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 etouffée, 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!

2014 in review

I keep seeing so many end-of-year comments and posts today that I have to keep checking that today is really the 30th and not the 31st. Fortunately, there’s still a day or two left of 2014 to get things sorted, including the purchase of oliebollen tomorrow, not to mention the Hoppin’ John that needs to be made for the first. And today is my first day back at work at Vino Veritas in over a week. We’ve been closed for part of it, due to the holidays and normal days off, but I’ve been out due to round two of the cold from hell. I’m feeling much better today, though, thank goodness.

Anyway, WordPress has gathered up their statistics for the year, and I thought I’d share them for lack of will to do research on other topics. And I still have to do my Rotterdam Markthal post, but there are so many pictures from which to choose! Maybe next year. If you’re curious about some of my stats for the year, you’re welcome to check out the report below. The most interesting thing to me, as I discovered the other day doing my own stats review, is that the BBC article that came out more than a year ago is the largest referrer to my blog, outside of search engines, Twitter, and Facebook. I still get at least one click-through from that article almost every single day, and often many more. It seems to be doing the rounds again this past month or so, as the number of daily visits has increased recently.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 53,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 20 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

If I don’t get around to blogging tomorrow, here’s one last photo of the sun setting over Utrecht and 2014. Thanks to all of my visitors this year, both new and old.
Winter Sunlight

High Praise Indeed!

This evenings scene! I had the most delicious wine and plank this evening at @vinoveritas030 on the Biltstraat. Prosecco that tasted like the best champagne, white wine with a hint of tropical flavour soft and not sweet. Matched with a mixed plank and a bread basket. All the product are imported from Italy. The flavours are rich and the bread is warm and light. I could go on and on about this short visit but it was truly the best wine and mixed plank I ever had in Utrecht. I’m a very happy person at this moment.

Explore Utrecht is a great site with lots of information about where to stay in Utrecht and lists and reviews of things to see, do, eat, and buy. I always recommend the site to anyone visiting and to locals, as well. Last night, we at Vino Veritas got a visit from Dainahara and a friend. It was great to finally meet the woman behind the site, but it was a thrill to read her glowing review.

In fact, I’ve been lucky to meet quite a few people I know through Twitter in the past week and will probably meet more in the coming days. Thanks to all for stopping by and for singing our praises, as well. It’s all been truly appreciated.

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.

Cognac and Coffee

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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