Friday 30 January | 2015
Utrecht turned out to be a city with several great surprises. Hidden in the countryside is the impressive Castle de Haar and its extensive parkland. While we missed the window for the mandatory guided tour (check the schedule first here) we vow to come back in the springtime with a picnic in hand.
Another nice surprise in Utrecht is De Keuken van Thijs, a sweet little café that prides itself on fresh, homely food which is all made in house.
We thought smoked chicken was extinct in Europe until we came across it in the Pain de Milan (grilled foccacia) menu. Here the generous serving is given even more character with the sweet homemade mango chutney, sprouts, cucumber slices, rocket and mixed seeds, stuffed into a healthy wholegrain roll.
If you love a great sandwich, then the Netherlands has plenty to offer you. De Keuken van Thijs’ signature stack is both interesting and delicious, showing off their housecut rib-eye carpaccio, truffle mayonnaise, traditional style cheese and two sorts of crusty farmhouse bread.
It’s not possible to be unhealthy in the Netherlands. Not with their commitment to quality fresh ingredients, seasonal produce and the art of the homemade, followed by that standard bicycle ride home. Places like De Keuken van Thijs, a sandwich and salad paradise, make healthy choices so easy.
Bring lots of good company to crowd around the tables inside, where you can sit amongst the colourful turnips painted on the wall, and chill out with the minimalist guitar music playing in the background.
Have your friends skipped town for warmer skies? Cosy up with a beautiful cookbook called Winter by Yvette van Boven instead. One of several great reads piled up beside us, it is full of inspiring seasonal recipes guaranteed to brighten the last of the grey days ahead.
When it’s cold outside, cakes become irresistible, including this just-like-nana-made apple tart with its soft pastry case and chunky apple filling. A hint of cinnamon and several dollops of cream later, and our winter blues have disappeared.
While we enjoy a late lunch, several visitors drop by to pick up sandwiches, scurrying back out into the cold with their oversized paper bags of Dutch treasure. It seems De Keuken van Thijs is also a popular spot for takeout.
The crossing where hipster meets hippie.
See the menu below: