Food

Lunch by Little V (Or: Time to drool a bit)

Marco, Roger and I decided to have lunch by Little V over the weekend. Little V is a Vietnamese restaurant in The Hague’s city centre. Thanks to corona we’ve only had takeout once, a temporary option they put in place when restaurants were forced to close last year. I forgot how much I missed the food!

Little V is well known for their cocktails, both alcohol and, in this case, non-alcoholic. Marco had a “spiced lemon and rose”, a spicy lemonade with rose petals, red peppers and spices. Roger had a “ginger breeze”, with fresh ginger, lychee juice and jasmine tea. I had a “Little T Mix”, a mix of ginger, lemongrass and jasmine tea. Yum.

Some of our appetizers were fish cakes (on the left) and chicken spring rolls (on the right). We were pleasantly surprised that even though the menu says that some items are two pieces, you can ask for three. No sharing necessary!

And our lunches (which sort of replaced our dinners as well). I had a delicious, delicious, delicious bánh mì sandwich with chicken. It was spicy, packed with red peppers, but also sour, packed with pickled vegetables. It really hit the spot – I am a huge fan of spicy sourness. The Vietnamese bread itself was also perfect. As usual, my only alternation was removing some of the coriander stems (but keeping the coriander leaves themselves).

Roger’s dish on the left was Bun Bo Xao, with beef tenderloin, while Marco had Bun Heo, with roasted pork belly. Both also received rave reviews from the boys.

I am drooling a bit thinking about the next time I can order that sandwich again. Good stuff!

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Fireworks at Wagamama (Or: The firecracker curry)

During our visit to the Mall of the Netherlands last Friday, Marco and I stopped at Wagamama for a late lunch. (We refer to it as Wagamama’s for whatever reason, but technically the name isn’t possessive.) Wagamama is Japanese for “disobedient” or “willful”. The restaurant usually translates it as “naughty child”. The first restaurant opened in 1992 in London.

It is styled after the quick tempo of Japanese ramen eateries where you get in, get your food and get out. The eateries are usually pretty small so it is considered rude to take the seat for too long. At Wagamama this usually translates in everyone’s food arriving as soon as it is ready, rather than the entire table getting served at the same time. They always mention this beforehand, though. We didn’t get that speech or get our food separately this time, for whatever reason. Maybe they were done at similar times anyway.

As silly as it might sound, my favorite memory was of the Wagamama in Boston, where after the meal Marco and Roger ordered desserts and coffee. I saw on the menu that the tea was actually free (!) back then, so I ordered that. I think it was just a simple green tea. It arrived in this cute little cup and the warm tea really hit the spot.

Above is the dish I chose: firecracker curry. As the name suggests, it is spicy. The sauce underneath does have a sweet kick to it, though. This time I didn’t think it was overly spicy, although I did avoid eating the dried red peppers (but I did eat all of the fresh ones!). The first time I had it I guarded every drop of water like it was the most precious thing on earth. I do miss the curry I used to have at Wagamama, though. Surendra’s curry (home recipe from mob kitchen.co.uk).

Marco’s yaki soba teppanyaki. Teppanyaki is a noodle dish where the noodles and vegetables are baked on a flat pan, with everything turned quickly enough that the noodles stay soft but the vegetables turn crispy. His was with chicken and shrimp. The red bit on top is fresh ginger, which is always heavenly.

I am not a huge fan of noodles which can limit the choices of meals I would order at Wagamama. But everything always looks so tasty!

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New ice cream flavors by Sla (Or: Would you try it?)

Here is a photo Marco took for me on Saturday when we went out for a walk:

Sla is a “healthy food” type restaurant that you can find in the Netherlands. The sign reads:

“New by Sla! Vegan ice cream. Raspberry, mango passion fruit, avocado coconut and… head of lettuce! You just have to try it!”

Oddly enough I am actually intrigued by the lettuce ice cream… are you?

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Dining in (Or: Corona measure relaxations)

Okay, technically this rule was relaxed last Saturday, but we did not take “advantage” of it until now. We are now allowed to dine in at a restaurant with mixed households (still a maximum of 4 not including kids). On today’s list was visiting FOAM with Roger for a late breakfast. Part of me was selfishly glad that the weather wasn’t spectacular, because I went with “inside” when booking the reservation, just to be safe. (Side note: did you know there are a few days of 31C/88F coming next week? The Netherlands is going to bake! ☀️)

Here was Marco’s pancakes. You have to love the color.

And my grilled sandwich (commonly referred to as a “toasty” over here). It is with harissa hummus, grilled bell peppers, eggplant, parsley, dukkah and an Israeli salad on the side.

And my chai latte. What can I say? I had to take a photo – I loved the stencil on top.

Marco and I have a few restaurants we are eyeing for later this month or next month. Back to Himalayan restaurant for Indian/Nepalese food at some point soon, and also SET restaurant (Japanese) for a romantic dinner. SET has been completely closed for half a year, not even doing takeout, so I am looking forward to it.

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A hidden piece of nature (Or: FOAM back terrace)

Recently I took a few photos of the back terrace of the FOAM restaurant in The Hague. It’s a tiny splash of nature, only 5 tables or so. On the other side of the foliage is a playground, so you constantly hear the murmur of kids playing.

And a look at the upper level (on the other side is the playground):

I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the flowers, either. These were s a vibrant shade of purple.

For this visit Marco and I just had a hot drink (cappuccino for me, matcha latte for Marco) before we took home our “Foam@home” meal. This time it was a very delicious Sri Lankan coconut curry.

And if you have stuck around this long, I will treat you to a photo of a very, very plump (and slow) pigeon that was waddling around in the garden.

It is perhaps a bit hard to tell how plump it was, but it was probably about 50% larger than it needed to be. In the photo its chest extends just past the chair leg. I was surprised it was able to fly away in the end… but it did.

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Friday evening meals (Or: A bit of heat to end the week)

On Friday Marco and I cooked Kolhapuri chicken curry, a spicy, flavorful meal accompanied by naan bread. We found the recipe in our “Indian Food and Cooking” recipe book (Amazon.com link). The chicken joints were first marinated in yoghurt combined with chili powder, black paper, garlic, gram masala and more goodness. Top it off with some garnish (tomato, red pepper slices, fresh coriander) and you have a spicy treat.

Marco and I watched the Eurovision Song contest finale last night. We usually don’t–he watched begrudgingly but did get invested in the end. But since it was held in Rotterdam this year I wanted to watch. Article from nltimes.nl (note: spoilers).

The highlight of the night was seeing Iceland’s presenter: Olaf Yohansson is a Eurovision hit as he tries to award 12 points to Jaja Ding Dong from radiotimes.com (YouTube link). If that does not make sense to you then you need to watch Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga on Netflix. It is a comedy by Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. Olaf Yohansson was a character who is known for repeatedly shouting “Play Jaja Ding Dong!” (YouTube) at the main characters at one of the local bars.

Oh, and for the first time in history a Dutch driver is on top of the Formula 1 standings after a win today at Monaco (see also formula1.com). Crazy!

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When does air equal water? (Or: A riddle for you)

Last week Marco picked up some pancake mix from the local grocery store, Albert Heijn. The brand was Pondan, an Indonesian company.

I was slightly confused when I looked at the back of packaging to see what extra ingredients were needed (top left with the red arrow):

What? I need 100ml air? How does that work?

And then my brain kicked in and my eyes started working. Air in Indonesian is water in English. How confusing!

But I must admit I love the fact that most packaging is not just in Dutch. Usually you see Dutch and French, because the two main languages in Belgium are Dutch and French. My contact solution bottle has 10+ languages on it. It’s so different from packaging in the United States. For logical reasons of course, but it still is something that makes me pause sometimes.

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Fun in the sun (Or: Eating on the terrace)

On Sunday Marco and I spontaneously booked a reservation for FOAM restaurant here in The Hague. That’s the same restaurant where we get FOAM at home meals on Fridays. I had resisted making an appointment earlier in the week as it was forecasted to rain, but the sun was out in full force Sunday morning so I said we should give it a try. We got a seat on the terrace outside at the front of the restaurant. (Here in the Netherlands you are currently only allowed to eat outside on a restaurant terrace, not inside the restaurant.)

Of course even with beautiful blue skies we managed to get a short burst of rain twice. We looked up and realized there was a tiny grey cloud amidst a sea of blue and white. It was pretty strange. Luckily everything was dry again after a few minutes.

I just loved the ‘this table is reserved’ spoon so I had to take a picture of that:

I decided to have a flatbread with white bean hummus, parsley pesto, red cabbage, eggplant and more. Here is a look before I snapped up the last bite:

And Marco had a ‘no queso quesadilla’ with black beans, sweet potato and a spicy tomato jam:

I do think that might be the next thing I try on the lunch menu. The next time the sun decides to show itself!

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Orange, orange, orange (Or: Cheese and nuts for King’s Day)

Over the weekend the intercom unexpectedly buzzed. It turned out to be a surprise package from work. Inside were gifts to celebrate King’s Day with.

Think of things like a toxically orange lei (you can just see it hidden behind the orange ballons), nuts, cheese blocks, Valencian orange tonic water, and a game of tic tac toe with wooden blocks. Oh, and an elderberry syrup mixture to stir into your water.

The two drinks were Aperol Spritz, an Italian drink (aperol, sparkling water and prosecco). They actually weren’t part of the package. I still had leftover aperol spritz from last year when I celebrated King’s Day with my coworkers! Virtually, of course. Luckily the bottle is now empty. It’s an okay drink… once a year?

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Orange sugar (Or: King’s Day in the Netherlands)

King’s Day is next Tuesday which means a lovely day off. That’s about the only advantage these days, since the usual King’s Night parties (the evening before) and the King’s Day market can’t take place this year due to the pandemic. But who am I kidding? I probably haven’t gone to a King’s Night party in the last 5 years (back when it used to be Queen’s Night, before she abdicated and gave the throne to her son).

It also means you see a lot of toxic orange baked goods at the grocery stores.

On the left in the back you have soesjes (profiterole according to the English Wikipedia). Those are pastries filled with cream. In the middle you have tompouce, which is just called tompouce over at the English Wikipedia because it is a Dutch/Belgium pastry. My sweet tooth doesn’t usually show itself so I don’t eat this kind of stuff that often anymore. The best tompouce I ever had was from Hema with a lime flavor, putting it a bit more on the sour spectrum than the sweet spectrum. But tompouces are tricky to eat, more like overstuffed hamburgers. If you bite wrong the cream in the middle squirts out in the back.

On the right you have a schnitte. I had no idea what this was. I told Marco and Roger this and they looked at me a bit incredulously. Apparently its a two or three layer cake with whipped cream between the layers, or sometimes jam. Marco said that Viennetta ice cream (English Wikipedia) could also be an example of an ice cream schnitte.

Viennetta was actually a possibility last week for celebrating my birthday, but we went for cheesecake instead. I will always consider Viennetta a luxury, since that is how I viewed it as a kid. With the commercial where the group would enjoy the ice cream in clear, tall glasses (obligatory YouTube link)…

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