Fellow Travellers

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Small Food?

We dined out in the Grand Dame on Friday evening with new friends at In de Keuken.  The restaurant was recommended in the 2010 Lekker mag as one of the new up a comers on the Amsterdam food scene.  The long and narrow room was quite cozy which was a welcome respite from the heavy rains.  The kitchen is in the center of the restaurant, hence the name, and your dinner is prepared literally in front of you.

They serve one menu with a choice of 4 to 6 courses each evening based on the freshest seasonal ingredients available.   We chose 5 and 6 course as we were told the portions would be appropriate.  We were also offered wine pairings with each course and thankfully we were able to request half glasses to taste - I can't imagine we would be walking straight (or at all) if we drank 6 glasses of wine each!

The food began arriving shortly after we decided on the number of courses.   The menu started with seared scallops, then moved on to pheasant, osso buco, spanish pork, a cheese plate and finally dessert. Each miniature course was presented artistically on large interesting white plates.  The wines they paired were really quite nice, mostly Italian whites with a red paired with the pork main and dessert wine with the chocolate dessert. 
The scallop course was full of fresh flavour that made me wish the portion was larger.  I moved straight to the osso bucco and saffron risotto which was a bit of a disappointment as the portion of meat was very tiny.  The main spanish pork was flavourful with hint of smokiness that matched well with the wine.  The cheese plate was nice but too simple, the presentation lacked something sweet to offset the blue.  The dessert was chocolate mousse with a sort of torn looking cake (I didn't try it due to my gluten intolerance) but I'd have to the say the color was a bit odd.   

Overall the meal tasted quite nice but I'm not sure on feeling of the need for this number of courses.  I suppose I'm a bit of a gluton and if I like something I want to have more than two or three bites.  It would have been a disastor to have full glasses of wine because the food course is finished long before the wine so one really doesn't get a chance to enjoy the two together. 

Figbelly rating - 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ga Ajax Ga! (or Go Ajax Go for you non Dutchies)

It's official, I am now a European - I'm a soccer fan.  G was fortunate to be given some club seats to the Ajax vs Herenveen this past Sunday afternoon so I was lucky to tag along.   We departed for the game 45 minutes before the start and after circling the Amsterdam Arena several times (those ring roads can be tricky) we finally found our way into the stadium to find the game well under way 3 to zip.   Fans of each team chanted taunts (I imagine as it was all in Dutch) across the stadium while their teams played on.  I can see the allure of soccer for a fan as it is akin to a drama production;

The villainous opposing team/fans, a musical score created by the crowd, the scenes are full of action that never stops, the actors (players) know how to take a bow (dive).....and there's beer! 

All joking aside it was a fun sport to watch as unlike hockey or American football, the plays are rarely interrupted and if they are, the game resumes quickly.  Also of note, those players are on for the full 90 minute unless maimed or someone is close to death.  On the field the players are all good sports (I suppose they have to make up for the fans) and treat the crowd to some great entertainment.    My only hope is that the Herenveen learns a new song for the next rematch.  "Cause every little thing, gonna be alright" - only if your team starts scoring.


Looking forward to my next home game...and already asking about World Cup next year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Venice 2009

Monday September 27
On Monday we departed by train for Venice which is a 4 hour trip from Rome. The train was a great way to cross the country and avoid Italian drivers! We arrived at the train station and as there are no cars in Venice you must take the vaperatto (water bus) to your stop and then try and find your hotel. My tour book said that generally you will be lost in Venice at some point so thought I would get it over with and get us lost as soon as we got off the vaperatto. Success!

We finally found our hotel, Hotel Bloom, which was very charming and had a roof top terrace. The accommodations were gorgeous and lived up to the pictures on the website plus they included a bottle of prosecco so I was sold immediately. The breakfast was the best of our trip and the café latte was just delicious. http://www.bloom-venice.com/

We spent our first day exploring (aka lost) when G finally took the helm on directions. We accidentally found the Teatro de la Fenice while lost and also had an $87 Euro snack (4 beers, some cheese and a plate of calamari – gulp). G also took the initiative to buy ballet tickets for the following evening since we were in the neighborhood. Some shopping, dinner and to early to bed to get a start on seeing the sites on Tuesday.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rome September 2009

We had a really nice visit with my parents both here and in Italy. I took two weeks off work to be their tour guide as I really wanted them to enjoy their stay. We visited in the afternoon with my Dad's cousins and extended family the day after their arrival. It was my mother's birthday the prior Thursday so we brought a birthday cake, as is the Dutch custom. As customary, they served coffee with the cake and once that was over brought out the booze. A little tipple is always in order before lunch! We then went out for a nice lunch and had a great chat. They are all over 65 but full of life.

In the following few days I accompanied them to Delft to view the precious Royal Delft factory (lordy lordy is their porcelain expensive!) and then on our last day before our trip to Italy we went to the Alsmeer Flower Auction. Check out my post on the auction for the details.

Thursday September 23

On Thursday Sept 23, evening we departed for Italy arriving just around 8:30 in Rome. We had a harrowing drive from the airport to our B&B with a crazy taxi driver. Luckily I was in the front seat as I soooo love to weave in and out of traffic at 160 Kms per hour narrowing escaping death. Fantastic! Our B&B was situated near the Vatican which was ideal for only our one day we visited the Vatican, however it was good value for the money in Rome.