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.
This photo was taken last weekend while Marco and I were visiting Scheveningen with a few friends. It shows the outdoor portion of Museum Beelden aan Zee, with an oversized statue eating herring. That is a well-known tradition in these parts called “Hollandse Nieuwe” where people look forward to the traditional start date of the herring season.
Of course, if you look really closely you can see that his feet are stomping on much smaller statues, but okay… we’ll ignore that.
After the usual visit to the statues part we headed down to the beach, even getting our feet wet (and in my case gingerly stepping over seashells). The sea water was a bit cold, but we got used to it after a while. Most interesting were the little ponds that were left behind further inland from the tides – a lot of kids were playing in those as they were only an inch or two deep. I don’t have any pictures of those, since I figured with my luck I’d try to take a picture and just end up dropping my telephone into the water… haha.
In the other Scheveningen new, the annual fireworks festival won’t be coming back this year. Why is that you ask? It’s actually too popular! No, seriously – the event was attracting around 400,000 people for four days total (across two weekends) and the beach just wasn’t large enough to support that. Most of the problems came after the event ended, since everyone wanted to go home at the same time.
This DHC article from last year has a great overhead photo showing you just how crowded it was trying to get home with public transportation after the event ended. Although HTM (the public transportation company) did say the buses were not riding at that moment and were being used as a buffer to prevent people from climbing over the fences leading to the stop. You can see the road is clear where the buses would actually be driving. There’s a security guy in yellow standing in the road to keep everyone off it. Additionally, HTM had 71 tram rides that night instead of the normal 31, and 54 bus rides as opposed to the normal 15. Still, the wait for some folks was over 90 minutes even with that extra capacity.
I do hope they can figure something out for next year though. The fireworks festival was a lot of fun, if too crowded for me in the end.
I recently finished a 1000-piece puzzle of Amsterdam — a present last year from Roger. And indeed, the puzzle sat in the ‘puzzle holder‘ for a good 5 months before I was able to finish it. The puzzle itself shows the corner of Amsterdam’s Prinsenhof where it meets Brouwersgracht, on King’s Day – hence all of the orange-clad characters.
Here is a close up look of the detail:
In the meantime, I’ve already started the next one. That would be a puzzle of The Hague’s Hofvijver which Marco bought for me as a Christmas present.
I was going through my photos of the holidays and noticed another good one to post. On the first day of Christmas we went to Marco’s dad and his wife for a lovely rijsttafel spread (Indonesian meal, translates to “rice table”).
For dessert, she made a delicious ice cream cake for us:
As soon as I saw it my eyes lit up at how fanciful it looked. And the ice cream inside was positively delicious. As the holidays are already a few weeks gone, my memory plays tricks on me but I believe it was cinnamon ice cream.
The talented baker did apologize for one detail, which would hardly be noticed. She created red and green leaves (with fondant, I believe?) to go all along the sides of the cake, but ran into trouble when the ice cream melted and dripped down the sides a bit. Personally, I love the little gaps on the side allowing you to look into the cake and at the leaves.
I’ll admit, I wish I had a slice of this ice cream cake in front of me to eat again.
Here’s a photo of the birthday card that Marco received from his dad and his dad’s wife:
First off, check out the birthday card on the right. As you see it folds open to display an oven, complete with utensils and condiments on each side. And pizza!
On the left we have a glass of beer. Or do we? It’s actually made of hair gel (the yellow bubbly stuff) and a layer of styrofoam for the ‘foam’. The only mistake we made was taking to long to take it apart, since the black plastic ladder decided to react to the hair gel and melt a bit… Opps! But still, really cool. And it’s not the first birthday card they made for us. Or check out this other birthday card and this Christmas card.
I can’t believe it, but this blog has hit 1,000 posts! And what better way to celebrate that than with some pictures of a recent (unrelated) gift I received?
Snelspelwijzer, from Onze Taal (Quick spelling guide). And one very colorful postcard!
The gift came from my old language coach (from SamenSpraak) who I still see on a regular basis. If you’re wanting help with your Dutch, I can’t recommend SamenSpraak enough. Here in The Hague there is a monthly meet up, the first Wednesday of every month. It meets in the central library’s café. You can also get paired with a volunteer language coach and meet up as often as you both wish. Once a week, every 2 weeks, and similar. If you’re in Den Haag I recommend first dropping by the café to see what the group is all about, but you don’t have to do so. Back in 2014 I went to three café meet ups before I signed up to be paired with a coach, but that’s just me.
The section above is Klinkerbotsing in samenstellingen or ‘Vowel collision in compound words’. The chapter is about hyphen usage. The rule here is basically that if a compound word, and the first word ends in a vowel and the second word begins with a vowel, you need to join the two words with a hyphen. Example: foto-expositie (photo exhibition).
I predict Marco will hear some rather geeky grammar things in the near future.
This week shall officially be dubbed as ‘Pearl Jam week’ as they had three shows in the Netherlands. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ziggo dome and Saturday at Pinkpop, a huge outdoors festival. The last time they visited was four years ago, which I was a bit shocked by.
The first night four of us went: Marco, myself, Roger and my mother-in-law. We had fan club tickets, specifically standing tickets, which meant we could go in a half hour before everyone else. It does have the downside that you need to pick up your tickets the day of at the box office as you are required to show an ID, though.
We arrived around 2:30. Let’s just say the line for getting the tickets was over an hour and the line for merchandise was about an hour and a half… So we did some divide and conquer: Roger and Marco got the tickets, while my mother-in-law and I got the merchandise – posters. There are unique posters for each Pearl Jam concert (Marco and Roger got them all).