When I lived in the Netherlands, the Leiden Weigh house (De Waag), rich with history, stood vacant at the convergence of the Mare, Nieuwe and Oude Rijn canals. The building was originally opened in 1659, replacing the wooden structure that had stood on the site since 1455. Goods from cities around the Netherlands (think: cheese from Alkmaar or tulips from Lisse) were transported via the canals, and large cranes would unload the goods. The goods were then weighed and traded inside the building. The building itself was created in the Dutch Classicism style, which is similar to the town hall
Every real Texan knows about Barton Springs – the natural pool in Austin filled entirely from a natural spring – and the truest of Texans have dipped their body into the chilly, but refreshing waters on a scorching hot summer day. It’s a rite of passage for natives, like floating the Guadalupe, sipping a Big O at Georges, or riding the Texas Giant at Six Flags. Natural pools are few and far between – no matter what country you reside in, so imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Belgium’s version of Barton Springs in a nearby neighborhood of Antwerp.
I’m perusing the American Women’s Club of Antwerp website. When I first moved to the Netherlands five years ago, I didn’t know what an expat was until I was one. Clueless and lonely, I tromped through the rain and wind – figuring out everything the hardest way possible. But I learned. This second go-around in Belgium, I know who to contact, what questions to ask, and what to look for. A glow from the fireplace flickers in my Antwerp living room. I stare into my computer and my eyes alight at the newcomer’s information on the AWCA website. In addition
“Hum, how about Portuguese? It has five stars. . . and it’s just around the corner from the museum,” I raise an eyebrow to my husband. He grips the steering wheel and leans forward. Parking in Europe, the anticipation of the unknown, stresses him out. “Like I said, it’s just around the corner from the museum,” I eye my phone, the Citadel park in Gent is coming up on our left. “Sounds great,” he exclaims and smiles when he comes upon a parallel parking spot the size of a moving truck outside the STAM museum. We unload the
Intrigued by the name, hungered by the concept, I made dates with Balls & Glory in multiple cities and I can attest – this isn’t just marketing. Balls & Glory satisfies the strongest of cravings, leaves you pining over an unforgettable experience, and calculating your return. All play-on-words aside, meatballs are a tradition of Belgium and Balls & Glory takes this yummy goodness to a whole new level. Whereas most meatballs are small and smothered – Balls & Glory handmade meatballs are the size of a baseball and sauce fills the inside – resulting in a taste explosion! My
A concrete slab. Construction lining the concrete slab. An ornate pavilion overlooking the concrete slab. That’s what I knew of the Kouter Square. We’d been to Gent a handful of times when we lived in the Netherlands, and had always parked in the garage below. We took the elevator with the stroller and wandered into the city from this central location. We lived in Gent for a month before settling in Antwerp. We packed up the kids one Sunday morning and headed into town via tram to explore the many markets the Gent guidebooks and websites listed. We stepped off
A robot Tyrannosaurus Rex howls, his thick neck stretching towards the imaginary night sky. Red blood covers his pointed teeth and jaws. He finishes the terrifying growl then ducks his head back into his dinner. Red guts are spilling from the body of the Triceratops as it lies limp on it’s side. “Geez man, way to get graphic, Europe,” I whisper to my husband, between the disgusted groans and giggles from my children. The Naturalis in Leiden was one of our favorite museums to visit when we lived in the Netherlands. It’s a short walk from the Leiden train station
Guacamole, the fresh green yumminess, can easily turn into an unattractive shade of brown. If by chance, you have any guacamole after serving it (this is a rarity in our house – my middle child is a guacamole-eating monster!) the best way to store it is by placing it in a small bowl or other glass container and covering it with plastic wrap. The key is to not allow any air to get between the wrap and the guac. Smush the plastic wrap and then let the edges cling to the sides. Refrigerate.
The first time I moved overseas, I left my Great Aunt’s cast iron skillet in storage (shameful!), but brought my comal. My college roommate’s Hispanic family introduced me to the comal, a flat cast iron pan, in which to heat tortillas on. (Please white people, stop microwaving your tortillas right now! Those chewy things have no contest on a nicely warmed tortilla from the comal). I bought it in San Antonio before we headed to the Netherlands. We hosted a number of Tex-Mex nights for the expats I’d met. Using the comal, I made perfect quesadillas for my kids and