Monday, February 2, 2009

Great dinner at the van Gerwen’s

Anouk’s parents (the van Gerwens) invited us to join them for dinner Sunday evening, and that turned out to be the highlight of a very nice weekend for us. We’ve mentioned Jan and Ria and their extraordinary hospitality before, but this dinner exceeded anything we could have expected.

We knew that Anouk wasn’t going to be at dinner and that we would be meeting her aunt and uncle, Ludy and John (who have a sailboat). Beyond that, we assumed it would be a nice family dinner with talk about sailing. And it was a delightful evening with interesting conversation – not just about sailing but also about building and renovation in Amsterdam, which we find interesting since we’re living in the midst of it, and about Dutch food, of course.

The family dinner turned out to be a multiple-course gourmet feast based on traditional Dutch fare, but with an elegant twist, and it was awesome! The amuse was tiny individual pots of Dutch pea soup. The fish course included smoked eel (which I had thought I didn’t care for, but this smoked eel was excellent), smoked salmon, North Sea shrimp, and crab salad. The main course featured huge cuts of beef tenderloin, perfectly cooked, served with pepper sauce and sautéed mushrooms and onions and accompanied by potatoes, sugar peas with pine nuts, cinnamon stewed pears (Ria’s family version), and salad. After all of that, there was a wonderful frozen chocolate mousse in a chocolate shell with whipped cream and fruit. All was served with wine and followed by coffee. Although I risked hurting myself by doing it, I cleaned all of my plates. (Ria warned already with the second course that the Dutch don’t do doggie bags.)

Besides that the food was so beautiful and tasty, Ria served it each course on exactly the proper plates (her dinnerware pattern is beautiful) and with an intimidating collection of flatware. We had multiple forks, spoons and knives on both sides of our place settings plus at the top. I was grateful that my mom had long ago given me guidelines for dealing with the selection. This was the most I’d ever encountered. Even then, when we reached dessert and there were still two spoons and a fork left, I had to ask Ria if there was going to be even more. Thankfully, it was a fork and spoon for dessert and then a spoon for the coffee. I couldn’t have eaten another bite.

Anouk joined us for dessert, and it was very nice to see her. I missed the open house at her new apartment, but John twisted her arm and got us invited for coffee Tuesday, so I’ll see it then.

We had a totally wonderful evening! Wish we had photos to share.

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