It’s Friday afternoon and, as usual, I turn off my computer to start enjoying the weekend. Normally I pick up Liam from day care and we play in the garden. But not today. Today I’m driving to Lauwersoog for the bloggers event #BELM15 organized by Stichting RegioMarketing en Toerisme and Stichting Promotie Waddenland. Our meeting point is ‘t Ailand, a tasting room and shop with products from the region as well as an information point about fishing.
I keep repeating “I should have left earlier” in my head. I don’t like to be the last one arriving and I know that some of my fellow bloggers joined the morning program, so they will be there. I see the Lauwersmeer and I want to stop to take a couple of pictures of the lake and the dam. No time, I’ll do it tomorrow while we go walking around the lake with the ranger of Staatsbosbeheer uit Nationaal Park Lauwersmeer and photographer Marcel van Kammen (Moments of Nature).
I arrive in the harbor of Lauwersoog and to my surprise finding ‘t Ailand isn’t as easy as I thought. My gps brings me to number 50, but where is number 49a? I ask a girl who is walking, she is lost too. I checked some information boards. No luck… Finally, I take my phone and open google maps, two minutes and I find it!! I rush to go inside, almost everyone is there, so after introducing round (am I able to remember all the names??!!) I sit down and enjoy a cup of tea.
Barbara, the owner of ‘t Ailand (together with Jan), welcomes us to join her in the yet to be opened filleting room. We are the first to try the filleting room!! She is very enthusiastic about the filleting room and the workshops that they will carry here. The filleting room has been crowdfunded with the aim to be “a place where fishermen, fish and fish lovers come together“.
We enter the filleting room and she warns us “it´s not finished!”. Well, I can ensure the air conditioning is working!! Our group is divided into two: I’m joining Judith from Hip&Hot, Martijn from We12Travel and Hesse from Christravelblog in the filleting workshop. While Sandra from TravelbySan, Marcella from Marcella Molenaar, Daphne from Live the life you love, Taina from LiveLoveTravel, Marloes from Budgetproof and Milou from Explorista will prepare seaweed Pesto. First step: wash your hands!! Then we take an apron and a fishers cap (we are not going to win a beauty contest with the outfit) and go to the bench where an employee has been filleting gurnard fish for a while.
He show us the steps to follow: a cut on the back,
two little cuts on the side,
a cut behind the head: deep enough to cut the fish-bone, but not the head,
then turn around the fish, hold it with the knife and take out the skin.
This last part is the hardest one. I’m not used to work with my hands (I use them to type the whole day, but I don’t use any strength). After three pieces, my fingers starts loosing some feel. After five pieces, I check the box where we put the fish and see that there’s more than enough, so I decide to stop cutting and start taking some pictures.
The best part of the workshop is to eat all the fish we cut!! Imagine the smell coming from the barbecue while marinated fish is being slow cooking. Imagine the taste of that just cooked fish in your mouth, one word: amazing!! If it weren’t enough we also get to try stockfish and prawns, both from the Waddensea too. What a feast!!
What it makes ‘t Ailand such a special place is that all fish they serve and/or cut has been fished in The Waddensea by Barbara and Jan. They leave fishing every Monday, return to Lauwersoog on Thursday and cut/serve their fish in ‘t Ailand from Friday to Sunday. As it depends on the amount they fished, it can happen that there’s no fish left on Sunday. On a sunny evening, you can enjoy the views of both the harbor and the Waddensea from their roof terrace. What else can you ask for?
The filleting room will be inaugurated next Monday 29th June at 14:30. A great opportunity to have a visit ‘t Ailand.
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