Koen and I see New Year’s Eve as a reason to indulge. Normally that means champagne, lobster, foie gras, and any other decadent food or ingredient we can think of – but this year we decided to challenge ourselves to create a kaiseki dinner for the two of us.
This year we made a traditional Christmas dinner, with Beef Wellington as the star. This year Nikki wasn’t able to join us, which meant that for the first time we could have meat at dinner. Koen and I have a tradition of eating Beef Wellington every Christmas Eve and it seemed like a fun idea to make altogether at our place in Antwerp. For the starter Barbara made her famous pear and butternut squash soup with fried sage and bacon. Yum!
Marrying into a Dutch family means getting to celebrate Sinterklaas every December. I love how much effort goes into writing poems and creating surprises for everyone! This year we celebrated at Barbara’s place in Tilburg to exchange gifts and surprises.
This year Koen and I had a small Thanksgiving celebration, just the two of us. We narrowed down our favorite sides (okay, I chose the sides!) and we bought a chicken rather than a turkey to prepare and we were good to go! There’s something so comforting about eating Thanksgiving food in November no matter where you are in the world. We also enjoyed many leftovers the coming days – maybe even the best part of the Thanksgiving meal!
Ever since I moved to Belgium, my dad has wanted to attend the French Open aka Roland Garros. So this year we made it happen! We bought seats on the Suzanne Lenglen Court, named for the French tennis player who many regard as the greatest female tennis player in tennis history. La Divine (the Goddess – a nickname given by the French press), was the first female tennis celebrity / international female sports star and won 31 championship titles between 1914 – 1926.
I really love the colors of Roland Garros – the burnt orange with green and purple. So when it started raining and we had a 1 hour rain delay, I didn’t mind too much purchasing the French Open ponchos!
For Koen’s birthday we held a second edition of the Chili Cookoff! In 2016 Koen placed in 2nd, so now after two years he was ready to compete again!
The rules: everyone invited brings a chili to be evaluated with the winners announced at the end of the evening. The prizes: 3 hot sauces. The world’s hottest chili for the winner, 2nd hottest chili for the 2nd place, and 3rd hottest chili for 3rd place.
Sinterklaas is a Dutch/Belgian tradition normally celebrated at the beginning of December. Due to vacations, we made a change this year to celebrate both Sinterklaas and Christmas the same day.
Because we didn’t have so much time in Moscow before our train departed, we were only able to visit one museum. After doing a bit of research, Garage was my #1 choice.
This year was a special birthday for Koen’s mom, Els – she turned 60! So to celebrate it in a special way, we wanted to surprise her with a party! We were very sneaky, telling her that we planned a lunch with the children in Zeeland, but to her surprise we invited family and friends to surprise her at Sand & Pepper Beachbar in Burgh-Haamstede!
For a late Mother’s and Father’s Day, we took Dook and Els to Sir Anthony Van Dijck, where we also celebrated Koen’s birthday last year. When Koen and I told his parents where we would be celebrating his birthday, we learned that Sir Anthony van Dijck was a favorite restaurant of Koen’s grandfather. In fact when Els met Dook’s father for the first time it was at Sir Anthony Van Dijck! So this was surprise culinary destination!