In love with a jewel

by Henry de Mildt

 

After I had set up my office at the Coen Building, I discovered tasting cafe In de Olofspoort at their great premise at the head of the Warmoesstraat / Nieuwe Brugsteeg. Nowadays, there are more tasting bars in Amsterdam, but this one was and is for me one of the best. For as far as you can fall in love with a tasting cafe, I fell in love with this jewel. It felt and feels like a warm coat you put on in the winter.

 

A significant number of exclusive high-quality liqueurs and distilled drinks are served there since they opened doors. From traditional and local visitors but also outsiders such as myself. It is always a surprise who is going to be sitting at the counter at different times of the day. A lot of acquaintances, as well as strangers, visit the tasting house. I got told that our king popped in now and then for a little beer when he was still a prince. Riny's everpresent creativity and the different guests have been, for years, a guarantee of 'gezelligheid' and atmosphere at this place. In 1992 a flying club was created here, 'The Fokker Friendship Association', at which you could fly at more economical prices, whether as a business or privately. We have flown with one of the older F27 aircrafts and Fokker took care of the maintenance. During five years we have done a lot of destinations in two-day travels: Colmar, Sienna, Stockholm... De 'pro deo' crew, led by aviator and captain Rob Surie & partner, secured terrific flights with a lot of enjoyment on board. When Fokker demised, we had unfortunately no more access to the F27.

 

The Sing-Along evenings, when the tasting cafe was pouring out with people, became famous. One time, I had invited an English colleague to such a Sing-Along. Durig the evening he called his wife in England and kept the connection on so that she could also enjoy the evening! In the meanwhile, my friends Rob, Jan, Ronald, and Bart have gotten a place of their own In de Olofspoort's glass cabinet, for their personal bottle, and are often present, for the amusement of many. My own Club Med reunion, with retired friends Leo, Jan, Henk, Wim and Bertus, has been taking place In de Olofspoort for years, and it is always a highlight! Also, my partner, Rudo feels really at home there, as well as brother-in-law Wim and even his daughters show up sometimes.

 

Impossible not to mention the tastings where Riny shares with the audience her prompt knowledge of different jenevers and liqueurs. Many friends express their appreciation of these unique presentations after such a tasting. It goes without saying, you can find me again and again at In de Olofspoort and I congratulate everyone with all my heart for this beautiful tasting house, I wish it a long and bright future!

 

Announcement in O.L.V. from the holiest Rozenkrans Church Amsterdam

 

I had something to celebrate yesterday afternoon. I ended up in seventeenth-century tasting house In de Olofspoort, together with a group of friends, at the heart of Old-Amsterdam. I didn't know it but found it splendid, with a great atmosphere. Pierre Valkering, sermon on 2-12-2012

 

No music. The hostess Riny – with long, blond, wavy hair, regularly organizes private recital evenings at the cafe, as far as I understood. She sings mostly Schubert, then. That fits the place perfectly because the environment there combines with Frans Schubert's music, from which lyrical singing originates. Riny proudly pointed out to a large poster which displayed a portrait of Aafje Heynis: “I had classes with her for a few years”, she said, and: “I am very grateful for it”. Yes, I can imagine. We ordered an Affligem, abbey bear. One of our friends insisted I tried an “Halleluja” liqueur next to it – a liqueur that was worth its name, I found. And then I hurried back home through the rain yesterday afternoon around five, in a slightly tipsy state I must admit, to bless the Advent's garland of candles in the dark church, before the evening prayer: “We pray: bless this garland and these candles. They are a sign of Him, the Lord … They are a sign of life, of what we expect of Him; a sign that He is the light, who shines in the darkness. Let our love grow and let us go search for You with renewed focus”. The garland is blessed (also now) with these words. A beautiful, simple prayer, I find, where all our Christian belief and our hope is expressed: “Him... the light, let our love grow, searching for You with new focus”. Oh, dear guests and parishioners, from who should we expect it if not from our God? “Who should we otherwise turn to?” (Joh. 6, 68). Should we turn to science? To let a scholar take care of this: is he the only one? Or should we turn to politics: should we expect it from there? The ladies and gentlemen politicians do their best – also to 'come across' good in the picture, but we are economising anyway, and does it happen fairly? Or should we turn to doctors, should we expect it from them? How experienced and trustworthy are they? All sorts of suggested consultations, medicine and treatments; do they really serve the interest of the patients or the wallet of the doctor? Yes dear all, who do we turn to? 'Him, whose light shines in the darkness', says the prayer. I find the words tender. These words move me. There is a sort of uncorrupted freshness in it. These are words 'about before sadness' to say with poet Maria Vasalis: “Tonight I saw a star for the first time / He was alone, he didn't tremble / I went through it all of a sudden / I saw a star, he stood alone / he was made of light, he seemed so young and / about before sadness”. Yes, dear all, that's where we want to return to, to a world of before or after sadness has passed, a world where people stop to cause each other sadness, a world where the good light of God can shine unhibited and can be seen. “May the Lord make love for each other and for everyone grow abundantly”. We heard these words in the second reading today, in Paulus' first letter to the inhabitants of Thessaloniki. “May the Lord make love for each other and for everyone grow abundantly”. A good, meaningful incentive, also for us. On the moment of friendly and loving treatment of each other, there are what we call “opportunities of growth” about which one might think: yes, that could have been better. “Make sure your spirit doesn't get blunted with a high of drunkness”. Yesterday evening I read these words from this Sunday's gospel in the evening prayer, I told you already, with an Affligem – abbey beer and an Halleluja liqueur under my belt. I felt enjoyably Catholic at the same time. We want to keep our spirits pure, not do anything unnecessary and remain focused on the good light of God that exists and grows and will be. I wish you, dear all, a blessed advent in that light. Amen.

 

Readings from the prophet Jeremiah (14-16), Psalm 25 (ged.), letter to the inhabitants of Thessaloniki (3, 12-4, 2), Lucas-gospel (21, 25-28.34-36).

 

Lynette Tapia & John Osborn

 

We have developed an exceptional bond and warm friendship with the incredible American tenor John Osborn, his wife Lynette Tapia and their dearest daughter Ana. John has played diverse (leading) roles at the Dutch Opera in the Stopera, lately (during the time this article was written) in Rossini's opera “Guillaume Tell”. When John was performing for the first time at the Dutch Opera, he was introduced to us at the tasting house by his colleague John Strange. There was an immediate click with this wonderful person. Since then he always comes and visits us when he is working in Amsterdam. That's how we met his wife, daughter, and family-in-law, a warm and talented family. John has brought singer-colleagues several times to 'In de Olofspoort' and even, a few times, the entire opera-cast. The guests who were, by chance, present in those moments, had the opportunity of fully enjoying those fantastic voices. It is worth it to visit Osborn's and Tapia's website and facebook page. In 2013 John sang and performed the opera “La Traviata” in Verona.

 

Adding water to the wine: demanding guests

 

Our tasting house, in the heart of the city and the immediacy of the Red Light District was named 'a resting stop in the neighbourhood' by a particular publication. We got used to the changing of atmospheres in our tasting house because so many different people visit us, bringing with them a panoply of situations. The biggest challenge is for us to create a situation in which people feel understood. If someone leaves the house happy, then we are satisfied, also with guests with whom it doesn't run smoothly. We have naturally learned that not everyone is per definition nice. There are also "demanding apples in the middle of the basket".

 

For a couple of naggers, In de Olofspoort's door remains closed. And some guests return and want to be part of 'In de Olofspoort' again. We then add water to the wine and give it a try, often with phenomenal results. Also for us, it is never to late to learn.