Article by Rick Tillman
Once again, TIC has celebrated the holidays and rung in the new year how it should be done: with warm conversation, good food, and ample wine (not necessarily in that order). For January 2016, TIC in its infinite wisdom gathered at Café Dudok in the heart of Tilburg. It’s located in a historically preserved building that was the Patronaat of the St. Josef church. Hein explained to many of us that a Patronaat was a center of parish and community activity once upon a time. For instance, women would go there to knit together, there would be theater performances, and people would gather (much like we did!). Dudok has done a great job preserving many of the aesthetics of the building, while incorporating very modern accouterments and a very tasty assortment of food.
We started with a welcome drink (always!) in the bar area as people came in and warmed up. It’s always nice to catch up with our fellow TIC members, as it’s about the company of each other, not our outings (but fun and interesting doesn’t hurt!). We then made our way to our long table where the night was just beginning. As we dug into our wine and other beverages, we continued our conversations that are always the highlight of our gatherings. We have exceptionally great members; that’s nice for any club, but expats often don’t have a full network of family and friends. So, don’t forget that the connections you forge can make a great difference in someone’s life!
We were first served intricate appetizers of either smoked butterfish (with apple and vegetables in an herb-infused oil), carpaccio (with pesto, arugula, pine nuts, and very fresh parmesan), or arancini (rice balls with truffle risotto, mozzarella, and arugula). As we relaxed into the meal, it was possible to reach out to a few more members seated a little farther away (and of course, the company of some of our younger members help keep us young and playful!). We were then served either a truffle risotto (with grilled asparagus, truffle tapenade, vegetables, and mature goat cheese), sea bass (with curry rice, ratatouille, sautéed spinach, with an olive and tomato antiboise sauce (whatever that is)), or organic beefsteak (with mushrooms, onion, shallot sauce, and cute little potato gratin things). I would then mention the desserts, but there was a very confused server that kept wandering with coffees that no one ordered. I hope they eventually found their home. But besides the lost coffees, we also had a choice of warm apple pie with almond ice cream (most excellent and served on a bed of graham cracker crumbs- how do you refer to that in Dutch?!?!), or a cheese platter of four varieties and grapes and bread.
I have to say that I had no idea of the time once we all started to depart. We stayed FOUR hours! That says something very nice about how much we enjoy each other’s company. We also, of course, appreciate our leadership that keeps things organized and makes sure that TIC has plenty of fun outings and everyone feels welcome. The only thing that I regret is that often you have to pick a spot and there’s no way to talk to everyone. But then again, there’s always the next outing. So keep coming and keep TIC vibrant! We need you!