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It’s about time I talk about some very Dutch things: borrels and bitterballen. On Friday night, after a long dull week Jesse and I went out on a little date night to enjoy both things.

A borrel is basically a semi-organized event, with drinks and food, often with colleagues or friends. Jesse’s department at the university has borrels every few months. Normally it’s held at a brown bar–any small, old Dutch pub. Add some drinks, some snacks, and good conversation with interesting people, and it makes for a wholly gezellig evening. Check out Stuff Dutch People Like for a humorous description of a borrel.

Our borrel on Friday night wasn’t true to the definition since it was just the two of us. We also chose a bright, modern cafe instead of a dark old bar, to better enjoy the sun. But it didn’t matter: the real reason I wanted to go out was for borrelhapjes, fried goodness best accompanied by a few drinks.

Below is the sampler platter. Kastengels, the long skinny ones, are basically cheese wrapped in a won-ton wrapper and fried. Dipped in sweet chili sauce, they are delicious. Krokets and Bitterballen are eerily similar: both are filled with a type of meat ragout, then fried and served with mustard. Normally kroketten are bigger, and they’re often smeared on a piece of bread for a simple lunch.

The bitterballen are by far my favorite, though the kastengels are a close second. They disappear so quickly! You can find these treats at any bar or restaurant in the city, or you can buy them frozen and make them yourself. The day when I can’t pop into any pub for my bitterballen fix is the day I’ll have to try to make them myself.

After stuffing ourselves with the entire platter, we wobbled home on our bikes, stopping to admire the evening light.

The light on the canals, this city, bitterballen, a gezellig evening with that handsome man… I’m a lucky woman.

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