Food

Comfort food (Or: Beef stew on a Sunday evening)

Marco and I made beef stew in our slow cooker this past Sunday. It’s a pretty simple recipe – just beef stew meat, carrots, celery, potatoes, onions and leek. Add a bit of thickly sliced bread for dipping and you are good to go.

As you might have heard, Europe is currently in the grips of yet another corona wave. Remember how I said a little over a week ago that our previous record for infections was around 13,000 and we leapfrogged over that record with 16,300 infections reported the next day? Yeah, It would be nice to go back to 13,000 (or even 16,300 really). We’ve been at over 20,000 infections for about a week, with the average over 21,000 and 23,000+ registered today. See also this nltimes.nl article in English.

So they might move up the next press conference (currently scheduled for Friday, December 3) to later this week, but since there hasn’t been enough time to see what the effects of the latest measures, the press conference will likely just be a reminder that people need to stick to the rules.

But, on a lighter note:

Man threw “irritating” Nijntje toy in trash sparking hours long police search from nltimes.nl. The best part is the security guard who originally called the police ended up keeping the hide-and-seek toy and putting it on his dashboard, as reported by this nos.nl article in Dutch.

Walrus leaves Arctic comfort zone for snooze on Dutch submarine from theguardian.com. Quote: “…others, however, thought it was very nice of the Dutch navy not to kick the walrus off their boat.” A lot of jokes were made since the submarine was part of the “walrus” class (English Wikipedia). The walrus has since moved on (most likely to the UK) although it hasn’t been spotted recently.

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Vegan time (Or: Who knew cactus could be delicious?)

This Friday Marco, Roger and I had dinner at FOAM in The Hague. This was one of the “first Friday of the month” special dinners. The theme was Mexican, with shared plates.

Unfortunately I am not the person to ask what all of this was. The images are in order that they were served. Some notes:

  • The third image with the cups was my favorite. It is actually a warm, spicy cactus soup. Delicious. I either want the recipe or I want it added to the lunch menu.
  • The fourth image is of mole tacos. It was interesting. I am not sure I have had mole sauce before. The only good way to eat it was with a knife and fork. It was still a bit messy, but doable.
  • The fifth (and largest) image is part of our main course. Not everything was pictured as some things arrived a bit later.
  • The last image is of the dessert. I have decided my palate is not refined enough. I keep hoping it is ice cream or cake or chocolate, but usually we get stuff like figs. It’s fine though, as it keeps it light.

Some other news:

Dutch coronavirus avg. nears 10,000; Covid hospital total close to 1,500 from nltimes.nl. This is not that great; we’re not that far from our record set last December and we’ve only just started November.

Thousands of people demonstrate against coronavirus policy in The Hague from nltimes.nl. This was this afternoon (from about lunchtime to 16:00). The estimated crowd was 20,000 to 25,000 demonstrators. While I was somewhat in the area today I didn’t need to be anywhere near the demonstration route. You can also see dozens of photos over at the local news site regio15.nl (in Dutch). Most of their anger is at the stricter rules – you now need to wear a face mask or show a QR code (vaccinated, recently tested or recently recovered) in public places.

Otherwise things are going well for Marco and I except that the weekend unfortunately flew by. However there is always next weekend forward to!

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Time for some spicy ramen (Or: Visiting Takumi Ramen on the Herengracht)

Marco and I went with Roger (who had a day off today) to visit Takumi Ramen on the Herengracht (street). It was my first time although Marco and Roger go there occasionally. They fight over who gets to pay the bill since the person who pays gets the stamps added to their ramen card (at 10 stamps you get free gyozas and at 20 stamps you get free ramen).

There were lots of choices on the menu, including vegetarian options and side dishes:

As a starter we shared gyozas:

The drink in the photo above was calpis (English Wikipedia), a Japanese uncarbonated soft drink. Marco and Roger ordered that while I stuck with sparkling water.

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Spotted at Hema (Or: Anyone up for some tompouce flavored ale?)

Last week Roger spotted some tompouce flavored ale at Hema:

How crazy is that! Considering it has Hema branding, it looks to be a Hema exclusive. And if you need a reminder about what tompouce is, check out the English Wikipedia article. It is quite tasty but difficult to eat!

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Oliebollen (Or: It must be October)

Last year it was a huge decision to let the oliebollen stands open a month earlier, on 1 October, due to missed income (no festivals were being held, etc.). This year they also opened a month earlier, from yesterday. But this was more of a surprise as it wasn’t splashed everywhere on the news. The stands are usually allowed to be open between 1 November and mid-to-late January as oliebollen is a treat for Christmas and New Years.

But it is good news to see that the stand is back in the city centre, at the end of the Grote Markt shopping street (across from the public library). And perhaps they will be allowed to stay here; they moved to this spot some years back due to the construction around the Amare building. But construction of the Amare building is complete (previous blog post) so that is a good sign for the oliebollen stand.

In case you have no clue what oliebollen are, here is the page on English Wikipedia. Just try and read that without drooling.

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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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