by Jean-Francois Hennart
This year the dinner was at Square, a mere slip and slide across an icy Heuvel. I admit that I wasn’t expecting a lot from a Lounge-Club-Restaurant, too much like never-ever-good dinner theater, but on the night was disabused of my spread-too-thin preconception. Our coats were deftly taken and the owner was pouring us a welcome drink before our cheeks had lost their winter-wind glow. The décor at Square is loft-simple, the lighting is kind, but not dim. Whole-group menus are hard on a chef, but the fresh starter and simple dessert seemed to go down well, as did the well-chosen and generously-served wines. Sondra and I hedged our bets when it came to selecting a meat-or-fish main, but need not have. My venison was just-right pink, and her cod with sauerkraut (a combination we intend to crib) well-nigh James Beard worthy. No doubt, we will again “be there”.
Never been to the post-holiday dinner? Are you thinking it might be like a Sierra Seniors do, with awards handed out, speeches made? Wrong. I’m tempted to compare the TIC answer to the winter blues to My Dinner with Andre, because what makes for a good time around the table is, if I can borrow from Roger Ebert, “conversation, in which the real subject is the tone, the mood, the energy.” The tone is set by mutually-held curiosity about what lies beyond our own national borders and by shared determination to make the most of living in the Netherlands; the mood is sometimes jubilant, sometimes mellow; and the energy comes from within.
So, if you weren’t there, you missed something. Now you could wait until January rolls around again, or long before then you could take part in a different event. You might just find yourself, as we did last night, caught up in a wide-ranging conversation touching on learning to waterski, a Lang Lang concert in Amsterdam, raising bilingual kids, a selfie with Henry Kissinger, Fontys fledgling Academy of Circus and Performing Arts, trailing penguins in Patagonia …