Tea-masterclass Betjeman & Barton

Together with seven other tea lovers (two men and five women) I was invited today by Marion van den Blik, owner of Betjeman & Barton, Denneweg 25 in The Hague (www.betjemanandbarton.nl) to have a tea-masterclass in her lovely shop. The first thing we got was a glass of tea, a melange Pouchkine (which tasted a little bit like Earlgray, with bergamot, lemon and orange), with a homemade applecake, made of Granny’s world famous applecake mix. Marion told about the history of the famous tea brand, which started in 1919 when Englishman Mr. Barton visited Paris where he – of course – fell in love with a beautyful French lady, and opened his own tea shop at the boulevard Malesherbes. About 30 years ago Marion visited the B&B shop in Paris, fell in love with this brand of tea and took her own tea with her being abroad. In 1992 Marion decided to make from her passion her profession and opened the first Betjeman and Barton teashop in The Netherlands. Except for many many brands of tea she sells the beautiful pottery of Emma Bridgewater, GreenGate or Bunzlau Castle.

At home and in her shop she has a beautiful collection of about 140 tea pots, antique and modern ones, most of them in the shape of a cat. The first tea we tasted was the Chinese White Pearl from the Fujian province in Southern China, a light green tea, followed by a green Japanese Gyokuro, which has to brew just for one minute, a Black Dragon from Taiwan (with the taste of smoked chestnuts), a biological Darjeeling first flush, picked in March 2010 (€ 34 per 100 gr) and the fifth brand was the Chinese black tea. The prices of these teas are between € 25 and € 45 per 100 gr). You’ll have the best tea by using Spa water of about 70° C, a clean hot teapot, and o no, no sugar please. Then it was time for a so-called low-tea. Marion made delicious wraps with salmon, little clubsandwiches and mini pizzas, trifle and other sweets.

Thank you Marion, I enjoyed your tea-masterclass very much! And I could not resist buying that lovely red and white striped teapot of GreenGate!

A city with royal style

For my very first 52 cities’ guide I made a walk through the centre of The Hague. Start along the leafy Lange Voorhout with the Palace where Queen Emma lived from 1901 to l934. Nowadays it is a museum [1] tributed to the Dutch artist Escher. The prestigious Hotel Des Indes [2] built in 1858 had many royal guests, aristocrats and celebrities. Enjoy an afternoon tea in the lovely lounge area. Every Thursday and Sunday from May until the end of September you’ll find the antique market on the Lange Voorhout. Pulchri Studio [3] is an artist’s society, established in 1847. In this building the artists show their works of art (free entrance). The history of the Kloosterkerk starts around 1400 AD. Every last Sunday of the month a cantata service is held in collaboration of the Residential Bach Orchestra and the Residential Chamber Orchestra. In 2009 the Indonesian restaurant Garoeda [4] celebrated its 60th anniversary. You can enjoy either a light lunch up to a complete Rijsttafel (ricetable). One of the most famous clients of De Graaff Tobacconist [5] in the Heulstraat was Churchill himself. Palace Noordeinde built in 1533 is Queen Beatrix’ work palace. Every Wednesday morning foreign ambassadors arrive here in horse carriages. Not only Princess Maxima loves to shop in the boutiques at the Noordeinde and Hoogstraat. Enjoy an Italian cappuccino at Deluca, situated on the corner of the oldest shopping centre in Holland, the Passage, built between 1882 and 1885. The Dutch government is located in the Binnenhof, built in the 13th century. On the third Tuesday of September Queen Beatrix holds her speech in the gothic Ridderzaal. The office of the Prime Minister is in the so-called Torentje next to the 17th century Mauritshuis [6]. In this museum you’ll find a collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Jan Steen and Frans Hals.

[1] Escher in Het Paleis, Lange Voorhout 74, www.escherinhetpaleis.nl

[2] Hotel Des Indes, Lange Voorhout 54-56, www.desindes.nl

[3] Pulchri Studio, Lange Voorhout 15, www.pulchri.nl

[4] Indonesian restaurant Garoeda, Kneuterdijk 18a, www.garoeda.nl

[5] G. de Graaff Tobacconist, Heulstraat 27, www.gdegraaff.com

[6] Mauritshuis, Korte Vijverberg 8, www.mauritshuis.nl

A good life in The Hague

Let me introduce myself as author of this blog

My name is Ellie Brik and I was born many many years ago in Rotterdam. Since 1999 I live in The Hague, in the so-called Statenkwartier; I love to bike to the Denneweg or to the beach and enjoy a good cappuccino on a sunny terrace. In 2000 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). Uptil now I wrote 12 books all about the good life: visiting lovely towns and villages, having great lunches and dinners, and staying in the best hotels. Furthermore I wrote about lifestyle, fashion and furniture for Elsevier Thema. For a Belgian magazine I wrote about shopping, dining and sleeping in lovely cities in Holland and Belgium. I also write about the good life for magazine Heerlijkheid, published by Mariënwaerdt in Beesd (www.marienwaerdt.nl), see issue October and December 2010 and February 2011. In my blog http://elliebrik.web-log.nl you can read about my private and business matters.

Some tips for The Hague

At least try bread or the delicious galettes from Philippe Galerne. Try the shrimp croquettes at Dendy (www.restaurantdendy.nl), the Caesar salad at Oker (www.restaurantoker.nl), both at the Denneweg in the Hague, or the fusion kitchen of Wox (www.wox.nl).

Stay at the hotel of one of the authors here, at Hotel des Indes (ask for a room with a view on the Lange Voorhout), 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.

You can find me on Twitter as @EllieBrik

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