It’s always nice to be invited to dinner at friends’. Especially if, as in the case of Tamara and Doug, they have a beautiful place in the country and really know how to cook.

Yesterday we had the pleasure of driving to a part of the Dutch lanscape that we have never seen, a small town named Halsteren, near Bergen op Zoom. It’s in the south-western part of the country and I had been asking Tamara intermittently for three years now, “So where is that again?”

Well, with the help of my second love (named Tom Tom), we got to the place in just over an hour and were treated to a fantastic dinner of roasted duck (with embedded vanilla pod for flavor), McCain potato puffs (second only to potato croquettes in my opinion), and appetizer of goose liver pate on some delicious nut and raisin bread. The secret, we later found out, was that Doug’s extensive connections in the Halstered underworld have netted him a pass to shop at the local restaurant supply shop.

After dinner the boys retired to smoke cigars and sip sherry while the women looked at naked French rugby players. Now, half of what I just told you is a lie. And if you think it’s the cigars and sherry part… you’re right. 

I realized at some point after the new Ducati “Monster”, the Z3, the ridiculously good sounding floor speakers, and the hard disk drive that connects to your TV to watch downloaded movies, that Doug was a bit of a toy collector. What I didn’t know was that he wasn’t just show, the dude actually built his own computer. It has a clear plastic casing and we spent a good long while under the table with a flashlight looking at all the shiny bits. At least that’s what we told the girls we were doing.

Seriously, I have always been jealous of people who feel confident enough to fool around with hardware that I otherwise pay some trained Dell employee in a factory to do. There’s a feeling of empowerment when you handle sensitive electronics and both you and the electronics come away unscathed. Nothing (other than the disk drive) had really made me envious, but the home-made computer (they’re cheaper when you build them yourself too) made me green.

So, Doug showed me the websites of a few computer supply shops in the bustling metropolis of Halsteren and we figured out that a top-of-the-line, fully hand crafted computing behemoth would cost me about 500 to 600 Euro. Considering my Dell is on its sixth year of life and I have to avoid using my profile because too many things crash when I log in as myself , I think that’s a pretty good investment.

Anyway, we had a great night with Tamara and Doug in their country villa (although we didn’t get to see Tamara’s main toy: the horse). And we hope they will be inviting us back before we leave the country for some more restaurant-caliber meals.

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