Long, blissful days. Green meadows and flowers in bloom. Cycling with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face.
Traces of summer are all around the Netherlands, but few things shout "summer!" the way ice cream does.
The town of Epen is situated a mere 20 km outside Maastricht, in a valley of rolling hills (Yes, hills! In the Netherlands!) where cows roam serenely and the sun sets late over the lush landscape.
And what, might you ask, can be found in Epen?
Nothing, except for a few ruminant mammals and farmhouses. And the best ice cream in the world.
Therefore busloads of tourists and locals flock to Epen during the summertime to savour the legendary ice cream served at Wingbergerhoeve.
"Drie bolletjes ijs, alstublieft." I pointed to the palette of colours on display with the fervent excitement of a sugar-deprived child. Three scoops might seem extravagant under alternate circumstances, but in Epen this was considered a very modest amount. The biggest option, a whopping nine scoops of different flavours, was the size of a travel-suitcase and equally jam-packed. Fruit, syrup and waffles accompanied the mountain of ice cream and for decorative purposes, a dash of whipped cream.
The owner considered my three-scoop request for a millisecond, realised that I was on the brink of missing out on one of life's greatest pleasures and decided that he would do everything in his power to keep me from making this colossal mistake.
"Take six scoops!" he said, showcasing the various flavours the way a magician would reveal a rabbit in his hat.
He had switched to English, undoubtedly to ensure that I fully comprehend the consequences of my decision.
|A Giga-Sized Ijs|
After several persuasive attempts (him), and nervous glances at the growing ice cream-frenzied crowd (me), I finally had my (three scoop) ice cream in hand. And what an ice cream it was. A sweet, delicious, summer-packed delight, savoured in the stillness of the countryside with the sun setting on the horizon.
Ijs in Epen: Now that's what I call summer.