10 Questions for (34): Ellie Brik – a prolific Dutch travel writer

Ah, and here is another real travel writer and not-so-frequent-blogger to introduce to you:

1) Who Are you?

I am Ellie Brik and I was born many many years ago in Rotterdam. About 10 years ago I wrote for publisher Mo’Media in Breda (www.momedia.nl) my first book “52 zondagen wandelen & lunchen” (52 Sunday walks and lunches) which was very successful (100.000 copies and on the Top 100 list of best sold books in 2002). I’ve written 12 guidebooks up to now. All about the good life: visiting lovely towns and villages, having great lunches and dinners, and staying in the best hotels.

2) What do you like about what you do?

When I am working every day is a holiday. After all these years I am still surprised by all the beautiful cities in Holland, Belgium and Germany which I visit for my job.

3) What don’t you like about what you do?

I don’t like the traffic, so I try to avoid it by leaving my house early in the morning.

4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.

With my blog http://elliebrik.web-log.nl I love to combine private and business matters.

5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

Although it is not my favourite drink: having tea at the Ritz hotel in Paris (just passing by), the Amstel hotel in Amsterdam (seeing rich friends who spent 3 nights in a royal suite) and hotel Des Indes in The Hague (writing an article about the hotel, see below). And last but not least the trip with my two daughters to Berlin in September 2009. We had a lovely high tea at the Adlon Hotel (www.kempinski.com) in Berlin after biking the whole day through this beautiful city.

View from the Adlon terrace on the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin [been there too Ellie:-)]

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

For a Belgium magazine I wrote an article about Hotel Des Indes (www.desindes.nl) in the Hague. I enjoyed afternoon tea, stayed one night and had a lovely breakfast. Because I live in the Hague I traveled by bike!

For an other article in the magazine Hotels of Mo’Media I ‘had’ to stay at the Bliss Hotel (www.blisshotel.nl) in Breda. I’ll never forget the strawberries, chocolate and champagne which I found in my room after a lovely dinner in their restaurant Chocolat.

In February 2010 I shared a room with my best friend in hotel Duo in Paris (www.duo-paris.com). He is the rich guy who always stays in the most famous hotels in the world, but he had to admit that breakfast at a large wooden table at Le Pain Quotidien (www.lepainquotidien.com) is not bad at all.

7) Your top 3 most memorable food / wine experiences to date and why?

The best shrimp croquettes in Belgium on the terrace of Zuiderterras in Antwerp (www.zuiderterras.be) with a fantastic view on the river Schelde.

A perfect sandwich at the roof terrace of the Kurhaus Museum in Cleve, Germany (www.museumkurhaus.de) with a fantastic view on the historical park.

A glass of white wine at The Walvis (www.walvis.org), a beach restaurant on the island Terschelling, with again a fantastic view on the Waddenzee.

8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation /food experiences to date and why?

My stay in a bed & breakfast in Belgium, where the owner gave me the wrong room. I was a bit surprised by the heart of rose leaves on my bed, the many candles around my bed and the present which appeared to be a bottle of man’s perfume. But at 23.00 hrs when I was deep asleep a young Belgian couple opened the door with a key and the lady was furious about the fact that I had thrown the rose leaves away and opened her present for her lover. The owner of the B&B who came in a hurry, let me stay in my bed and the young couple got a room next to me. I could hear them yelling for half an hour!

My stay in a hotel in Friesland, where I got a single room which looked more like a prison cell with very thin walls. In the middle of the night I heard my neighbours entering their room, screaming because a pigeon was under their bed and did not want to go out.

My stay for three days in a hotel in Nijmegen where I got three breakfasts and three dinners served at a single table opposite the single table of an Englishman. Everytime I looked up I looked into his eyes….

9) Can you offer the readers 3 destination/ food / accommodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?

Try the shrimp croquettes at Dendy (www.restaurantdendy.nl),
the Caesar salad at Oker (www.restaurantoker.nl),
both at the Denneweg in the Hague, and the fusion kitchen of Wox (www.wox.nl).

Stay at the Haagsche Suites (www.haagschesuites.nl), the best in town,
at Hotel des Indes (ask for a room with a view on the LangeVoorhout), or
at the Paleishotel (www.paleishotel.nl)

Visit the Gemeentemuseum (www.gemeentemuseum.nl),
the Mauritshuis (www.mauritshuis.nl)
and the Panorama Mesdag (www.panorama-mesdag.com)
all three a must.

10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?

What are you doing at the moment?

In August, October and December 2010 I’ll write a four pages article for the magazine “Heerlijkheid”, published by Mariënwaerdt in Beesd (www.marienwaerdt.nl), it’s all about the good life in The Netherlands.

My Take:

For English language guide books 100.000 copies sold may seem nothing, but I believe it is the equivalent of selling 10 mio copies in the English language…And MoMedia guides are very handy, short and to the point!

Although we live practically around the corner from each other, I hardly meet Ellie ever when shopping, which is strange as we seem to share the same preferences. Just when I was editing the interview of Patrick Goff, who wrote the first full English language review of Haagsche Suites, I ran into Ellie who wrote the first ever Dutch review for a guidebook of Haagsche Suites.

Ellie with a Galerne Baguette

We met at our favorite Breton (France) patissier Philippe Galerne here in The Hague from whom we both love the bread, the chocolate and the cake. I’ve a feeling we now will meet soon again. Thank you for your cooperation Ellie!
Update: You can find Ellie on Twitter now: @EllieBrik
Last edited by GJE on June 15, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Best Xmas Turkey

Nude-Turkey-_MG_2916
Frequent readers of this blog know I like to play around with words and search engines. So I have tagged above photo “Nude Turkey”. BTW nothing so depressing as the view of a nude turkey 🙂

We have some British subjects in the family and usually have visitors from across. Last year it was the same and off course turkey was on the Xmas menu. Last year’s turkey was excellent, but I forgot how I prepared it. Luckily one of last year’s guests remembered we had used Delia Smith’s guidelines and came up with a very helpful link How to roast turkey.

Turkey-with-Coppa-_MG_2919

Then I realized I had forgotten to buy streaky bacon rashers. After inspection of the fridge I found some Coppa (Italian dried ham), even better than bacon I would think.
Buttered-up-Turkey-_MG_2920

Next problem was the butter, that was much too hard to easily spread over the beast. So I found a roll of salted butter that I cut in parts and really buttered the turkey up!

The tricks are:

  1. Wrap it in aluminum foil, butter it up and cover it up with bacon (or coppa or whatever is alike)
  2. First 1/2 to 3/4 hour in the oven with high temperature (approx 220°C)
  3. Then 3 to 4 hrs at approx 170°C
  4. Finally you take the foil down and let it get crispy in 1/2 to 3/4 hr at approx 220°C again

Best-Turkey-Ready-_MG_2925

The end result was fabulous again! Nice crispy and juicy! Thanks Delia. I wrote it into this blog to not forget your secrets next year.

Hot Michelin Star and Hotel Newbe: Niven Kunz

Niven-Kunz-_MG_2269

The new 2010 Michelin Guide has been published and this is Niven Kunz of Restaurant Niven in Rijswijk, a suburb of The Hague. Probably he is the youngest Dutch chef awarded with a Michelin Star, or does he only look very young? Anyway, he’s now also a hotelier with 2 rooms. Congratulations Niven with your star and welcome as fellow hotelier.

I took this bit dreamy portrait photo last week when he was showing off at the 2010 Food festival in The Hague which was very well organized.

You can congratulate him on Twitter as Niven Kunz

Moxie

Philip-C-Wolf-of-Phocuswright-IMG_9490Philip C Wolf of PhoCusWright

What the hell is Moxie?

One of the gurus in travel marketing is the very passionate Philip C. Wolf, president and CEO of PhoCusWright, a travel marketing think tank. At one of his conferences, at ITB Berlin 2009 he teached his audience that under the present economic circumstances “You need a lot of Moxie”. I didn’t have a clue what that meant. It was later explained to me that maybe you can translate this into “You need a lot of balls” or, “You need a lot of creativity”, or “You need a lot of perseverance”. So far so good.

Until today another passionate marketing guru and gifted blogger and speaker, Seth Godin posted a story on his blog: Everyone is clueless about a guy with a lot of Moxie, John Ness of Galoco’s Soda Pop Stop in Los Angeles:

You don’t want to [adress] everyone. You want [to address] the right someone.

Someone who cares about what you do. Someone who will make a contribution that matters. Someone who will spread the word.

As soon as you start focusing on finding the right someone, things get better, fast. That’s because you can ignore everyone and settle in and focus on the people you actually want.

Actually that’s my whole point. That’s what I’m trying to as a hotelier when I want to convince someone to stay in my little luxury hotel.

At the end of the video below John Ness explains where Moxie comes from. You can drink it and he sells it: “It’s is the only soda that made it into the dictionary with it’s own meaning”.

Great story of John Ness. Wow! If only I could get such a thumbs up by Seth Godin:-)

So I learned a bit more about Moxie. Thank you Philip, Seth and John Ness for sharing this. (afterthought: John would be an excellent blogger)

How would you explain Moxie?

Proud 2010 Gault Millau Hotelier

Gault Millau 2010 sticker for Haagsche Suites

Yesterday, as the first of the 5 or 6 prestigious restaurant guides in The Netherlands, the Dutch version of the Gault Millau Guide presented its 2010 awards and 2010 guide with the best 500 and something Restaurants and best 220 Hotels of The Netherlands here around the corner in The Hague. I’m a bit sad I had to miss the ceremony…so near by.

Today I received the sticker proving the Gault Millau editors deem Haagsche Suites worthy to belong to the best 220 Dutch Hotels in their guide. Thank you Gault Millau for the quick service, that even beats the new listings on your own website 🙂

Gault Millau started in France as a restaurant guide in 1969. It was founded by two restaurant critics, Henri Gault (1929-2000) and Christian Millau. The French site is a mere window for their paper guide.

Yesterday the Belgian and Luxemburg Branche of Gault Millau also presented its 2010 Guide and awards.

I grabbed the following from the Misset Horeca Site:

Plaese note the best restaurant has been awarded 20 points out of 20 which is remarkable in the Gault Millau history. At the same time our Belgian neighbors awarded a Dutchman, Roger van Damme the Chef of the year award for his Antwerp based lunches only restaurant.

Gault Millau’s top 13 Restaurants of The Netherlands:

Points Restaurant City
20 Oud Sluis Sluis
19,5 Inter Scaldes Kruiningen
19,5 Beluga Maastricht
19,5 De Librije Zwolle
19 De Leest Vaassen
18 La Rive Amstel Hotel Amsterdam
18 Chalet Royal Den Bosch
18 De Lindenhof Giethoorn
18 De Bokkedoorns Overveen
18 Parkheuvel Rotterdam
18 De Zwethheul Schipluiden
18 De Leuf Ubachsberg
18 ‘t Brouwerskolkje Overveen



gaultmillau 2010 logo
Two of those top restaurants, Parkheuvel and De Zwetheul are easy to reach for a dinner when staying in Haagsche Suites.

Two other Restaurants Calla’s and Seinpost who also earned good points are even nearer to Haagsche Suites. Seinpost has the best wine food combining sommelier of 2010.

Austria, Italy, Germany and Switzerland each have their own Gault Millau guides.The US and the UK have their Gayot guides. Gayot was a friend of Gault and Millau and they published joint guides until a schism in 2000.

Gault Millau is said to be the guide of the food purists more than the Guide Michelin….