A photo taken a few months back, of a local bakery by the Holland Spoor train station, Marakesh bakery:
A very Spring-like photo, which is timely considering the weather of late. On the one hand we’ve had a few storms – storm Ciara two weekends ago and storm Dennis last weekend. In the United States these storms would be better known as winter storm Kade and winter storm Mabel. It’s interesting to think about how far these storms travel.
On the other hand the photo is ‘timely’ due to the fact that storm Dennis brought along warm temperatures, helping break the record for the warmest February 16 by 03:20 in the morning (around 56F) with temperatures in the southeast maxing out around 63F. The only problem is that the storm brought along a lot of rain and wind. The rain is luckily gone, but like the first storm the wind will hang around for a few more days.
I had a pistachio cheesecake, while Marco’s was tiramisu flavor. With our usual cappuccino (his) and coffee (mine).
And a new one for us: last month we went to the Buitenhof movie theatre. Not to see a movie, but to sample their coffee and desserts at their café/restaurant.
This one was also pretty good, but I was glad that we decided to share. The carrot cake we had was quite sweet with all the layers of icing. While I don’t normally think of carrot cake as a healthy option, this one was definitely the farthest from healthy that you could get.
But it was a good enough cafe, and thankfully they had room. We first considered going to Hometown Coffee, which was recently renovated, but both times we went we were unable to find a seat.
Last week at Albert Heijn I spotted a Tony’s Chocolonely display filled with Easter eggs. The company’s mission is to make fair trade chocolate. (The company’s slogan is: “Crazy about chocolate, serious about people“.)
The cutest thing was these mini egg cartons:
And of course the Easter candy started popping up a few weeks ago already. You can never be too early!
Happy Chinese New Year! Yesterday The Hague and countless other cities across the world celebrated the holiday, signaling the start of the year of the rat.
Most amusing for me was the sea of red paper left behind from the parade:
New Year celebrations – Chinese or otherwise – are always a good excuse to set off some fireworks.
And here’s a look at one of the mini parades, led by a group from Nijmegen:
And another photo:
I don’t know… the year of the rat? But they are the first zodiac animal, and are seen as a sign of wealth in the Chinese culture. So there is that! If this is your zodiac sign, be proud of your ratliness (note: I made that word up).
Some months ago I was able to choose a gift for donating blood for the 15th time. I could not pass up the jigsaw puzzle that I saw – a 500 piece puzzle from Jan van Haasteren!
It’s specially designed for the Dutch blood bank, Sanquin and not available in stores.
Highlights include: the Sinterklaas in the upper right in the elevator, next to a prisoner stealing the pelican (Sanquin’s mascot), the guy in the business suit in the middle donating blue blood, and the gnome sitting patiently in the donation area on the right middle. Oh, and the gentlemen on the left side with the green shirt who is taking advantage of the policy of free snacks for blood donors.
Yesterday, Marco, Roger and I made okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake. The recipe came from a cookbook called “Tokyo stories” which I gave to Marco for Christmas this year. It was a nice find at the local American Book Center, or ABC for short. The joke in the blog title was that Marco couldn’t pronounce it right away after visiting Japan (oh-co-nome-e-ah-key) so he took to calling it onomatopoeia, which is ironically just as difficult to say. But these days we all just call it by its true name.
This variant was the Hiroshima style, which differs from the Osaka style Marco and Roger ate in Tokyo last year. 1) It uses 3 to 4 times the amount of cabbage as the Osaka style variant, with the cook (in this case Roger) pushing it down to flatten it as it cooks. 2) It is built in layers, including one careful flip halfway through. Roger was a flipping master last night.
For the most part, you can add whatever toppings you want. The original recipe called for squid but we were not adventurous enough for that, so we used pork instead. There is bacon in the recipe – you add it to the top of the pile and then you immediately flip the pancake so that the bacon is on the bottom and crisps up. It also usually has noodles (we used yakisoba noodles, which are stir-fried). There’s also a special okonomiyaki sauce, and we used a wasabi mayo as well on top.
We also used Roger’s gourmetten set, which has a dual use plate depending on how it was flipped: a grill for gourmetten or a flat grill for occasions like this. For the most part we cooked everything on the stove in pans and then transferred the mixture to the grill plate at the end to keep everything warm (traditionally you should cut off a piece and put it on your plate and get more later).
As a drink, Marco and Roger had calpis, which is a Japanese uncarbonated soft drink. But personally I like carbonation so I don’t drink that often. I had an Asahi “super dry” beer. Ironically enough it does taste pretty dry. It is also my beer of choice if we go to Wagamama in Amsterdam.
The Netherlands has survived its night of fireworks. We did see one drunk guy (still holding his bottle of alcohol) walk up to a police car waiting at a stop light and talk to police agent for a few minutes. Maybe he was simply wishing them a happy New Year, who knows. By the time we crossed the street the police car was on the move again.
There is also a YouTube video available from user VerdierMedia PuntNL where he/she uses a drone to capture the fireworks over The Hague last night. Check it out!