Last week Marco and I traveled to Amsterdam to see my sister-in-law, who was in town for work. One of the activities we did was a canal tour by boat:
A random bridge along the way. The weather was great, as you can see. Blue skies and lots and lots of sun. I of course forgot to bring sunscreen but hey, what can you do (except be smarter next time). We also had lovely weather this weekend, although today’s weather definitely colder with a hint of rain here and there.
And one of the random house boats we saw along the way. It’s definitely not my thing to live on one of those, but to each their own. The flowers were a nice touch.
Speaking of flowers: a lovely, flower covered bike. It definitely demands your attention.
And finally, a bowl of yoghurt for me and a small plate of poffertjes (Dutch mini pancakes) for my sister-in-law. This was a restaurant very much themed towards tourists – I think there were about 15 orange clogs hanging from the wall. (Both pages link to English Wikipedia.)
Marco and I decided to visit Umami, a Chinese restaurant in the city centre. We had looked at the menu a few years ago, but it seems like they have added a street food option since then. The only unexpected thing was that even though we were able to make a reservation for 15:00, when we got their the hostess seemed surprised and said that the kitchen closes between 15:30-16:00. (Why does the website let you make reservations for that time slot then?)
But in the end it wasn’t really a problem as Marco and I had stared at the menu in advance and had a general sense of what we wanted to sample already. The only difference was that we ordered everything at once, whereas we were hoping to order a bit, see how full we were, and then order a bit more if needed.
The snack attack platter, comprised mostly of croquette/bitterballen type snacks, plus 4 spring rolls. The croquettes are filled with meat paste or ragu. The quality of these snacks can differ greatly based on the restaurant you are at, but luckily upscale dining restaurants use high quality meat. In this case the croquettes were green curry, chicken satay, shrimp, duck and rendang. But as they say you also eat with your eyes – the photo above just begs to be eaten (and to be photographed).
Above are two bao buns. In the foreground is chicken thigh and in the background is beef. A bit messy (especially the beef which leaked everywhere) but still quite tasty.
And finally, sandwiches. In the foreground, chicken thigh and in the background duck. We actually only had a half each, taking the other half home for later.
It was a great experience. We do plan on going back to sample some other stuff later (and perhaps the actual lunch or dinner menu, versus the street food menu). If you like good food that is Instagram worthy than this is the place for you.
This past weekend Marco and I visited the food halls in Haagsche Bluf (denhaag.com in English), a tiny, upscale shopping area in the heart of the city centre. The food halls (official website in English) have 10 food stands with various types of food like Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Malaysian, etc. We chose CeeCee’s chicken and chips for our first visit:
At the top of the photo we have mozzarella sticks with sweet chili sauce and twister fries with sweet chili sauce and ketchup for me. The chicken tenders were hot and spicy on the left (obvious, I am sure) and lemon and pepper on the right.
The food was good, although none of it really stood out. So good, but not great. (In comparison with the tacos Marco and I shared at the Mall of The Netherlands last month.) The service could also be better. Marco and I ordered via a QR code at the table which you can see in the lower right of the photo. The website said that I would receive a text when the food was ready, so we thought it would be okay to switch tables. However, I received a call saying that they went to my original table and we weren’t there. Oh well.
Don’t get me wrong though – this is on my list to go back as the concept of food halls are always nice, and I either want to try some falafels or some Malaysian food next.
I recently went out for drinks with some coworkers. We went to Milu, and we went on a Wednesday of course. (If any of my family is reading this, Milu used to be Het Wapon, where Marco and I had our wedding reception back in 2013.)
Why did we go on a Wednesday? Well, 5 euro cocktails of course! Oh wait, it is 6 euros now and there are less choices. Thanks to inflation and/or corona. Don’t get me wrong: 6 euros is still a steal and there are still 5 choices. The cocktail choices are every rotating, which is probably a good thing. You can see a lot at one of the old menus at this old blog post from 2017 (scroll down to the end). I remember really liking the Hello Tokyo cocktail, although I don’t seem to have a picture of it readily available.
On the left you have a lemon ginger scroppino for a coworker (vodka, Caipi ginger liquor, Prosecco and lemon sorbet) and a golden caipi boy on the right for me (Caipi ginger liquor, grapefruit, lime, rhubarb and soda). I loved how sour it was, which was exactly what I was looking for.
Above is a frozen pornstar martini (vodka, Caipi ginger liquor, lime, passionfruit, orange and vanilla). Very sour again. While the paper straw looked very pretty and worked well with the drink, it didn’t hold out forever so I ended up finishing this slushy drink with a spoon.
In the background you can see Dutch bitterballen (English Wikipedia). We actually ordered a platter of four different things. The other three (chicken nuggets, duck spring rolls and cheese sticks) quickly disappeared, leaving the bitterballen to finish. They are definitely an acquired taste. At any rate, I didn’t need any dinner after this when I got home.
A few weeks ago Roger, Marco and I celebrated the reopening of restaurants by going to SET in The Hague’s city centre. It is not far from the Grote Kerk. The best part about going for lunch is that you can order a bento box (meat, fish or mixed). I always go for the meat box.
The lunch begins with a miso soup. I’m not a huge fan of tofu blocks, but they do work in this soup in small amounts.
The star of the lunch is of course the meat bento box:
Karage (Japanese chicken) in the top middle, beef in the top right, and pork in the lower right. Roger and Marco usually go for the mixed box, which means I get to gloat that I have karate and they don’t. The only problem with having this meal for lunch is that you definitely have no interest in dinner later in the evening, but it is worth it!
I however mourn the loss of the “ice and sand chocolate dessert” which used to be on the menu years ago. The ice cream had a lovely taste and it was definitely visually pleasing.
Earlier this month Marco and I went to the Mall of the Netherlands when we both had a rare day off. For lunch we decided to have tacos at La Catrina:
Tough decisions indeed. I think I would go with chicken tacos. As you can see we did the mix and match option so that we could try all three of the tacos – beef, pork and chicken. The chicken and the pork were great. The beef taco was okay but it was clearly the least of the three as it was a bit dry that day. But still tasty.
We also ordered tortilla chips with some extra guacamole:
They were tasty and hit the spot for a light lunch. I also posted this picture so you could see the band around Marco’s wrist. We visited when most corona measures were still in effect, so we had to wear a face mask inside the mall and show a QR code via the CoronaCheck app. Since then most measures have been rescinded, with the exception of face masks and mandatory corona tests for indoor events with more than 500 participants.
The mall approached the QR code check in a smart way. If you wanted to visit the upper floor where the restaurants and movie theaters were, then you would have your QR code scanned downstairs before taking the escalator up. You would receive a wristband to let the companies upstairs know that you had your QR code scanned so that they did not need to do so again.
A few weeks ago I visited Kelly’s expat store here in The Hague. In a moment of nostalgia I picked up a box of S’mores pop tarts. (My second choice would have been regular chocolate, another nostalgia hit.) I have had a pop tart a few times over the years but not that often. I think it is also the price – when I left the US back in 2012 you could wait for the occasional deal to get 2 boxes for 5 bucks. Whereas one box is €5.25 over here in the Netherlands. Import pricing…
In reality the look left a bit to be desired, but the taste was the same as I remember. I did do one thing differently though. As a kid I would always peel off the sides (where there isn’t any top frosting) and throw them out. Shame on me, I know. But these days I enjoy things a bit less sweet, so I ate it all.
MediaMarkt in The Hague (aka the Dutch version of Best Buy) is moving later this spring, from their current location on the Grote Marktstraat to a new location on the… Grote Marktstraat. They will be moving into the old location where the Dutch department store V&D was, which is a better spot then what they currently have. I will just enjoy having escalators and not horrible steep stairs to get to another floor. Thanks to Marco’s dad for that news tip.
There will be another press conference here in the Netherlands tomorrow evening. The rumor is that almost all corona measures (except for the basic rules like hand washing, ventilation and testing if you have symptoms) will disappear on Friday, February 25. So no more mandatory face masks (except probably for vaccination centers or hospitals), no more advice to work at home, etc. We’ll see if it works.
For Christmas I received a box of chocolate from Roger from an Amsterdam-based company I hadn’t heard of yet: Chocoladna. Normally they cater more to hotels and restaurants, but thanks to Corona and lockdowns the company has been forced to expand its horizons a bit.
Marco and I have been enjoying a piece each with coffee in the last week or so. Half the fun is trying to decide which one you want (the other half is misery for Marco because I take so long!). So far my favorites have been a hazelnut praline and a hazelnut crisp. Which is interesting because I don’t go out of my way to get hazelnut chocolate normally. So far everything we have tried has tasted great. Oh, and we like to joke that the larger red ball near the top is probably a sour ball and not chocolate at all, as a sort of prank.
Of course, you can also get the luxury option for € 449, which includes 50 chocolate truffles, 7 bottles of mini liquors and… a 7 inch LED tv screen!? See also the LXRY kist page. Admittedly it is mainly for use by companies, restaurants or hotels, and you can order chocolate truffel refills separately. The TV screen shows viewers how the chocolates are made and what ingredients are used.
For that price it is good to see that it is also personally delivered to you!
I did forget to post a picture of the oliebollen Marco and I made yesterday. Opps!
In the foreground is krentebollen (oliebollen with raisins) and in the background, just barely visible, is oliebollen (no raisins). I am a fan of the no-raisins variant, partially because raisins make everything sweeter. And I want to save my extra sweetness levels for a bit of powdered sugar. Although in the last few years or so I have realized that cinnamon sugar – just barely pictured in the background – is even better than powdered sugar. Although perhaps that opinion makes me a bit of a heretic…
Outside it is fairly quiet although I do hear the occasional boom from fireworks off in the distance. That is slightly surprising, since fireworks have been banned for the last two years thanks to corona. Even these fireworks have been illegally stored in people’s basements or they made the trip to Germany or Belgium to purchase fireworks. Hmmm.
Marco and I made oliebollen tonight (Wikipedia). Or, more accurately, Marco made oliebollen and I helped/looked cute/cleaned things occasionally. Now that we have a bit of experience, we’re definitely getting better and faster at making them. The longest wait is letting the raisins soak for 15 minutes and then letting the oliebollen dough rise for 45 minutes. You then fry them at around 190C/375F for about 3-4 minutes each.
This batch of oliebollen is for tomorrow evening’s New Year’s Eve festivities. I will also stop by the Grote Markt oliebollen stand (official website) while I am in the city centre to pick up a few apple beignets.
Speaking of oliebollen… Koopmans (a major distributor of boxes of oliebollen mix) forgot to put yeast into a small percentage of their boxes. Opps?
It’s not harmful, but the mix won’t rise at all, meaning your oliebollen will be more like bricks then fluffy donuts. It’s a bit of bad timing on their part as everyone and their mother bakes oliebollen around New Year’s Eve.
The funniest part? The affected products have a production code of L212447 and a timestamp between 02:30 and 05:00. Yeah, I wouldn’t be awake at that time of the day either, so it makes sense that someone forgot to press the button to add the yeast in…