestions are for a bakery/lunch place, drugstore, bookstore, cheese shop, and a Hema (a popular Dutch chain a bit like Target). Although there are many of these kinds of shops on Nachtegaalstraat (in theory, one block over), I understand the desire to have some of these shops on Biltstraat for sheer convenience, especially since Nachtegaalstraat is much busier, not to mention the big intersection by the Stadsschouwburg.

For multiple reasons, I like this initiative and am happy to see the businesses on Biltstraat taking such a positive approach to improving this historic street. After all, the street has been around since 1139 and was first paved in one form or another back in 1290. The street even has a very active Twitter account that does a great job of promoting the shops and keeping people up to date on what is happening on the street.

So the next time you’re in Utrecht, don’t forget to check out Biltstraat. Have a coffee at Bagels & Beans, do your grocery shopping at Jumbo, pick up some new guitar strings at Key Music, have a spa day at Descansa, and play laser tag at the Laser Centrum. Who knows what will be moving in next. Maybe even a wine bar as someone requested in the first photo.
Wat wilt u ...

I Take My Coffee Black with Two Sugars and a Carrot

Paardenvlees-vrij
I spotted a bit of current-events-related humor at the local Bagels & Beans today. The sign outside proudly states “Our coffee is horsemeat-free!” No idea if they sell civet coffee, though.

Close Encounters of the Silly Kind

Urban Invasion
Utrecht seems to attract UFOs. First there was the one that landed on the Inktpot back in 2000. Sure, they say it’s just an art installation by Marc Ruygrok for Panorama 2000, but I’m pretty sure* it was a real alien landing along the lines of Area 51, and they’ve simply chosen to hide it in plain sight.

In fact, there’s even a special Area 51 exhibit over at the Stadhuis going on right now that I’ve tried to see, but was prevented from investigating more closely.**

And now, there was a sighting last night of UFOs over Voorstraat/Biltstraat, right in my neighbourhood! I’m pretty sure the cats were signalling to their fellow aliens. Luna was behaving particularly weird last night. Of course, everyone knows cats are from outer space.***

I hope they’re not coming for me! After all, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen alien spacecrafts. They keep trying to hide them in plain sight, such as on a mountain in Tennessee.
DSC00952

I’m onto them, though. I’ve got my tin foil and my towels ready. Boy Scouts weren’t the only ones taught to be prepared!

*I’m joking.
**I forgot they’re closed on Saturdays.
***This is completely true. Cats really are from outer space.

There’s an Aap for That

Clean Marketing
Walking down Biltstraat this afternoon, G was the first to notice this promo for the upcoming release of The Rise of the Planet of the Apes. If you look closely, you’ll see the head of an ape with the film title beneath it. They seem to have done a bit of reverse stenciling, by powercleaning the sidewalk to create the image and text, rather than dirtying it with paint or chalk. I’ve always kind of liked this form of graffiti.

The advert reminded us of a bit of standup that Australian comedian Kitty Flanagan did about The Planet of the Apes and the difficulty in subtitling or dubbing the film in French. The French don’t seem to distinguish linguistically between monkeys and apes, which makes one of the scenes in the film hard to translate. The line in the film goes something like, “I’m not a monkey. I’m an ape!” But in French, they use the word singe for both, so you end up with, “I’m not a singe! I’m a singe!” Well, except it would be all in French. (Trust me, I tried to find the video online of Flanagan doing this bit of standup, but I had no luck.)

It turns out, the Dutch are no better. Ape and monkey are both aap in Dutch. It’s a good thing the Dutch don’t dub foreign-language films. I’m dying to see the subtitles for that scene, though. “Ik ben geen aap. Ik ben een aap!” Talk about lost in translation!