Are you in or near Utrecht? You have until this evening to enjoy some delicious mussels, oysters, wine and beer at the annual Utrechts Mosselfestival on Lucasbolwerk. The weather has cooperated so far and we got to stop by for a brief period today to see the official opening while devouring the mussels and enjoying a beer from local brewery De Leckere.
As well as the food and drink, which can be enjoyed sitting on any of the terraces of the four organizing cafés and restaurants, there are two springkussen (bouncy castles) for kids, and there has been singing from a local men’s choir. The official opening was brief, but included an “ode” to mussels and Utrecht, from what I picked out. Unfortunately, I missed the name of the gentleman who wrote/performed it.
As for the men’s choir, the 30 members perform under the name Tusken Waat en Wild. They performed a mix of Dutch and English language classics, ranging from Utereg M’n Stadsie to Let It Be.
However, my favorite was probably their rendition of Oh! Susanna. That’s such an American classic, one which lots of Americans probably grow up singing, so there’s something wonderfully charming and funny hearing it being sung at a mussels festival in Utrecht.
The festival continues to grow each year. The tents for the food and drink were bigger and fancier and there were two springkussen instead of one as in past years. The food and drink remains consistently good each year, so it’s a pleasure to see this neighborhood event succeed. If you can’t make it this year, plan on attending next year! Dogs and children welcome.
As I mentioned Sunday, we were planning on heading out to the first (of many, hopefully) Mosselfestival right here in our own neighborhood. Horeca Lucas Bolwerk (a collection of bars and cafés in the neighborhood) organized this lovely mussels festival. It ran for about seven hours in total and seemed to have a fairly constant stream of attendees. We went shortly after 2 p.m. and were immediately struck by the delicious smells emanating from the pots of cooking mussels.
We soon grabbed a couple of portions, which were quite generous, and picked up a couple of beers from the De Leckere Brewery stall. The mussells were beautifully seasoned and cooked. Just a nice kick of pepper and lots of natural flavor. I was really impressed with just how well they were done for such an event.
The street was closed to traffic, so they were able to set out lots of tables on the street, each table with its own garbage bag to keep things neat and clean. There was an accordion player wandering among the tables, and there was a bouncy castle for kids to play in. Sadly, there were no special play areas for the dogs we saw there. They were kept entertained by the possibility of stray mussels, I guess!
I joked with G that I guess this was a bit like a Dutch version of a crawfish boil or a New England clam bake. The women working at the mussels stall were all wearing old-fashioned lace caps — along with t-shirts and jeans! It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine and a nice breeze, and by the end of the day, all the trash was cleaned up and neatly piled away for the garbage collectors the next morning. All in all, it seemed like a success.