How To Make Dutch Stamppot – “Boerenkool Met Worst” Recipe

If you are not new to my blog then you know I tend to write about the places we visit and things we do,  but today I thought it might be fun to share some of the things I cook.  I’m a huge fan of cooking and have a huge interest in a variety of kitchens – I love Italian, Mexican but I’m particularly fond of Asian cooking. I especially love Korean, Thai and Vietnamese dishes and just recently enjoyed a delicious home-cooked Indonesian meal including Rendang,  Kip sate and Nasi.  So my next experiment meal is going to be a variation of those dishes and maybe an additional one so I’m busy gathering recipes.  Not surprisingly I already have a lot of the ingredients here in the house from making homemade Sambal trassi. I will of course share those recipes and the outcome of my mini Indonesian meal.

But for this post which is about tonight’s dinner, I thought why not try something typically DUTCH!  Dutch cuisine you ask? I know – that you don’t hear a lot about.  No one says I feel like grabbing some Dutch takeaway. Not to say it’s not “good” but let’s be honest – the Dutch are known for many things and it’s not their cuisine.  When you think of “traditional Dutch food”, you probably think of Gouda cheese, stroopwaffels, pancakes/poffertjes and possibly even herring, but hands down the most traditional item is Stammpot. Ask a Dutchie the same thing – name a “traditional Dutch dish“, I am certain they’ll say Stamppot or Hutspot!  

When I think back to my first time in the Netherlands in Aug 1999, I ate this dish. Perhaps it was the sausage or the way it was cooked – no idea but truthfully, I have to say I was not a fan.  A bit like Bangers & Mash in the UK & Irish colcannon with sausages, here in the winter this is a staple meal in a lot of households in the Netherlands — just not the case here. I think the last time I made it was probably 5 years ago in Ireland!  Clearly, I’m not yet “ingeburgerd” but trying :).  It was brought up this weekend in a conversation, so when I was planning out dinner, I thought I’d give it a try.  The photos are not the best and most appealing looking images, but it actually came out pretty good and both kids liked it. A bit of the dinner conversation was about Dutch Hema on Youtube. I suspect they meant this one but will have to ask – as we didn’t look it up.

WHAT IS STAMPPOT?

Stamppot is a traditional Dutch dish made from a combination of potatoes mashed with one or several vegetables with a sausage on top.  These vegetable pairings traditionally include kale, sauerkraut, endive, spinach, turnip greens, or carrot & onion. (The combination of the latter two is known as hutspot.  It’s the ultimate “comfort food”. Perfect for a cold, dark & wet evenings. 

There is a variety of stamppot recipes in the Netherlands – and of course that is where personal taste preferences really comes into play but below are some of the most popular versions.

  • Boerenkoolstamppot (kale stamppot) – this is the one I made tonight and (I think) most popular!
  • Zuurkoolstamppot (sauerkraut stamppot)
  • Hutspot (onion and carrot stamppot)
  • Rauwe Andijviestamppot (raw endive stamppot)
  • Preistamppot (leek stamppot)

HISTORY BEHIND IT?

Exactly how the very first stamppot recipe originated is not completely clear, yet historians do know that many dishes were prepared in a large pot during the Middle Ages. According to legend, the recipe came from the cooked potato bits left behind by hastily departing Spanish soldiers during their Siege of Leiden in 1574 during the Eighty Years’ War, when the liberators breached the dikes of the lower lying polders surrounding the city. To this day the Dutch city still celebrates the Liberation of Leiden on 3rd October with a traditional Dutch hutspot.

WHICH TYPE OF ROOKWORST?

Now that you know you basically boil potatoes and veg and combine them you now have to figure out which type of “rookworst” to buy. As I stood in the section of my local Albert Heijn I really didn’t know which to choose, so I picked one from Unox brand. There were a LOT of choices including a vegetarian one. Wonder if you can get turkey worst or chicken worst? I’ve had Dutch friends recommend that I try the worst at the HEMA. But as I said before, I never make this meal so I don’t know a good worst from the bad one – so I just bought the one that was not the cheapest and not the most expensive.  Coming from the States, the best way to explain it (and you’ll see in the photo) is that it is most similar to a Polish Kielbasa – you simply pan fry it or boil it slightly to warm it up.    If there is a next time, I’ll try the recommended HEMA worst! 

I believe that most Dutch cook it all together in one pot, which makes the whole process much quicker and simpler, but I think the kale is a bit more ‘al dente’. I personally cook the kale separately until it’s softer, then I add it into the smashed potatoes.

THIS IS HOW I MAKE “MY VERSION” OF DUTCH BOERENKOOLSTAMPPOT MET WORST.

  1. Peel and chop potatoes (and any veg you are putting in).  I just started paying attention to the type of potatoes and now specifically for stamppot – there is a difference in how they cook – some are more starchy others more waxy. Of course this makes total sense but I don’t use a lot of potatoes in my cooking, so that is quite new to me. As for the kale, you can also chop it yourself but they have handy already washed & chopped kale in bags for around €1, so I just buy it like that. Extras can be used in smoothies and omelettes.

  2. Place all the vegetables in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until vegetables are tender about 20 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, cook the worst until nicely browned on both sides and heated through.  I’ve read you can gently boil the worst or just heat it up – I prefer mine cut and grilled.

  4. Fry one half of onion and two cloves of garlic until brown.

  5. Drain the vegetables well, add a little butter then mash but don’t purée. You want to be a bit chunky. Season the stamppot with nutmeg, salt, and pepper and mix in cooked onion and garlic.

  6. Make a jus – (that’s simply a gravy for those who don’t know. Not sure if this is the traditional way but I like it this way… 

  7. Serve with worst arranged on top of a giant pile of mashed potatoes and some mustard on the side.  Of course, one of my kids asked for mayonnaise on the side! 🙂  

    I’ve read that some add fruit like pears on top!!!  I have NO IDEA why you’d do that… I don’t think it would taste good – correct me if I’m wrong.

Eet Smakelijk! Which means – enjoy your meal!

Another typical Dutch dish is Erwtensoep aka Snert – which is Pea Soup. I also make it a bit different than the Dutch way but next time I make it, I’ll post here. Oh and almost forget – hachee – which is something I learned last year and will make this year – Soren LOVES it!

Tell me have you tried Dutch Stamppot? Sound appealing? Do you make it a different way? You don’t have to limit yourself to the ways above – take mine or another from the internet and tweak it! I know someone who adds crispy spek (tiny bacon pieces into their mashed potatoes.

*Photo credit: lekkerensimpel.com

My Personal Top 11 Favorite Podcasts To Listen To Now!

If you have yet to dip your toes into the giant world of podcasts, prepare yourself for your newest obsession. They all have a similar format to talk radio, podcasts usually include a host discussing various types of material, from cooking, world news, bizarre stories which you really cannot imagine, interviewing special guests, sharing stories about important life-changing events or even a mixture of all the above in one. the length of the podcasts also vary to suit our attention spans — some of the shortest podcasts last just five minutes, while others are many part series lasting hours. And because they come in such a range of styles and subjects, you can tune in to keep your mind occupied while doing chores, making dinner, working out or commuting.

Are you like me and like to enjoy doing something else while cooking? I mean, apart from drinking a nice alcoholic beverage which I cook, I also love doing something along with it. When my kids are around, it normally involves listening to music and belting out the latest tunes which being entertained with Tik Tok dances which I cannot for the life of me do like my 10 year old. I sware, I used to be able do dance – really! But lately, I’ve been enjoying listening to more podcasts while I’m cooking and of course during my other “favorite hobby” cleaning – kidding!

The more I think about it, I can say that I go in phases – sort of like Netflix – I either binge watch a series and cannot get enough of it, or nothing at all and I search for the next greatest thing to pique my interest. So it’s not uncommon for me when I listen to podcasts, to just keep going and going. So after dinner, when it’s washing up time, I find I go back into the kitchen and put on the podcast. But I do need to watch what I’m listening to as my 10 year old daughter will often come in the kitchen or sit in the room off the kitchen and question my choices. So you can imagine when she hears me listening to one of Molly’s most recent escapades in Dying for Sex! You really cannot talk your way out of that trust me!

I’m a huge fan of narrative and true crime podcasts, and any podcasts that feature engaging or enlightening interviews.

Here’s a list of my favorite podcasts of the moment for you to check out the next time you’re cooking.

  1. SERIAL
    Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Season 1 was the first Podcast I listen to and I couldn’t get enough – it really started my love of podcasts. Taking place in Baltimore in 1999. A popular high-school senior, disappears after school one day. Six weeks later detectives arrest her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. He says he’s innocent – though he can’t exactly remember what he was doing on that January afternoon. But someone can. A classmate says she knows where Adnan was. The trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found.

  2. DYING FOR SEX
    Dying for Sex s a podcast about a woman named Molly who is diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. She decides to do something bold. She leaves her unhappy marriage and embarks on a series of sexual adventures to feel alive. It is narrated by Nikki Boyer and you either love her or hate her – I love her. This podcast will have you laughing one minute and crying the next.

  3. THE DATING GAME KILLER
    Dating Game Killer is a six-part series about Rodney Alcala who won a date on the popular TV show, The Dating Game in 1978. What no one knew was that he was a prolific serial killer in the middle of a cross-country murder spree. The narrator takes listeners on an unbelievable journey into Alcala’s twisting secret life.  He hid behind normal jobs like a summer camp counselor fooling employers, prison psychiatrists, and parole boards — all while committing heinous crimes from coast to coast. A real binger!

  4. THE IMMACULATE DECEPTION
    The Immaculate Deception is one that I really found fascinating – particularly perhaps because my own children were conceived with fertility treatments so the struggles of these women resonate with me. The desire and in my cases desperation to have children, the what ifs. Clearly my two children look like a combination of myself and their father, but had one of them not looked like either of us, how would it be – I cannot even being to imagine. And then many years later, hearing that the fertility doctor, Jan Karbatt which was trusted so much, used his OWN SEMEN and fathered HUNDREDS of children is just mind-blowing. He was determined to create life- by any means possible. Also this story takes place here in the Netherlands makes it even closer. Our treatments were in Boston, so I’m certain we’re in the clear! Interestingly enough some of those children are interviewed – some are rather upset to find out the news, another is not bothered much as they are grateful he gave them life. It really seems like something out of a twisted movie or something you read about in a far away country but here in Rotterdam? Shocking this has happend in other places too – so not the first time. With genetic testing more and more of his children which are now nicknamed the “Karbastards” are discovered to this day.

  5. NICE WHITE PARENTS
    In 1954, the Supreme Court declared racially segregated public schools unconstitutional. From Serial and The New York Times, this podcast looks at the 60-year relationship between WHITE PARENTS and the public school down the block in New York City. She attempts to shed light on the influence white parents hold in American education. How do these parents facilitate current inequalities in public education, and what must change?

  6. UP AND VANISHED
    Season 1 explored the 2005 disappearance of beauty queen and high school teacher Tara Grinstead from her home in Ocilla, Georgia. As the people of Ocilla began talking about the case again, new leads and stories emerged. In February 2017, the GBI arrested two suspects for Grinstead’s murder.

    Season 2 aired in August 2018 and focused on the disappearance of Kristal Reisinger in Crestone, Colorado.

  7. IN THE DARK
    Season 1 – Was about the investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling which yielded no answers for 27 years. How law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger and led to the nation’s sex-offender registries.

    Season 2 – Investigated the case of Curtis Flowers, a black man from Winona, Mississippi, who was tried six times for the same crime. Flowers spent more than 20 years fighting for his life while a white prosecutor spent that same time trying just as hard to execute him. Finally he was cleared of all charges. Just today, in fact, I received an email notifying me of Episode 20 – a new updated interview with Curtis himself – so I’m going to go back and listen.

  8. HERE IN HOLLAND
    Here in Holland is one that I know a lot of you might not find as interesting. While Andy Clark tells the stories and interviews in English, it is about getting the most out of life here in the Netherlands so it’s really geared towards us internationals living here. Many are funny and I do like to listen to him.

  9. ZEG HET IN HET NEDERLANDS
    Zeg het in het Nederlands or “Say it in Dutch” is a great podcast and really helps to learn and practice the Dutch language. The podcasts are all in Dutch are said quite slowly and articulated well so if you have about an A2 level they are quiet good to follow. The listeners can use a full transcript PDF to follow along but I never have – but will in the future for sure. A few times she said a few challenging things, but she stops and explains a bit further. There is always a catchy Dutch song too.

  10. EAR HUSTLE
    The daily realities of life inside Quentin State Prison shared by those living it, and stories from the outside, post-incarceration. I loved this podcast and binged listened to it. I downloaded all 36 episodes onto my phone so I could just keep listing whether I had internet or not.

  11. WHY WON’T YOU DATE ME?
    Let’s be real, we’ve all probably asked ourselves this exact question at some point. But few of us can talk about it as hilariously as Nicole Byer can. If you don’t know who Nicole Byer is – she’s flipping funny! She’s the host of Nailed It the cooking show and she is down right FUNNY! So when I saw she hosted a podcast, I knew I’d have to list and immediately knew I had to listen along as she recounts the #struggle that is modern dating. Her sometimes raunchy comedy isn’t great carpool listening, so use headphones or wait until it’s adults only time – this one is NOT for the ears of kids.

    Well, that is my top 11 podcasts! I need to add in that last one. When I started this post it was going to be my top 10, but during this post I discovered #11 – and It’s so great, I could not NOT include it.

    So I’d love to hear what are YOUR favorite podcasts, as I am always looking for the next thing to listen to while cooking and doing my household stuff. Are any of these in YOUR top favorites?

    Again, while I’m a fan of narrative and true crime podcast but I’d be up for listening to other things.

Verkeersexamen – School Cycling Training

The Netherlands has 17 million inhabitants and 23 million bicycles – 2 million are e-bikes. If you are interested in the safety cycling stats in the Netherlands you can see them here online.  In addition here are some addition outtakes found on the same PDF. 

  • Cycling leads to a longer and healthier life: – it helps counteract various illnesses, such as diabetes, some forms of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and depression; – it is an efficient way to prevent obesity. 
  •  Cycling is relaxing, convenient, and economical: – cycling takes you from door to door and offers individuality, flexibility, and freedom; – it is a cheap mode of transport and yields substantial social benefit.
  • Cycling improves accessibility and, compared to cars, involves lower greenhouse gas emissions and less air pollution: – switching from a car to a bicycle saves an average of 150 g of CO2 per kilometre and 0.2 g of NOx per kilometre.
  • Bicycle traffic safety remains an important point for attention: – the traffic mortality rate among cyclists is not declining and the number of serious injuries is increasing. I am certain that one way to reduce the traffic mortality rate among cyclists and the number of serious head injuries is to require helmets, but I’m 100% sure that will NEVER happen.

No idea how many of those are kids bikes but Dutch kids learn to ride a bike VERY YOUNG! Most kids under two are zooming around on scoot bikes and by 3 many are riding without training wheels! It’s really cute and hard not to stare when you see a tiny kid riding a bike! Our kids both were seven when they learned to ride bikes without training wheels! So “late” but we were not living in the Netherlands so it was a bit different. They both had steps and used those to get around more.

A bit like the water safety and the swim diplomas, In an effort to keep the kids safe on their bikes, they created a special bicycle safety program.  Apart from parents teaching them how to ride safely, each year, most Dutch school children between Groep 7 & 8 take a “Verkeersexamen” (traffic test) sponsored by Veilig Verkeer Nederland . Depending on which region you are in and your specific school, of course.  The exam at our school is normally done in Groep 7 during the Spring, but with COVID the kids couldn’t take their exams, so that is why they are doing it today, September 18th in Groep 8. 

EXAMS – THEORETICAL & PRACTICAL 

The exam consists of two parts: an obligatory theoretical part, to test the children’s knowledge of road safety rules, and an optional practical part, to test if the children can apply what they’ve learnt when riding their bike in regular traffic. I only just today learned the second part was optional, as all but one child in my son’s class took the practical part.   I also learned that some schools do not currently participate. The main reasons are: not enough time to organise the exam, the exam route is unsafe (in larger cities) and some pupils don’t have sufficient cycling skills to take part.  The last part is due to a growing number of children with immigrant backgrounds who do not learn to cycle from their parents and they often don’t own bikes.  Surely, it is this group that would benefit most from compulsory cycling lessons and a cycling exam.      I’m part of this group, so I can relate. I never rode a bike around major cities like I do here and some rules are different than back in the US.   So when I first rode a bike around Rotterdam I was nervous but now I’m much better at it and do it often.   I still have a hard time getting used to foot breaks but my bike here in Den Bosch is easy and my main method of transport.    I am so acclimated to riding it around the city, I’d never consider walking to the grocery store when I can ride my bike.   

Most kids in primary school walk or are taken to school by car or by bike with an adult. But by the age of 12, they are expected to be able to cycle to school independently – whether it’s a short ride through the busy traffic of cities like Amsterdam or even in a 15-km ride along rural road if they live in the countryside. The cycling infrastructure is set up here and truly amazing. We don’t know yet where our son is attending middlebare school next year, but as of today his favorite school is 7.3 km from our current house which he’d absolutely ride himself daily. Unlike in the US where you take a school bus (and drive a car at 16 to high school) or and in Ireland/UK where kids take public transport alone due to the lack of cycling infrastructure, safety and overall a non-cycling culture. Here they go by bike in all weather conditions. Even in the cold, pouring rain – they wear waterproof outer clothing – that is miserable if you asked me! 🙂 Luckily we have *many* apps on our phones which we can see when we expect downpours and we can attempt to dodge the heaviest showers – though many times they all show different amounts of rain so it can be quiet comical.

The full route of the “Verkeersexamen” (traffic test) in our area was done for two city center schools. They kids were given a map and a route with a few weeks to practice. The nearly 5 km bike route provided different traffic situations that they would also encounter once they ride their bicycles to secondary school. The children had to cycle a set route with traffic situations that are typical for the area, such as a crossing with traffic lights, bridge crossing or even a railroad crossing. The route has to include certain basic traffic situations, such as turning left and crossings with and without priority. Parents and volunteers are posted along the route to score the children’s traffic skills and behaviour. Everything is taken into account, from sticking out the correct hand to indicate a left or right turn, to giving priority when necessary and stopping at a red traffic light.

My son practiced the route four times with different friends, and I even went along one time with him so he could show me the route and how he was to do certain movements. He was very experienced and confident and looked forward to the exam today! Coincidentally, when I was coming home from an appointment, I saw some of the children in his class coming around the corner near our house, so I knew if I waited a bit longer, I’d see him. Sure enough, he came around the corner and I was there with my phone waiting for him. Thankfully, it didn’t distract but I’m thinking he was thrilled to see me and his dad waiting for him on the corner.

You are allowed to make up to three mistakes. Truthfully I think it would be pretty hard to fail the exam unless of course, you ignored a red light, failed to apply the priority rules correctly and any other serious road safety offence. When he returned home from school, he reported all kids passed!

In March of this school year, it will be my daughter’s turn! While I’m confident she’ll also pass, she’s not trilled with cycling like her brother – who lives on his bike. She’ll certainly have a new, lighter bike before that, so that will of course, help her enjoy cycling more.

SS Rotterdam: Legendary steamship with a nostalgic atmosphere

I included a small section about our visit aboard the ss Rotterdam in my previous post A DAY OUT IN ROTTERDAM but after visiting a second time with the kids, I think this popular Rotterdam tourist attraction can justify its own blogpost.

The ss Rotterdam is a historical ocean liner from Holland America Line that sailed its first voyage from Rotterdam to New York in 1959.   On her maiden voyage she carried the then Crown Princess, Juliana of the Netherlands, to New York.  It was, at the time, one of the most elegant ships built in the Netherlands post WWII.  

StarsStripesAndMayonnaise_Rotterdam_1396

However, with the growing popularity of air travel, it was refitted to be used as a cruise ship for many years until it was finally retired in 2000.  In 2010 was brought back to Rotterdam harbor and used as a hotel ship.   [There was a bit of a scandal with a housing authority which bought the ship – you can read about it here in English]  

StarsStripesAndMayonnaise_Rotterdam_1194

HOTEL ROOMS

As we didn’t personally stay onboard the ss Rotterdam, I cannot give my opinion of the 254 modern rooms.   I’m sure they are pretty cool as they are all decorated in the 50’s style.  The rooms are divided into 3 different themes: Bahamas, Original, Manhattan. These styles are based on the various (exotic) destinations that ss Rotterdam enjoyed in her years as a luxury cruise ship.   You can look at the rooms online here.   I personally like aspects of all three – so no clear winner.  

 

TOURS ONBOARD

Today guests can stay, dine, and explore with a tour.  We didn’t do the tour – but there is a short movie about how traveling on ss Rotterdam really looked like back in the day.   With COVID-19 measures, a lot was closed off, but they offer several types of tours which you book at the gift shop.

Seabreeze Deluxe Tour
Steam & Chrome Tour
Rotterdam Complete Tour
Art Tours

Guided tours and even Kids tours – all of them highlight the ship, the facts and figures, some include visits to the steam room, and Captain’s Quarters. 

CHART & RADIO ROOM

During our first visit, we didn’t go exploring the ship too much.  However, when we brought the kids onboard during our Rotterdam – check out that blog post here: Euromast – Experience the Most Stunning Views of Rotterdam  we saw some guests standing up on a higher deck so we also went up to see what was there.  Turns out there was a whole area of the boat that we never saw – including a chart room, the radio room and the captain’s cabin – all of which you see during the self-guided.   I think that McElroy Chart of Codes and Signals would be very cool in Soren’s bedroom. 

StarsStripesAndMayonnaise_Rotterdam_184

ESCAPE ROOM

If you are the adventurous type, and like to solve riddles, make the right connections, you might even find their onboard Escape Room fun.  I personally never did it before so I don’t know much about them but the record time of the Escape Room is 28 minutes and 17 seconds.  And the success rate is 40%.  I did a quick search as I thought was seemed pretty low, but the average success rate is 41% – guess it is normal after all. 

DINING OPTIONS

Clearly, the Lido Grill is a popular place to dine among the older folks – who were coming onboard for what looked like a special meal.    My guess is that if you want to have dinner in one of the restaurants at ss Rotterdam, you should book a table in advance. Again, we didn’t stay overnight but my guess is they’d have a great breakfast – as the hotel is a Westcord Hotel and from my experience with staying a week on Vlieland in the Westcord, they had a GREAT breakfast!

Once home to the largest red-light district in Europe, Katendrecht is now one of Rotterdam’s culinary hotspots. The Deliplein which is about a 10 minute walk from the ship is a small plaza that houses more than 20 restaurants and bars like Vislokaal KAAP – a fish restaurant whose menu looks great. This square is right behind the Fenix Food Factory (which we have on our list to visit) and very close to Hotel New York. Plus with the water taxi and water bus launches from behind the ship both taking you into the amazing city of Rotterdam.  I’d personally never dine onboard, if given the choice with all the option you have in Rotterdam! 

The fine dining option at the Club Room is temporarily closed as of March 2020 – which I suspect is due to COVID. 

GO OFF THE SHIP – VISIT THE CITY

If you are staying at the hotel for more than one night, you can rent a bicycle from reception.   Getting around the city is very easy – you can easily take it on the on the water bus and bike along to the windmills of Kinderdijk or in the Dutch Biesbosch – as it’s an e-bike so you can go even future!  Prices start at € 15, for the whole day!   They even offer scooters and rental cars if you prefer. 

LIDO DECK 

The kids found the pool cool – even though it was small, on a hot day, they’d definitely be interested in sitting it in too cool off. From what we can make out, no men can enter the pool without a shirt? Seems like an odd rule.

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On our first trip, we had a couple beers in the Ocean Wine Bar because it was very quiet and only the two of us for the majority of time we were there. But with the kids, we didn’t have anything to to drink.

StarsStripesAndMayonnaise_Rotterdam_1329

WATER TAXI & WATER BUS

As I mentioned above both the Water Taxi (stop 56) and Katendrecht Waterbus (line 18)  both launch from behind (and next to) the ship and take you into the amazing city of Rotterdam.   Once you make your booking online for the Water Taxi, just go out the doors on the backside where you stand on the platform and wait.  Within minutes, your taxi will come and pick you up and speed you way – literally!  Hold on to your hat and your kids-  as they will fly!    The Waterbus is just down a bit from the boat but super easy to navigate your journey on their website (Dutch or English)

LOCATION 

ss Rotterdam
3e Katendrechtsehoofd 25
3072 AM Rotterdam

Apart from the Water Taxi & Waterbus (see above for specifics), you can park your car in the huge lot outside for a fee.  Our first time we came by bike and there is of course Metro station Rijnhaven.   With all the new construction going on in the area – check to be sure what is open and closed.  

Check out my blog posts relating to this fabulous city:

Top 8 Things For Families To Do in Rotterdam
A Day Out In Rotterdam
Maeslantkering: Visiting the Storm Surge Barrier
A Day at the Blijdorp Zoo
Cafe Dukok – Best Apple Pie in Rotterdam
Day & Day Hot & Hot – Hot Pot Restaurant Review

Have you been to the ss Rotterdam? Share your experiences in the comments!

 

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Royal Delft Experience: A Visit To the Museum & Factory

On Friday, we visited the TU Delft Botanic Gardens and while in Delft, we visited the Royal Delft Experience. The experience takes you through a history of the company – the last surviving ‘pottery’ of the 30+ that existed in the city of Delft in the 17th century. It was founded in 1653 as De Porceleyne Fles [translation: The Porcelain Jar].

Delft Blue started in Netherlands around the 17th century when the VOC (the Dutch East India Company) brought the blue painted porcelain back from China. This resulted in an inspiration for the Dutch ceramists, because this fragile porcelain was not created or seen before.

During your self-guided tour (available in various languages), we started with two short movies, presented in different rooms, with modern sound and other effects about the history and then the firing process. Their website explains the process in-depth and very well. Then you are free to wander through a museum, where we each had an audio guide to explain the 14 different stations. There is also a special audio tour for children and for the younger children (under 10) – for a €1 you can buy a picture hunt which the children learn all about the iconic blue and white earthenware on a picture hunt throughout the museum.

The tour allows visitors to watch one of the artisans, as he paints by hand, pieces of earthenware – very impressive. Notice the black ‘paint’ he’s using, it’s cobalt oxide, a substance that when fired gives Delft Blue its signature color.

The museum has a section dedicated to items made for the Dutch Royal family. You’ll see various commemorative plates, historic pieces, and a unique shaped tulip vases – which is for sale in the gift shop for €17,000!  

If that very large tulip vase looks familiar and you are in the Randstad area, you might have seen the giant version along the A13 going towards Rotterdam.  I never remember to have my phone ready to take photo so this shutterfly version will have to do for now.

Foto Credit: Robin Utrecht/Shutterstock

CREATION OF PROUD MARY

In 2019, Proud Mary was launched as a collector’s item as an attempt to create a contemporary look & feel to a very historical and traditional item.  She was named after Mary Stuart II, the wife of Lord Lieutenant William III.  She was a great admirer and collector of Delft Blue in the Dutch Golden Age and in large collections of Delft Blue were in all her palaces like Hampton Court and Paleis het Loo. 

The large ones are hand painted and that is why the cost €1299. and so much more than the smaller ones – which are €75.  These are decorated with a transfer.  See the entire collection here

BEHIND THE SCENES INSIDE THE FACTORY

Later in the tour, when you get into the factory, you’ll see workers spraying, molding, drying, painting and firing the pieces.

There is a very large replica of “The Night Watch” by Rembrant on the wall made up of 480 impressively painted tiles.

VISIT THE MUSEUM ONLINE

On their site, they have a nice kids tour which is even great for adults. No worries that it is Dutch, there are English subtitles underneath!  Alternatively, you can visit their VR online museum and navigate around the museum yourself. 

WORKSHOPS – PAINT YOUR OWN DELFT BLUE

PAINT A TILE AT HOME

You can paint your own Delft Blue tiles at home.  While true Royal Delft pieces are painted with black and fired (as explained above), but for this you will receive a blue paint.  The DIY home based, self-painting kits are €39.95 and are for two tiles! 

PAINT IN THE MUSEUM UNDER PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE 

They also offer various workshops from plates, other pieces and tiles.  The tiles are done either in the DIY way above or in the traditional workshop – which means they are NOT ready to be taken home immediately as they must first be fired.  The products can be collected or shipped after approximately ten working days.   I would love to do one of these one day – just not sure what I’d paint on the tile or plate. 

BESPOKE ITEMS

You can also give a bespoke gift a tile or plate that is unique and personalized, which would be nice for a special occasion like births, anniversaries or weddings. You can add a name or date, etc

SCHIFFMACHER ROYAL BLUE TATTOO EXHIBITION

Delft Blue pottery and tattoos may not be the most obvious combination, but they have more in common than thought. Henk Schiffmacher is a renowned tattoo artist who has also curated exhibitions, written books and presented TV shows on tattoo art. The exhibition Schiffmacher Royal Blue Tattoo shows the link between tattooing and Delft Blue pottery, the Dutch traditional pottery that is made in Delft since the 17th century. Discover the history of tattooing and see the similarity between tattoos and Delft Blue. Henk Schiffmacher tells you the background stories of his drawings in the audio tour – which is only in Dutch regardless of which language your self-guided audio device is programmed.

Both craftsmanships, in fact, are rich with culture, tradition and symbolism. Henk Schiffmacher has made a number of unique objects with the master painters of Royal Delft, where the two worlds literally touch each other. The exhibition is visible until October 31st.

If you are visiting Delft and have an hour or two to spare it is a unique experience and I think worth it. The gift shop in the end is filled with some very amazing items from magnets to extremely expensive items.

I did, however, but a small little Christmas ornament to put on my tree. I already have a small blue and white porcelain windmill which I bought in the Netherlands many years ago on my tree – but I’m sure that is not “real”. You can always tell if your piece is genuine as it can be recognized by the hand painted signature on the bottom of the vase; the initials JT – Joost Thoof, the apothecary bottle and the word “Delft“with the code to indicate the year and the master painter’s initials.

ENTRANCE PRICES

Adults are €14 and kids (13-18) are €8.75 and kids under 12 with family are FREE!  Museumkaart holders receive a small discount. Check out their site for hours and more details about parking and other discounts offered.

Address:
Rotterdamseweg 196
2628 AR Delft
Netherlands

If you are interested in visiting Delft, check out my blog post Afternoon in Delft for ideas of what to do in the lovely city of Delft including a visit to the TU Delft Botanic Gardens.

TU Delft Botanic Gardens

TU Delft Flag

Today we decided to visit the Botanical Garden of the TU Delft. It is a public-oriented garden, as well as, a research garden and was created in 1917. Together with the university gardens of Leiden and Utrecht, the Delft Garden participates in the scientific botanical network of the Netherlands.

It has a very different feel than the Dublin Botanic Gardens which the kids and I loved to visit when we lived in Ireland.

After a brief stop in the gifts shop (which is also the exit), we were given a brochure with a map, then we were free to explore the gardens and the greenhouses at our leisure.

I particularly was fond of the cacti and the subtropical plants.

With COVID they implemented a one-way system in many areas but as it was a Friday afternoon and very quiet it was easy to follow. You can wander around looking at the various plants & trees – nearly all were marked.

If you were not sure of a plant, Funs has PlantSnap, a plant identification app on his phone which attempts to identify it. Essentially you can take a photo of the plant and instantly it comes back with what it suggests the plant is. Keep in mind it is not always accurate, as in this case. We are trying to identify these purple flowers – it keeps saying a type of lily. If you know, please share!

There is one particular section which I assume was dedicated to kids (currently closed with COVID restrictions) it is the Blotenvoetenpad – aka Barefoot path”, where kids are encouraged to take their shoes off and feel the different surfaces.

This website lists 24 of them in Netherlands and Belgium. It says on a barefoot path you walk a short walking route, a trail, over different types of surfaces: from soft grass and fine sand to shells, gravel and large boulders, from wood chips to wood stumps and thick branches. For children, the paths with the mud puddles are great fun, and the other adventurous elements such as the rope ladder, balance beam, dangling box and lookout tower. There are also barefoot paths that are mainly intended for a beneficial relaxation walk with natural foot massage. Other paths want to convey a message to the public. For example, the Hof van Twello https://www.hofvantwello.nl/ has turned it into an experience route, full of historical and culinary information. Many barefoot trails are free, sometimes you pay an entrance fee. An ideal activity for the summer, now that it is nice and warm. Do not forget to bring your children. Lots of fun! Humm, personally think I’d hate it as I have sensitive feet and would dislike stepping on the various textures, but I’d be open to try it once with the kids!

EVENTS & WORKSHOPS 

Listed online on their agenda of events are painting workshops, plant exchanges and guided tours for adults.  Then there are events for the kids (check out their site for prices and details). 

Expedition Corona

Saturday, September 12th –  Expedition Corona.  Especially for kids from 5 – 12.  At the entrance, each child receives instructions and then goes on expedition throughout the garden.  It is a fun day with lots of activities around health for humans. Due to the corona measures there are two time slots and full = full.  

Speurtochten

For children up to 12 years old who can read and write, they  have fun free ‘speurtochten’. They have to search the garden for letters to make up a plant or nature related word. They get to know a bit more about nature and receive a small appropriate gift when the solution is found. There is a new ‘speurtocht’ every quarter.  For smaller children who cannot yet read and write, they can do a special ‘speurtocht’ and search the garden for certain objects, animals and persons.

Halloween

In October our garden becomes a haunted Halloween venue. On Friday October 23rd kids from 5 – 12 years old can come and visit the spooky greenhouses, roast marshmallows and make some typical Halloween decorations. Dressing up is not a must, but much more fun.

Science Day

The last Sunday in October is Science Day in their garden and Science Centre Delft (which is next door).  Fun games and activities for kids and families, like examining water samples, seeing how glass is made and what plants look like from the inside. Kids can also discover crawly insects, unravel plant DNA and do the fruit quiz and maybe even see robots in the ponds.

Kerstival

On Saturday 19 December 2020 families with kids can do fun things in a decorated Christmas garden during the Kerstival. As you walk along the Christmas trees you can guess and sing Christmas songs. And once you are inside, you can make nice Christmas decorations and cards. Let’s hope the garden is covered with snow that day!

ENTRANCE PRICES

Adults are €4 and kids are €2.  Museumkaart holders are FREE.  You can also become a “Friends of the Botanic Gardens,  and receive an annual pass for the garden for a minimum of €12 which allows entry yourself plus one guest and a few other perks.   You can buy the card in the gift shop (which is manned by volunteers). 

Main Address:
Botanic Garden, Delft University of Technology
Poortlandplein 6
2628 BM Delft Netherlands

If you plan on visiting the TU Delft Botanic Gardens, check out my blog post Afternoon in Delft for ideas of what to do in the lovely city of Delft including a trip to the Royal Delft Experience

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