Britsoc: The British Society of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Serving the British Expat community since 1920.

All posts in Amsterdam

Lunch concert at Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam

Categories: Amsterdam, Art and Culture, Food and drink, Music
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by Carol Moore

Imagine getting a weekly fix of culture through a wonderful mix of music and talented performances? And to top it off, this is for FREE. Yes, free is a word we don’t always associate with pleasant experiences, but this has got to be one of the (not so now!) best kept secrets of highbrow entertainment in Amsterdam.

Each Wednesday – always check online schedule for up to date info: (http://www.concertgebouw.nl/en/lunchtime-concerts), Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam, which has been in action since 1881, gives the city and its people a free half hour concert which can range from small intimate performances from between 1-3 people to a full classical orchestra of up to 50 people, which has included the Netherlands National Youth Orchestra amongst others. These take place in one of the following spaces: Kleine Zaal (small room), for me my favourite since it is adorned with sumptuous dark red velvet drapes, glistening chandeliers that cast a beautiful light onto the light beige marble walled interior and provides the listener a luxurious experience whilst watching the performance. And the second: Grote Zaal (big room), which is normally reserved for the large full orchestra type performances, complete with an impressive dark wooden floor to ceiling organ.

 

It’s a simple and straightforward procedure to obtain your free ticket for entry to the concerts. Since they always start promptly at 12.30pm, you must be there at 11.30am when the desk opens to dispense. This is however only for concerts in the small room, as when there are those in the big room it’s not necessary since its capacity is close to 2000 people (wow!) Once this step is complete, I find it a lovely little time filler to walk over to the adjoining restaurant/café to grab a nice cup of coffee. It’s always bustling with people, but on each occasion, I have been greeted and helped rather well by the staff, who are happy to accommodate you wherever possible.

Around 12.15pm it’s time to go to the concert. It’s easy to find your seat and once complete, I like to savour the buzz and surroundings. Everyone chatters excitedly with expectation of how the performers will sound and what they will play. The lights dim, drapes close and the performers are on stage to an encouraging round of rapturous applause. There are diverse types of instruments played but my favourite would have to be the grand piano, violin and harp together.

30 minutes absolutely flies by but at the end, you’re left with a warm, grateful feeling that you have just been privy to some of the most talented, quite often still very young, performers in the Netherlands, and again – for free!

Highly recommendable and a pleasure each time. Just don’t tell everyone about it ?

Gouda Cheese – the yellow motor?

Categories: Amsterdam, Art and Culture, Food and drink, Museums, To do in Amsterdam
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By Sue Godsave

The Dutch are big cheese eaters – eating cheese on bread for breakfast and lunch, cheese cubes as a snack with a drink at the end of the afternoon, and grated cheese over the macaroni for dinner – all adding up to an average of around 20 kg per person per year.

The Dutch cheese eaten the most, both in the Netherlands and abroad, is Gouda cheese, or ’Goudse kaas’, so-named because cheese produced in Holland had to be traded in the city of Gouda.  Gouda-type cheese has been made and traded since the middle ages, and is reputedly one of the oldest cheeses still being made today. Traditional cheese markets are also still being held, but these days mainly as a colourful tourist attraction, acted out on different mornings of the week in Gouda and several other Dutch towns during the summer months.

Gouda cheese changes as it matures to give a range of textures and flavours, but in general it can be characterised as relatively sweet. During production, the curds are washed with warm water after the milk has separated into curds and whey. This causes some of the milk sugar, lactose, to be washed away, and reduces the formation of lactic acid in the cheese, so Gouda cheese tastes less sour than cheddar, for example.  The washed curds are shaped in moulds, and the resulting ‘wheel-shaped’ cheeses are soaked in brine for several days before they are allowed to mature. This process extracts some of the water from the cheese, aids ‘skin’ formation and acts as a preservative, as well as giving extra flavour.  Nowadays, Gouda cheese is made in the traditional Dutch way all around the world, in countries including the USA, China, New Zealand and South Africa. However, only cheese made in the Netherlands can be labelled ‘Gouda Holland’, and for a cheese to be called ‘Noord-Hollandse Goudse’ all stages of the production process have to be carried out in the province of North Holland.

There are six categories of Gouda cheese depending on the length of the maturation period:

‘jonge kaas’, matured for only 4 weeks, and a soft, very mild and creamy ‘young’ cheese;

‘jong belegen’, matured for 8-10 weeks, and still fairly soft, but with a stronger flavour;

‘belegen’, matured for 16-18  weeks, a ‘mature’ cheese with a firmer texture;

‘extra belegen’, matured for 7-8 months;

‘oude kaas’, ‘old cheese’, matured for 10-12 months, and a tasty, hard cheese that may contain crystals, principally of calcium lactate;

‘overjarige’, ‘over-aged’, matured for at least 12 months.

The majority of Dutch cheese is factory-made these days, but some Gouda-type cheese is still made on farms. Unlike the factory-made cheese, this ‘boerenkaas’ is made from unpasteurised fresh milk. Different batches of farmers’ cheese may vary, depending on the farm and the conditions at the time, but farmers’ cheese generally has extra flavour.  Seeds or spices are also sometimes added to factory-made and farmers’ Gouda cheese – Gouda with cumin seeds is particularly good, and you can also find it with cloves or mustard seeds.

You need about ten litres of milk to make a kilogram of Gouda cheese and the finished product is high in protein, fat, and calcium, as well as being an important source of vitamins B12 and K. It is about 40% water, and contains almost no carbohydrate. The fat in Gouda cheese contributes significantly to its flavour and good melting qualities. Normally, between 48 and 52% of the dry weight of factory-made Gouda is fat, and it is labelled ‘48+’ to show this. The dry weight percentage is used because it doesn’t change during maturation, while the water content decreases. In a young 48+ cheese, about 29% of the total weight is fat.

Around two thirds of the fat in Gouda cheese is saturated, and concerns about eating too much saturated fat have led to the development of lower fat cheeses, labelled e.g. 20+ or 30+, the plus again indicating the fat content in the dry weight. There is also graskaas, made from the milk of cows which have eaten the new spring grass in the meadows. This cheese may contain a higher proportion of unsaturated fats, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may even help to protect against heart disease.

Every Dutch supermarket has a big selection of Gouda cheese but for something special you should try a specialist market stall or shop, where you may be able to taste the cheese before you buy. In Amsterdam, there are helpful staff and samples of many different Dutch cheeses in the combined Cheese Museum and shop on the Prinsengracht, where the photo at the top was taken. There are even shops where you can buy Gouda cheese that is coloured blue, green and red (though I prefer it yellow).

In the Netherlands, milk has been described as the ‘white motor’, and more than 12 billion kilograms are produced here each year. More than half of this is turned into cheese, both for home consumption and export. Dutch Gouda cheese comes in a range of consistencies and flavours, and if you’re new to the Netherlands, you might be surprised at how good it can be.

On the 10th December this year the most glamorous and glittering event of the Netherlands Christmas social calendar will be once again held in the St Olaf Chapel in The NH Barbizon Hotel opposite Central station.

This year’s theme will be Glitz and Glam. Chris Naylor, Head Chef at Restaurant Vermeer in the NH Barbizon Palace in Amsterdam, will be sprinkling his Michelin star magic over the three course menu he has developed for the charity ball.

At the welcome reception you will be able to get a glimpse of the terrific prizesfor the Charity raffle and Silent auction. The fabulous meal will be accompanied by wine and an evening of entertainment to dance the night away. A late night breakfast will also be served to those who are still going strong after midnight.

Last remaining tickets available here:

Click Here for Tickets

The entertainment for the night is also just announced:

This year we have The Bowkers to entertain us, a fantastic singing sensation over from the UK. Justine, Max and Lukas together with their father Jason love to perform many genres of music and they will transport you back to the golden era of swing with their classic vocals and harmonies, slick fashion and quick wit.

For those of you who love to let your hair down and dance the night away they will deliver Soul, Motown and pop classics all night long.

image2

The Menu has just been announced:

British Society Ball Christmas dinner menu

Amuse

Liquid tortilla with onion and mushroom

Menu

Tuna tartar with black miso dressing and lemon granola

***

Duck breast with roasted cauliflower, lentils and a mild curry sauce

***

Pecan tart with mascarpone ice cream and red fruit sauce

British Society Christmas dinner Vegetarian menu

Amuse

Liquid tortilla with onion and mushroom

Menu

BBQ beetroot with black miso dressing and lemon granola

***

Salt crusted celeriac with roasted cauliflower, lentils and a mild curry sauce

***

Pecan tart with mascarpone ice cream and red fruit sauce

Ball Charity

Our Charity this year is Voedselbank (Food Bank) which helps out 1,500 families in Amsterdam.  Some details are available here:

Click here for Charity Details

GENEROUS SPONSORS NEEDED!

We are hoping to find generous sponsors this year who can provide a prize for our raffle or silent auction which we can turn into cash for our chosen charity which this year is the Food Bank in Amsterdam. They provide basic nutrition for around 1,500 families in Amsterdam who cannot afford to feed their families.

It also provides you or your business with a great opportunity to advertise to the British and Expat community in and around Amsterdam. The offer of a generous prize means we will splash you all over our website and facebook feeds plus you will be featured in a special spread in our monthly Zine magazine.  This means you reach around 3,000 Britons and Expats.

We are asking for your help to make this excellent event a fantastic success.  All offers of help from any organisation through sponsorship and other ideas for the ball’s Charity Raffle or Silent Auction are very welcome…please email us …

chair@britsoc.nl or ball@britsoc.nl

Many thanks in advance, and we look forward to seeing you at the  Ball on the 10th December at the NH Barbizon Hotel.

International Community Advisory Panel – survey on International children & education

Categories: Amsterdam, Education, Family and Children, Parent Support
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ICAP AMSTERDAM

Building bridges for the international community

ICAP Amsterdam is an initiative put together by four long-standing members of the international community to act as an independent bridge between the international community itself and government and civic organisations.

In particular, we aim to establish an independent forum which represents and reflects the views of the international community on issues which have an impact on the city’s attractiveness as a place to live in and do business.

The city regularly scores very highly in international comparisons – facts which officials are keen to promote whenever possible. However, these glowing reports do not always reflect the reality on the ground. And Amsterdam lacks a broad framework for communicating with and receiving input/feedback from the international community and assessing its diverse needs and concerns. ICAP aims to change this.

The International Community Advisory Panel will focus on four main areas:

– Education

– Housing

– Healthcare

– Work and Inclusion

Support

ICAP is an independent foundation, registered in Amsterdam.

ICAP’s ideals are supported by the Amsterdam Expatcenter and ICAP is already working with city officials in some areas.

Initiators

Robin Pascoe: founder of news website DutchNews.nl

Emmy McCarthy: founder of information and support source Amsterdam Mamas

Lynn Kaplanian Buller: Co-owner of The American Book Centre

Deborah Valentine: Executive Director of volunteer network ACCESS

If you can help with this survey on International children and education
Your input will help the International Community Advisory Panel to find out more about how international parents in the Netherlands approach their children’s education and will, we hope, lead to improvements in the future.

This is the link

Open Survey

90 years of Marilyn Monroe Exhibition

Categories: Amsterdam, Art and Culture, To do in Amsterdam
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by Carol Moore

Having just been to see the exhibition at the Nieuwe Kerk of celebrating what would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday, I thought it a rather poignant topic in which to highlight the life and challenges that being a female in society brings.

Marilyn, whose real name of Norma Jean Baker began life in a rather squalid, turbulent way. Born in 1926, she was given away by her natural mother to foster parents and subsequently appeared to have had the burden of growing up too fast thrust upon her. She even married her next door neighbour so as not to have to return to the orphanage again. What a young person goes through and experiences as such an early age most definitely shapes them for their later years and who they will become. But it isn’t always doom and gloom that must repeat itself, as often, this kick-starts a desire to win, in whatever shape or form, but almost certainly, a catalyst to prove others wrong.

Marilyn was determined to fulfill her lifelong ambition of becoming a successful actress from an early age and became fascinated by Hollywood, glamour and the influence and adulation she saw they received. Perhaps as a contrast to her own lack of attention from an adolescent, she soon realised that she would show the world she meant business. In an age back then where women were not equal to men, she marilyn-2was famously quoted as saying “I have too many fantasies to be a housewife.” Something which back then would have caused great controversy but also as we see now, as others have done too, provide huge inspiration to many females. She also decided to work out, lifting weights, which was abhorrently unheard of, in order to perfect and maintain her wonderful physique. I often wonder if she had been an icon in our modern times, if so many of my friends and acquaintances might not have suffered the negative body image that is placed upon us when seeing the emaciated look of the so called international catwalk models, whose body shape almost most of us will never match.

She threw caution to the wind and became a movie star, albeit a not very successful one initially, but like so many things that we try and fail with, she continued with a strong will and conviction, which eventually paid off. She was reported as quoting “If I had observed all the rules, I’d never have gotten anywhere.” We must take note from this and realise that we make our own destiny in life and if we just keep trying and ignore the haters, it will eventually pay off.

Having married and divorced at an early age, she later went on to marry Joe De Maggio, a famous US sports star, however this wasn’t to last as he all too soon he became very controlling, jealous and resentful of her popularity and success. “I don’t mind living in a man’s world, as long as I can be a woman in it” became a key statement for her as she edged towards equaling the male Hollywood stars of that time. How often do we see even now, the challenges of being a female in the workplace balanced with having children, perhaps taking a career break to raise them and returning to the same position as your male counterpart? It seems that although she was living in times gone by, the same challenges are still very much alive.

marilyn-3What we, as women (and every gender in fact) must take from this, is that “Fear is stupid. So are Regrets.” The fear of not having dared try something has hit me many a time and have missed out on trying or doing something, which looking back, would have been just fine! Personally speaking, it took me 6 years to pluck up the courage to go to the cinema alone. My fear was that “people would stare,” or that others would think I was a loner. Having done this for the past 6 years now, my only regret was not having done this earlier!

If we try and follow her motto of “I live to succeed, not to please you or anyone else” we won’t go far wrong. And I personally have taken many key learnings from this wonderfully stylish, powerful, yet gentle woman.

Highly recommend anyone looking to spend an hour strolling around the exhibition to go for it and who knows, you might take your own life lessons from it. Closes February 2017. 

On the 10th December this year the most glamorous and glittering event of the Netherlands Christmas social calendar will be once again held in the St Olaf Chapel in The NH Barbizon Hotel opposite Central station.

This year’s theme will be Glitz and Glam. Chris Naylor, Head Chef at Restaurant Vermeer in the NH Barbizon Palace in Amsterdam, will be sprinkling his Michelin star magic over the three course menu he has developed for the charity ball.

At the welcome reception you will be able to get a glimpse of the terrific prizesfor the Charity raffle and Silent auction. The fabulous meal will be accompanied by wine and an evening of entertainment to dance the night away. A late night breakfast will also be served to those who are still going strong after midnight.

Over 60% of tickets are already sold.  Don’t be dissapointment and book now.

Click Here for Tickets

The Menu has just been announced:

British Society Ball Christmas dinner menu

Amuse

Liquid tortilla with onion and mushroom

Menu

Tuna tartar with black miso dressing and lemon granola

***

Duck breast with roasted cauliflower, lentils and a mild curry sauce

***

Pecan tart with mascarpone ice cream and red fruit sauce

British Society Christmas dinner Vegetarian menu

Amuse

Liquid tortilla with onion and mushroom

Menu

BBQ beetroot with black miso dressing and lemon granola

***

Salt crusted celeriac with roasted cauliflower, lentils and a mild curry sauce

***

Pecan tart with mascarpone ice cream and red fruit sauce

Ball Charity

Our Charity this year is Voedselbank (Food Bank) which helps out 1,500 families in Amsterdam.  Some details are available here:

Click here for Charity Details

GENEROUS SPONSORS NEEDED!

We are hoping to find generous sponsors this year who can provide a prize for our raffle or silent auction which we can turn into cash for our chosen charity which this year is the Food Bank in Amsterdam. They provide basic nutrition for around 1,500 families in Amsterdam who cannot afford to feed their families.

It also provides you or your business with a great opportunity to advertise to the British and Expat community in and around Amsterdam. The offer of a generous prize means we will splash you all over our website and facebook feeds plus you will be featured in a special spread in our monthly Zine magazine.  This means you reach around 3,000 Britons and Expats.

We are asking for your help to make this excellent event a fantastic success.  All offers of help from any organisation through sponsorship and other ideas for the ball’s Charity Raffle or Silent Auction are very welcome…please email us …

chair@britsoc.nl or ball@britsoc.nl

Many thanks in advance, and we look forward to seeing you at the  Ball on the 10th December at the NH Barbizon Hotel.

Britsoc Photo Lesson #16 – Engagement shoots can be fun!

Categories: Amsterdam, Photography, Special Occasions
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BritPhotShot of the Month


Amsterdam is infinitely photogenic. That’s why it makes the perfect backdrop for an engagement shoot! Just this past summer I was lucky enough to be asked to cover the surprise proposal by Jeremy of his high school sweetheart Rebecca. That happened at a place we picked out; the corner of Reguliersgracht and Prinsengracht.

britphotshot-photo-spetember-20161Once the proposal had been safely navigated, ring on the finger of the blushing bride-to-be, we then set off on a walkabout of some of the city’s finest sights. Leidsegracht is always a great canal to pick because it has this wonderful bridge and a lot of photogenic boats passing underneath. The result on this blessed July Sunday – one of the few genuinely nice days this summer – was this incredibly striking image.

It just goes to show that engagement shoots don’t have to be stuffy and studio bound. They can be fun and full of all the joy that the couple anticipate experiencing on their wedding day.

Technical details; Nikon D810 with mounted AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm (2.8) f/10 @ 1/400th

Benjamin Arthur – the British Photographer in Amsterdam.

More information @ www.benjaminarthur.com

Email is benjaminarthur@gmail.com.

Phone # is 06 83 94 35 52

Restaurant Review – Meneer de wit Heeft Honger

Categories: Amsterdam, Britsoc Chairman, Food and drink, Nick's Nosh, To do in Amsterdam
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 Meneer de wit Heeft Honger ****

Witte de Withstraat 10, 1057 XV Amsterdam Tel: +31 20 737 3184

http://meneerdewitheefthonger.nl/

Online reservation possible

I live in the West of Amsterdam on the border of De Baarsjes and Bos & Lommer. Although Bos & Lommer has some wonderful ethnic cuisine, in general we head into the Baarsjes for our local restaurant fix. There is normally a new place opening in our area every month and so we do not suffer from a lack of choice. We recently visited Huis van Lopez which was aiming for a Mexican style. However everything just tasted of lime juice and pretty much nothing else. This review is about a restaurant I do like.

It is now extremely rare that a restaurant makes it to my go-to list which currently consists of 42 places. This one does.

This is a very unassuming restaurant just off Kinkerstraat on the line of the 17 and 7 tram. I had walked past it before and I thought it smelled great. The owner/chef is a Moroccan guy and the menu is Arabic/Mediterranean inspired. It is a simple place with white walls, basic wooden furniture open kitchen and room for about 50 covers.

I had looked on2016-07-21-20-05-42line at the menu beforehand so I was pretty sure what I wanted. Unfortunately the grilled sardines where finished when we arrived and so we chose 3 starters and oven baked dorade to share. The starters we chose were Arabic staples – hummus, baked spicy aubergine and a maybe not so Arabic staple, mixed beet platter. The first 2 were my choice and I thought they sang with flavour. Beets I don’t particularly care for, but they were nice enough. These were served with some slices of regular baguette-style bread. I could have just stopped there as it was filling enough and very tasty.

 

 

The dorade came out on a silver platter with wedges of lemon and covered in spices. The top of it was crispy roasted skin and underneath was slightly stewed. It was cooked to perfection. We shared a bit of the top and bottom with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. We had nothing to accompany it, but if you would like something, then a simple green salad would be all you would need.

The service was effective and unobtrusive. Simple. We had a bottle of white wine, no idea what it was, but it was good enough. The bill was well under 100 euros for 2 people.

It is simple, tasty, good value. You don’t need to know much more than this. Just go – you will be happy you have been there.

On the 10th December this year the most glamorous and glittering event of the Netherlands Christmas social calendar will be once again held in the St Olaf Chapel in The NH Barbizon Hotel opposite Central station.

This year’s theme will be Glitz and Glam and tickets will go on sale shortly. Chris Naylor, Head Chef at Restaurant Vermeer in the NH Barbizon Palace in Amsterdam, will be sprinkling his Michelin star magic over the three course menu he has developed for the charity ball.

At the welcome reception you will be able to get a glimpse of the terrific prizes\for the Charity raffle and Silent auction. The fabulous meal will be accompanied by wine and an evening of entertainment to dance the night away. A late night breakfast will also be served to those who are still going strong after midnight.

We will be open for ticket sales later in September but you may have to be quick as last year we were sold out in 3 weeks!

GENEROUS SPONSORS NEEDED!

We are hoping to find generous sponsors this year who can provide a prize for our raffle or silent auction which we can turn into cash for our chosen charity which this year is the Food Bank in Amsterdam. They provide basic nutrition for around 1,500 families in Amsterdam who cannot afford to feed their families.

It also provides you or your business with a great opportunity to advertise to the British and Expat community in and around Amsterdam. The offer of a generous prize means we will splash you all over our website and facebook feeds plus you will be featured in a special spread in our monthly Zine magazine.  This means you reach around 3,000 Britons and Expats.

We are asking for your help to make this excellent event a fantastic success.  All offers of help from any organisation through sponsorship and other ideas for the ball’s Charity Raffle or Silent Auction are very welcome…please email us …

chair@britsoc.nl or ball@britsoc.nl

Many thanks in advance, and we look forward to seeing you at the Glitz and Glam Charity Ball on the 10th December at the NH Barbizon Hotel.

Poetry Critique Group – Amsterdam

Categories: Amsterdam, Expat Poetry, Poetry, To do in Amsterdam
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Our Friends at the language poetry critique group are looking for new members.

We are an English language poetry critique group based in Amsterdam. We meet twice monthly on a Thursday evening from 6.30 till around 8.30. No experience is necessary, but you would need to write poetry in English and give and receive critique in a supportive environment. We are a friendly open group and welcome anyone who is interested. Membership is free, but there may be a small charge for the venue.

The next meeting is on 8th October.

For further details contact Robin Winkel at robinwinckel@kpnplanet.nl