Tuesday, 10th April/Monday, 16th April 2007 – Utrecht, Zaltbommel
Last night I caught a train to Utrecht (which takes around half an hour from here) and went to meet up with Nath. We had plans for the evening, and very successful they were. Initially we intended to have dinner, and then on to the cinema. After some roaming along the canal side, we settled on Abrikoos, which makes claims to Mediterranean food and Tapas, both of which it offered in fine style. After a lentil soup starter, we shared calamari a la chef (grilled and tender), swordfish in a lemon sauce (one of the best pieces of swordfish I’ve encountered in a long while), wild mushrooms in a cream sauce (excellent), spinach with tomatoes (also very good), some grilled chorizo-style sausage (very good even if it was still with me this morning), and a grilled goat’s cheese doused liberally in nuts and honey (good enough that you’d kill for it, I suspect). A bottle of Turkish rose wine washed all of that down, and we finished with espresso coffee. All in all a very good start to the evening.
And hence to the cinema to see “The Lives of Others”. I loved it and plan on seeing it again at home when I can get Lynne along there. It’s very subdued but excellently played, with first rate performances from the main characters and some wryly funny moments in among the general darkness. See it if you can.And so onto the last train back to Zaltbommel and bed around 1.30am. I’m tired today, so I’ll save my gym session till after work.
Wednesday I made it back to the hotel shortly before 6pm, hit the gym and did a 6k treadmill session. After that I didn’t want to go out with my colleagues (“I vanted to be alone!”) but I couldn’t face room service at the Golden Tulip, so I got showered, dressed and walked the 20 or so minutes into town and ate at the Eetgelenheid, which was excellent. I had mussels with Chinese cabbage to start with, and baked haddock with mashed potatoes, carrots and leeks, and a spicy basil sauce afterwards. I drank a half bottle of Chablis, and an espresso, and failed to avoid the speculoos biscuit and the home-made peanut chocolates. It was excellent, and I met and made friends with Roberto, the chef, and will definitely be going back in the next two weeks. Nath? Fancy getting the train over? They’re not open Tuesdays…
Afterwards I walked back, and unlike on the walk there, was not entertained by cute/fluffy wildlife… I’d never seen baby waterhens before. They’re small, black and fluffy all over apart from their heads, which are orange/red… Odd looking things!
The following Monday evening was again a case of thank God for the Eetgelegenheid and Roberto and Nancy! After a long, long day (as in travel from the UK, work, unpack, go for a vigorous run on the hotel treadmill, translate two Jenzer motorsport press releases into something closer to English) I decided I absolutely couldn’t face the hotel food, be it room service (7 out of 8 main dishes coming with chips) or the charmless restaurant, so I belted down to the town centre at 9pm, threw myself into the place and begged for a table.
A plate of salmon with fresh spring vegetables (courgettes, mangetout, carrots) in a chive sauce, and a portion of rhubarb in Grand Marnier with orange ice-cream later and I feel altogether more civilised….